How the Yellow Candle Project keeps the flame burning for Shoah victims

Two German Jews, six decades apart in age, are among those remembered in Maccabi GB’s campaign


Two German Jews, six decades apart in age. The woman is Frieda Mina Mayer, 81, born in Ettlingen, a postcard-pretty town in Baden-Wurtemberg. The man is Abrahamer Max, 20, from Korb, 15km north-east of Stuttgart, noted for its beauty and its wine.

It is unlikely they ever met in life. But what we do know is that they were both murdered by the Nazis: she in Gurs in 1940, he in Mauthausen in 1945.

This year, they are among the Jews being remembered in Maccabi GB’s Yellow Candle Project, a memorial campaign to have thousands of flames lit across the UK on the evening of Yom HaShoah, Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day.

“We’ve distributed more than 30,000 candles this year,” said Candice Mendes da Costa, head of events at Maccabi GB. “We’ve had orders from more than 3,250 households and 150 organisations. And we’ve sent candles to America, Hungary and Spain, among other countries.”

Last year, the organisation introduced a little packet of mini sunflower seeds to its tins, which contain a pale primrose-yellow candle engraved with a Magen David and a tiny folded card with the name and age of a Holocaust victim, and the death camp where they were murdered.

“We called the concept Remembrance to Renewal and we have continued it this year,” said Mendes da Costa. “People called us asking what to do with their empty yellow tin once the candle had burned down.

"By planting a seed in a tin, and watching it bloom into a yellow flower — the colour yellow is deliberate, of course — we are able to keep the memory of the person alive.

"Plant a seed for the future to help remember the past. If a sunflower gets too big for the tin, we advise people to plant it outside.”

People also contacted the organisation to ask what they do with the remembrance cards. “We suggest keeping them in a prayer book, or even your fridge door. But people can put them anywhere that feels right, a place where the person will be remembered.”

Online orders for candles closed at midday on April 11, but if readers email, Macabbi GB will endeavour to send them in time for Yom HaShoah on April 17.

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