One Holocaust survivor said his whole body was shaking when he celebrated his bar mitzvah at the Western Wall.
While most Jewish males celebrate their bar mitvahs [right of passage] at 13 and females their bat mitzvahs at 12, a group of 80 French Holocaust survivors recently came to Israel to observe the milestone about 80 years late. The trip was organized by Israel Experience, which is the Jewish Agency’s educational arm, and France’s United Jewish Social Fund in Israel (FSJU).
“I am doing this in memory of my family who died in the Shoah,” said Jacues Innedjian, a participant in his late 80s, The Jerusalem Post reported. “I’m doing this for my mother – she was taken to Auschwitz and she never came home.”
“It’s a feeling that is shaking my entire body,” Innedjian said, showing his arm with a number tattooed on it. “This number was my mother’s number – it’s the only thing I have left of her. I tattooed her number onto my arm so that she will be with me wherever I go.”
The event was also educational, ensuring that future generations remember the Holocaust, its victims and its survivors.
“The purpose of these trips is to give the participants a complete and quality vision of the country and to give them an Israeli experience worthy of the name,” Amos Hermon, director-general of Israel Experience, said, according to the Post. “We will continue operating among Jewish communities to locate Holocaust survivors and their families, giving them the opportunity to transmit their stories to younger generations.”
On his first trip to Israel, survivor Amar Joseph said that putting on tefillin (phylacteries) at the Western Wall was a “moment of magic.”
“It’s all very overwhelming and emotional for me,” he said, the Post reported. “I’ve come here in memory of my family, to memorialize them and the way they were murdered in the Holocaust.”
Joseph added that keeping the Jewish tradition alive is extremely important and helps “to preserve the memory of my family.”
Rose Coneon was seven years old when she went into hiding from the Nazis. When asked about her experiences, she recalled having nothing to eat or play with. “It was very hard to remember,” she said while gazing at the Western Wall, according to the Post. “But, I feel so blessed to be here. There is something electric in the air, you can really feel it.”
“I am connecting to my Judaism, my roots,” she added.