To mark IDC Herzliya’s 20th anniversary, we spent a day following Prof. Uriel Reichman, IDC’s founder and president, and Jonathan Davis, VP for External Relations, around its delightful campus.
Shots or needles
Many Holocaust survivors have tattoos on their arms. In some concentration camps, people were no longer referred to by their name but only by their number. Tattoos were made by pricking the skin with needles and inserting a permanent dye. This was of particular humiliation to Orthodox Jews since, according to Jewish law, one is not permitted to have tattoos on one’s body. Nonetheless, the physical pain of the experience and degradation were true for everyone.
Anger, refusal, fear.
Nazi “doctors” and guards wearing white uniforms performed inhuman medical experiments on concentration camp prisoners. For some elderly survivors, these experiences are as alive today as they were 65 years ago.
Fear, anxiety, refusal to cooperate, anger, withdrawal.
Hospitalization, medical procedures, therapies
If a person became ill in the concentration camps, one of three things may have happened to them: a) he was immediately killed because they were no longer able to work and therefore were of no use, b) he was admitted to the concentration camp “hospital” where they were left to die, or c) he was in danger of being subjected to horrible medical experiments. The more fortunate ones were cared for by friends in their barracks until they recuperated.
Fear, anxiety, withdrawal.
The sound of people crying or screaming
People in concentration camps and ghettos lived through unspeakable horrors. Many cried or screamed from either emotional or physical pain. Hearing someone else cry or scream may trigger the memory of being in a ghetto or concentration camp.
Fear, similar behaviors.
In the ghetto, dogs were used to “round up” people who were hiding from the Gestapo (German police). When people arrived at the concentration camps, they were met by SS (Nazi security) guards with large dogs. Some dogs were trained to attack and were actually used to kill people who tried to escape.
Unusual fear, revulsion.
Directions such as “Go to the right, go to the left”
Jews were often subject to “selections.” “Go to the right” or “go to the left” might have meant who was to go to the gas chambers and die or who would go to work detail.
Moving away quickly, fear, anxiety.
White lab coats or uniforms
So-called “doctors” who performed medical experiments wore white lab coats as did their assistants. The guards who mistreated Jews horribly wore uniforms. Today, even a maintenance uniform could trigger a bad memory.
Fear, anger, anxiety.
Restraints, locked doors, gates
Holocaust survivors were forced to do many things and were restrained for any number of reasons. Being restrained today may trigger the memory of being locked in the ghetto, or surrounded by the barbed wire that enclosed the entire camp.
Frantic “trying to escape” feeling, panic.
The heads of both male and female prisoners were often shaven when they entered the concentration camps. This was another form of humiliation and dehumanization.
Refusal, anxiety re baldness, anger.
Smell of feces or urine
On the long rides to concentration camps, many hundreds of people were crowded into boxcars. Because there was no room to sit, people had to stand for hours. There was no food, bathrooms or air. Often people died during the trip and others were unable to hold their bowel movements or urine. The smell of waste may easily trigger the memory of those train rides. Sanitary conditions in the camps were terrible. If a man or a woman wasn’t allowed to go to the barracks for toilet facilities, they may have had to soil themselves.
Refusal to use washrooms, incontinence or withholding, anxiety.
Crowds, small spaces, elevators
Conditions for Holocaust survivors were often overcrowded. When Jews were rounded up and made to live in ghettos, they were crowded together. Several families were often made to share quarters in apartments or homes meant for one family. In the barracks of the concentration camps, four to six people often shared one “koya” or sleeping shelf.
Hiding or hoarding food, eating too quickly
Whether in the ghettoes or in concentration camps, food was scarce. When food became available, people sometimes rationed themselves so there would be something left over in case they would not receive food again for a while. Some people stole food so they could bring it to their family members too weak to stand in the rationing lines. If someone was extremely hungry, he would have eaten the food he received very quickly.
Hoarding or hiding food, eating quickly.
Frightening things happened in the dark. An inmate of a concentration camp or someone in hiding was also terrorized by the dark.
