A Klezmer band plays the traditional melodies of Eastern Europe. People clap and move their bodies to the lively rhythms of their past. Others, hearing familiar words, join their voices. Boris, a Holocaust survivor who comes weekly to this music program, sits up front.
The healing qualities of music are well known. Boris, who suffers from anxiety after living through horrifying experiences in pre-World War II Poland, is one of millions of people who have found comfort in music.
The music program, which was created for survivors like Boris, is supported by the Jewish Federation. Hearing traditional Hebrew and Jewish songs can bring back warm memories and release endorphins that have a pain-relieving effect. Music therapy can also boost immunity and encourage low-impact exercise that helps to improve the quality of life for elderly people, especially those dealing with trauma.
The Federation music program that Boris attends does even more. It gives Boris’ wife a much-needed break from her duties as a caregiver. Managing Boris’ physical and mental needs takes a toll. And, getting around with Boris can be difficult. So, the local Jewish Federation provides the transportation they need.
The ride takes 30 minutes, which is a long time for the older couple, but it is well worth the journey for both of them, says Boris’ wife.
Every week, she looks forward to relaxing and talking with her friends.
And every week, Boris looks forward to singing.
Boris has carried the traditional music he learned as a boy with him throughout his life. In many ways, it is the score of his life. It’s the music that played when he and his wife got married in the U.S.; these are the songs that were sung when each of their children reached their bar or bat mitzvah. Thanks to Jewish Federation, that music continues to play—and heal—today.
Learn more about Federation's work with Holocaust survivors through the Center for Advancing Holocaust Survivor Care and read more stories from the people helped.