Jewish pupils from JFS who have each researched a fallen Jewish soldier are set to join those marching at an emotional Jewish military parade in London on Sunday.
The students will join hundreds of Jewish community members paying their respects on Sunday 18 November at an event organised by AJEX at Horse Guards’ Parade.
It will be the culmination of weeks’ of work from the JFS pupils, who have been researching the experiences of JFS alumni who went to fight in the First World War, which ended 100 years ago.
The school has held a series of special assemblies and presented their findings in an exhibition, with 100 students each discovering more about the lives of 100 Jewish soldiers who fought. They will march on Sunday carrying the names of those they learned about.
Events in the lead-up to the Whitehall parade have been largely coordinated by Major Danny Yank, who recently ended 14 years’ service.
He explained that for the first time ever, there will be a free educational event for all ages held at 8 Northumberland Avenue from 11.00 until 13.00, before people start taking their places along Horse Guards’ Parade before 13.30.
“It’s a casual drop-in,” said Maj. Yank. “I’ve got my two-year old going and my 84-year old father-in-law. There’ll be food and drink, arts and crafts, poppy drawing, memorial making, personal stories from the First World War, plus a BBC Radio 3 musician and presenter who will be teaching songs from the trenches, so a lot going on.”
On the parade, Maj. Yank said: “It’s for everyone. Jews of this country have made the most amazing sacrifices over 300 years and I don’t think we celebrate and commemorate that as much as we could.”
He added: “I want that message to be there all the time, not just one week every year. I want us to show that we stand with the rest of the country, not just as Jews, but as Brits, particularly this year, because Jews played a huge part in the First World War.”
Up to 3,000 Jewish soldiers died in the First World War, said AJEX vice-president Jeffrey Fox, while 75,000 served in the Second World War.
“It’s important to realise that Jews have been serving the sovereign for over 300 years,” he said. “Even today, hundreds are serving. It’s important for the younger generation to come to appreciate the sacrifices made by their grandparents, and to realise that Jews did as much as any other group.”
Of those who died in the First World War, 535 were Jewish Lads’ Brigade members and leaders, their names now appearing on the JLGB Roll of Honour.
The British Jewry Book of Honour notes that 80 Jewish Lads’ Brigade Officers joined up in 1914, with 38 of them never returning. Among the JLGB Boys to have survived the war were two Victoria Cross recipients, VC Izzy Smith and VC Jack White.