Request for personal or financial information
Survivors were robbed of all their assets and had to start over. They were also desperately secretive about personal information for fear of incrimination that would mean certain imprisonment or death for oneself or a family member.
Refusal to cooperate, anxiety.
Lack of privacy
Whether in a ghetto, in hiding or in a concentration camp, there was no privacy at all. At any given moment, there were people, soldiers, or surprise assaults ready to invade someone’s space.
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This core idea of memory is very difficult to fully comprehend; however, it is essential.
Sometimes the most powerful countermove one can make when a person is screaming is to calmly say that her behavior is not helpful and then continue interacting with the rest of the family while ignoring the enraged person.
“Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples shall divide within you.”
Divorce from a vindictive, cruel spouse can be a lifelong nightmare when there are offspring.
There were many French Jews who jumped at the chance to shed their ancient identity and assimilate.
As Rabbi Shemtov stood on the stage and looked out at the attendees, he told them that “Rather than take photos with your cellphones, take a mental photo and keep this Shabbat in your mind and take it with you throughout your life.”
Yeshiva v’Kollel Bais Moshe Chaim will be holding a grand celebration on the occasion of the institution’s 40th anniversary on Sunday evening, December 7. Alumni, students, friends and faculty of the yeshiva, also known as Talmudic University of Florida, will celebrate the achievement and vision of its founders and the spiritual guidance of its educational […]
The yeshiva night accommodates all levels of Jewish education.
Recently, Fort Lauderdale has been the focus of international news, and it has not been about the wonderful weather.
Rabbi Sacks held the position of chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth for 22 years until September 2013.
The event included a dvar Torah by student Pesach Bixon, an overview of courses, information about student life and a student panel that answered frequently asked questions from a student perspective.
It is difficult to write about such a holy person, for I fear I will not accurately portray his greatness…
“Grandpa,” I wondered, as the swing began to slow down, “why are there numbers on your arm?”
When one is blind one learns to use Braille to read. When one cannot walk, a wheelchair gives mobility. Sign language allows a mute person to speak and ocular implants assist in hearing when one is deaf. These are all compensatory strategies that help a person function despite his disability. But compensatory strategies are not just for physical problems. Understanding our psychological weaknesses and setting up our lives to ensure that we are not tempted to repeat our past mistakes, is as necessary as any aid to the disabled.
Well spouses have often discovered that their friends and relatives, despite their closeness to the situation, often don’t realize the tremendous emotional impact living with chronic illness has on the family. With the best intentions, suggestions, ideas and criticism are offered, based on the non-experience of those with healthy families. Even when the good intentioned get a taste of the difficulties, it is sometimes not enough for them to then identify and understand what the family of the chronically ill must face on a constant basis.
Over the past two weeks I have shared letters from a therapist and a well spouse. Both of the letters gave personal insights into the process of losing hope, how we react when that happens and some ways of coping when test scores, diagnosis and just simple repetitive behavior indicate that change for the better is impossible.
I’ve read your last few articles on psycho-neurological testing (Oct.8-22) with interest. As a therapist who has counseled couples dealing with chronic illness, I’d like to give you another perspective.
Your articles on the Neuro-Psychological Testing were right on (October 8-22). My husband underwent testing twice and your articles explained it things exactly the way they were. Besides the test, we also tried therapy.
Very often when we can’t face our big hurts or big loses we focus on the little ones. We can discuss those. We can cry over the small loses, be angry at the smaller hurts even though it may look trite and sound ridiculous to others.
Over the last two weeks we have been discussing one way in which well spouses can determine whether behavior displayed by their ill partners is caused by their illness or is a way they have chosen to act. We have focused on Psycho-Neurological testing, what it can tell us, as well as its pros and cons.
Last week I discussed a question that haunts many well spouses: not knowing if the difficult and often inappropriate behavior frequently displayed by their partners are caused by the disease and therefore not-controllable, or if the behavior is a choice the spouse makes and can therefore be changed. This doubt can be the source of much frustration and many marital disagreements. One way of alleviating this doubt is by having a psycho- neurological work up done. But that path is not so simple.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/caring-for-our-seniors-and-holocaust-survivors-a-conference-part-2/2008/01/03/
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