Honor someone who is easily forgotten – return their memory to the Jewish people and the world.
Thank you for deciding to honor the memory of a child who experienced the Holocaust and was unable to celebrate their bar/bat mitzvah or live a life of mitzvot. The decision to share the honor of your ceremony with this individual is a very special opportunity to reflect not only on their life and experiences, but it is also a chance to think deeply about your own life and experiences as member of the Jewish people. Please follow the instruction steps below for completing your project, namely writing and submitting your one-page reflection. This personal reflection is due via email approximately two weeks prior to your ceremony.
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Application completed at https://hcofpgh.org/bnei-mitzvah/
Click here to submit your $36 registration fee (write "Remembering the Children B’nei Mitzvah Project" in the comment field), and use the form below to submit your application.
(We cannot guarantee acceptance of applications within less than 6 weeks of your bar/bat mitzvah ceremony.)
You can also call 412-801-7022
This portion is designed to help you meaningfully incorporate the memory of your chosen child into your ceremony, which is the main requirement of the project. Students often read their reflection (whole or in part) at their ceremony when they receive their memoriam certificate. This helps you share their memory AND express to your family and friends why this project was meaningful to you personally. Please see the prompt below:
Please reflect on the following themes and write a one-page (minimum) response. You must write at least three paragraphs (three to five sentences in each) regarding the following topics:
- Jewish Identity: How has learning about a child who experienced and/or perished in the Holocaust impacted your thinking about Jewish identity? Does knowing about this child’s life and other children like them change or influence the way you think of yourself as a Jew or what it means to be a Jew?
- Responsibility: Considering that becoming a bar/bat mitzvah means taking on the responsibilities of being a full-fledged member of the Jewish people, how does sharing the honor of your coming-of-age with this one child make you feel about taking on such responsibilities? What does this experience mean for you and your future participation as a Jewish person?
- Theme of Your Choice: Please take time to reflect on a theme of your choice; remember this theme must directly relate to the child you are choosing to honor, the experience of sharing your bar/bat mitzvah in memoriam with that child, or your knowledge of the Holocaust. You may choose to share how an element(s) of your Torah portion or D’var Torah theme connects to the experience of honoring a child who experienced the Holocaust.
When you complete your reflection, please send it via email it to Emily Bernstein, Education Outreach Associate at the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh (firstname.lastname@example.org) no later than two weeks prior to your ceremony. Please indicate in your email whether the Holocaust Center may share your reflection paper with others (i.e., Holocaust survivors, educators, your synagogue, or any other publications, such as our blog). If you do not wish to have your project published, please let us know; however, we hope you will share your experience with other students so that they, too, may be encouraged to remember a child in their ceremony. Once we receive your reflection, we will print and mail your certificate to the synagogue/presenter of your choice.
While it is not required, we encourage students to take on a mitzvah of their choosing in honor of the child they are sharing their milestone with. To remember is a mitzvah in itself; yet, your remembrance is not limited to telling the story of their life. Through your mitzvot, you can be the hands and feet of a child who never had the opportunity to live a Jewish life, which we should not take for granted. Through this project of reflection, we encourage you to honor a child’s memory by sharing their story in words and in actions: acts of Chesed and Tefillah on their behalf. This act could be something as big or as small as you choose – it only has to be meaningful to you! In choosing to do a mitvah on their behalf, you thereby elevate their memory, serve the Jewish people, and can make the world a better place. Some examples could include:
- Saying Kaddish for the child you honored every year on a certain date (perhaps on Yom HaShoah or the date of your ceremony), OR another form of Tefillah or prayer.
- Lighting Shabbat candles every week or once a year/month in honor of their memory
- Giving Tzedakah or charity in their honor every year
- Chesed, or doing loving acts of kindness in their honor (volunteering time toward your favorite cause, visiting the sick or the elderly, tutoring a fellow student for free, and donating to local shelters are just some ideas…)
If you choose to incorporate this option into your project, we ask that you please let us know!
We understand that due to the current pandemic, many students are unable to have in-person ceremonies, or they are postponing ceremonies. We also know that in many traditionally observant communities, the Bar/Bat Mitzvah Ceremony looks different and may not afford the opportunity to give a D’var Torah or speech during the ceremony itself. While some choose to incorporate their Remembering the Children project into a virtual ceremony, others who are more observant are unable to do so. Therefore, the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh allows students an alternative option – a Celebratory Shabbat:
- This version of the project is EXACTLY THE SAME, with one exception – you honor your child by gathering with your family/friends for a Shabbat meal and discussion. It is customary that during Shabbat meals, individuals may offer words of Torah to their guests in honor of someone else’s memory. In this version of the project, you would wholly complete steps #1 through #3, but you would share your reflection among family and friends at a celebratory Shabbat meal in honor of your child – and you would meaningfully incorporate their memory into the discussion with your guests. In this sense, you may also have a family member present your certificate to you! To learn more about this option and its variants, please reach out!
If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to Jackie Reese via email (email@example.com). We are happy to discuss options and help facilitate your project in any way we can. To learn more about the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh’s events and opportunities, please visit https://hcofpgh.org!
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