Read sermons and speeches from Holocaust Memorial Day

31 January 2019

Last weekend saw Jews around the country join with people of all faiths, and none, to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day.

Services, ceremonies and events were held to remember the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust, as well as the millions of other people killed under Nazi Persecution and subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

This year’s theme was ‘Torn From Home’, encouraging reflection on how the enforced loss of a safe place to call ‘home’ is part of the trauma faced by anyone experiencing persecution and genocide.

We have collated a series of sermons, speeches and articles by Liberal Judaism’s rabbis and leaders written for Holocaust Memorial Day. You can read them by clicking here.

They include pieces looking at everything from the history of antisemitism to new ways to remember the Shoah, written by Liberal Jewish leaders including Rabbi Dr Margaret Jacobi, Rabbi Elli Tikvah Sarah and our movement’s president Rabbi Dr Andrew Goldstein.

There are also articles specifically examining this year’s theme by Stevenage Liberal Synagogue chair Terry Wolfe and Southgate Progressive Synagogue’s Rabbi Yuval Keren.

Yuval writes: “What does it mean being torn away from home? Can we really understand it if we did not have a first-hand account of it?

“I can only reflect on my small experience. Just before coming to this country in 1993, I had sudden asthma attacks. Only later, I realised that they were connected to my anxieties about moving from home to another county. I was very far from being a refugee. I was free to stay, I was free to go, and I knew I was coming to a good stable country. (Nobody thought about Brexit 25 years ago).

“Now imagine what it is for a little child who is told that she must leave home, with very few possessions, leave her mother, father, brothers and sisters. She needs to say goodbye to her old and familiar world and go to another place, perhaps adopt new parents, learn a new language, and start all over again, all alone.

“Imagine what it is for the family who has to leave everything behind, the four walls that used to be their homes, their pots & pans, their toys, their books, their photo albums… their memories.

“If they were lucky, they would make it into a tent in a refugee camp where it might be boiling-hot by day and freezing-cold by night. They cannot return home, they have no certain future, and they have little hope in sight.

“Imagine what it is to be at the mercy of relief agencies, who sometimes cannot even reach them, at the mercy of their host countries, who want them out as soon as possible, or at the mercy of human traffickers who are after the little money they might have but could not care less about their lives.

“According to the UNHCR, the Refugee Agency of the United Nations, this is the share of over 16 million refugees in our world today.

“Tonight, as we return to the safety of our homes, let us remember those who were torn away from their homes because of hatred and genocide.”

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