By Dan Koob

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — As we recognize Jewish American heritage this month, one event is celebrating Holocaust survivors. Held each year, participants usually gather over a meal. And while the pandemic made gather impossible, it didn’t stop the celebration.

A value close to many hearts.

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“Liberation to me means the ability and freedom to live your life as you choose,” Paula Goldstein, president and CEO of Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Greater Philadelphia, said.

Especially in the Jewish community on Liberation Day, a day Jews and others were freed from concentration camps during World War II.

“We’re looking at people who have experienced the worst trauma ever and find their resilience and their ability to laugh, their strength, remarkable,” Goldstein said.

The Jewish Federation of Philadelphia typically hosts Cafe Europa on this day — a banquet to celebrate those who have survived. But because of the pandemic, adjustments must be made.

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On this Liberation Day, paintings were packaged up in gift bags to be delivered to the 500-some Holocaust survivors in the Philly area.

“It’s very easy to forget that underneath everything, we’re all human and this is a great way to celebrate the survivors and keep that memory alive,” volunteer Steffi Freedman said.

Faina Libman was 2 years old when the war began. Born in Russia, she ended up in Eastern Europe, but even eight decades later she and many survivors persevere.

She’s called Philadelphia home since the late 1970s and says things slowly got better little by little as the years go by.

Her main message, though, is a simple one.

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“All people are equal. I don’t divide people by race, I don’t divide people by color of their skin. You can be green-colored, yellow-colored, red-colored. I don’t mind. You have to be a good person,” Libman said.