Chigwell ‘twins’ mark Yom HaShoah in moving ceremony

By Harvey Frankel

THE Yom HaShoah commemoration at Chigwell & Hainault Synagogue earlier this year was extremely special and moving, because I wanted to involve as many children as possible. After all they are the future, new life, new beginnings and renewed hope.

This was also the first time in two years that so many could attend an event… and over 160 did.

For a number of years, I have been involved and have been promoting the Yad Vashem bar/bat mitzvah twinning project, where a child who is about to celebrate their simcha can be twinned with a child who was murdered in the Holocaust before they could celebrate this milestone in Jewish life.

The twinning stories and the family connections that can come from this program never ceases to amaze me.

For example, four years ago Louis Kirsh was twinned with a boy called Jeno Breuer, earlier this year Louis’s brother Ben was twinned with Jeno’s brother, Joszi Breuer. Two boys, brothers, who were no doubt murdered together in the Shoah are now honoured and remembered by the same family here in the UK.

At Chigwell & Hainault Synagogue we have had many twinnings, so I set about writing to the twinning families to ask them if their children would be willing to come to our Yom HaShoah event and to light a candle in memory of their twin.

The response was immense, 30 children wanted to take part in the candle lighting ceremony.

The evening was orchestrated and run by Mizrachi UK, narrated by Rabbi Andrew Shaw with Chazen Jonny Turgel singing in the most special and emotional way, capturing the sheer essence of the event.

Harvey Frankel speaking at Yom Hashoah event

Towards the end of the evening came the candle lighting ceremony. Thirty children stood behind 30 candles, each child placed a card on the table with their name and the name of their twin on it. They then lit their candles, what made it extra special was that every single child said the name of their twin without looking at their card.

This clearly shows to me that every child takes the responsibility of their twinning to their heart, and has taken on this roll seriously with the intention of keeping their twin’s memory alive.

During the candle lighting, apart from some moving background music, there was total silence, everyone there, were transfixed on the children.

Youth light remembrance candles

I have never been so moved, so proud, and so humbled that 30 young souls who perished in the Shoah were honoured and remembered in this way.

Also, in attendance were two of the team from the Yad Vashem UK Foundation – Sandra Gold and Laurie Rosenberg. At the end of the evening Laurie gave a short briefing into the vital work they do.

It is my dream that every child who was murdered in the Holocaust before they were able to have a bar/batmitzvah is remembered in this way.

If you have a simcha planned, please do consider getting involved with the Yad Vashem twinning programme. You certainly won’t regret be part of this amazing project. Please email me at for more information.

If you have participated in the twinning program and would like your child’s twinning story added to the Yad Vashem website, please also contact me as people love to read these very interesting and at times emotional stories.



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