When Simon Leigh decided to take part in this year’s Yellow Candle Project, remembering Holocaust victims, he had no idea it would reveal a family tragedy.
Mr Leigh was among members of the Magen Avot shul in Hendon who took some of the 13,000 candles distributed across the UK to mark Yom Hashoah. Each is dedicated to a Holocaust victim and comes with a name tag.
One of Mr Leigh’s candles was dedicated to Mishenka Lisogorski, a two-year-old from Odessa, who died in 1941. Lisogorski was the original name of Mr Leigh’s family. “I was shocked,” he said. “I can’t even start to explain the feeling. It is a very unusual surname but until I saw the candle I didn’t know members of the family had been lost to the Holocaust.
“It was very emotional for me. I had to sit down for a while. When I light that candle on Yom Hashoah, it will mean something more.”
Mr Leigh had wanted to support the initiative “because it is important to remember the people we lost. But now I am determined to find out more about that two-year-old. I will light a candle for Mishenka every year. Because I might be the only family left to remember.”
Established in America more than 30 years ago, the project was introduced to the UK in 2017 by Masorti Judaism. This year, four times as many candles are being sent out across the community.