Holocaust Memorial Day receives interfaith support in Cornwall

Tuesday 27 January was Holocaust Memorial Day and there were events throughout the UK to remember those  those who suffered and died under Nazis persecution. This year, seventy special commemorative candles designed by Sir Anish Kappor to mark the seventy years since the liberation of Auschwitz were lit all over the UK, including one in Bodmin. The event in Bodmin was just one of many which took place in the Duchy.

Cornish Christian, civic and Jewish groups made an active effort this year to support and remember those who died in the Holocaust. A number of events before and on the 27th of January were held in Hayle, Redruth, Newquay, Truro and Penponds for the greater community, with active participation from members of Kehillat Kernow.

An afternoon service on the 27th was held at Redruth Baptist Church by local Christian congregants, followed by a film about Corrie Ten Bloom, a Dutch survivor of Ravensbrook Concentration Camp, who, before she was arrested, saved many Jews from the Nazis by hiding them in her house, until she was betrayed by a fellow countryman who pretended to need her help to save his wife. She was very much supported  in all she did by her father and beloved sister,  the former who died from shock a few days after arrest, the latter who died in Ravensbrook.  She spent the rest of her life after the war setting up a rehabilitation centre and speaking to groups across 60 countries about the Shoah and the need for reconciliation. This event was organised by Gillian and Michael Saldivar. Kehillat Kernow members, Harvey Kurzfield and Jeremy Jacobson attended.

On the 24th, a second event at Hayle Methodist Church, held by another Christian group who are loyal supporters of Israel, featured a film about the the aftermath of the European Shoah and explored the plight of Middle Eastern Jews who had been in North Africa and the Gulf area for 2,500 years, and were systematically expelled from their countries with the emergence of the state of Israel.  Members of Kehillat Kernow, Leslie and Pat Lipert, said prayers and Kaddish after the film.

On the 27th and 30th of January, Interactive Days of activities sponsored by the Devon and Cornwall Police, Cornwall Council and partner agencies, were held in Newquay and Truro and were  attended by KK member David Hampshire.

A Kehillat Kernow memorial service was held at Harvey and Jacqueline Kurzfield’s home in Penponds at 7pm on the 27th for the Jewish community to remember all those lost in the Holocaust.  This tradition of remembering and honouring those who died during the Shoah was begun several years ago by Louise Garcia who created the remembrance service and has carried on after her departure.

HMD1-2015

Harvey Kurzfield, Chairman of KK, led the service of remembrance. Members of our community attended. Along with traditional prayers and specific readings, candles were lit for the six million Jews who lost their lives in the Shoah.  Members of the community read several passages written by those who bore witness to those times of inexorable cruelty. A discussion followed which highlighted the need for continued education through the ages to all future generations and the importance of not only remembering but also acting to ensure that awareness of genocides cannot be ignored and never should be tolerated.

Pat Lipert, January 2015

View From Netanya

ELKAN’S VIEW 28th January 2015

Over the last few days I have been watching “The Eichmann Show” the docudrama on BBC television about the filming of the Eichmann trial in Jerusalem in 1961. You will remember that Eichmann was regarded as being the brains and the organisational skill behind the Holocaust which required a great deal of logistical expertise and administrative planning. In 1937 he had spent a day in Haifa, and is also believed to have acquired a smattering of Hebrew and Yiddish.

On the basis of this he had become “an expert” in Jewish matters. When the war broke out he took over the Bnai Brith offices in the middle of Berlin and from there began to organise and administer the systematic murder of millions of Jews.

The story of how the Israelis tracked him down in Argentina under the assumed name of Ricardo Clement, how they captured him and smuggled him back to Israel, and his trial in Jerusalem in 1961 is well-known. He was found guilty and in due course executed and his ashes scattered out at sea.

This brought back to me a lot of memories. I was in Jerusalem in 1961 on my gap year, and obtained a ticket for one afternoon of the trial. Eichmann was an insignificant looking man sitting in a bullet-proof glass box. Gideon Hausner was cross-examining him about the details of a deportation – how the transport was arranged, when and where it left, what was its destination. Eichmann answered in a matter-of-fact voice, denying some of the accusations and correcting some of the details. The thing I do remember very clearly was listening to a simultaneous translation of the proceedings – Hausner spoke in Hebrew and Eichmann answered in German – and hearing him plead as justification that he was merely following orders.

