More than 10,000 people tuned in to watch a ceremony at the Cenotaph commemorating Jewish servicemen and women who died since the Second World War.
The Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women’s (AJEX) 86th annual remembrance event went ahead online, narrated by TV presenter Natasha Kaplinsky OBE, despite coronavirus restrictions in Whitehall on Sunday afternoon.
It occurs every year the week after Remembrance Sunday and has been a major event for the Jewish community since the 1930s following the permission of King George V.
This year the usual parades could not go ahead but a small gathering took place, during which prayers were held, three wreaths were laid and a two-minute silence was held.
The Queen and Boris Johnson were among those who wrote letters to pay tribute, with the Prime Minister saying it was a “disappointment” the parades could not be held as usual.
Mr Johnson wrote: “I know that this year, as with so many other events, it must come as a disappointment not to be able to get together in person for the AJEX annual ceremony and parade at the Cenotaph.
“But I have every confidence that your virtual commemoration ceremony will keep alive the memory of those who fought in both world wars as well as other conflicts, and their dedication and loyalty to our country.”
The Queen also sent her “best wishes” to the event’s organisers.
AJEX National Chairman, Mike Bluestone, opened the event by saying, “It is with a sense of deep sadness that we could not meet together in person at the Cenotaph this year, but I am pleased we were able to come together at this online event as a community.”
To ensure those who usually attend the ceremony could still mark the occasion (over 2,000 people in 2019), AJEX also created a pre-recorded online ceremony and short film. Buglers from the Rifles Regiment played the Last Post and Reveille, while Adon Olam was sang by school children from Nancy Reuben Primary School. The central ceremony of the online event concluded with the National Anthem.
Chief executive Fiona Palmer said: “AJEX was determined to have a presence at the Cenotaph following Remembrance Sunday to honour those in the Jewish community who fought to defend our freedoms.
“To that end, within the constraints of Covid regulations, we held a small symbolic ceremony today and honoured our fallen servicemen and women.
“We are committed to continuing this traditional presence which has been taking place since the 1930s.”
Mike Bluestone said: “We are incredibly proud of our achievement in marking this year’s Remembrance Parade online.
“We were determined more than ever to honour those that served, and although we could not meet in person, we still came together online to remember.
“I thank everyone for joining us to share this vital act of Remembrance.
Mr Bluestone added: “May we all be able to meet again to parade next year at The Cenotaph.
“We will continue to remember the contribution of our community to HM Armed Forces.”
The online ceremony is available to view here:
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