AsiaB&WStoryMental Health Center for Holocaust Survivors by Gili Yaari

Shaar Menashe Mental Health Center for Holocaust survivors in Pardes Hanna, Israel, managed by the Israeli Association for Public Health, is a home for about 70 Holocaust survivors.

Shaar Menashe Mental Health Center for Holocaust survivors in Pardes Hanna, Israel, managed by the Israeli Association for Public Health, is a home for about 70 Holocaust survivors.

Most of them, who were children during the Holocaust, lost many or all of their family members. Along the years they emigrated to Israel, tried to integrate into the Israeli society and build their new lives but they were driven  insane by their childhood experiences, and instead, they ended up in mental institutions. Sixty Five years after the end of WWII, they are still living the horror.

Most of the patients at Shaar Menashe, never established a family and throughout the years, they moved from one mental institution to another. For decades they lived at the edge of Israeli society without any capability of living a normal life. Because of their age, many of them need nursing treatment. They live the horror and inferno as if it happened yesterday, hearing voices, suffering from nightmares, confusing illusions and reality. They spend most of the day staring into the distance, hardly speaking and sometimes mumbling while sucking a single cigarette every hour.

The number of Holocaust survivors at Shahar Menashe mental hospital declines each year. Each one of  them carries his life story and is a living testimony of the horrors he has experienced. They did survive but their lives actually stopped, 65 years ago, living the memories of their life as they were before the Second World War, combined with illusions and nightmares, traveling between illusions and reality.

There are estimated 230,000 Holocaust survivors living in Israel today. It is estimated that about 10 percent of them need mental treatment. Most of  them don’t get it.  The story of the Holocaust survivors at Shaar Menashe mental hospital is the story of many other Holocaust survivors. Even those who  managed to integrate into society and  build new lives carry deep mental scars which can never be healed. [Official Website]

Holocaust survivor Efraim Kruzel sits in a wheelchair in Shaar Menashe Mental Health Center for Holocaust survivors in Pardes Hanna, Israel on Nov 2, 2010.

Holocaust survivor Michael Antushewicz, 70, sits on a bench in the yard of Shaar Menashe Mental Health Center for Holocaust survivors in Pardes Hanna, Israel on Nov 2, 2010. Antushewicz was born in Belarus and emigrated to Israel in 1966.

A Holocaust survivor sits on a bench in the yard of Shaar Menashe Mental Health Center for Holocaust survivors in Pardes Hanna, Israel on Nov 2, 2010.

Holocaust survivors are standing in front of the dining room of Shaar Menashe Mental Health Center for Holocaust survivors in Pardes Hanna, Israel on Oct 20, 2010.

Holocaust survivors are walking and laying in the yard at Shaar Menashe mental health center for holocaust survivors in Pardes Hanna, Israel on Oct 4, 2010.

Holocaust survivors sit in wheelchairs in Shaar Menashe Mental Health Center for Holocaust survivors in Pardes Hanna, Israel on July 21, 2010.

Bulgarian born holocaust survivor Yakov Assa sits in the yard of Shaar Menashe Mental Health Center for Holocaust survivors in Pardes Hanna, Israel on Oct 20, 2010.

Holocaust survivors are sitting in the yard at Shaar Menashe mental health center for holocaust survivors in Pardes Hanna, Israel on Nov 16, 2010.

Holocaust survivor Meir Moskowitz, 82, sits in a wheelchair in Shaar Menashe Mental Health Center for Holocaust survivors in Pardes Hanna, Israel on June 14, 2010. Moskowitz experienced pogroms in Romania and had long days inside a cattle car.

A Holocaust survivor pushing another through the halls in Shaar Menashe Mental Health Center for Holocaust survivors in Pardes Hanna, Israel, 19 August 2010.

Plastic cups and bread are placed in on a table at the dining room in Shaar Menashe Mental Health Center for Holocaust survivors.

Patients’ Cigarette boxes are placed in on a tray at the nurses station in Shaar Menashe Mental Health Center for Holocaust survivors.

A Holocaust survivor lights a cigarette through the window of the nurses station in Shaar Menashe Mental Health Center for Holocaust survivors.

Holocaust survivors sit in a large hall in Shaar Menashe Mental Health Center for Holocaust survivors in Pardes Hanna, Israel on Nov 21, 2010.

Holocaust survivors sit in a hall at Shaar Menashe Mental Health Center for Holocaust survivors in Pardes Hanna, Israel on July 5, 2010.

A Holocaust survivor arranges the tables in the dining room of Shaar Menashe mental health center for holocaust survivors in Pardes Hanna, Israel on Jan 3, 2011.

A Holocaust survivor walks through a corridor in Shaar Menashe Mental Health Center for Holocaust survivors in Pardes Hanna, Israel on Jan 3, 2011.

Lucky khamsas, made by holocaust survivors, are hung on a wall next to a calendar in Shaar Menashe Mental Health Center for Holocaust survivors in Pardes Hanna, Israel on Jan 3, 2011.

A chair is placed in the yard at Shaar Menashe Mental Health Center for Holocaust survivors in Pardes Hanna, Israel on Jan 3, 2011.

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