While we meet many people in our life, few make a lasting mark on our hearts and lives. Dr. Robert Berger, of blessed memory, was such a person. A Holocaust survivor from Hungary, Bob came to the US as a young boy with the help of JF&CS, a journey he shared in his story A Dose of Chutzpah. After settling in the US, his intellect, drive, and commitment to helping others led him to become a highly regarded cardiac surgeon.Bob was also an active member of the Schechter Holocaust Services advisory and allocation committees since the program's inception. In addition to donating his time and expertise, he was generous in donating much needed funds to help other survivors receive lifesaving homecare and basic necessities.
Bob was a strong voice and advocate for the survivor community. He shared his understanding of the sensitive needs of Holocaust survivors at a recent JF&CS event. He unexpectedly closed the meeting with a succinct and powerful message about the many survivors in our community who, after having experienced the tragedy of the Holocaust, are now struggling to live on less than $12,000 a year. Bob stressed our community's obligation to see that Holocaust survivors' needs are met with care and respect.
Bob had a gift for making people feel special and inspired. He not only cared but put his caring into action, helping those he had known for 60 years and those he didn't know at all.
As a staff person of Schechter Holocaust Services and as a friend, I will miss Bob, his knowledge, insights, and warmth. He will continue to be in our hearts and will always be remembered.
Carol Laibson, Manager of Case Management Services for JF&CS Schechter Holocaust Services is a licensed clinical social worker. She has more than 20 years of experience helping older people age well with dignity, works directly with Holocaust survivors and their families, and provides training and consultation to professional staff on the special needs of aging Holocaust survivors.