The inspiration for this letter was sparked during a Zoom meeting that JFCS held with a group of local Holocaust Survivors on Monday, October 9, following the attack on Israel. This meeting offered an opportunity for the Survivors to share their sorrow with one another while giving and receiving support in a safe space. Our staff knew that the attack on Israel and the ensuing loss of life would be devastating to our Holocaust Survivors. Israel has always represented a positive future and a safe place for generations of Jews to come. The October 7 attack destroyed this belief. The news reports and the gruesome videos were triggering for many of our clients, as they and their families had experienced similar atrocities in Europe during the Shoah. During our meeting, one of our clients, Diana, suggested that the Survivors collaborate on a letter to send to Israeli soldiers. A few days later, another client, Ruth, wrote this letter, which was then edited by a small group of JFCS staff and Survivors. The result is powerful and moving.

A letter to Israeli soldiers from South Jersey’s Holocaust Survivors

October 2023

To Our Dear Israeli Soldiers,

We are a group of Holocaust survivors who live in South Jersey. There is important information we wish to pass on to you in this time of tragedy and horror. We are horrified by Hamas’ brutal and inhumane attack on innocent civilians in Israel. We cry for their families and our Homeland Israel. We cry for Jews everywhere. We are witnessing our second Holocaust.

You do not need to pray for strength. You do not need to work to achieve a strong heart or a strong will. You especially do not need to ask for courage. You already have these attributes. They were placed in you while you were still in your mothers’ wombs. Your mothers and fathers received them before they were born. They have been passed on from generation to generation of Jewish people and will forever be passed on. You have already passed these on to your children and grandchildren.

Our ancestors, from over 5,000 years ago, survived 40 years in the desert before they reached Eretz Israel. They fought hostile people who tried to kill us even back then. In every generation someone has tried to destroy us, but they did not succeed. We survived and thrived. We survived the modern-day Haman and the Nazis along with their collaborators. We survived the Communist rule. Your ancestors survived the ancient Greeks, Babylonians, Inquisition, expulsions from country to country and many pogroms.

After the Shoah, so many of us lost everything, but created our own futures, and the futures of our children and grandchildren by using our brains, our “Yiddishe Kopf.” We learned how to adapt to a new country, language, customs, and neighbors. Our courage, stamina, and will to live helped to overcome all obstacles that were placed in our way so we viewed them as mere “steppingstones.”

Our will to survive cannot be learned. It is inborn, and it is in you and everyone worldwide fighting for Israel. You did not have to work for it or to earn it as it is part of your Jewish heritage, and it is thousands of years old.  It is in your genetic code, and the rest of the world is always amazed when they see the evidence of this tremendous intelligence and strength, but we are not. Because we know who we are, where we came from, and what we are capable of overcoming.

We, who have lived through impossible times and seen evil throughout our years, want you to recognize how special you are. We believe in you and know that you will triumph against Hamas and their collaborators. We have already done it and you will too. Am Yisrael Chai! With our love, support, and prayers. May Hashem watch over you and keep you safe!


Ruth, Survivor of Austria
Joel, Survivor of Germany, Theresienstadt Concentration Camp
Nella, Survivor of Poland as a Hidden Child
Diana, Survivor of Ukraine
Inge, Survivor of Germany
Izrail, Survivor of Leningrad Siege, Russia
Ludmila, Survivor of Russia
Galina, Survivor of Belarus
Lev, Survivor of Russia
Rabbi Yaakov Jungreis, Survivor of Hungary, Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp
Inna, Survivor of Russia
Florence, Survivor of Poland
Fred, Survivor of Holland, Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp
Rachel, Survivor of Germany
Fred, Survivor of Germany
Vigdor, Survivor of Ukraine
Naum, Survivor of Ukraine
Raisa, Survivor of Ukraine
Genia, Survivor of Poland
Sarah, Survivor of Poland
Izzy, Survivor of Poland, Concentration Camp
Claire, Survivor of Germany
Henry, Survivor of Poland, as a Hidden Child
Jane, Survivor of Germany, Shanghai
Louis, Survivor of Poland
Elizabeth, Survivor of Czechoslovakia, Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp
Kurt, Survivor of Germany
And all of the Holocaust Survivors in our South Jersey community