Starmer draws on Pesach story at Wiener Library’s HMD event
search

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Starmer draws on Pesach story at Wiener Library’s HMD event

Labour leader speaks alongside Lord Pickles and Rabbi Jeremy Gordon, ending his address with a Hebrew blessing

Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer
Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer

Sir Keir Starmer drew on the Pesach story of the four sons when he spoke at a Holocaust Memorial Day event on Friday hosted by the Wiener Library.

And after discussing the importance of survivor testimony, he finished his address with a blessing in Hebrew.

Taking this year’s HMD theme, Be the Light in the Darkness, Starmer said we must think about how to share our knowledge. The son who does not know how to ask reminds us to talk about the horrors of the Shoah, and other genocides, “to those who may not know about them and don’t know how to ask, to warn them where hatred, prejudice and bigotry can lead”.

The Labour leader joined special envoy for post-Holocaust issues Lord (Eric) Pickles and New London Synagogue’s Rabbi Jeremy Gordon as a speaker. Cantor Jaclyn Chernett sang a memorial prayer.

Dr Toby Simpson, director of the Wiener Library, told nearly 350 viewers on Zoom that the readings from its archive of testimonies that would be heard were deposited decades ago, soon after the events they recalled. They included accounts by those who did not survive because, he said: “We must not turn away from the hardest truths about the Holocaust, or about the world in which the Holocaust happened.”

Starmer, MP for Holborn and St Pancras, said many Jewish constituents had emailed him to explain how their families’ experience during the Holocaust had shaped their lives on certain issues. “Many of those accounts go on to express shock and disgust at the persecution of the Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang,” he said.

“Others call for a more compassionate welcome for child refugees and draw on the experiences of those who escaped the Nazis on the Kindertransport. I will always keep fighting on those issues, not only because it is the right thing to do, but because it is what the lessons of history implore us to do.”

Keir speaking at the Wiener event

Lord Pickles recalled a survivor, Ivor Perl, telling during their visit to Auschwitz: “It was a day like this, a beautiful spring day when I was separated from my family. The sun was out, the birds were singing, butterflies were fluttering down the lines of separation. Don’t let anyone tell you the Holocaust occurred in the darkness and the snow. It occurred in broad daylight.”

Rabbi Gordon said “scraps of redemption” could be found amid the wreckage of what was our “greatest human failure”, and testimony was important because it “recalls the survival of hope, even in the shadows of deep inhumanity”.

Starmer stressed that learning from survivors was a privilege that future generations will not get. “Instead it will be up to us to protect institutions like this library, to protect the truth and continue to recount these testimonies. zichronam livracha, may their memories be a blessing.”

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...

Engaging

Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.

Celebrating

There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.

Pioneering

In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.

Campaigning

Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish News also produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more:
comments