Re­mem­bered with a yel­low can­dle

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY JC RE­PORTER

LEIBY GUTTMAN was just five-year­sold when he died at Auschwitz in 1944. Is­rael Vais­man was seven, when he per­ished at Kamenets Podolsk in the Ukraine, in 1941 and Isaak Vais­berg was only eight when he died at To­mash­pol, also in Ukraine, in 1941. On Sun­day, Yom Hashoah, their lives were re­mem­bered, via the light­ing of yel­low can­dles — in an­other coun­try and by an­other gen­er­a­tion.

“I lit three can­dles with my chil­dren,” ex­plained Sa­man­tha Co­hen, from Finch­ley, north Lon­don. “We talked about the Holo­caust in sim­ple terms for the kids to un­der­stand as this was the first time my eight and seven year old had heard about it from me.”

Ms Co­hen was tak­ing part in a new UK ini­tia­tive to re­mem­ber Holo­caust vic­tims who had no one left to mourn them.

The or­gan­is­ers of the Yel­low Can­dle Pro­ject said they had been “over­whelmed” by the re­sponse to the pro­ject, and Ms Co­hen, whose fam­ily lit the can­dles in mem­ory of Leiby, Isaak and Is­rael, added: “This is im­por­tant to me per­son­ally as my uncle, late mother and grand­mother es­caped Ger­many in 1939. If they hadn’t, they would have per­ished with many of my grand­mother’s fam­ily who did not man­age to leave. I needed to try and ex­plain this to my chil­dren.”

The pro­ject, which has been op­er­at­ing in Amer­ica since 1981, or­gan­ises the light­ing of yahrzeit me­mo­rial can­dles. The yel­low colour re­lates to the stars which the Jews were forced to wear by the Nazis and each can­dle comes in a bag with a name in it. The names of the vic­tims are taken from Yad Vashem.

It was brought to the UK by Ma­sorti Ju­daism, and Paul Har­ris, a mem­ber of New North Lon­don Sy­n­a­gogue, said that the re­sponse had been “amaz­ing”. Around 3,500 can­dles were handed out.

“It has brought peo­ple alive, and let oth­ers re­mem­ber then as in­di­vid­u­als,” he said. “It can be hard to do that as it’s so over­whelm­ing when peo­ple talk of six mil­lion deaths.”

De­bra Virchis, who is also a mem­ber of New North Lon­don Sy­n­a­gogue ex­plained: “We lit the can­dle as our fam­ily were lucky and have no one to re­mem­ber and so it re­minds us how lucky we are.”

Her fam­ily re­mem­bered Hugo Mayer (1864-1942) who was born in Ger­many and lived there with his wife, Karo­line, and three chil­dren. Hugo died of ill­ness on Jan­uary 1st 1942 at the Noe in­tern­ment camp in France.

Two years later his wife was mur­dered in Auschwitz.

Henya Eidel­hoch was killed at Birke­nau, aged five. Her short life was re­mem­bered by Grace Lon­craine, a 27-year-old lawyer from Lon­don.

“I lit a can­dle for Henya be­cause she de­serves to be re­mem­bered in her own right; not just as a statis­tic from the hor­ror she was caught up in, but must have barely un­der­stood,” Ms Lon­craine said. “As some­one who is not Jewish, I come to the Holo­caust by way of cin­ema and re­mem­brance cer­e­monies. Think­ing about Henya, what she might have been like, was for me a new and pow­er­ful way

of con­nect­ing with that past.”

Ray­mond Si­mon­son, the CEO of JW3, said he had lit a can­dle with his sixyear-old daugh­ter, and given out 300 can­dles via the com­mu­nity cen­tre.

Mr Si­mon­son added that “friends, fam­ily and col­leagues from across the whole com­mu­nity” had shown in­ter­est, “from the most sec­u­lar and least in­volved to Ortho­dox sy­n­a­gogue-go­ers and Re­form Jews.

“You’re not ask­ing a big com­mit­ment of peo­ple. You’re say­ing, ‘take a can­dle, light it, re­mem­ber the name of some­one who maybe doesn’t have any fam­ily left to re­mem­ber them.’”

Sa­man­tha Co­hen and her chil­dren light can­dles (left) Stu­dents at JCoSS also re­mem­bered the past

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