Grateful to be Alive & Healthy at Amigour | The Jewish AgencyGrateful To Be Alive and Healthy at Amigour
Valentin David Salem. photo: Zoog Productions

Grateful To Be Alive and Healthy at Amigour

Grateful To Be Alive and Healthy at Amigour
A beloved member of Amigour, Valentin credits the staff with helping keep residents safe, entertained and in touch with their families throughout COVID.

Valentin at Amigour | Photo: David Salem, Zoog Productions

Valentin is one of the most energetic residents at Amigour, a Jewish Agency subsidiary that provides housing in Israel for seniors, many of whom are Holocaust survivors. He’s always trying to help out and put a smile on the faces of other residents. “I love it here,” Valentin often says, “My favorite part of the day is walking around and meeting all my friends.”

Valentin and his wife, Catlina, made Aliyah from Argentina in 1998. Valentin’s father had immigrated to Argentina from Russia after the Pogroms and had made Valentin promise to ‘do everything he could to help the Jewish community, no matter where he is.’

Valentin took this promise to heart, even when confronted with antisemitism as a young boy in Buenos Aries. “I joined the Zionist Youth Movement in Buenos Aries and helped raise money,” Valentin recalled. “We wanted to make sure that every Jew in the city knew that they had a community that could help them, and an Israel they could one day immigrate to. It was my calling.”

Later in his life, Valentin was promoted to Argentina’s Secretary of Aliyah at The Jewish Agency in Buenos Aires. He oversaw the files of dozens of Jewish families, all with their own struggles and eagerness to make Aliyah.

“I treated every one of those families like they was my own, and did everything I could to make their Aliyah dream a reality,” said Valentin. “I still speak with some of them today and they are like family.”

In 1973, when the Yom Kippur War broke out, Valentin bought a ticket to Israel without even notifying his wife, wanting to do what he could to help.

“I didn’t want anyone to try and stop me, I knew the nation was in trouble and I could not just sit by and watch Israel go to war without me,” shared Valentin. “While I wasn’t required at the battlefront, I was sent to the north to work the farms where help was needed since so many young men had been drafted.”

Today, Valentin and Catlina have been living comfortably at Amigour in Migdal HaEmek for five years. During COVID, Amigour offered many events for Valentin and the rest of the residents.

“Amigour held many concerts for us, in Hebrew, Yiddish, and Russian,” Valentin said. “The nurses made sure we always had masks, and that we washed or sanitized our hands. The staff also made sure to find ways for us to connect with our families both online and in the yard from a safe distance.”

“I really like it here and feel very taken care of by The Jewish Agency. My life may have started out hard, but I persevered and contributed, and when you persevere and contribute, the world ends up paying it forward to you too,” Valentin added. “Now, I have two grandchildren, and two loving children. I am a happy man. I’m very grateful to be alive and healthy and I will continue contributing to Israel in any way I can.”


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