This article appeared in the June 12, 2015 Jewish Advocate.

Celebrating a happier time

Cafe Europa party evokes pre-war affairs for survivors and their families

By Susie Davidson

Advocate correspondent

Enjoying the festivities at a previous Café Europa event.

We can never imagine the horrific memories that Holocaust survivors have of their time during World War II,” said Janet Stein, “but perhaps we can envision that before the war they had typical childhoods.” Their lives, she knows, were filled with school, friends and happy households. “Shabbos and Jewish holidays observed in multi-generational homes, favorite traditional foods, neighborhoods where everyone knew everyone else, and goodnight tucks into bed to the sound of Yiddish lullabies,” added Stein, President of the American Association of Jewish Holocaust Survivors & Descendants of Greater Boston.

And then the war happened.

Twice a year, Stein tries her hardest to recreate those prewar times for survivors, and to welcome their families as well. This Sunday, June 14, at Temple Reyim in Newton, Stein will be hosting the Café Europa Luncheon, billed as “a gathering for Holocaust survivors, child survivors, generations after and Boston 3G.” (“3G” refers to the grandchildren of survivors.)

Made possible through a grant from The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germanyand contributions from the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany to New England, Horizon Beverage, and the Combined Jewish Philanthropies, the twice-yearly event features food, entertainment, speakers, special guests, and most of all, warm camaraderie between those who share life experiences often too difficult to voice.

Coming to Café Europa is their chance to recall those happier days, and the culture and heritage that was taken from them, and to remember the times before the war, when expectations of the future seemed promising, and life was wonderful and Europe was a place called home,” said Stein.

In attendance will be Peter Lancz, the son of renowned sculptor Paul Lancz, who studied art inHungary before fleeing with his family to Canada during the 1956 Hungarian uprising. Among busts carved by the elder Lancz were those of Montreal philanthropist Abraham Bronfman (for Mount Sinai Hospital in Quebec); actresses Zsa Zsa Gabor and Jayne Mansfield; President John F. Kennedy (following approval by Jacqueline Kennedy, the work was placed in the Kennedy Library); and former Prime Minister of Israel David Ben Gurion (presented to the Israeli Pavilion at Expo 67 by the artist).

Peter Lancz’ current campaign is to install his father’s eight-times-life-size sculpture of Raoul Wallenberg on university campuses nationwide. Queensborough Community College in New York, the only U.S. college campus with a Holocaust resource center, is planning to unveil the monument to Wallenberg on its campus. According to his son, who has worked as his father’s agent for nearly 30 years, Paul Lancz always considered his 1996 bust of Wallenberg to be his crowning achievement. He notes that there is no memorial to Wallenberg in the Boston area.

I heard about Café Europa from Janet, who suggested I attend and perhaps make some connections regarding my project,” said Lancz. “I plan to bring replicas of my father’s busts of Wallenberg and Theodore Herzl, and a picture album of my father’s repertoire, along with pertinent documentation and newspaper clippings relating to my campaign,” he said.

Stein is also expecting students from the Foxborough Regional Charter School, where a Holocaust Stamps Project aims to collect 11 million postage stamps (an estimate of all the poeple that died in WWII) from which they are creating themed, mosaic collages.

Upcoming programs include a second Café Europa Luncheon at Temple Reyim in August; the annual Yizkor Program at Brandeis on Sept. 13; and the Generations After Chanukah Party on Dec. 12.

Café Europa is an opportunity for Survivors of the Holocaust to come together and be reunited with people who come from the same place and who speak the same language, and to share these memories with their children and grandchildren,” said Stein. “It is a time to remember eating a festive dinner at their grandmother’s table, and for at least this moment, a chance to sit back and recall when days were happy and everything seemed normal.”

For further information contact AAJHS, 391 Boylston Street, Brookline, MA 02445