Esti and Miriam live at a charitable home that supports Holocaust survivors who live below the poverty line. The survivors receive a place to live, three meals a day and social activities. A hot lunch is provided every day by Leket Israel.
Esti, 83, is one of the seventy Holocaust survivors who live at the center, “Everyone who was hungry like me, who reached the point when they were no more than skin and bones cannot stand watching food being thrown away. It takes me back to that place. It pains me deeply that there are people who throw food away. For that reason, I am so happy to see the work that Leket Israel does- that you bring us food that would otherwise have been thrown away.”
Esti was born in Olnov, Poland. The Nazis rose to power when she was three years old. When the war broke out her family fled to the forest where they managed to hide for three years, until they were caught. Esti escaped with her sister Rachel, but the rest of the family was slaughtered by the Nazis. A Christian family took the sisters in but forced them to convert and then sent them to an orphanage after the war. In November 1948, Esti made Aliyah to Israel as part of the Youth Aliyah program where she lived in a home for children who had survived the Holocaust in Ein Kerem. Later, she moved to Kibbutz Davrat, worked as a nurse in Rambam Hospital, had three children and today has six grandchildren. She has lived at the center for Holocaust survivors for the past ten years.
Miriam, 82, who also lives at the home, shared some of her story with us. “As someone from a religious family, one of my most painful memories was watching the Rabbi of our community being forced to the ground by the Nazis and made to clean the street with his tallit (prayer shawl).” Miriam survived five years at Auschwitz and several other camps. She was able to survive on the piece of bread she received every day for her work.
Miriam’s parents and 13 siblings, including a sister who was shot to death before her eyes, were all murdered at Auschwitz which she refers to as “my family’s graveyard”. Many years later she visited Auschwitz with her grandchildren. “I remained alive to tell my story.”
The residents of the center for Holocaust survivors receive daily hot meals that Leket Israel rescues from IDF bases and local catering companies. The food that remains from their meals is then transferred that same day to another organization where it feeds homeless people and recovering drug addicts and alcoholics, ensuring that no fresh food is going to waste.