The pandemic has made it especially challenging for seniors to stay close to friends and loved ones. A New York-based not-for profit organization is doing its part to keep seniors, including Holocaust survivors, socially active and learning online.
Rita Pollack and Henry Musat are regulars at Selfhelp Community Services’ Virtual Senior Center. “I love the art classes. I love the music classes,” says Rita. “It’s a wonderful thing for people like us to get in touch and to talk to other people,” says Henry.
The Virtual Senior Center existed before the pandemic but has since become invaluable for those wanting to stay social and safe. “It has enabled me to socialize with people on a screen, see people, you know, I don’t touch anyone anymore,” says Rita.
92-year-old Rita and 97-year-old Henry don’t want to miss a day of their golden years. Both were born in Germany. After making it out of the ashes of the Holocaust, they began new lives in America. “The Holocaust itself was such a traumatic experience for all of us who survived it,” says Henry.
Henry’s family was murdered in the gas chambers at Auschwitz. Rita remembers the day her father was taken there. “So, I never saw my father again,” she says.
Before the pandemic, Henry took part in Selfhelp’s programs to ensure new generations learn about the Holocaust.
Now these two survivors are hopeful that brighter days for the world are not far off.
With special funding, Selfhelp has created a separate platform of the Virtual Senior Center to serve Holocaust survivors with classes focusing on trauma and care.