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Synagogues to welcome students for Holocaust Memorial Events
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Thursday 19th January 2017

Between 30 January and 8 February 2017, some 3,000 pupils at 50 schools and colleges across Hertfordshire, the London Borough of Harrow and London Borough of Hillingdon will participate in a unique programme, hosted by local synagogues, to mark Holocaust Memorial Day. The students, in years 9 to 13, will attend an educational workshop and have the rare opportunity to listen to a Holocaust survivor recount their personal experiences of the Holocaust first-hand.                                                                   

As well as hearing moving testimony from a Holocaust survivor, students will participate in a workshop relating historical facts about the Holocaust to contemporary issues such as racism, discrimination, persecution and citizenship. All the sessions will conclude with closing reflections from each synagogue’s rabbi and the lighting of a memorial candle.

The aims of the event are to educate students about the Holocaust, make a connection between the Holocaust and subsequent genocides and invite students to consider their individual personal responsibility to promote tolerance in today’s world.

As part of the programme, Holocaust survivor Mala Tribich will share her experiences at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp during the Annual Ceremony on 7 February. Her testimony will be followed by guest speaker Rabbi Awraham Soetendorp, an award-winning human rights advocate, lecturer, writer and Emeritus Rabbi of congregation Beth Jehuda at the Hague. Born in Amsterdam in 1943, as an infant the Rabbi was saved by non-Jews during the Second World War.

At 4.30pm on the same day, the Dutch Ambassador, His Excellency Mr Simon Smits, will open an art exhibition running in parallel with the event.  ‘Vanished Families’ by the artist (and Rabbi Soetendorp’s wife) Sira Soetendorp features portraits using carved outlines drawn in oil paint based on photographs of the artist’s family members who perished in the Holocaust.