Jose’s story

“On 9/11… the tragedy seemed so familiar. I thought, ‘I already went through this. I lived it twice.’”

I was born in Poland at the beginning of World War II. As a young boy, I lived in a ghetto and a work camp with my parents, and later I went to a concentration camp. Right before Buchenwald was liberated, my father left the camp on a train. He died in transit during a British bombing. My grandparents were killed in a concentration camp. My mother and I survived the war and returned to Lodz for two years. Then we moved to Colombia where my aunt lived. I married and moved to New York.

We lived one block from City Hall. On 9/11, I was about to leave for work and the dishes and windows started to vibrate. I will never forget that day. The tragedy seemed so familiar. I thought, “I already went through this. I lived it twice.”

When my wife and I lost our jobs, I tried to get a job here and there. It was always the same. I’d show a resume to a potential employer, who would be impressed, but no job offer. It was my age, I think. We managed as best we could, but we were starting to get in really bad shape. Somebody told me about Selfhelp. They really helped us. They still do.

Jose Urbach is a Holocaust survivor who relies on Selfhelp Community Services, a UJA partner, to receive the guidance and assistance he needs in his later years. Selfhelp provides support for thousands of Holocaust survivors living in the New York area.

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