Selfhelp was founded in 1936 to help waves of émigrés fleeing from Nazi persecution find new lives in America. As this population reaches their 80s and 90s, we remain in their lives, enabling them to retain their well-earned independence and quality of life.
From addressing health and safety issues to providing social opportunities, our seven Nazi Victim Services program locations offer enhanced case management services with special attention to their unique needs, in particular home care.
Today, Selfhelp proudly cares for more Holocaust survivors than any other organization in North America. Our comprehensive social services include:
With the support of our partners UJA-Federation of New York and the Claims Conference, we impart critical services and offer hope and dignity to our survivor population. Equally important is our unwavering commitment to be "the last surviving relative" to all victims of Nazi persecution.
It’s unusual for benefactors to be as effusive in thanks as are the recipients of fund-raiser proceeds. But thanks abound for New York City’s debut of Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezín, the mesmerizing concert drama performed as a re-creation of the Verdi Requiem originally sung by prisoners of the Nazis at Terezín concentration camp decades ago. Whether you were part of the group of 200 Holocaust survivors invited as guests, a major donor, one of the event underwriters, one of the thousands in the audience, a member of the exceptional choir and orchestra, or even one of the lucky ones who somehow managed to garner a cancellation ticket to the sold out concert at the last minute – this was an event that managed to touch the hearts of all in one special way or another.
Maestro Murry Sidlin leads solo quartet and orchestra during an impassioned performance of Defiant Requiem at Lincoln Center.
This event was truly a unique experience. The chorus and orchestra, under the direction of Maestro Murry Sidlin, stirred emotions while unfolding the compelling story through music, lyrics and spoken word. Stark concentration camp footage stunned the audience. The overall performance created an arc of emotions ranging from sorrow and anguish to hope and elation.
A chorus of 136 members and orchestra unite to perform the story of Terezin, as directed by Maestro Murry Sidlin, at Lincoln Center in New York City.
A collaboration among UJA-Federation, the Defiant Requiem Foundation and Selfhelp Community Services, the evening’s amazing concert-drama resulted in a commitment of more than $2.3 million from donors to expand services to New York City’s survivors via UJA-Federation of New York’s Community Initiative for Holocaust Survivors. And the very day of the performance, an extraordinary gift of $2 million was received for the initiative which seeks to raise $10 million for this purpose. Selfhelp will be a major beneficiary of this funding.
We would like to express our deepest gratitude to members of the Selfhelp family who stepped forward to generously underwrite the event, making it possible for all proceeds to go directly to aid Holocaust survivors. These included: SCS Foundation Board Trustee, Ilse Melamid; Selfhelp Board VP, Dr. Peter Model and Dr. Marjorie Russell of the Leo Model Foundation and Steven and Shelley Einhorn (Selfhelp Board member).
We invite you to view several photos from the event showing some of the magic of that evening. Comments from attendees explain the impact of the performance on them personally:
“It was indeed the privilege of a lifetime to be able to honor our survivors through this tribute while providing funds that can make the last generation of our heroes’ lives more comfortable,” noted one member of the audience.
“I was overcome by emotion,” remarked one attendee who had actually performed in a chorus of the Verdi Requiem years earlier. “It took me days to recover emotionally. I will carry the experience in my heart forever.”
“My mother and I were both touched,” noted a daughter who accompanied her survivor-mother. “This was very trying emotionally but exhilarating at the same time. We are grateful for the opportunity from Selfhelp to attend.”
“I relive moments of the evening over and over again,” remarked Selfhelp’s CEO, Stuart C. Kaplan. “The evening dedication to Fran Eizenstat – Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat’s wife and the inspiration for bringing the Defiant Requiem to New York City; the recognition of the life’s work of Ernest W. Michel, the chords struck by the orchestra and the chorus – from thunderous to haunting. And the impromptu words of one survivor in the audience who shouted out after the last note of the last violin faded and the entire chorus and orchestra had filed out one at a time. ‘Never forget! Never again!’ she exclaimed.”
