Thousands at Cenotaph for AJEX Remembrance Parade
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Thousands at Cenotaph for AJEX Remembrance Parade

Hundreds of British Jewish veterans marched down Whitehall to show their respect for the 3,000 Jewish soldiers who died in the First World War

Joe Millis is a journalist

  • AJEX parade 2018. Credit: Marc Morris Photography
    AJEX parade 2018. Credit: Marc Morris Photography
  • AJEX parade 2018. Credit: Marc Morris Photography
    AJEX parade 2018. Credit: Marc Morris Photography
  • AJEX parade 2018. Credit: Marc Morris Photography
    AJEX parade 2018. Credit: Marc Morris Photography
  • AJEX parade 2018. Credit: Marc Morris Photography
    AJEX parade 2018. Credit: Marc Morris Photography
  • AJEX parade 2018. Credit: Marc Morris Photography
    AJEX parade 2018. Credit: Marc Morris Photography
  • AJEX parade 2018. Credit: Marc Morris Photography
    AJEX parade 2018. Credit: Marc Morris Photography
  • Chief Rabbi Mirvis at the AJEX parade 2018. Credit: Marc Morris Photography
    Chief Rabbi Mirvis at the AJEX parade 2018. Credit: Marc Morris Photography
  • AJEX parade 2018. Credit: Marc Morris Photography
    AJEX parade 2018. Credit: Marc Morris Photography
  • AJEX parade 2018. Credit: Marc Morris Photography
    AJEX parade 2018. Credit: Marc Morris Photography
  • AJEX parade 2018. Credit: Marc Morris Photography
    AJEX parade 2018. Credit: Marc Morris Photography
  • AJEX parade 2018. Credit: Marc Morris Photography
    AJEX parade 2018. Credit: Marc Morris Photography
  • Centre: The Lord Levy and right: Mark Regev, at the AJEX parade 2018. Credit: Marc Morris Photography
    Centre: The Lord Levy and right: Mark Regev, at the AJEX parade 2018. Credit: Marc Morris Photography
  • AJEX parade 2018. Credit: Marc Morris Photography
    AJEX parade 2018. Credit: Marc Morris Photography
  • AJEX parade 2018. Credit: Marc Morris Photography
    AJEX parade 2018. Credit: Marc Morris Photography
  • AJEX parade 2018. Credit: Marc Morris Photography
    AJEX parade 2018. Credit: Marc Morris Photography
  • AJEX parade 2018. Credit: Marc Morris Photography
    AJEX parade 2018. Credit: Marc Morris Photography
  • AJEX parade 2018. Credit: Marc Morris Photography
    AJEX parade 2018. Credit: Marc Morris Photography
  • AJEX parade 2018. Credit: Marc Morris Photography
    AJEX parade 2018. Credit: Marc Morris Photography
  • AJEX parade 2018. Credit: Marc Morris Photography
    AJEX parade 2018. Credit: Marc Morris Photography
  • AJEX parade 2018. Credit: Marc Morris Photography
    AJEX parade 2018. Credit: Marc Morris Photography
  • AJEX parade 2018. Credit: Marc Morris Photography
    AJEX parade 2018. Credit: Marc Morris Photography
  • AJEX parade 2018. Credit: Marc Morris Photography
    AJEX parade 2018. Credit: Marc Morris Photography
  • AJEX parade 2018. Credit: Marc Morris Photography
    AJEX parade 2018. Credit: Marc Morris Photography
  • AJEX parade 2018. Credit: Marc Morris Photography
    AJEX parade 2018. Credit: Marc Morris Photography
  • AJEX parade 2018. Credit: Marc Morris Photography
    AJEX parade 2018. Credit: Marc Morris Photography
  • AJEX parade 2018. Credit: Marc Morris Photography
    AJEX parade 2018. Credit: Marc Morris Photography
  • AJEX parade 2018. Credit: Marc Morris Photography
    AJEX parade 2018. Credit: Marc Morris Photography
  • AJEX parade 2018. Credit: Marc Morris Photography
    AJEX parade 2018. Credit: Marc Morris Photography

Hundreds of Jewish ex-servicemen and women, as well as their families, marched past the Cenotaph, Whitehall, on Sunday as part of this year’s AJEX Remembrance Parade.

