TWIN-WITH-A-SURVIVOR is a program designed to help B’nai Mitzvah perform the mitzvah of becoming a witness to those who witnessed the Holocaust. (The mitzvah: to “Remember the evil which Amalek perpetrated on us” – Ki Tazi)
The student will meet and get to know a Holocaust Survivor; will include the Survivor’s experience in his or her talk and will recall that Survivor at anniversary Bar/Bat Mitzvah commemorations. Because of the circumstances of the Shoah, many Survivors never had the opportunity to celebrate a Bar Mitzvah. None had a Bat Mitzvah. Survivors have told us that being adopted has given them “a new lease on life.”
This program is usually described as “truly transformative” in its effect on the student and family, as well as for the survivor. It helps students mature and increases their knowledge of the history of World War II, the Shoah, and their Jewish heritage. They learn about human resilience; that one can overcome the greatest trauma and adversity to create a satisfying life and become a valued member of society. Most importantly, students learn that despite all the suffering and losses survivors endured for nothing more than being Jewish, they have chosen to remain part of the Jewish community.
When you meet a witness, you become a witness.
– Elie Wiesel
When did you arrive in the United States?
Did you arrive by ship or plane?
What was your first impression of America?
Why did you choose to settle in New Jersey?
Describe the town or city as it appeared to you when you first arrived.
Did it in any way remind you of your home in Europe? If yes, how?
Did you feel welcome in the United States? If yes, what particularly made you feel welcome? If you were made to feel unwelcome, please explain.
Please describe your employment history: first job and subsequent ones.
Please describe your first and subsequent homes in the United States.
Did you attend night classes to learn English? Please describe that experience.
Did you send your children to area schools and colleges?
What do you consider the best thing about living in New Jersey?
What are your thoughts on life, relationship with others, prayer, Judaism, religious observance, children, and grandchildren.
On the day of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah: