Molly: An Elderly Holocaust Survivor Whose Friends, Activities and Positive Attitude Keep Her Young at Heart.
In 1945, Molly Topper was liberated from Auschwitz. “I was very young when I was taken to the concentration camps. I lost my family, I lost my friends.”
From there she went from refugee camp to refugee camp, lived in Italy for three years and then in Israel for ten years. “It was not an easy life, but thank God we were free.”
Molly eventually made it to the United States in 1957, where she settled down and had a happy life. She married, and raised a son with her late husband. She worked as a beautician and was always a social person, with people coming in and out of her shop all day. “I’m a people lover. My whole life I’ve been around people.”
Today Molly, who is 89, finds herself alone, and like many seniors she has struggled with making connections later in life. “You end up by yourself, what can you do by yourself? It’s very hard to find other friends now in old age.”
The JCC has enabled her to connect again. Each day, a bus funded by Federation picks up Molly and her peers and brings them to the local JCC. They spend several hours together, playing cards and bingo, listening to music, and eating lunch. “The meals are wonderful, I love them! Better than I cook at home. When we finish, they bring us home, too. What can be better than that?”
The JCC provides programs six days a week, including meals, exercise classes, discussion groups, and a Shabbat service for the participants. Studies have shown that the more elderly people engage with their community, the better their health and spirits, and the lower their risk of disease or depression. But Molly is focused on the immediate effect. “I love my life now. I’ve lost my husband, my friends. The people at the JCC are my friends, we love each other.”
“It’s wonderful to be there with the people. Old people cannot sit home by themselves. We survivors, we suffered a lot in our life. It’s very hard to be alone. The JCC is a second home to me.”
Federation has been there for Molly even when she couldn’t make it to the JCC to be with her friends. After a recent hospital stay, Jewish Family Services provided her with Meals on Wheels, and the combination of a hot meal and personal contact brightened her days. But she’s glad to back on her feet and back at the JCC.
“We are a group of people enjoying each other. That’s the main thing, that you go out and enjoy the people. I would struggle without the Federation. It is a blessing from God.”