Oxford to mark Holocaust Memorial Day with virtual service

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Image description: Oxford Town Hall

Oxford City Council have announced their plans to hold an ‘online service of reflection’ to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.

Holocaust Memorial Day is internationally recognised every year on 27th January to commemorate those who lost their lives as a result of the Holocaust, and all those murdered in subsequent genocides. The date marks the anniversary of the liberation of the largest Nazi death camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau. The date has been commemorated in the UK since 2001 and has been recognised by the UN as an international commemoration day since 2005.

According to the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, the theme for this year’s memorial day is ‘Be the light in the darkness’. The trust’s website states that this theme:

“Encourages everyone to reflect on the depths humanity can sink to, but also the ways individuals and communities resisted that darkness to ‘be the light’ before, during and after the genocide.”

The Oxford service will be hosted by the Lord Mayor, Councillor Mark Lygo. Due to the on-going Coronavirus pandemic, the service will be held virtually rather than in the Oxford Town Hall as in previous years, and will be accessible on the City Council’s Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts from 11:00 am on Wednesday 27th January. The service will begin with a welcome by the Lord Mayor, followed by a reading of Eva Picková’s poem Fear, which details one young girl’s experience of the Holocaust. The poem will be read by the Chairman of Oxfordshire County Council, Les Sibley.

Oxford East MP and Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds will also be present to read the poem We Remember Them by Sylvan Kamens and Rabbi Jack Riemer. Penny Faust, from the Oxford Jewish Congregation, will read A Reflection for Holocaust Memorial Day before lighting a Yahrzeit (‘a year’s time’) candle and leading a minute’s silence for reflection. There will also be several readings of prayers at the service, including by Jawaid Malik JP, Vice-Chair of the Oxford Council of Faiths and the Reverend Anthony Buckley, City Rector of Oxford.

Lord Mayor Councillor Mark Lygo said:

“In the current pandemic where people are isolating, restrictions are placed on their freedom to travel and visit friends and family, it is important to remember those that have had much more taken from them. ”

He continued:

“The virtual service to commemorate International Holocaust Memorial Day on the 27th January gives us all the opportunity to reflect on the past and to ensure that we stand up for those who are persecuted or subjected to racial hatred, we can all be the light in the darkness.”

The service will be open to all regardless of faith.

More information about Holocaust Memorial Day can be found at: www.hmd.org.uk.

Image credit: Mike Peel


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