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Torn from Home - remembering the Holocaust

by Michael Ford last modified 29 Jan, 2019 03:36 PM

St Thomas’ church in Salisbury City centre was filled on Sunday afternoon (27 January 2019) for a deeply moving multi faith commemoration in words and music for Holocaust Memorial Day.

The theme given by the Holocaust Memorial Trust was ‘Torn from Home’ and referred to the traumatic experience of Jews, Gypsies, gay people and many others forcibly removed from everything familiar and valued.

Fiona Hulbert of the Council of Christians and Jews spoke to this experience by tearing up and throwing away the papers on which those present had written items in their homes most valuable to them.

Canon Guy Wilkinson CBE, former inter faith advisor to the Bishop said:
“The theme ‘Torn from Home’, connects with the experience of so many refugees and asylum seekers in our world today. It was the experience of Jews and many other groups in the Holocaust and being torn from home continues to be the lot of far too many.

“Antisemitism remains today, even in our city this year we have seen the vandalism of the memorial tree in Churchill Gardens.

“We have brought together musicians, people of faith and none, students and older people to offer ways through which to remember and remind of the past and the present and to help us work for a more hopeful future together.”

Torn from Home- remembering the Holocaust group [Jan 2019]

The commemoration was interspersed by movements from Olivier Messaien’s ‘Quartet for the end of time’ written in his prison camp and played for the first time there on damaged instruments found in the camp. Four pupils from Bishop Wordsworth’s School spoke on pieces they had written about perceptions of the experience of Jews, gypsies and gay people, and of the antisemitic vandalising of the HMD memorial myrtle tree in Church Gardens and its replacement by the City Council.

And as a sign of hope, the Rwandan Masada project was highlighted as a means to reconciliation and restoration after the Rwandan genocide. Canon Wilkinson spoke of the commemoration as being deeply disturbing and distressing and of the need to bring the remembering of the past into the present for a better future.

The Mayor and Mayoress and other councillors were present, as was John Glen MP and many others from Salisbury’s civic life.

Bishop Nicholas had jointly signed a statement in support of the Salisbury event, along with Mr Glen, Derek Brown the Mayor of Salisbury and Mr Andy Rhind-Tutt, President of the Salisbury and District Chamber of Commerce.

In it they said, “We as residents and leaders of the civic life of Salisbury, welcome the opportunity of Holocaust Memorial Day 2017 to reaffirm our total rejection of all forms of antisemitism.

“Further, we strongly urge all who live and work in our City to find ways to stand against all forms of discrimination, aggressive speech and behaviour and to make 2017 a year in which we resolve to engage warmly and appreciatively with our neighbours and with those whom we encounter daily in our shops, pubs and streets.”

A letter accompanying the statement, signed by the Bishop of Salisbury’s Interfaith Adviser, Canon Guy Wilkinson, along with Fiona Hulbert of the Council of Christians and Jews and Ilana Natelson-Carter of the Jewish community in Salisbury said:

“In the light of the serious rise in antisemitic incidents reported by the police, the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, the Equalities and Human Rights Commission amongst many others in the past year, we think it important that our city of Salisbury should make a strong statement against antisemitism and other forms of discrimination, aggressive speech and behaviour. Our hope is that Salisbury will set itself up as a model in this respect, responding to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission proposal in its recent letter to national politicians, urging that “a clear affirmation that such (antisemitic) behaviour is unacceptable is necessary to confirm that standards will improve.””

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