3/4 May 2024, 26 Nisan 5784

Last Sunday, I attended a remarkable event – a concert and tribute to the late Alfred Bader CBE, chemist, art collector and generous philanthropist. As a child of kindertransport, his connection to the Quakers continued throughout his life. As I listened to the stories about him and the music honouring him, I thought a great deal about Yom HaShoah 5784 in this year, 2024. Everything is different post 7th October and while the brutal fighting and destruction in Gaza continues. This year, Yom HaShoah falls on Sunday night, 5th May. We have chosen to make our own commemoration with a special concert on 19th May at FPS with our chosen charity, G2G. It will be an afternoon of family stories and music from folk who remember and pay forward their memories. I urge you to join us then. Click here to book.

This Sunday, we are directing people to the National Yom HaShoah commemoration in person or on line. I will offer an online Havdalah on Saturday, 4th May to lead into such remembering. In his book ‘Zachor,’ the fine historian Yosef Chayim Yerushalmi wrote about the distinction between Jewish history and Jewish memory. This year, that distinction feels poignant. Does our remembering affect us now in relation to what is happening in Israel and Gaza? Should it? I looked up Eli Wiesel’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech. He looks back on himself as a boy catapulted into the kingdom of the night.

‘And now the boy is turning to me: Tell me, he asks. What have you done with my future? What have you done with your life?
And I tell him that I have tried. That I have tried to keep memory alive, that I have tried to fight those who would forget. Because if we forget, we are guilty, we are accomplices. And then I explain to him how naïve we were, that the world did know and remain silent. And that is why I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation.’

This marking of time is a very Jewish thing and for many of us, a critical part of this endeavour.

Shabbat Shalom,