Progressively Speaking: Why do we need a permanent Shoah in Westminster?
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Progressively Speaking: Why do we need a permanent Shoah in Westminster?

Rabbi Aaron Goldstein reflects on a topical issue and applies a progressive Jewish angle

Front view of the chosen design for the Holocaust memorial.
Front view of the chosen design for the Holocaust memorial.

 Northwood & Pinner Liberal Synagogue recently twinned with the Progressive Jewish community in the Ukrainian city of Lviv, formerly known as Lemberg and Lwow/Lvov.

In Lviv, there is only a wall standing of the once magnificent Golden Rose Synagogue and a poignant memorial.

Similar in design to that proposed for London, it is far more subtle and includes moving testimonials. Visiting, I am in tears thinking about the hundreds of thousands of Jews from this city murdered by the Nazis.

Families from our shul recently visited Hamlyn and Hanover to lay stolperstein (stepping stones) outside homes of their murdered relatives.

Our members have also sponsored stolperstein outside homes and shops of Jews of Kolín, Czech Republic. One of our Torah scrolls is from Kolín and we have displayed a damaged Czech Scroll as a reminder they survived, but the Jews of our Torah towns didn’t.

All of these examples are “meaningful locations that best reflect the impact of the Holocaust” – the government’s stated aim for a Holocaust Memorial in London.

Jewish communities of all denominations in Britain have similar ways of keeping alive the memory of those who perished. But what about reaching non-Jews, especially young people who live in areas where there are no or very few Jews?

I’m unconvinced on the memorial for Parliament Square and am sympathetic to criticism from British peers, who all lost family in the Shoah. But even if it did, do we really need another London-centric memorial?

The message of the Holocaust is already being delivered around the UK by many organisations, including  the Holocaust Educational Trust, Holocaust Memorial Day and The Journey outreach project of the National Holocaust Centre and Museum. I believe the money would be better spent reinforcing the efforts of these organisations in educating future generations of Britons.

The goal should be to make every school in the UK “meaningful locations that best reflect the impact of the Holocaust”.

  •  Rabbi Aaron Goldstein serves Northwood & Pinner Liberal Synagogue
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