Local program helps assist hundreds of Holocaust survivors in the Tampa Bay area (ABC Action News)


Posted at 3:24 PM, Apr 11, 2024 and last updated 5:34 PM, Apr 11, 2024 By: Lauren St. Germain (ABC Action News – copied Apr 11, 2024 from https://www.abcactionnews.com/news/an…

TAMPA, Fla. — The Holocaust Survivor Program through the Gulf Coast Jewish Family and Community Services (JFCS) supports nearly 300 Holocaust survivors in the greater Tampa Bay area.

According to the Gulf Coast JFCS, more than 30 percent of these survivors live in poverty, so programs like these are crucial.

“The war started when I was three months old. What I know, my parents told me,” said Sofia Davidovich, a Holocaust survivor. She spoke about what she remembers about the 1940s in Eastern Europe.

“They [my parents] didn’t like to give us bad memories. They didn’t tell us a lot,” said Davidovich.

She continued, “We were refugees in Kazan. After the war, we were starving a lot, but year by year a little bit better.” She said she moved from Russia to Florida in 1996. “I start a new life. I didn’t know the language,” said Davidovich.

Marlene Wain is the director of the Holocaust Survivor Program with Gulf Coast JFCS. “The program is designed to help survivors of the Holocaust to live out their days in dignity and respect and peace,” said Wain.

The program helps with everything from transportation to emergency assistance for bills. “A lot of these situations, if I didn’t have them, I don’t know how I would survive,” said Davidovich.

“Today, the event that you are here at is part of what we do. It’s the socialization aspect of our program, and this is probably one of the very more important parts of what we do,” said Wain. She continued, “We bring them together. We celebrate, we sing, we dance, and we rejoice that they are still here to tell their stories.”

“In the very beginning, they would recognize a survivor as someone that survived the camps or the ghettos. The definition of a survivor today is someone that had to flee their home, many of them left with the shirts on their backs, and that was to avoid the persecution of the Nazis. As the Nazis marched into other countries, these people had to flee,” said Wain. She went on to say a large percentage of them are from the former Soviet Union, and that is a major percentage of who they serve now including Davidovich.

“Life is good for me today, I mean. I have my children here, my granddaughters, and my great-granddaughter. I can’t complain,” said Davidovich. Click here (thttps://gulfcoastjewishfamilyandcommu…) to learn more about the Holocaust Survivor Program through the Gulf Coast JFCS or to donate.

Our Impact

Through our programs, resources, and community partners, we assist nearly 40,000 people annually. One-third (1/3) of those we serve receive help from more than 1 program area.