Elise Kayfetz is the founder of the Yellow Rose Project as well as the Senior Prom: An Intergenerational Celebration of Life for Holocaust survivors. The prom was her immediate response to her thesis at McMaster University where she looked at the impact of the Holocaust on survivors and how to care for them. All findings were horrific and caring for them was a challenge.
She wanted to give Holocaust survivors a sense of youth, which was taken away from them because they were either in hiding, concentration camps or worse–for many when they were 16–the same time they would have experienced a prom.
She wanted them to have a positive experience– a night where they wouldn’t have a nightmare. The Yellow Rose Project’s name was inspired by a comment made by Holocaust survivor (and Elise’s newly appointed surrogate grandmother), Franka Kon who said, “I used to be designated with a yellow star and now I am celebrated with a yellow rose.”
She could not have done this without the support of her family and friends, especially Andrea Rowan who helped her bring this idea to Baycrest in 2007.