The trial caused enormous interest both in Israel and around the world. It was relayed live all over Israel – I remember hearing it broadcast on a bus in Tel Aviv. Suddenly details of the Holocaust became public knowledge. Without the filming and broadcast of the trial events such as International Holocaust Day might never have happened.

View from Netanya

ELKAN’S VIEW 21st January 2015

 Is this how the media would have reported this week’s Sedrah?

ISRAELITES CHARGED WITH WAR CRIMES – EGYPTIAN CIVILIANS SUFFER AS ISRAELITES DANCE AT THE RED SEA

The Royal Press Officer for Pharaoh has accused the Israelites of serious war crimes. “Their leader Moses attacked and murdered one of our senior civil servants who was encouraging increased productivity among his workforce. Moses and his brother Aaron have brought terrible plagues, poisoning water, afflicting cattle and finally murdering many thousands of blameless firstborns. The plagues that they brought spared no one. Millions of innocent civilians suffered unbelievable hardship and privation. As they left our hospitable country the Israelites stole valuable Egyptian property and caused many of our bravest soldiers to drown in the Red Sea.

“The Children of Israel have shown themselves to be murderers and thieves. By their deeds of malice and violence they have betrayed the trust and honour showed to them by the whole Egyptian people. We demand justice!”

The following statement was issued on behalf of Moses and the Children of Israel but has not appeared in the press.

“The Egyptians enslaved tortured and brutalised the Israelite people. They ordered that firstborn be cast into the river to die, and taught their children to hate and disparage us. Our people first came to Egypt because our ancestor Joseph saved the whole nation from famine and starvation. It is true that the Almighty brought plagues upon Egypt, but Pharaoh could have stopped these at any time had he wished. As we were finally leaving Egypt, Egyptian well-wishers handed us gold and silver. Pharaoh wanted to bring us back into slavery and sent heavy armour and artillery against our defenceless civilians. He was only defeated by divine intervention at the last minute.”

View from Netanya

ELKAN’S VIEW 14th January 2015

Last week’s events in Paris have possibly changed the world we live in, although my cynical reluctance to admit that the nations of the West have any real concept of what they are facing leads me to wonder. Of course it was predictable; there have been enough signs in France to say nothing of the rest of Western Europe for people to understand that this is a major clash of civilisations.

It is not even merely an attack on the Jews, although almost every major outrage has a parallel Jewish attack. Shared by almost every other government in Western Europe, it is actually a significant failing on the part of the French government to take the threat of Islamic Jihadists seriously. It is easy to blame any government for a lack of police, troops on the ground, security people, whatever. The struggle against Islamic extremism must be taken forward by all available means, and governments have to be very proactive (as has the Israeli government for many years) if this dangerous threat to freedom is to be defeated.

Arguably it is now more dangerous for a European Jew, especially in France, to live outside Israel. If 7,000 French Jews made Aliyah last year, the figure this year will be undoubtedly much higher to Israel’s benefit and France’s loss.

That the latest addition of the magazine “Charlie Hebdo” sold out within minutes of coming on sale, despite the fact that its usual print run was vastly increased, gives a clear indication of what the average Frenchman thinks. But would have been quite as interested in the attack on the Jewish supermarket if it had not followed so closely the attack on the satirical magazine?

In the meantime quite how long will it take the British government to bring in necessary legislation to enable them to fight terror? The bleating of woolly minded liberals, that identity cards are an attack on liberty, is self-evident nonsense and must be derided as such. Liberty of thought and freedom of speech are wonderful things, but there are times when we have to fight, vigorously, actively, and with all available resources, if they are not to be destroyed by the liberties that they themselves profess to protect.

