Holocaust Memorial Service 27 January 2023


Above Photo of the SWCHS Chamber Choir, who sang two pieces in the service and front row, left to right: Rev’d John Goddard, Rev’d Jeremy Trew, Cantor Leslie Wheeler, Kemi Badenoch MP, who gave the bible reading, Baroness Cox who gave an engaging talk, the Mayor Councillor James De Vries, and the Deputy Mayor Councillor Richard Freeman.

St Mary’s held two events to mark Holocaust Memorial Day, Friday 27th January.

In the afternoon, over 250 school children and 60 adults attended a memorial service at St Mary’s Church, Saffron Walden, which was an act of remembrance and sorrow for the Holocaust between 1936 and 1945 in which 6.5 million Jews, Gypsies, people with learning disability and LBGTQ+ people were imprisoned and slaughtered. It was also remembered that many “Holocausts” have happened since then. In particular, the great tragedies that are currently being played out in places like, Syria, Myanmar, Yemen, Nigeria and Ukraine, and the refugees who are fleeing from war, hunger and terror.

The service was started with the Sh’ma, a Jewish Prayer. SWCH school chamber choir sang two pieces, the second of which was in Hebrew, which was very moving. Leslie Wheeler, a cantor from the Cambridge synagogue, sang an Aaronic blessing. During the service the Coventry Litany of Reconciliation, which is prayed every day in the bombed-out ruins of Coventry Cathedral, was recited. The guest speaker was Baroness Caroline Cox, who is Founder and President of the Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART). Her humanitarian work takes her to conflict and post-conflict zones, including the Armenian enclave of Nagorno Karabakh, Sudan, South Sudan, Nigeria, Uganda, Syria, the Shan and Chin regions of Burma.

Baroness Cox gave a short talk, followed by questions from local school children. The Mayor, Councillor James De Vries led an Act of Commitment to learn the lessons of past horrors. The prayers were led by Rev’d John Goddard, of Saffron Walden Baptist Church and the final blessing was given by Leslie Wheeler, the cantor, in Hebrew and by the Rector, Rev’d Jeremy Trew, in English.

Gill Caswell, churchwarden, said, “In preparation for the service school pupils were asked to look at what turns each one of us into a perpetrator, a victim or a bystander and write poems on the subject. These poems are on display in St Mary’s. Very moving.”

In the evening Baroness Cox gave a presentation of her work with HART which again was very inspiring and thought-provoking.

A collection was held after both events, raising over £370 for the work of HART.