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Smiling sisters sit together outside on a bench during Ida's wish

Sisters and Holocaust Survivors Joyfully Reunite

Ida was born in Ukraine in 1935. At the onset of World War II, she and her family were evacuated from their home just days after her younger sister Betty was born. They boarded a train to find safety close to the border of Eastern Europe and Western Asia.

But while traveling to this unfamiliar place, the train they were on was bombed. Her family survived, but the unsettling memories of that night still linger with Ida to this day.

That night was just the start of the hardships and devastation Ida’s family would face during the Holocaust and World War II. Their family was divided, and Ida’s siblings and relatives desperately stayed connected however they could. Ida recalls many days of her childhood defined by constant unease and hunger.

Ida’s life has been marked by memories of tragedy, loss, death, poverty, and the sobering truths of some of the darkest points in human history. Her family lost many loved ones and friends, including Ida’s grandparents, who were denounced as Jews by their neighbors in Belarus and turned over to the Nazis.

Eventually, Ida’s immediate family immigrated to the United States, but Ida’s sister, Betty, settled in Israel. As immigrants, they each faced new challenges as they restarted their lives in a foreign place. Looking back, Ida realizes how these experiences shaped her into the strong woman she is today.

Today, at age 88, Ida holds great pride in her family and the fact that they are survivors of the Holocaust. Throughout all the darkness she experienced, Ida has memories of beauty and hope. She vividly remembers a joyful day when her grandmother found some flour and baked it for them, with the delicious smell of freshly baked bread filling the air.

Ida continues to move forward, facing challenges with grace and strength. She is the full-time caregiver to her husband and devotes all her energy to filling his needs.

When we heard her story, we were honored to have an opportunity to help Ida fulfill a wish while recognizing the incredible woman she is today. It had been over 20 years since Ida had seen her sister Betty, and she shared with us that a reunion would bring her great happiness and closure.

Wish of a Lifetime jumped at the opportunity to help Ida reconnect with her sister by securing reliable care for her husband during her trip. We sent Ida and her friend Avital to Haifa, Israel, where Betty lives on the Mediterranean coastline.

It was a meaningful and beautiful reunion. Ida was overjoyed to see Betty and many relatives who traveled to Haifa to see her, including a cousin she had not seen in over 40 years.

“I can’t believe it’s true,” Ida said during her visit. “It feels like a dream.”

It was a visit full of life’s simplest pleasures—long conversations, walks along the beach, warm embraces, and joyful meals. After many years of caregiving, Ida finally had a chance to take time for herself and rest.

“They didn’t need much,” Avital, Ida’s friend, remarked. “They loved sitting and talking to each other.”

Ida said the highlight of her trip was seeing Betty and knowing she was truly safe and happy with her life in Israel.

“It was the best trip of her life,” Avital shared.

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