Ceremonies mark Holocaust Memorial Day 2023
Schoolpupils from St Leonard’s CE Primary School, Bridgnorth and St John’s Catholic Primary School, Bridgnorth have planted a cherry tree at each of their schools to mark Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) today (Friday 27 January 2023).
These cherry trees will add to the orchard of remembrance that is gradually being grown across Shropshire, following on from the tree planted at Sheriffhales Primary School in 2022.
Holocaust Memorial Day is a time to remember the millions of people murdered during the Holocaust under Nazi persecution, and in the genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.
Shropshire Council has worked with South Shropshire Interfaith Forum and Shrewsbury Interfaith Forum to organise ceremonies with the two Bridgnorth schools, which were attended by Kirstie Hurst-Knight and Christian Lea, the local Shropshire councillors for Bridgnorth East and Astley Abbotts, and to share the national HMD theme for this year, which is ‘Ordinary People’.
Additionally, the South Shropshire Interfaith Forum is holding a commemorative service on Sunday 29 January 2023 at 5pm at the United Reform Church in Church Stretton, to which all are invited.
Shropshire Libraries are showing the HMD film about the theme Ordinary People in the foyers at Shrewsbury Library and in Ludlow Library. Shropshire Archives have produced a blog sharing information about the Jews in medieval times here in Shropshire, which can be found here, and which highlights that Jews were driven out of Bridgnorth as part of national persecution of them at that time.
Cecilia Motley, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for adult social care, public health and communities, said:-
“I am heartened at the range of events being organised by ourselves and by others this year to mark Holocaust Memorial Day. In so doing, we may all seek to ensure that the Holocaust and other genocides are never forgotten, and to continue to send a visible and powerful message of our collective stance against anti-Semitism and any other forms of discrimination.
“I would like to also encourage local people to light a candle to place safely in their windows at home at 4pm today, to send a further visible message, alongside the memorial cherry trees that we plant with children in Shropshire.”
Kirstie Hurst-Knight, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for children and education, added:-
“In making the decision as a council on location of cherry trees for 2023, we have been guided by wishing to take further positive action here in Bridgnorth, following a distressing incident of anti-Semitic graffiti found in a public green space area of Bridgnorth town centre in November 2022.
“I and other Bridgnorth councillors were appalled, and also very conscious that local primary schoolpupils may have come across this graffiti before it was spotted and removed, and not been fully aware that it is a hate crime, and the reasons why it is so abhorrent.
“We will be highlighting that the graffiti could have come from people passing through the area rather than local residents, a point that we made in our Newsroom story at the time: this is more about raising awareness that such incidents may occur anywhere, and will never be tolerated.”
Holocaust Memorial Day is a time when we seek to learn the lessons of the past and recognise that genocide does not just take place on its own – it’s a steady process which can begin if discrimination, racism and hatred are not checked and prevented. We’re fortunate here in the UK; we are not at immediate risk of genocide. However, discrimination has not ended, nor has the use of the language of hatred or exclusion. There is still much to do to create a safer future and HMD is an opportunity to start this process.
HMD activity organisers bring together the diverse strands of their communities to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day in their neighbourhoods. This is a real demonstration of how the lessons of the past can inform our lives today and ensure that everyone works together to create a safer, better future.