For a concise overview of the critical needs of our Holocaust survivors for today and tomorrow we invite you to read our updated demographic report, “Holocaust Survivors in New York – Today Through 2025” which has just been released. A hard copy can be obtained by emailing email@example.com.
John Ruskay, EVP and CEO of UJA-Federation of New York; Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat, Chair of the Defiant Requiem Foundation; and Stuart C. Kaplan, CEO of Selfhelp; share a proud moment just minutes before the debut of Defiant Requiem at Lincoln Center.
Stuart Kaplan, CEO, Selfhelp; Ilse Melamid, Trustee, SCS Foundation; and Selfhelp Board President, Raymond V.J. Schrag at the NYC debut of Defiant Requiem.
Dr. Marjorie Russell and Board VP, Dr. Peter Model of the Leo Model Foundation.
Board member Shelley Einhorn and husband Steven.
Judy and Paul Konigsberg (Selfhelp Board member)
Nadine Habousha, Daniel Cohen and Selfhelp Board member Edward B. Cohen
Tony Award winner Bebe Neuwirth narrates part of Defiant Requiem at its NYC debut.
Lincoln Center, NYC, after the New York City debut of Defiant Requiem, April 29, 2013.
More than 850 attendees filled the auditorium to standing room capacity at the NY debut of Witness Theater on the eve of Yom Hashoah, to see the real life experiences of Selfhelp’s Holocaust survivors portrayed by students of Yeshivah of Flatbush at Joel Braverman High School in Brooklyn.
The survivors narrated the scenes as the students reenacted many of their lives’ most memorable moments – at times searing, painful, then hopeful as stories of their rescues and freedom unfolded.
We would like to convey heartfelt congratulations to the survivors, students, directors, YOF administration, JDC Eshel and Selfhelp staff who contributed endless hours in this labor of love to create such a memorable event. As one attendee put it so beautifully as she left after the performance, “I will remember this evening forever. Their stories have touched my heart.”
“Thank you for bringing our stories to life and for giving life to our stories,” remarked a Holocaust survivor from the cast.
The experience also touched the students deeply. “This was the best thing I’ve ever done in my life!” commented a student cast member. Another was eager to convey the impact the experience had on her personally, “Meeting survivors…and the bond we shared…this is immeasurable!”
Selfhelp hopes to expand programming for Witness Theater next year, and is anxious to work with potential donors to make this possible.
International Conference for Professionals Working with Holocaust Survivors
March 29th and 30th 2011
Child Holocaust Survivors: Elderly Children Growing Older
Assistive Technology and Survivors
Gail Gepsman-Ziegler and Lorraine Croft: Addressing Isolation Through Technology
Creative Therapeutic Techniques
Amy Clements Cortez: Music to Shatter the Silence
Encounters: Young Germans and Holocaust Survivors
Forgiveness, Resiliency and Survivorship Among Holocaust Survivors
Group Work Models
Shoshana Yaakobi: Group Work with Survivors in a Long Term Care Facility
Innovative Mental Health Programs
Innovative Service Models
Hanan Simhon and Scott Code: Virtual Senior Center
Maggie Gad: Witness Theatre
Mental Health Challenges
Alessandra Scalmati: Mental Illness: Special Considerations
Multigenerational and Family Issues
Judi Cohen and Shoshana Yaakobi: Supporting Adult Children of Aging Holocaust Survivors
Survivor Benefits and Compensation
Lydia Griffin: Overview of Survivor Benefits
Jeremy Ruden: Holocaust Restitution in Israel
Approaches to Staff Training
Difficult Conversations Related to End of Life Care
Elizabeth Packer, Susan Conceicao and Toby Weiss:
Program Development and Evaluation
Spiritual Care for Holocaust Survivors
Sherry Perlmutter-Bowen: The Elephant in the Room: Holocaust Survivor Communication with Their Children
Volunteer Services Programs
Susan Alexman and Elinor Marks-Gordon: Dorot: Intergenerational Program of Cafe Europa and UCLA Hillel
Naomi Singer and Sima Kelner: Living History: Intergenerational Volunteer Programs