Thank you for the wonderful article about the Bar Mitzva twinning of Fred Heyman and Brian Luster (“Bar mitzva hails survivor’s ‘upstanders’”, Dec. 29). It was part of the Twin-with-a-Survivor program, which has been growing steadily in each of the last eight years, reaching a number of close to 50 twinnings in 2010.
The Holocaust Council of MetroWest created this program in 2002. Since then hundreds of b’nei/b’not mitzva students have participated in it. It has profoundly enhanced their coming-of-age experience, provided opportunities for them to meet and get to know living witnesses to the Holocaust, and learn about that history. Through the twinning process the youngsters also learn about courage, resilience, resourcefulness, and civic responsibility. Twinners such as Brian take these lessons as inspirations to make the world better. Some have published books, created videos, served on their synagogues’ Holocaust remembrance committees, raised funds for refugees and victims of war, and volunteered for the Holocaust Council. One recently created a FaceBook page for the Holocaust Council and serves as its administrator. All have become witnesses for the witnesses, relating the story of their twin to family, friends, fellow congregants, and classmates.
Our Twin-with-a-Survivor program has not only created super citizens who have enhanced our community, they have made a huge difference in the lives of Survivors. Some families of twinners have made their Survivor part of their own family. Most importantly, this program has given many Survivors a sense of hope and optimism that helps counteract the malice of Holocaust denial. They know that through their young twins, their stories will be heard far into the future.
We are very proud of this program and all its participants. Those interested in participating should contact the Holocaust Council or visit us on the UJCNJ website and/or Facebook.
Holocaust Council Executive Board and Coordinator of Twin-with-a-Survivor