White house Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and his family visited Yad Vashem last week during their trip to Israel marking his son Zach's bar mitzvah. Following a guided tour of the Holocaust History Museum, Zach was "twinned" with a child victim of the Holocaust. Bar/bat mitzvah twinning projects are unqiue way for Jewish children and their families to strengthen their identification with the Jewish people by forging bonds with individual children murdered in the Holocaust.
By searching Yad Vashem's online Central Database of Shoah Victims' Names, bar and bat mitzvah kids can review Pages of Testimony containing the names, biographies and (when available) photographs submitted in their memory by relatives or friends who survived them. For a meaningful connection, the bar or bat mitzvah often chooses to twin with a child with the same Jewish name, birth month or other family connection.
Researchers from Yad Vashem's Hall of Names searched for a child with the same name as Zach and he was twinned with a boy named Zecharia Kanonitz who was shot dead by the Nazis at only 10 years old. Zach's cousin Noah Emanuel, also celebrating his bar mitzvah, was twinned with a toddler named Noah Norman, who was murded by the Nazis in Wilejka, Poland in 1942. When the group arrived in the Hall of Names, Zach and the two bnei mitzvah were each presented with a certificate acknowledging their committment to Holocaust remembrance. The Emanuels also asked for a copy of the Page of Testimony so that Zecharia Kanonitz's name could be remembered in their synagogue when they return to the United States.