Parliamentary farewell for Central Synagogue’s long-serving Rabbi
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Parliamentary farewell for Central Synagogue’s long-serving Rabbi

Michael Gove and Jeremy Hunt lead plaudits for retiring senior rabbi Barry Marcus, who was heralded for 'opening eyes and ears of the next generation' with Holocaust education

Joe Millis is a journalist

  • Rabbi Barry Marcus with Michael Gove MP

credit: Graham Chweidan
    Rabbi Barry Marcus with Michael Gove MP credit: Graham Chweidan
  • Attendees of the parliamentary event marking Rabbi Barry Marcus's retirement
    Attendees of the parliamentary event marking Rabbi Barry Marcus's retirement
  • Environment secretary Michael Gove presenting Rabbi Barry Marcus with a framed picture from the Holocaust Educational Trust, thanking him for his work. credit: Graham Chweidan
    Environment secretary Michael Gove presenting Rabbi Barry Marcus with a framed picture from the Holocaust Educational Trust, thanking him for his work. credit: Graham Chweidan
  • Rabbi Barry Marcus with Lord Eric Pickles 

credit: Graham Chweidan
    Rabbi Barry Marcus with Lord Eric Pickles credit: Graham Chweidan
  • Rabbi Barry Marcus addressing the meeting 

credit: Graham Chweidan
    Rabbi Barry Marcus addressing the meeting credit: Graham Chweidan
  • Rabbi Barry Marcus with Israeli Ambassador to the UK Mark Regev

credit: Graham Chweidan
    Rabbi Barry Marcus with Israeli Ambassador to the UK Mark Regev credit: Graham Chweidan
  • Environment secretary Michael Gove presenting Rabbi Barry Marcus with a framed picture from the Holocaust Educational Trust, thanking him for his work. credit: Graham Chweidan
    Environment secretary Michael Gove presenting Rabbi Barry Marcus with a framed picture from the Holocaust Educational Trust, thanking him for his work. credit: Graham Chweidan
  • Rabbi Barry Marcus with MP Jeremy Hunt, Foreign Secretary 

credit: Graham Chweidan
    Rabbi Barry Marcus with MP Jeremy Hunt, Foreign Secretary credit: Graham Chweidan
  • Attendees of the parliamentary event thanking Rabbi Barry Marcus. credit: Graham Chweidan
    Attendees of the parliamentary event thanking Rabbi Barry Marcus. credit: Graham Chweidan
  • Rabbi Barry Marcus with Lord Michael Howard

credit: Graham Chweidan
    Rabbi Barry Marcus with Lord Michael Howard credit: Graham Chweidan
  • Attendees of the parliamentary event marking Rabbi Barry Marcus's retirement. credit: Graham Chweidan
    Attendees of the parliamentary event marking Rabbi Barry Marcus's retirement. credit: Graham Chweidan
  • Rabbi Barry Marcus with Michael Gove MP

credit: Graham Chweidan
    Rabbi Barry Marcus with Michael Gove MP credit: Graham Chweidan

Dozens of people gathered at the Houses of Parliament last week to bid farewell to Central Synagogue’s long-serving Senior Rabbi Barry Marcus.

The reception, hosted by Environment Secretary Michael Gove, was attended by the Lords Pickles, Howard and Polak, Ian Austin MP and family and friends from the UK, Israel, the US and South Africa.

Gove paid warm tribute to Rabbi Marcus, who told the Jewish News that he would now “divide my time between the UK and Israel and continue with my Holocaust education work. I will also devote time to charities focusing on Eastern Europe and Israel.”

Mr Gove praised the peers and Mr Austin at a time when “unfortunately, antisemitism has returned to our streets, social media and on the Continent.”

He noted the “no one has brought home to the next generation the importance of Holocaust education as Barry has through his work with the Holocaust Educational Trust [HET].

Rabbi Barry Marcus with Lord Michael Howard
credit: Graham Chweidan

“He is opening eyes and ears of the next generation by organising visits to Auschwitz and arranging talks in schools by Holocaust survivors.” One of those survivors, Harry Olmer, was among the guests at the reception in the Churchill Room of the House.

Mr Gove added: “Rabbi Marcus may be retiring, but he is not retiring by nature and he will ensure that HET’s invaluable work continues.”

Among the HET projects Mr Gove noted was the collaboration with Chelsea Football Club, which has taken more than 140 supporters and staff on a trip to Auschwitz as part of its Say No To Antisemitism programme.

Attendees of the parliamentary event marking Rabbi Barry Marcus’s retirement

A clearly emotional Rabbi Marcus said it had been a “privilege to engage with pupils and teachers up and down the country”.

Rabbi Barry Marcus with Lord Eric Pickles
credit: Graham Chweidan

Rabbi Marcus added that when he started working on Holocaust education 20 years ago, some in the community had reservations about the one-day trips to Auschwitz he was arranging. But now, he said, “only yesterday the 200th one-day trip to Auschwitz took place”.

He singled out HET chief executive Karen Pollock who had taken “HET to a different level”.

Rabbi Marcus – who described himself as an “optimist” – recalled that when he travelled to Northern Ireland for the first time 18 years ago to a school group to Auschwitz, “at Belfast airport, there were two groups of pupils – one Catholic, the other Protestant, and they didn’t mix.

“When we came back, at Krakow airport, they all stood together, and this shows what can be done through dialogue.”

 

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