Responses to the attacks in France

When I was contacted by a West Country newspaper for a comment on the atrocities committed in France I said I was unable to make any comment at this stage. I felt unsure about what would be the correct approach and I did not wish to make a knee-jerk reaction to the incident at that stage. The next day, as the situation developed, we heard about the attack on a Jewish Supermarket and at that point it would have been appropriate, but by then the paper had gone to press. There have since been several well-prepared and thoughtful statements made and I have added the two which come from leading representatives of the Reform Movement. They seem to reflect what I hope we all believe:

Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain

We have all read and seen the dreadful events over the last few days, and members have asked what is our response, so here are a few thoughts:

1st – to carry on as normal – not to suddenly become neurotic – not to turn from being carefree to suspicious – to keep our everyday lifestyle – because adopting a bunker mentality will destroy our lives and relationships much more than any isolated attack

2nd – not to blame Islam for the deranged members among it…nor hold all Muslims responsible for the disturbed Muslims that exist

3rd – not to blame religion in general as the source of all evil – of course there are those who do terrible things in its name – but there are plenty of murderous atheists, with Hitler, Stalin, Mao tse Tung and Poll Pot leading the way – while we also know that religion can lead to great good in society and many individuals acts of kindess. I like to think that Maidenhead Synagogue is source for good too.

4th – not to stop the ability of cartoonists and writers to satirise religion… because freedom of speech is one of our key values…and it is not just healthy to have that openness, but it is a vital safeguard and nothing should be immune from criticism, otherwise it would allow abuses to go unchecked

5th – carrying on as normal does not mean being complacent, and we have long had a trained security team made up of members who offer both practical security and a visual deterrent. If anyone would like to join the team or find out more, please do contact me.

6th – appreciating that we live in a different society from France and with different social trends; although we are not immune from terrible acts (witness the 7/7 London bombings), life in our particular area has been remarkably tolerant and trouble-free….long may it remain so.

Working hard at good inter-faith relations is part of that process

None of the above is new, but it’s precisely when one’s assumptions are challenged by a shocking event, that one needs to not go into panic mode but simply restate the values we hold and from which we will not be deflected.

Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner

Senior Rabbi to the Movement for Reform Judaism

Moments before this email was due to be sent out, disturbing news started to come in from Paris; news of shootings and the taking of hostages who were preparing for Shabbat, buying food from a kosher supermarket. We stand firmly beside our Jewish brothers and sisters in France. Our response to this news must be to continue living our Jewish lives with pride, celebrating Shabbat, attending synagogues, lighting candles and joining together without fear.

Our siddur (prayerbook) includes this prayer for the release of captives:

God our redeemer, who set us free from the slavery of Egypt, we turn to You to release all hostages and captives, all who are enslaved to others. We pray now in particular for those taken hostage in Paris. May You be with them at this time of trial. Give wisdom and strength to those who work for their release and bring about a speedy end to this suffering. May You support the families and friends who can only watch and wait in fear and anxiety. Help us know what we too can do when prayers alone are not enough.
Blessed are You, our Living God, Sovereign of the universe, whose commandments make us holy and who commands us concerning the freeing of captives.

I pray for the friends, family and communities of the twelve victims of the dreadful Charlie Hebdo massacre. The attack on Wednesday morning, when those two fanatics murdered journalists and police in Paris, was a deeply chilling and profound tragedy.

What happened was also the result of fear – those who carried out this atrocity fear free speech and they fear the freedom to offend and be offended. No faith encourages isolation from other beliefs, however difficult they are to digest. That message was echoed immediately by Islamic scholars and Muslim organisations across France, Britain and the wider world. We see the same support for open and challenging debate in The Book of Proverbs, which insists that “as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another”. So our views are shaped and sharpened by others, however they may challenge us or particularly, ‘davka’ because they do challenge us.

When we avoid engaging with other people or recognising difference, our ideas become blunt, weakened. They become obsolete and disconnected from reality – and rely on claims of absolute truth and divine endorsement. Extremists isolate themselves from debate and when it threatens them, they eventually try to destroy it through violence.
Just as the Paris terrorists went on the run, all extremists are trying to escape the same thing: the power and potency of the free exchange of ideas. That is why this week, before soldiers or politicians or members of the public, they came after journalists. As a collective, the way to defeat extremism is by safeguarding the coexistence of different beliefs and voices in public spaces. As individuals, it is by engaging with the ‘other’ and exposing ourselves to debate, even when it is difficult.

The symbol the world saw on Thursday night was far from one of difference and division. Lights were turned off at the Eiffel Tower, and then mosques, to mark the pain and sorrow that the nation was
feeling.


You will also find comments elsewhere on the internet by the Council for Christians and Jews as well as a moving statement by the Chief Rabbi of the United Synagogue. They are all well worth viewing at this time and give us a chance to reflect on our own feelings.

Jewish Community in Cornwall