This past Wednesday, Elizabeth Silver, and Sophie Klisman, two Holocaust Survivors who reside happily at Meer Apartments, were the featured speakers at the L’Dor V’Dor Luncheon for Hadassah of Greater Detroit honoring all Holocaust Survivors.  Melissa Liverman brought her children, two Hillel students, and she shared her grandmother’s Survivor story, admitting to feeling great kinship with Sophie and Elizabeth. Over 150 guests supported the event in the tented outdoor space at Temple Beth El in Bloomfield Hills. JSL staff members Marcia Mittelman, Administrator of Meer, and Dr. Charles Silow, Director of the Program for Holocaust Survivors and Families, attended along with Carol Weintraub Fogel, devoted JSL volunteer and board member. Many Meer residents and local Survivors attended the special program. JSL creative writing volunteer Shari Cohen attended, along with many Hadassah leaders including Carol Oguski, Joan Chernoff Epstein and her sister, Cathy Slavik who look forward to hosting the annual Bessie Spector zl Oldest Americans Brunch on June 21 at Adat Shalom, named for their grandmother.

I found myself listening and feeling deep sadness, that turned to anger as they retold their chilling and horrifying survival stories. Their strength and tenacity and willingness to dredge up their painful past resonated deeply in today’s world of anti-Semitism, hate, mistrust and evil. These strong women survived the worst time in history, yet here we are once again living through dark and heart wrenching times.

Sophie and Elizabeth have reclaimed joy and live full and purposeful lives at Meer Apartments. They are both fortunate to have loving families who encourage them in every way. Both women are avid participants in classes and programs at Meer and have found each other as true friends together in this inclusive West Bloomfield community for older adults. Sophie is a past Eight Over 80 Tikkun Olam Award recipient and a popular docent at the Zekelman Holocaust Center in Farmington Hills.

Dr. Larry Dell, Elizabeth Silver’s son, purchased multiple copies so everyone could have the book written by Lori Klisman Ellis that details her mother, Sophie’s journey, 4,456 Miles A Survivor’s Search for Closure. Awakening Her Daughter’s Search for Understanding the Holocaust. Lori challenges us to do at least one thing to help combat anti-Semitism. Lori suggests we volunteer to become a docent or a speaker, or share books on anti-Semitism with others, and donate to the FIDF in honor of survivors, or in memory of someone who perished. She wrote, “These actions will honor not only my family, but all survivors and all those whom we lost in the Holocaust.“ She also writes, “Let us remember the suffering in order to appreciate what we have now: food, shelter, family, love, and freedom.”

Lori shares the following message:

“Hatred breeds hatred.

Accept diversity.

We are more alike than we are different.

Avoid prejudice.

Remember NEVER AGAIN.”

Through soulful prayer and our caring community, we can continue to work toward peace, kindness and understanding for everyone.

Shabbat Shalom.

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