Separated at birth: Jewish twins seek mum

By Jessica Elgot, July 30, 2010
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A pair of identical 64-year-old twins, born in Leeds, separated at birth and raised by Catholic families, are now seeking their birth mother - Leah Cohen.

With the help of genealogist Martin Cahn, whom they met on JewishGen, Mary Holmes, from Kirkby in Ashfield, and Elaine Allin from Chesterfield, are seeking their Jewish relations.

Elaine said: "I was never interested in finding my birth parents, I had a very happy childhood. But Mary always was, because hers was less happy. But now we are getting older and we feel it is the last chance to find our roots. We have just hit a brick wall."

Mary added: "People are getting more interested in researching their families, but we can't even start with our parents."

Mr Cahn said: "We can only find two suitable Leah Cohens, but both have denied they are the mothers."

The twins were born in a Leeds boarding house in Cowper Mount, owned by the Dixon family, on November 24 1945. Mary, whose name was changed from Diane by her adoptive parents, said: "We have been told by our parents our mother was around 19 years old, called Leah Cohen, and that she was from a wealthy family which disowned her. We also think we are Sephardi, and there's no information about our father."

Elaine's adoptive father, Patrick Logan, was billeted to the boarding house when he noticed a young mother with twins. Elaine said: "My father said she was cold towards us, and we slept in dresser drawers."

After Elaine's adoptive parents took one child, they found Mary a home. She said: "We both lived in Chesterfield, people would stop me in the street and call me Elaine."

Although each twin knew the other existed, Mary's parents forbade contact. Aged 21, Elaine finally tried to contact her sister - only to be told she had gone to live in Singapore.

Seven years later, having moved back to live in Edinburgh, Mary saw a name she recognised on TV - Vince Logan, a dancer for a Tom Jones concert. He was her lost sister's adopted brother. She wrote to him, care of the BBC, and the sisters were finally reunited. In 2008, Mary published a book about their separation called Being You.

The twins have also rediscovered their Jewish heritage. Mary said: "I went to Israel in 2000 and I felt so at home there."

Elaine added: "I used to work in the box office of the Adelphi Theatre - all the customers thought I was a good Yiddishe girl for their sons. And lots told me I looked like Barbra Streisand."

Last updated: 12:57pm, July 29 2010