Holocaust Memorial Day

Holocaust Memorial Day

Dear God
We thank you that we live in a safe country where we can be ourselves without being hurt by others.
Today we especially remember people who suffered in the Holocaust,
or have been hurt by others just because they are hated for being themselves.
We pray that they may feel brave because you love and care for them.
Please give us the courage to stand together when we know things are wrong.
We pray that people who are filled with hatred, especially against Jewish people,
may have a change of heart and show kindness in the world instead.
We ask all this in Jesus’ name.

“We’re all created at the same Mint – but are created as different coins” : this was a comment by Rabbi Daniel Goldberg during his wide-ranging and engaging lecture that I was privileged to attend at Winchester Cathedral after Evensong on Holocaust Memorial Day. 

This is an analogy I’ve never heard before, but unpacking on the way home, realised that it’s so appropriate on a number of levels! Pressed and created in the mint as different sized coins, different colours, different weights….. and through interaction and rubbing together in pockets and purses, they gradually, or dramatically through circumstance, become smoother or dented and sometimes change shades. All still valuable – all still worthy – all still having an impact.

37,000 children in all 160 of our schools, as well as thousands of adults working in those schools and parents visiting, stood together on 27th January and said the Holocaust Memorial Day prayer we had written. Those children, students and adults, each special individuals, Standing Together in all shapes, sizes and colours but created in the same ‘Mint’, made a collective physical and significant point. Standing Together to challenge xenophobia, holocaust-denial and anti-semitism on that day, while especially marking the 75th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz impacted on children, families and communities.

HMD was a central part of this year’s Diocesan Project, with many more activities, events and opportunities following throughout the next two terms. However, I’d invite you now to make HMD an annual event, as do some of our schools already, given its success this year, and the importance of keeping the memory alive. I’ll send a reminder and link to the 2021 HMD material during the Autumn Term and we continue to work closely with the HMD Trust. We will offer workshops for Year 6 children in Alresford and on the Isle of Wight again, but will also have a day for schools in the Bournemouth Area. In addition, we’ll be 3 running twilight experiential training for teachers, so the workshops can be replicated in schools, and I’m intending to host a HMD event for teachers, governors and ex-officios in the evening of HMD 2021.

The mass planting of sunflower seeds is the achievable challenge I’m hoping you’ll now embrace! It reinforces our Bee Inspired, eco-focused project in 2019, and brings lots of creative, nature-focused and educational and competitive opportunities – for all children even from Reception classes. Seeing lots of sunflowers ‘Standing Together’ will be great visual messages in our school and church grounds, particularly as we reflect on their significance on graves at Auschwitz. Giving children a seed and asking them to plant and nurture at home, instantly triggers a whole host of opportunities for fun, teaching, discussion and much more. Our parishes can equally embrace the challenge and options available. A great triangle of Home – School – Church engagement! I’ll send ideas and prompts, complementing those in our Project Brochure, just before Easter. However, you may want to start sourcing seeds and ideas now so our combined thoughts can be made available to our schools.