On June 9th, in a bright room on the first floor of a Hadera hostel, two representatives from Helping Hand Coalition — Bozena Gasiorowski and Rita Tager — attended a Shalom House event. Welcoming everyone to the afternoon’s gathering, Bozena shared words of encouragement as she spoke about how grateful she was to see these survivors again after a year apart. She said, “Today marks a new beginning as we say goodbye to Corona and put this horrible year behind us. With hope, we turn the page and welcome the joy that is to come.”
COVID-19 has been difficult for people all over the world, but especially for the elderly. During Israel’s lockdowns, the isolation caused many of the survivors to lose their light; however, as Alex Yagudin began singing with his smooth voice, the survivors’ souls began to awaken and a new hope replaced the sadness in their eyes.
With songs dating back fifty to sixty years, it was heartwarming to watch as the survivors became absorbed in the music, traveling back in time to the moment they first heard the tune. Having immigrated to Israel in their late sixties, the survivors were too old to incorporate themselves into Israeli society. Nevertheless, the Shalom House events allow them to enjoy the sound of their long-time favorite songs and remember their homeland.
Despite spending a year apart, no one had forgotten the melody of love. As Alex’s voice inspired the survivors to get out of their chairs and dance, Bozena and Rita witnessed a true display of love as the group’s leader, Nadya, took turns laughing and waltzing with the survivors, making them feel young again. One of the survivors, an older man with a walker who had difficulty moving one of his legs, even joined the dance floor to sway with his wife and a few others. Refusing to sit until the music had stopped, he exclaimed, “We’ll do it to the end and won’t surrender!”
Energies were high as the survivors gathered around the refreshment table. With so many stories to tell, it is always an honor to speak to individuals and hear about their lives. Thank you to Nadya and the Hadera Hostel for opening up your doors and allowing Helping Hand Coalition to continue to join with you on this journey of life. It is a privilege to spend time with the survivors and be a blessing to their lives after years of struggling. May the light of love continue to shine through as this new chapter begins!