The UK’s annual Yom HaShoah commemorations moved online for a second consecutive year, with thousands tuning in to honour the memory and pledging never to forget.
Two hundred and fifty charity chiefs, rabbis and youth leaders have joined Holocaust survivors and camp liberators in lighting candles in memory of the six million Jewish Shoah victims.
The Remember Together We Are One ceremony included numerous testimonies from Holocaust survivors – all of them incredibly moving including that of Lily Ebert BEM who recalled on camera to her great-grandson Dov Forman the hell that was Auschwitz-Birkenau.
She went on to describe how she witnessed Dr Josef Mengele condemning her mother and sisters to their death with just one wave of his hand.
The ceremony was introduced by Henry Grunwald, ex president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and a founder and first chairman of the Jewish Leadership Council.
He said the ceremony would ensure Shoah remembrance would have a permanent place within the community and that we were “joined online this year to show that we can come together whatever the circumstances as one people to remember that loss in our own special way.”
UK Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis spoke powerfully of the need to continue to speak about the “lessons of the Shoah” which he said were “perhaps more relevant today than ever before since the end of the Second World War.”
He continued: “We must speak about our extraordinary survivors – incredible women and men who continue to give us so much inspiration every day.
“Most importantly of all, we must speak about our pledge of remembrance from generation to generation. Our responsibility to continue the greatly important work of the survivors in order that we guarantee their first-hand testimonies will not be forgotten nor be denied.”
Equally poignant was the testimony of Auschwitz survivor and one of ‘The Boys’ Ike Alterman who gave his testimony to his granddaughter Danni and told how he rebuilt his life and made his home in Manchester.
Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl next officially opened the commemoration by reading out ‘We Commune’ The Yad Vashem Law, unanimously passed by Israel’s Knesset in 1953 and establishing Yom HaShoah as the Holocaust Martyrs’ & Heroes’ Remembrance Day.
El Maleh Rachamim’was sung by Chazan Jonny Turgel, grandson of the late Gena Turgel MBE, the now infamous Bergen Belsen survivor and educator.
Third generation survivor and Game of Thrones actress Laura Predelska then offered a reminder of the millions who lost their lives in the various Nazi death camps.
TV judge Robert Rinder and Louisa Clein next told the story of The Boys – a group of 732 child survivors who were flown to Lake Windermere after the war to rebuild their lives in the UK
This was followed the yellow candle lighting ceremonies from locations far and wide across the UK.