Our Granddaughter’s Twinning at Yad Vashem’s Special Bar and Bat Mitzvah Tour And You Can Do it For Your Teen Too, In Your Home Town, Without Going to Jerusalem, Israel

HYad Vashem Bar Mitzvah programolocaust Education is mandated in many states and children all over the United States are taught the horrors of targeting people just because of their religious beliefs.  Our Israel guide introduced us to the Twinning Project at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, which is an outstanding way for a preteen and teen to be educated in a personal way about the Holocaust and be connected to a child that died in the Holocaust.  At the end of this post, this Grandma will give information and links to providing this personal experience for your grandchild in his or her own hometown, without having to visit Jerusalem, Israel.

Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem has developed this special tour at the museum to mark the occasion of a Bar or Bat Mitzvah. The tour focuses on the fate of children and teenagers, and on the challenges that faced the Jewish family during the Holocaust. The tour is personalized to a family’s history if there is a Holocaust background and members of the family who experienced the Holocaust.

As set forth on the website:

“The Bar/Bat Mitzvah “twinning” program is an increasingly popular way to strengthen a child’s identification with his or her Jewish heritage by forging bonds with individual children who were murdered during the Holocaust. . . . As time passes, remembering those who were murdered in the Holocaust becomes increasingly difficult. How can we remember them not only as victims, but as individuals? We believe that to do so, it is important to understand who they were: people with families, communities, friends, likes and dislikes, goals and aspirations.”

How do they select the twin? “Yad Vashem will twin the Bar Mitzvah boy or Bat Mitzvah girl with a child who did not have a chance to mark his or her own Bar/Bat mitzvah. The boy or girl being remembered will share something with the child celebrating – a birthday, a name or place of origin.”

What does the Bar and Bat Mitzvah tour emphasize and the twinning share? “The tour focuses on the fate of children and teenagers, and on the challenges that faced the Jewish family during the Holocaust. At the end of the tour the Bar Mitzvah boy or Bat Mitzvah girl receives a special certificate commemorating a boy or girl their age whose memory they have undertaken to perpetuate.”

Mindy, our Yad Vashem Bat Mitzvah tour guide in Jerusalem, in preparation of our granddaughter’s personalized Bat Mitzvah tour, (after requesting family Holocaust history detail), listened to my Father’s Holocaust tapes and studied detail of our family history.  She concentrated her tour on why and how Jews were marginalized and ultimately targeted for mass extermination, Warsaw, the Warsaw ghetto uprising (where my Father fought) Treblinka, Auschwitz (where my aunt was), partisans (where my Mother and Father met and fought their way to Germany and American liberation), and displaced persons camps (where I was born) and Jewish recovery and survival.

The Bat Mitzvah tour twinning she selected was personalized too. The girl with whom our granddaughter was twinned was Lilka, age eleven, separated from her family (whose family story Mindy shared), was in an underground bunker, (like my Father) in Warsaw and died the day of the Warsaw uprising fighting started with the Nazis, April 19, 1943, likely from smoke and burning building to building by the Nazis.  Mindy suggested our granddaughter light a candle for Lilka on April 19 of each year to keep her memory alive.  Our granddaughter and we immediately put a reminder on our phones for April 19 of each year.  Our granddaughter will not only remember Lilka, but remember that our GG Morton, her great grandfather, was escaping through the sewers of the Warsaw Ghetto that day, captured and taken to Treblinka.  This personalized and private Bat Mitzvah tour was unbelievable and ended in the children’s memorial.  I was astounded at the detailed preparation and personalization of our family’s Holocaust history, incorporating that family history into our tour, and the thoughtful and significant selection of our granddaughter’s twin.

Mindy intentionally protected our granddaughter from the gruesomeness of some of the displays and rushed through several such rooms. As we stood at the model of Treblinka and heard about it, a group of about a dozen American young men were also listening to their guide, Ellie, who Mindy knew.  She asked if I would tell the group our personal family history of how my Father, GG Morton, was one of 67 men who survived the Treblinka uprising.  With tears, I was able to do so in that place of remembrance to now a dozen more witnesses who, hopefully, will never forget.

The tour was an overwhelming emotional experience for me, but knowing that our granddaughter was now the witness of our personal Holocaust history and could now be the voice of our family kept me going.  Our family suffered so much as Jews and overcame.  Our granddaughter is part of our strong family ties and survivor strength.  I hope that her life is free of the loss, strife and pain our family suffered and survived just because they were Jewish.

You too can participate in this program, long distant!  If you’re not planning to visit Israel in the near future you can still have your grandchild participate in the twinning program. The Bar Mitzvah boy or Bat Mitzvah girl will be twinned with a child who did not have a chance to mark his or her own Bar or Bat Mitzvah. He or she will receive a folder by registered mail containing the Page of Testimony of his/her “twin”, Pages of Testimony of the immediate family members, as well as a study guide and a special certificate acknowledging participation in the twinning program. You sign up on a form on line in order to proceed with the Bar and Bat Mitzvah twinning order.   The cost of the twinning package is $180.

Yes, there is a charge for the Yad Vashem Bar or Bat Mitzvah tour when you go in person in Jerusalem too.  However, the experience is priceless.  Although so much sadness permeated our tour, our granddaughter is now a witness and our future, and that brings us






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