The three most momentous events in Jewish history are the Exodus-Sinai experience, the destruction of the Temple, and the Holocaust (Shoah). Each of these contributed significantly in forming us into “a nation of priests, a light unto the nations.”
Of those events, the only living witnesses who are still with us are those who survived the Shoah. Unless these Survivors live to the proverbial age of 120, contemporary B’nai Mitzvah students will be the last generation privileged to meet and speak with actual eyewitnesses to the Shoah.
The Holocaust Council of MetroWest created Twin-With-a-Survivor in 2001 to provide B’nai Mitzvah students the rare opportunity to make personal connections to these extraordinary models of human courage andresilience who exemplify continued commitment to the Jewish community.
After three meetings with a Survivor the student incorporates what he/she has learned into the D’var Torah.
Twin-With-a-Survivor assures that the Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony is profoundly meaningful and extremely moving for the participants as well as the entire congregation.
Additionally, participating in this program ensures the fulfillment of several mitzvot, including becoming a witness and honoring the elderly.
Twin-With-a-Survivor has proven a tremendous growth opportunity for both the students and their families. Many loving friendships have resulted between Survivors and the B’nai Mitzvah families.
Guidelines and Suggestions
For they were living men and women, not symbols.
– Elie Wiesel
Minimal considerations should include:
Student must sign a contract. In addition, the student must obtain signed parental consent.
You may adjust the contract and consent forms to fit the particular needs of the student. We must receive the signed forms before we can proceed in assigning a Survivor to the student.
Although we don’t anticipate that either the Survivor or student will be tongue-tied, we recommend that the student approach each of the interviews with a set of guideline questions that explore different aspects of the Survivor’s life. Students should realize that three sessions is hardly enough time to learn someone’s history. The guidelines will ensure that the most important aspects of the Survivor’s story will be addressed. Should the pair decide that they want to spend more time together, the Survivor will be able to elaborate on the individual aspects. Otherwise, the students should present the Survivors with a list of questions for each particular interview so that the Survivor can gauge how much ground he/she will have to cover in the given time.Minimally, the students should ask:
Additional Suggestions and Information