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B'nai Mitzvah Wall

The B’nai Mitzvah Remembrance Wall, launched by Jewish National Fund and the Levin family of St. Louis in honor of Max Levin’s Bar Mitzvah, allows Diaspora teens to forge a direct link between their lives and the lives of young people who died in the Holocaust.

For your Mitzvah Project, you can honor a child that perished in the Holocaust. You and this child will be permanently recognized on JNF’s B’nai Mitzvah Remembrance Wall in Jerusalem.

Located in Jerusalem’s American Independence Park, the stone wall, designed to look like a Torah scroll, is embedded with glass tiles bearing the name of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah child, his/her hometown and date of Bar/Bat Mitzvah, and the name and home country of a child who perished at the hand of the Nazis. Certificates are sent to the Bar/Bat Mitzvah child as well.

Proceeds go towards developing, maintaining and advancing JNF-KKL’s five Israel campsites, used by children for camping experiences.

Just like Max Levin who is now forever linked to Gyorgy Pal, of blessed memory, who became a bar mitzvah in Hungary in 1936, this project offers participants linkage to the past and the opportunity to continue the circle of life.

It was Max’s trip to Israel with his parents, Bud and Judy, which got the ball rolling. While at the JNF offices in Jerusalem, Max noticed several old Children’s Books of Honor used to record gifts from Germany, Poland, Russia and other European countries during the years of 1901 to 1941. Thousands were from families honoring their Bar Mitzvah boys during that period. There weren’t many Bat Mitzvahs in those days, but there were recordings of girls who were honored on special occasions as well. Most of the children had been killed in the Holocaust and Max realized that for many, the only evidence of their lives was in those books.

“I was looking for a project to dedicate for my Bar Mitzvah,” said Max, “and there they were. Thousands upon thousands of names. Some of them could even have been my long lost great cousins who died in the Holocaust. Just try to imagine! Out of the 6 million Jews who were murdered, 1.5 million of them were children!! That means that at least 150,000 were at the Bar Mitzvah age.”

There are very few records and very few stories left about these children. Almost all of their families had been killed and almost no trace of them ever has been found. Researchers at Yad Vashem identified most of them as victims of the Holocaust and the only way we can prove that they once lived is from the JNF Books of Honor that are kept in the Jerusalem offices.

“I knew that I wanted my Bar Mitzvah project to deal with the destruction of the Holocaust and rebirth of the Jewish People in the Jewish Homeland. When I saw those Books of Honor, I knew at that very moment that I wanted to dedicate my Bar Mitzvah to the kids in those books -- the ‘Lost Children of the Holocaust.’ This is a way to show the world that Jews have a place to come home to. But I want to do more than just remember those names. I hope that those names will inspire kids in America to remember our history. I also want to raise money for JNF projects to help kids in Israel; remembering our history and helping children living in Israel now—what a perfect fit.”

In ancient Israel, it was customary to plant a cedar tree when a boy was born and a pine when a girl was born. When the child married, the tree was cut down and the boughs used to construct the wedding canopy. When Jews were exiled to the Diaspora, the tradition fell by the wayside, but was reborn when JNF began planting trees in Israel. The Children’s Book records those tree plantings which commemorate births, birthdays, graduations and accomplishments, as well as a photo of the child. Eighty percent of the 91,000 names inscribed in the Children’s Book by 1933 perished in the Holocaust.

The Bar Mitzvah Books were initiated in 1936 and hold more than 100,000 names and photos commemorating B’nai Mitzvah. In the Children’s Book and the Bar/Bat Mitzvah Books there is also a place for a photo. For pre-Holocaust B’nai Mitzvah, these may be the only surviving photos available of the individual who perished in the Holocaust.

“We wanted to create a way to memorialize those children who never had anyone say Kaddish for them,” said Bud Levin, Max’s father. “This wall will honor the past and look ahead to the future. It will continue the circle of life.”

You can make a donation or raise money through a personal webpage to help honor a child that perished in the Holocaust. Personal pages are easy to create.

Customize your page by choosing from pre-written text about the project and then adding your own thoughts and feelings. You can even add photos to your page!

Use the Participant Center to send emails to your family and friends telling them why you’re raising money for this project.


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