Meet Ruth Bloch

“Without help, I don’t know how some of the Holocaust survivors would get by.”

As a Holocaust survivor, I am committed to ensuring other survivors live their final years in dignity. Many are struggling and cannot afford basic healthcare, dental care, even eyeglasses. The State of Maryland designated funds to help survivors pay for their healthcare needs, and I sit on the Holocaust Survivor Advisory Committee to advise JCS on needs of Baltimore’s survivors and review requests for emergency financial assistance for survivors in a manner that protects the applicant’s identity. We meet several times a year, review requests and allocate the funds that are available, based on the overwhelming needs.

As part of my work on the Task Force, I was asked by JCS and BJC to go to Annapolis and testify in the Maryland General Assembly for continued state funding for survivors. I remember I told the legislature about some of the overwhelming healthcare needs in our community and I shared my personal history. I was thrilled to hear we secured the much-needed funds.

I was born in Yugoslavia, now Croatia, where my family owned a business. When the Nazis invaded, Croatian sympathizers took over our business and jailed everyone in my family, except my uncle who was not Jewish. He stole Nazi uniforms, forged papers and got us out. We were able to pay our way out of Yugoslavia and ended up in Italy. We were lucky. Thirty-three members of my mother’s family were killed. We arrived in the United States in 1949.

So many Holocaust survivors, including my parents, didn’t speak up until the 80s because they were so traumatized. I think it’s so important that the world knows what happened. It’s for that reason, on several occasions, through BJC’s Holocaust programming, I’ve visited schools, including the John Carroll Catholic High School, to tell my story. The kids really get quiet, listen to what I’m saying and get involved in the conversation. I know it is making a difference.

Telling my story is so important that I also participated in “The Human Element Project” sponsored by the Jewish Museum of Maryland. We created collages that will be part of a future exhibition there, Holocaust Memory Reconstruction: A Sacred Culture Rebuilt.

I believe the work that JCS and BJC is doing is so important. I know everyone says these word, “Never Forget,” but it’s so true. It’s why I do what I do.

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