Holocaust Memorial Service

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196 children from local schools and 124 adults, including members of the Beth Shalom Synagogue in Cambridge and Cantor Leslie Wheeler, attended the Holocaust Memorial Service hosted by St Mary's SW on Monday 27th January 2020.

Holocaust Memorial Day is a day set aside to remember and reflect on the dreadful events of the Nazi Holocaust and all the subsequent genocides that have afflicted humanity since in Cambodia, Rwanda, DR Congo and Myanmar.

Our speakers, Julia and Miriam Sherwood, talked about the experience of their family of the on-going persecution of Jews in Europe long after the war ended. They are the daughter and granddaughter of Laco and Agi Kalina, who were Jews born in Czechoslovakia before the war.  Laco and Agi both survived internment in death camps during the war.  After the war, Laco worked as a journalist and producer of political theatre, becoming well known in Czechoslovakia. However, his working life was blighted by repeated persecution because he was a Jew.  He and Agi were arrested and imprisoned again by the Soviet Communist regime in 1971 and their 15-year-old daughter Julia was left to fend for herself.  In 1975 the whole family had their passports confiscated but in 1978 they managed to escape to West Germany.

Year 6 pupils from local schools and some classes from the high school had been invited to prepare for this and to ask Julia and Miriam questions about their story and to contribute to the readings. The Saffron Academy Chamber Choir, featured in the photo above, provided beautiful and moving renditions of 'Wiegala' by Ilse Weber (Ilse Weber died in Auswchwitz-Birkenau on 6 October 1941) and 'Hinei Ma Tov' from Psalm 133 sung in Hebrew and English.