A Jewish, Christian and Muslim audience of almost 200 packed Menorah Synagogue (Cheshire Reform) on Holocaust Memorial Day in a joint Hate Crime Awareness Week event with Wythenshawe’s five Anglican churches.
Following the screening of the film, ‘Paper Clips’ – the remarkable story of a rural Tennesee town’s Holocaust project – 92 year old Menorah member and Holocaust survivor, Gisela Feldman, brought tears to the eyes of many with an eloquent and moving message of peace.
‘Should one intervene on overhearing a racist conversation?’ was just one of the questions put to the expert six-strong question time panel, chaired by Jim Battle, Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner. Insp. Luke Breakspear, of Wythenshawe’s neighbourhood policing team, advised politely challenging and reporting to the police.
‘Is it time to consign the Holocaust to history?’ provoked a resounding ‘no’ from all the panel. Denis MacShane, former Europe Minister, warned that if we forgot the Holocaust, another would emerge. The overwhelming importance of remembering and commemorating the Holocaust was reinforced by the other speakers, Qaisra Shahraz, novelist and Trustee of Manchester’s Multi-Faith Centre, Claire Tabert of Stop Hate UK and Ian Rushton, Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor for the North West.
The evening came to a dramatic climax with the intervention by a young Muslim woman in the audience who, dressed in traditional clothing, told how she was constantly verbally abused. “Get back to the desert” was one of the milder epithets hurled at her.
Guests were welcomed by Menorah Chair, Howard Barlow, and by the Rev. Adam Dickson, Assistant Curate of the Wythenshawe Anglican Team Ministry.
Councillor Tracey Rawlins, a member of the church team, pressed home the message of Hate Crime Awareness Week and thanked Menorah for joining together on this successful initiative which has, undoubtedly helped mutual understanding between faiths.
The event was facilitated by a small grant from Manchester City Council.
Pictured above are panel members Claire Tabert of Stop Hate UK; Dr Denis MacShane, former Europe Minister; Qaisra Shahraz, Trustee of Manchester Multi-Faith Centre) and Jim Battle, Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner; and Gisela Feldman. Photos: Howard Barlow.