Reform rabbi says Westminster Shoah memorial funds ‘could be better used’
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Reform rabbi says Westminster Shoah memorial funds ‘could be better used’

'If £100m went into Holocaust education nationally rather than a London-centric edifice, that would have far greater impact', Rabbi Jonathan Romain of Maidenhead synagogue said

Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain
Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain

A prominent Reform rabbi has told a public inquiry that £100 million of mainly taxpayers’ money earmarked for a giant Holocaust memorial near Parliament would be better spent educating Britain’s children about the genocide.

Rabbi Jonathan Romain, of Maidenhead synagogue, said “monuments do not combat antisemitism”, adding that the eye-watering amount “could be better used”.

Most British Jewish leaders support the erection of the proposed new national Holocaust memorial and learning centre in Victoria Tower Gardens next to the Houses of Parliament, despite significant environmental concerns about the site.

But many prominent British Jews, including peers whose families were killed in the Holocaust, have said it is not needed, and Romain agreed.

“The substantial cost of the proposed memorial could be better used,” he said. “If £100m, or maybe it has now risen even higher, went into Holocaust education nationally rather than a London-centric edifice, that would have far greater impact.”

He said the giant architect-designed fin sculpture and underground information centre would duplicate the new permanent Holocaust exhibition at the Imperial War Museum less than a mile away, in the five-week inquiry.

The final decision will be made by housing minister Christopher Pincher MP, who is overwhelmingly expected to approve the application, despite the Royal Parks – which looks after the site – saying it would have a “significant harmful impact” on the area.

Also addressing the inquiry was Toby Simpson, director of the Wiener Holocaust Library, who said the memorial was a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to make sure Nazi victims were “permanently honoured”, adding that it was “sadly very relevant today”.

 

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