Northwood synagogues welcome 2,000 students to Holocaust Memorial events
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Thursday 12th February 2015

Northwood United Synagogue and Northwood & Pinner Liberal Synagogue together welcomed 1,940 pupils from local schools to mark Holocaust Memorial Day in a series of events during the first two weeks of February. This year’s commemorations have particular significance as they mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp where over 1.1 million people were killed.  

The year 9 to 13 students attended an educational workshop and had the rare opportunity to listen to a Holocaust survivor recount their personal stories firsthand.  Each session concluded with closing reflections from the synagogue’s Rabbi, a minute’s silence and the lighting of a memorial candle. 

Those present were clearly moved by what they had heard. After listening to Holocaust survivor Vera Schaufeld’s account, one Kings Langley School pupil commented, “I felt upset and moved. I could really imagine every detail you explained and feel what you experienced in that awful time.”  Another student, from Thomas Alleyne Academy in Stevenage, said to speaker Ziggy Shipper, “Your story is unbelievably inspiring. No matter what, I believe everyone today will help you and your fellow survivors keep the memory alive.” 

Participating schools from the local area included St Helen’s (Northwood), Nower Hill (Pinner), Merchant Taylors’ (Northwood), Northwood School, Royal Masonic (Rickmansworth), Harefield Academy, Bishopshalt (Uxbridge), Bishop Ramsey (Ruislip), Hewens College (Hayes) and Guru Nanak Sikh Academy (Hayes). 

Jonathan Drapkin, head of the organising committee behind the Northwood Holocaust Memorial Day Events explained, “It is a sad fact that race, religion, gender and disability are still used to justify prejudice and discrimination today. The aim of these Holocaust Memorial events is to ensure that the horrendous crimes of racism and victimisation committed during the Holocaust, and other more recent genocides, are neither forgotten, nor repeated.”

The Northwood Synagogues’ events were part of a bigger programme of Northwood Holocaust Memorial Day activities involving almost 3,000 pupils representing 50 schools from Dacorum, Hertfordshire, the London Boroughs of Harrow and Hillingdon, Bedfordshire and Berkshire.  Now in its 14th year, the programme aims to educate students about Nazi atrocities and make a connection between the Holocaust and subsequent genocides (such as that which occurred in Rwanda) and invite students to consider their personal responsibility to promote tolerance in today’s world. 

Any school or college wishing to register their interest in taking part in one of Northwood’s Holocaust Memorial Day events next year should email enquiries@northwoodhmd.org.uk or call 08456 448 006