Rabbi David Zucker, Anne Sheppard and Jean Cohen, from North West Surrey Synagogue took part in Royal Holloway University of London’s Holocaust Memorial Day service in Egham, Surrey on Sunday, 24 January.
After the six memorial candles were lit, Jean Cohen read ‘You who are secure’ by Primo Levy. Anne Sheppard read a prayer, and Rabbi Zucker gave a moving address, followed by chanting ‘El Malei Rachamim’ and then reciting Kaddish.
Then on 26, 27 and 28 January, the community hosted a Holocaust Memorial Day for local secondary schools.
Replicating the annual Holocaust Memorial Day project model run by Kingston Liberal Synagogue and Kingston & Surbiton District Synagogue, North West Surrey Synagogue members Alan Gallant and Eric Gilston coordinated four half-day sessions for 400 students from Heathside School in Weybridge and St. Peter’s School in Guildford. The theme of the programme was ‘Don’t Stand By’.
The programme included a speaker, followed by a Q and A, then a break out into small discussion groups with an activity pre-planned by the students. The students were also given the opportunity to complete message cards to be presented to the speaker.
The students then watched a short film, ‘Learning From the Past’, followed by a candle lighting closing ceremony in which each student lit a candle and then presented their message cards to the speaker.
There were two speakers, each doing two sessions. Beatrice Gould spoke about growing up in 1930s Munich and about her experiences witnessing the rise of the Nazis and how life altered under the Nazi regime. Marion Strehlow spoke about her childhood in the Terezín concentration camp.
The response from teachers and students was overwhelmingly positive and Eric Gilston noted that “the feedback from the teachers can be summed up by them telling me that their students had a day that they will never forget, and will pass on the message to their friends and family”.
Alan Gallant commented: “NWSS we have been staggered by the amount of support we have received from within the NWSS community. This project will now grow year by year with the addition of new schools to ensure we shall never forget”.