Israel’s Yediot Ahronot newspaper published today a heartwarming article about Colel Chabad’s Get Chesed Program, in which college students regularly visit and befriend elderly Holocaust survivors. These visits take place every Friday, during which the students bring Shabbat food and spend quality time with their new friends. It’s a wonderful program that fosters intergenerational connections and helps combat loneliness and isolation among the elderly.
“These visits every week revive me and give me strength and a will to live,” said Holocaust survivor Dov Landau, 95, who is fortunate enough to receive a weekly visit to his home from volunteers of the “Get Chesed” project of Chabad in Tel Aviv. The project, which involves around 1,600 young people and students from across the country, visits 1,000 lonely Holocaust survivors once a week, providing them with warm meals and spending time with them in cafes or restaurants to dispel their loneliness. “We saw that there is a significant number of Holocaust survivors who feel a loneliness that brings them back to the difficult experiences they had during the Holocaust, and this project brings them back to life,” said Mendy Blau, CEO of Colel Chabad in Israel, who operates the initiative that was launched a year ago. During the Holocaust, Dov Landau lost his family, parents, and more than 50 other relatives who were murdered. After surviving five concentration camps and the Death March, he made Aliyah and fought in the War of Independence. He later started a family, became a father to three children, and has many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. “I discovered an interesting man, a fighter, a Zionist, and a figure to be admired in every way,” said Ran Houri, the volunteer who met with him. Ran Nazar, another Holocaust survivor who now lives in Jerusalem, recently celebrated his birthday, and the ‘Get Chesed’ volunteers organized an emotional celebration for him. “The weekly meetings with them are a bright spot in my week. The volunteers who come add so much life to me — and I thank them for that. There were hundreds of thousands, and now we are only 150,000. Now the special connection between us helps me continue the legacy and tell what needs to be told,” said Nazar.