Hiding in the same basement 81 years later

March 28, 2022 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Living alone in Odessa, 88-year-old Natalia Berezhnaya is one of over 40,000 elderly Jews JDC (The Joint) receiving  care for in Ukraine.

Natalia Berezhnaya with Sveta

She told a JDC member working in Ukraine:  “What am I feeling right now? Fear’s not the word. It’s just that it’s hard to wrap my mind around the fact that I hid in this basement in 1941, and now I’m here again. It feels like I’m dreaming — like I’m having a nightmare.

But this time, I have you. I have JDC. How can I not thank G-d for that?

My Sveta, my homecare worker, is my life. She’s my eyes, my legs, my hands. I’m nothing without her. She cooks for me, she cleans, she takes care of me and gives me moral support.

Without JDC, I don’t know what would have happened to me by now. You help me with everything.”

The Jews of Ukraine — like millions of their neighbours — are living through the unimaginable right now. And for Holocaust survivors like Natalia, who we are privileged to care for in partnership with the Claims Conference, the double trauma is especially hard to fathom.
For Jews of all ages in distress, help is invaluable. It means JDC can continue to provide homecare, food, and medicine to those who depend on them, assist growing numbers of refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs), and be a source of care, comfort, and human connection for people like Natalia — Jews with nowhere else to turn.


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