Northwood synagogues welcome over 2,000 students to Holocaust Memorial Day events
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Thursday 11th February 2016

Northwood United Synagogue and Northwood & Pinner Liberal Synagogue together welcomed more than 2,200 pupils from local schools to mark Holocaust Memorial Day in a series of events during the first two weeks of February. 

The year 9 to 13 students had the rare opportunity to listen to a Holocaust survivor recount their personal stories first-hand and take part in an educational workshop relating historical facts about the Holocaust to contemporary issues such as racism, discrimination, persecution and citizenship.  Each session concluded with closing reflections from the synagogue’s Rabbi, a minute’s silence and the lighting of a memorial candle. 

Sabina Miller and Rabbi Zerbib

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), Guru Nanak Sikh Academy (Hayes) and Parmiter’s (Watford). 

Philip Austin, head of the organising committee behind the Northwood Holocaust Memorial Day Events explained, “We believe that only by learning from history can we protect the present and build a safer future.”

The Northwood Synagogues’ events were part of a bigger programme of Northwood Holocaust Memorial Day activities involving over 3,050 pupils representing almost 50 schools from Dacorum, Hertfordshire, the London Boroughs of Harrow and Hillingdon, Bedfordshire and Berkshire.  Now in its 15th year, the programme aims to educate students about Nazi atrocities, make a connection between the Holocaust and subsequent genocides and invite students to consider their personal responsibility to promote tolerance in today’s world. Some 25,000 pupils have participated to date.

This year, for the first time, the educational programme opened with a symposium at which experts discussed the importance of Holocaust education in 21st century Britain. Chaired by Master of the Rolls and Head of Civil Justice Lord John Dyson, distinguished guest speakers included Paul Giannasi OBE, Head of the Government Hate Crime Programme, Olivia Marks-Woldman, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust and Mark Gardner, Communications Officer of the Community Security Trust. The programme culminated in a closing ceremony attended by Sir Peter Bazalgette, chair of the Arts Council and the new UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation, which has been tasked with taking forward the recommendations of David Cameron’s Holocaust Commission.