Yad Vashem Barmitzvah and Batmitzvah Twinning Project

Make your Barmitzvah or Batmitzvah more meaningful by twinning it with a teenager of the Holocaust who tragically, was unable to celebrate this milestone in Jewish life. You will learn about his or her life and community, and if relevant, research your own family’s experience  during the Holocaust.

Barney Leboff from Shenley  twinned his Barmitzvah with Carol Smulovici from Romania

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Barney Leboff, from Shenley wanted to do something more than leyn from the Torah for his Barmitzvah, so he twinned his Barmitzvah with Carol Smulovici, a young Romanian boy who was murdered during the Holocaust. As part of Yad Vashem UK’s Bar and Batmitzvah twinning project he was given basic details about Carol, and how he was murdered in 1941 by Romanian government troops, as well as information on Carol’s sister Miriam, who had survived and emigrated to Israel. On a trip to Israel with his parents, Amanda and Jeremy and younger brother Alfie, visited the Yad Vashem archives and Barney spent time researching Carol and his family. He discovered that Miriam had recently passed away but from one of the millions of  pages of testimony stored by Yad Vashem, they were able to contact Miriam’s daughter Haya and include her and her family in the Barmitzvah celebrations. For Barney, meeting the family of his Barmitzvah “twin” was a very moving experience, and made his own Barmitzvah feel more meaningful as he learned about his “twin”. “I will never forget Carol and the other six million victims of the Holocaust”.

For more details or to arrange a ‘twinning’.
Please contact Evelynne or Sandra – office@yadvashem.org.uk or call 020 8359 1146

When Alex Wojakovski twinned his Barmitzvah with Eduard Vigeveno from Rotterdam, it was a year of learning for his parents too.



Bar Mitzvah boy Samuel becomes Guardian of the Memory of Nutek Orlowski


A bar mitzvah is a significant event in a Jewish boy’s life.  I am lucky that I live in a time where I, as Jew, can live freely and openly, and celebrate my bar mitzvah without being afraid.  Throughout history, this has not always been possible.  I twinned my bar mitzvah with that of a boy called Naftula Orlowski or Nutek as he was called by his family. His parents were called Esther Leah and Zalman.  Nutek and I could have lived similar lives had he not been born in 1932.  He lived in Deblin Irena in Poland.  This is where my great grandmother’s family came from too. Sadly, Nutek and his parents spent the war in Deblin ghetto and were most likely deported to Treblinka in 1942, a fate shared with a lot of my family as well.  Now that I am a guardian of Nutek’s memory, I will make sure he is never forgotten, and when I will read in shul, I will do it partially also for him.  Leading up to my bar mitzvah, I raised money for Yad Vashem in Nutek’s memory by inviting my friends for an afternoon of eating cakes I baked and playing football.


Keira Edwards, brought extra meaning to her own Batmitzvah. She recently twinned her Batmitzvah with Lydia Fischer, and designed a poster describing the family and life of Lydia, who perished aged 10, at Auschwitz in 1944.

Yad Vashem UK Foundation sent Keira and her family a folder of information about Lydia so they could research her story. Keira made a demonstration board which was displayed by the bimah during her batmitzvah ceremony, and she also referenced the twinning during her Dvar Torah. Her portion was the Ten Commandments, and she talked about how the Germans did not follow these during the Second World War.

“I felt good that I was keeping Lydia’s memory alive,” she says. “It felt like doing a good deed for someone else.”

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Photo: Paul Lynch


Sammy twinned his Barmitzvah with Samuel Swaab, this is the moving speech that he gave at his Barmitzvah

‘……It is amazing to share my bar mitzvah with all of you. But now, I want to tell you about a special boy who never had the chance to become bar mitzvah. He was called Samuel and had his birthday in December just like I do. Samuel Swaab was born in December 1933 in Amsterdam. He was murdered by the Nazis in April 1943…….. He was just 9 years old.

If he had lived he would have been exactly one year older than my Grandpa Ronnie, who will be 80 this month. Samuel never grew old enough to have a Bar Mitzvah, get a job, get married, and have children or grandchildren.  Nearly all his family were killed during the holocaust; his three sisters, his parents, his grandparents and most of his many uncles, aunts and cousins. His name was given to me by the Yad Vashem Twinning Project to keep his memory alive.

Today I am wearing one of their memorial pins as a tribute to him. As part of the preparation for my Barmitzvah, I have researched Samuel’s family and his life. A special thank you to my Auntie Naomi for helping me out during her trip to Amsterdam this summer.  I have prepared a presentation on Samuel. So to find out more about him please have a look at my slides which are displayed here today.

Learning about Samuel has helped me understand a little about the Holocaust and has made me realise how lucky I am to be able to celebrate my Barmitzvah today…….’


If you would like to twin a Bar or Batmitzvah, what can you do?

  • Research details of the family of your victim using the Yad Vashem Website.
  • Research the community they came from via the Website
  • Learn about their experiences during the Holocaust (information will be given)
  • Receive a special certificate from Yad Vashem in Jerusalem

We would like to encourage young boys and girls to twin their Barmitzvah or Batmitzvah with a young victim of the Holocaust who would obviously not have been able to have a Barmitzvah.

We would give you the name of a victim who has a similar name or birthday as the young person who will be celebrating a Bar or Bat Mitzvah. With it, we can also furnish a study guide to learn about the victim, their family and the community he/she came from as well as learning a little about the victim’s experience during the Holocaust.

For more details or to arrange a ‘twinning’.
Please contact Evelynne or Sandra – office@yadvashem.org.uk or call 020 8359 1146

Please download a demo certificate