MorseLife Now For Holocaust Survivors Initiative Takes Flight With The Butterfly Project

5,000 ceramic butterflies are being painted throughout Palm Beach after beginning with a grant from the Jewish Federations of North America Center on Aging and Trauma

MorseLife in partnership with NEXT GENERATIONS and the NOW For Holocaust Survivors Initiative has taken flight with 5,000 ceramic butterflies, each symbolizing a child who perished in the Holocaust, that are being painted by MorseLife residents as well as children and families throughout Palm Beach County, a true community effort.

“Most of the impoverished Survivors we aid through our NOW for Holocaust Survivors Initiative were children themselves during the Holocaust and the trauma they suffered had a lasting impact on their lives,” said MorseLife Health System President and CEO Keith A. Myers. “By teaching the lessons of the Holocaust to children today, we work to ensure those who perished are honored and see that it never happens again. We are commissioning a work of art for our campus as a lasting tribute.”

The Butterfly Project is a call to action through education, the arts, and memorial making. Participants throughout the community paint ceramic butterflies and engage in Zoom gatherings to learn about the unique needs of survivors and how the NOW Initiative is helping Holocaust Survivors in Palm Beach County.

In our community, the butterflies will be embedded in a large sculpture that will reside at the MorseLife campus.  This physical structure, a gift from a local artist, will represent MorseLife’s dedication to helping Survivors and their families and will be a permanent display of hope, change, and resilience.

Residents at MorseLife have been painting the butterflies, as well as Palm Beach County school students, country clubs, and synagogues. One synagogue, Congregation B’nai Israel, in Boca Raton, organized a month-long initiative with participants ranging in ages from two to 90 years old. It began with 150 members and synagogue families painting butterflies for Mitzvah Day on March 7 and culminated with a virtual Yom HaShoah Service (Holocaust Remembrance Day) on April 6.

“At Congregation B’nai Israel we are honored to be participating in this community-wide Holocaust remembrance program through MorseLife,” said Senior Rabbi Robert Silvers. “Through our preschool, religious school, and through our general membership, we are painting 700 ceramic butterflies to be featured at MorseLife. The butterfly has, in fact, become a symbol for the 1.5 million children murdered in the Holocaust and for Holocaust Education. Around the world, people view the butterfly as representing endurance, change, and hope. The butterfly is a reminder of the Divine Presence in all of life. Through this project, we fulfill our tradition’s commitment to remember those who perished in the Holocaust, and at the same time send a message of hope and faith that humanity can change; that we can manifest God’s compassion, kindness, and love in our world and root out hatred, prejudice, and anti-Semitism for all time.”

JFNA Grant Launches Butterfly Project at MorseLife

MorseLife was able to launch the program through a grant from The Jewish Federations of North America’s (JFNA) Center on Aging and Trauma, a project of the Holocaust Survivor Initiative. This grant is part of JFNA’s partnership with the Federal government to improve lives for Holocaust survivors, as part of JFNA’s Holocaust Survivor Initiative, the Center on Aging and Trauma promotes excellence in service delivery together with the expertise of partner organizations including the Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies and the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.

In addition to providing sub-grants for local services, the Center on Aging and Trauma offers robust technical consultations on the development and implementation of PCTI programming, as well as training open to all aging service providers to catalyze a nationwide culture-shift toward Person-Centered, Trauma-Informed (PCTI) care.

As part of JFNA’s support, more than 120 paraprofessionals in the MorseLife Health System are receiving intensive training on Person-Centered, Trauma-Informed (PCTI) care.

Through NOW for Holocaust Survivors Initiative, MorseLife currently provides free services to Survivors in poverty in Palm Beach County and delivers the care they need to live the rest of their days in comfort and dignity. Free services include everything from medication management, skilled nursing and nutritious meals to transportation, housekeeping, clothing, respite care, safety system installation and home repairs.  In addition, the MorseLife 50-acre campus offers long-term and short-term care as needed.

A portion of this program is made possible by federal funds from a grant through The JFNA Center on Aging and Trauma. Approximately 75% of the project, or $69,000 comes from federal sources. Approximately 25% or $23,000 comes from non-federal sources.