Across the UK, Jewish community representatives on Monday marked 100 years since Britain’s entry into the First World War, the anniversary coinciding with Tisha B’Av – just as it did in 1914.
A representative of Liberal Judaism in Edinburgh joined Prince Charles at politicians in Scotland for a service in Glasgow Cathedral, before laying wreaths in George Square in the city centre.
In London, Westminster Abbey witnessed further services, with Jewish religious and communal leaders among the congregation, remembering the fallen.
Over 50,000 Jewish soldiers fought for Britain during the First World War, sharing in the horror and loss experienced by the whole country.
In London, hundreds were due to gather at Bevis Marks Synagogue to hear the first major address of Sephardi Chief Rabbi Joseph Dwek, the newly-installed head of Spanish and Portuguese Congregation.
Together with the Board of Deputies, the historic shul was to host a ‘lights out’ ceremony, a tribute that evokes the eve-of-war remarks of the then foreign secretary, Edward Grey, who said: “The lamps are going out all over Europe.”
Some groups used the centenary to educate members, with the United Synagogue distributing a booklet through its shuls, outlining Jewish perspectives about (and insight into) the war, a description of Jewish chaplaincy serving in the armed forces, and details on the work of the Chief Rabbi during this time.
The Wiener Library also hosted an exhibition called: “The Kaiser’s Jewish Soldiers,” charting the story of 100,000 German Jews who donned military uniform, 12,000 of whom died fighting for the German Army between 1914 and 1918.
On Sunday, Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis attended an event at the Jewish Museum London, which – together with the Jewish Military Museum – is running to ‘For King and Country, ‘an exhibition exploring the Jewish experience of the First World War.
Elsewhere, the occasion marked the online launch of Siegfried Sassoon’s war diaries, some bearing traces of mud from the Somme. The celebrated war poet’s father came from a wealthy Jewish family from Baghdad.