St Albans marks Holocaust Memorial Day with service at St Albans United Synagogue

St Albans & Harpenden Review: City marks Holocaust Memorial Day with synagogue service City marks Holocaust Memorial Day with synagogue service

Victims of the Holocaust and other atrocities were remembered at a service in St Albans last week.

More than 100 people joined the city’s mayor, Annie Brewster, to pack into St Albans United Synagogue for the city’s annual Holocaust Memorial Day Commemoration service on Monday, January 27.

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This is the first time the synagogue has hosted the event and the service was just one of 2,000 Holocaust Memorial Day events held across the country.

In keeping with this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day theme of journeys, the keynote speaker, Kurt Wick, recounted how he had escaped from the Nazis by fleeing with his family from Vienna on the ‘Last Boat to Shanghai’, the title of his talk.

Recollections of other journeys, with tragic or more fortunate endings, made by the families of synagogue members Leslie Artman and Jeanette Grenby, were also featured.

St Albans High School pupil Kate James also described how her preconceptions of the Holocaust had changed after visiting the Auschwitz concentration camp. She was one of two students from the school who had made the trip through the Holocaust Educational Trust.

In a moving ceremony, six candles were lit, one for each million of the six million Jews murdered. The candles also represented other victims of the Nazis, including the mentally and physically handicapped, political prisoners, homosexuals, Roma gypsies and people of other nationalities and religions. Candles were also lit in remembrance of people killed in subsequent atrocities.

The traditional Jewish memorial prayer for the dead was also recited by the synagogue’s lay reader, Rev Jonathan Gorsky.

St Albans Synagogue chair Karen Appleby told the audience that the Holocaust was often remembered for numbers too large to truly comprehend. "But despite the scale of it all, every person involved was an individual, whether they were a victim or a survivor" she said.

"Each had their own personal journey, and these people weren’t so different from you and me."

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