We arranged to meet the family in Herzliya in August 2019. It was such a memorable evening, one that all of us will never forget.
Our daughter Emily Maia Lenchner had her Bat Mitzvah ceremony at Chigwell & Hainault Synagogue on 21 July 2018.
Whilst she was learning her piece, Harvey Frankel suggested to Jack Pikus (Emily’s grandfather), that she could twin her ceremony with someone who had perished in the holocaust and who was unfortunate not to have had a Bat Mitzvah herself. Emily was twinned with Susannah Apteker who had the same birth date as Emily 6th November, but obviously many years earlier. This was the first twinning project for Chigwell & Hainault Synagogue.
Susannah was born in Belgium in 1934 and was the middle child of Nathan and Editha Apteker. She sadly perished in Auschwitz at the age of 9 along with her 13 year old sister and one year old brother. Her mother was also murdered but her father survived the atrocities and remarried after the war, having two sons called Benjamin and Sammy from his second marriage.
We found a name and an address on the Yad Vashem registration certificate which stated the person registering her was Susannah’s half brother. Emily immediately wrote to Benjamin who lIves in Israel, providing him with our contact details explaining the twinning project.
We were overjoyed to receive a quick reply and Benjamin was very shocked and emotional to learn about the twinning project. We started to contact him quite frequently and we learnt more about his family history. We had decided to visit Israel the following summer as our eldest daughter would be there on tour so we discussed meeting up, which we were all excited about.
We arranged to meet the family in Herzliya in August 2019. It was such a memorable evening, one that all of us will never forget. We felt an immediate connection with this family and it was very emotional!
They were overwhelmed by the fact that Emily lights a yurhzeit candle every Friday night to keep Susannah’s memory alive, when there were so many millions of jewish people lost and forgotten in the holocaust.
They bought Emily a beautiful bracelet as a Bat Mitzvah gift which was a wonderful sentiment.
We sat listening to Benny’s father’s story and we were mesmerised. Nathan thankfully lead a long and happy life after the war with lots of family around him.
We have kept in regular contact with Benny and his daughters and hopefully we will continue to do so and P.G we can meet up again one day. Social media makes staying in contact that much easier!