Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) 2013 in Northwood, London, brought together around 2,000 local secondary school students to participate in commemorative workshops and talks. Students from over 40 local schools in years 9 and above gathered at a number of synagogues with their teachers to participate in these events, now in their 12th consecutive year. Orthodox and Liberal synagogues joined together to bring this important educational programme to local students, with events being organised by Northwood United Synagogue, Northwood and Pinner Liberal Synagogue, and Rabbis Aaron Goldstein and Dr Moshe Freedman.
For a week between 29 January and 6 February 2013, students had the chance to hear first-hand from Holocaust survivors such as Ziggy Shipper, and to ask questions. Students also participated in small group workshops, led by volunteers, where they made important links between the Holocaust and contemporary issues such as racism, discrimination and bullying.
Ziggy Shipper speaks to students
Thanks to the tireless work of the local organisers, Northwood HMD events continue to grow and present an incredible opportunity for students from the diverse locality to learn lessons from the Holocaust that are relevant to all. Speaking at the closing event, Rabbi Dr Moshe Freedman from Northwood United Synagogue said,
Holocaust Memorial Day highlights the importance of building bridges between different communities… By not only accepting our differences but learning about one another, we can hope to not only build bridges, but to build a healthy and respectful society for all.
At the end of each session, students were asked to write a postcard to the survivor they had heard from and their impressions of the day. Many reflected on how much they valued hearing a survivor share their testimony, one student wrote
The impact your story has had on me is very powerful. I am sorry for what you have gone through and I am very grateful for you telling me your story today. You’re inspirational and your story makes me appreciate everything I have.