Staff Writer

SOMERVILLE — Nina Wasyl of Hillsborough clearly remembers the first cigarette she ever smoked. It was May 9, 1945, and she was 19.

“I’ve suffered now all my life because I started smoking that day,” she said.

That first cigarette came from a pack thrown to her by Russian soldiers in battle tanks who were in the process of liberating the Nazi work camp in Austria at which she was enslaved.

On Wednesday, Wasyl and a dozen other Jews who lived in Eastern Europe during World War II met at Jewish Family Service’s “Cafe Europa” to share stories and meet others with similar backgrounds. The group usually meets every two months, and Wednesday’s gathering was a celebration of the coming Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana, which starts at sundown Friday.

Those in attendance hailed from Russia, Austria and Ukraine.  more.