A New Partnership to Leave a Legacy

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Jewish Federation of San Diego County and The New Life Club
As Jewish Federation of San Diego County marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27, they did it with an eye toward the future: The Federation is now partnering with The New Life Club on several care and legacy initiatives.
The New Life Club, San Diego’s local group of Holocaust Survivors, was started in the 1950s as a way for Holocaust survivors to be together, share their experiences, and celebrate the lives they made in San Diego after the Holocaust. Members met at various synagogues, such as Congregation Beth Tifilah and Tifereth Israel Synagogue, where guest speakers discussed topics from the Holocaust to Jewish music and culture and more. Over the years, New Life Club members have held dinner dances and picnics together, celebrated members’ life-cycle events and held a community-wide Holocaust memorial service each year. Some members have written about their Holocaust experiences and continue to speak about them in the community and around the country.

“New Life Club is a treasure of our community, composed of people who have persevered through one of humanity’s greatest tragedies to build lives of meaning and purpose,” Darren Schwartz, Chief Program Officer at Federation shared with GB Magazine. “Establishing a public memorial is their vision as they think about their legacy and their desire to educate future generations.”
“The group has been a support system for all of us as we started new lives.” adds Vera Falus Lorell, President of New Life Club. “Now, after 75 years in the community, celebrating together and growing together, we are thinking about what comes next, what we must leave for others. For us, it is about telling our story in ways that will live on forever so people know what occurred – and will do everything in their power to ensure it never happens again.”
For its entirety, New Life Club was an independent entity under its own operations. Late last year, however, it moved under the auspices of Federation, a development welcomed by both organizations. Federation is now working with the New Life Club on building the community’s first ever public Holocaust monument and memorial, with plans to include an existing local exhibit that shares a Survivor’s story.
This new partnership builds on Federation’s work supporting all of San Diego’s local Holocaust Survivors, which today number roughly 400, ensuring they live with dignity in their homes. Federation provides funds to help them with food, medical care and other needs. Eighty percent of these Survivors are from the Former Soviet Union; one-third of them live in poverty. Beyond providing them with resources for care, Federation is dedicated to raising awareness in the broader community about this population, their legacy, and their needs today.
Together, they are launching Friends of the New Life Club where community members will be able to volunteer and help a Survivor with day-to-day needs, such as grocery shopping or home maintenance. To learn more about Friends of the New Life Club and about Federation’s work with survivors, please visit jewishinsandiego.org/holocaust-survivors.
Federation also will launch an awareness campaign in April coinciding with Yom Ha’Shoah, to commemorate 75 years of Survivors in San Diego. Adds Schwartz, “We are calling the campaign, “Exploring 75 years of Survivors in San Diego” because this is about getting to know each of these individuals and showing them the dignity and respect they deeply deserve.”

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Esteban Villanueva
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