Image Credit: Remi Mathis

Holocaust Memorial Day services to be held throughout Oxford

Various events will take place around Oxford during the next two weeks to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day (Saturday 27th January). 

On Friday 26th January, Oxford Town Hall will host an in-person service which will take place at 11am in the Assembly Room. It is open to people of all faiths or none, and is being held to “remember and learn about the Holocaust, Nazi persecution and the genocides that followed in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur”.

Barnabas Balint, historian and doctoral researcher, member of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust’s Youth Forum, and alumnus of the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Regional Ambassador programme, will be reflecting on this year’s theme, ‘Fragility of Freedom’. Balint has produced video testimonies from survivors of the Rwandan Genocide (this year marks its 30th anniversary) and the Holocaust, which will be shown at the ceremony. 

The ceremony will also consist of prayers and reflections from Oxford’s religious leaders, as well as a poetry reading from Anneliese Dodds, MP for Oxford East.

Councillor Lubna Arshad, Lord Mayor of Oxford, said: “Holocaust Memorial Day is an occasion to remember the horrors of the Holocaust and the genocides that have taken place across the world and, in doing so, be reminded that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance, not only in defending human rights but collectively standing against injustice.”

“We must be guided by the lessons of the past and build a future founded on respect, understanding, and the steadfast commitment to preserving and protecting our freedom to live, worship, work and love freely. Love for all, hatred for none.”

Magdalen College held a discussion event on Thursday 25th January, led by the College President, Dinah Rose KC. She was in conversation about the contemporary relevance and history of the Holocaust with Laura Marks CBE, Chair of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, activist, and founder of Mitzvah Day, a charity bringing people of different faiths together through social action. She is also the founder of Nisa-Nashim, a national network for Muslim and Jewish women. 

Marking the day itself (Saturday 27th), Christ Church College will host a singing workshop in line with this year’s theme, where participants will study and sing two songs by Ilse Weber (1903-1944). She was a musician who wrote these songs during her internment in the concentration camp Theresienstadt. 

There will also be a candle lighting ceremony at Lady Margaret Hall on the 27th, at 6:30pm in the chapel. 

Keble College will host an event on Sunday 28th January at 5:30pm, in the chapel, in collaboration with the Oxford branch of the Council for Christians and Jews. The ceremony will feature music from Keble College Choir and OxfordShir, a local Jewish choir. 

Michael Newman OBE, chief executive at The Association of Jewish Refugees, an organisation that provides support to Holocaust survivors and their families, will deliver a speech at this event. The university has emphasised that “all are most welcome to attend”. Attendees are invited to socialise over drinks after the event. 

Oxford Brookes University is holding a student-led commemoration of Holocaust Memorial Day on Monday 29th January. This event takes place every year, organised by the Multifaith Chaplaincy. 
On Wednesday 31st January, from 5:45pm to 6:30pm, Harris Manchester’s midweek chapel service will be a Holocaust Memorial Service. The service will be led by the College Chaplain, the Reverend Dr Claire MacDonald, alongside Wendy Fidler CBE. The event will consist of “words, music, and silence” and will include “prayers, blessing and reflections across and beyond faith traditions.”

Image Credit: Remi Mathis

Image Description: Oxford Town Hall