Traveling half-way around the world, from a city called Morro Bay, five individuals arrived in Israel to serve the Jewish people and the survivors of the Holocaust. Their first stop, Caesarea. Guided through Israel by Don Patten and his wife, Marta, the group had the chance to take part in hosting a dining styled Shalom House on November 7th.
Nineteen survivors from two hostels in Hadera, organized by Nadya, were welcomed by the guests and offered an arm as they made their way inside the Caesarea Villa. After everyone had settled into their seats at the elegantly laid table, Bozena Gasiorowski shared a few words before lunch was served.
Excited energy filled the villa as the first course of homemade coleslaw, Israeli salad, and bread was served. At the end of each course, the team from CC Shoreline worked together to clear the table and plate the next dish. For the main dish, tender chicken breasts and potatoes cooked with onions were served. The clanging noise of cutlery hitting the plates was all that could be heard as everyone enjoyed their meal until Ruth sat behind the piano to play soothing, gentle, melodies.
Stepping outside for some fresh air, the survivors bathed in the warm sunlight while they got to know each of the guests from America. Don and Marta translated as the eager survivors, asked questions, and shared their thoughts on the afternoon.
Just before dessert, Don invited the CC Shoreline’s leader, Jana, to speak about the group’s mission in Israel. “We have come to serve you,” were Jana’s opening words as she shared how blessed she was to bring her fellow Californian friends to the Holy Land. Before returning to her seat, Jana asked if any of the survivors would like to share a story or a few words with her group. A kind woman named Nina was the first to stand and share about how her family’s journey to Israel.
At the beginning of World War II, Nina and her family evacuated her homeland of Latvia and went to Siberia, where they lived among the forest and swamps. In 1972, they made it to Tajikistan, where they dwelt until 1989 when the Russians and Jews were run out of the country. Coming to Israel in 1990, Nina recalled how hard it was to find work. Nevertheless, through the struggles, Nina remained grateful and exclaimed, “We lived through it.” She told the group that her family’s hardships had paved the road for their next generations, and therefore had a lot to be thankful for.
Hannah, another survivor, spoke words of appreciation to the team that had made the event possible. She stated that her wish was for there to be more good people on this earth and thanked each person for their caring hearts.
When Don asked if any of the group members would like to tell the survivors their story, Sean raised his hand. Due to a complicated birth, Sean was born with brain damage that led to him being diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. The doctors had told Sean’s parents when he was born that he would never speak or walk, but, as Sean sat in a chair and spoke these words, a smile grew across his face. In triumphant, Sean took a stand before the survivors, and a round of applause echoed against the walls!
To bring more excitement into the room, Jana and her group presented the survivors with blood pressure monitors and postcards from Morro Bay, their hometown. Oh’s and ah’s could be heard as the survivors inspected their new gadgets and scenic postcards. Ending the dining experience on a sweet note, everyone gathered together for a group picture before bidding farewell to their new friends.
It was great to have Don and Marta Patten back with HHC, and also meeting the group from CC Shoreline! Thanks to all who were involved in this event!