Braving the cold – but thankful for the sunshine – the veterans gathered at Horse Guards Parade before marching down Whitehall led by the Band of the Scots Guard.

On Whitehall, they passed before dignitaries such as Reviewing Officer Lieutenant-General Richard Nugee – the Chief of Defence People – Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl and Israeli ambassador Mark Regev.

The service included wreath laying, the Last Post and Reveille, a prayer for peace, El Male Rachamim, kaddish, which was recited by all at the parade and Adon Olam. There was also a prayer for the safety of the armed forces, as well as a recital of Psalm 23

General Nugee told the veterans: “The Jewish community has played aa hugely significant role in all this country’s conflicts. As a mark of this, there are Star of David headstones at military cemeteries in France and Belgium.

“Thank you for the physical and mental sacrifices you have made. Thanks for coming in the cold and amazing sunshine to remember and honour those who fought for freedom and this country.”

The veterans, their friends and families, as well as Jewish organisations such as the Board, paid their respects to the 3,000 Jewish soldiers, who died in the First World War, as well as the 1,500,000 Jews from the allied forces who served in the Second World War.

Particular emphasis was put on centenary of the end of the First World War- “the War to End All Wars” – and the Battle of Amiens, which marked the beginning of the end of the war.

Also marked was the 75th anniversaries of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and of the formation of the Dambusters raid.

Louis Yeshin and Daughter Cathy Forman.

Second World War veteran Louis Yeshin, 93, was a leading sickbay attendant on HMS Retalick, a Royal Navy frigate that operated in the Atlantic Ocean, accompanying convoys of vital food and weapons from the United States.

He told Jewish News: “I remember treating a German officer who was badly wounded. He was actually from the Gestapo. I gave him morphine and changed his dressing. I told him: ‘By the way, I am Jewish.’ He went as pale as a ghost.”

Stanley Myers, 87, was an air observer in Germany after the war, serving with the British Army on the Rhine. He lamented that the “numbers are getting fewer and fewer as each year goes by”. 

Mr Myers, a long-time participant in Ajex parades, echoed the thoughts of many veterans, saying he would continue to come for as long as he could, “but I’m getting old”.

Howard Skolnick and daughter Hannah

Father and daughter Howard and Hannah Skolnick were at the parade to remember Howard’s father, Arnold, who was injured during the war on the Dutch-German border “while he was making tea”.

His uncle, Nathan Daren was killed in July 1941 while on SS Amselm, one of the Atlantic convoy ships. 

It was their first time at the Ajex parade, and Howard said that he was there “to remember my family, to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War and because of the rise in antisemitism”.

Leading the parade was the Jewish Lads’ and Girls’ Brigade (JLGB), which sees it as its main mission to help Ajex keep the parade going year after year.

Ryan Sidle, 31, the Parade Commander for the JLGB, told Jewish News: “This is the most important thing we do as a volunteer organisation. We have lots of people on board with this, even though time is a very important issue for many people. So many are willing to give of their time for this.

“We will continue to be involved in this as long as we are needed.”

His JLGB colleague, Michael Livingstone, added: “We see this parade and partnership with Ajex as part of JLGB’s mission to bridge the generations. It is also part of our Mitzvah Day contribution.” 

After the parade, Chief Rabbi Mirvis paid tribute to Jacques Weisser, who is standing down as Ajex chief executive after 24 years.

“Jacques,” said Rabbi Mirvis, “without you, we wouldn’t be where we are, and our thanks is an absolute statement of recognition that you have brought the organisation right into the heart of everyone in the community and beyond.

“You are the ultimate fusion of efficiency and honesty… If you are doing something, we know it is in good hands – and it is being done in an understated way. You are a marvellous mensch.”

Hundreds of Jewish ex-servicemen and women, as well as their families, marched past the Cenotaph, Whitehall, on Sunday…

Posted by The Jewish News on Monday, 19 November 2018

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