When I was growing up, almost every Jewish event contained an element of solidarity with Soviet Jewry. (Remember the metal armbands with the name of Soviet Jewish dissidents? We callled them “Soviet Jewelry.”) Most prominently, the bar and bat mitzvah twinning project, in which a boy or girl reaching the age of majority would acknowledge a Russian child of his or her own age, and incorporate a mention of that child into his or her bar/bat mitzvah speech.
For the most part, the Soviet Jewry crisis is past. But children celebrating their passage into adulthood can now remember other children their own age, the ones who never lived to be called to the Torah in acknowledgement of their maturity.
According to their website:
Remember Us: The Holocaust Bnai Mitzvah Project offers an invitation to children preparing for bar/bat mitzvah to connect with the memory of children lost in the Holocaust before they could be called to the Torah.
The Project provides the student and the bar/bat mitzvah teacher with the name of a lost child, information about him/her, and suggestions for simple acts of remembrance:
* doing mitzvot b’shem (in the name of the child)
* mentioning the child in a dvar Torah or speech from the bimah
* taking on the mitzvah of saying Kaddish
* lighting a yahrzeit candle yearly, etc.
The project has been reviewed and accepted by educators of all denominations, and there is no cost to participate. Program materials are available here.
May the memories of those who perished be for a blessing.
(Cross-posted to My Urban Kvetch.)