Holocaust Memorial Day 2019: Hundreds gather in Ilford and vow to fight hatred
PUBLISHED: 15:10 28 January 2019 | UPDATED: 15:26 28 January 2019
Hundreds gathered in Ilford to hear tales of those torn from their homes in atrocities dating from the Holocaust to the present day - and took a vow to fight these evils.
Politicians, veterans and pupils, among others, braced the bitter cold to unite at the memorial gardens in Valentines Park this morning (January 28) to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.
Opening the ceremony, Mayor Cllr Debbie Kaur-Thiara said: “This day provides a mark of respect to the victims of genocide and those who still live with its consequences today.”
She spoke of the genocides committed in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, Darfur and Myanmar.
Speaking on this year’s theme she said: “‘Torn from Home’ has a resonance to all of us - children and adults - because all of us have some association with the home.”
Council leader Jas Athwal emphasised the importance of fighting prejudice and hatred in the present day.
“The words we say on Holocaust Memorial Day must translate into action on every other day of the year,” he said.
“To fight antisemitism, xenophobia and hate speech.”
Choirs from the South West Essex and Settlement Reform Synagogue (Swers) and Ilford United Synagogue joined together in singing hymn Oseh Shalom before Rabbi Aryeh Sufrin and Rabbi Israel Hyman recited a Memorial Prayer for the Dead.
The stories of three people driven from their homes in during the Holocaust and Bosnian genocide were then read aloud by pupils from Clore Tikva Primary, in Fullwell Ave; Coppice Primary, in Manford Way; Farnham Primary, in Royal Close and Kantor King Solomon High School, in Forest Road.
The ceremony ended with the laying of wreaths upon the memorial stone before faith leaders read aloud the seven tenets of the Holocaust Memorial Day Statement of Commitment in turn.
“What a fantastic turnout,” said Ilford North MP Wes Streeting, speaking after the ceremony.
“It is great to see so many people here on what is one of the most important occasions of the year.”
The ceremony had special significance for Brigade Major Elise Cirsch, bearing the flag for the Jewish Lads’ and Girls’ Brigade.
“It is always very emotional - particularly during the Kaddish [hymn],” she said.
“My father was torn from his home in Vienna and brought to the UK in the Kindertransport.”