By Helena Baker, UJS London and South East J-Soc Officer
There are many reasons why Yom Hashoah resonated with me so strongly.
Maybe it was because I have been to Poland twice. Or because I wrote my dissertation on the destruction of Hungarian Jewry. Or maybe it’s due to, even though she never spoke about it, my grandma who lost family in the Shoah.
The truth is I don’t think any of those are the reasons.
Yom Hashoah is important to all Jews, because it allows us to mourn for those who lost so much, due to the eradication of entire families and communities, to the point that there was no one left to grieve.
It gave us a day to pour out the grief and sorrow of knowing that our people suffered so absolutely and completely.
It also serves to remind us that the words “Never Again” are more than a cliché.
They are a pledge that we will ensure the protection of the Jewish people.
I suspect it is this message that inspired the organisers of Yom Hashoah UK.
An event that brought together five thousand Jewish people whom watched as speakers, singers and musicians all expressed grief in their own way.
Chief Rabbi Mirvis, the Israeli ambassador HE Daniel Taub, Rabbi Andrew Shaw as well as the newly appointed head of the Holocaust Memorial Foundation Sir Peter Bazalgette all spoke of their commitment to remembrance.
The speeches were punctuated by fitting music provided by the choir as well as videos of Holocaust Survivors telling their own personal stories.
Poignantly, there was a specific emphasis on the subsequent generations’ commitment and obligation to remember.
A survivor’s daughter spoke and survivors’ grandchildren, along with survivors and communal leaders, lit candles in remembrance.
Significantly, the event concluded with a Primary School choir.
I was honoured to have a role in this important day, reading about the Jews who fought as part of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. I spoke on behalf of UJS alongside representatives from an array of Youth organisations.
The Youth delegation was made up of leaders from a broad spectrum of British Jewry, all of whom united to remember the victims of the Holocaust.
The Youth Pledge, a specific dedication to remembering the Holocaust, included representatives from Tribe, Reform, the Tzofim (Israeli Scouts), Mazorti, FZY and JLGB. Furthermore, I spoke alongside field workers from Bnei Akiva and Habonim Dror.
This communal unity was mirrored in the five thousand people who attended the event.
Looking around I was astounded by the wealth of Jews represented and I was proud to be able to take part in such a worthy and important cause.