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British Pupils Study About the Holocaust in Synagogue
Louise Heilbron, United Kingdom

British pupils study about the Holocaust in synagogueBritish pupils study about the Holocaust in synagogue

It really was the embodiment of ‘The Legacy of Hope’ in Finchley Reform Synagogue during the week of Holocaust Memorial Day – January 27th. This was the theme of the national Holocaust Memorial Day.

This was the fifth year that the synagogue have welcomed local secondary school pupils as well as teacher training students to come to the synagogue and participate in education sessions about the Holocaust. After being welcomed by a Rabbi they all heard a survivor speaker and had an opportunity to ask questions and they then participated in workshops based on the life of Irena Sendler, a Polish Catholic social worker who saved 2,500 Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto. After writing their thoughts to the speaker they all participated in a final candle lighting and reflective ceremony.

Although the Holocaust ended 65 years ago this year the lessons are (unfortunately) still relevant today and this is what we tried to communicate.

The participants (from all faiths and none) also had an opportunity to see round the synagogue, to see a Torah scroll, to look at the rescued Czech scroll and to ask questions and to see that Jews today are just like them.

‘I have learnt so much’
‘I am really confused about why it all happened but I hope that I can learn from this and make the world a better place’
‘I took away that you should always have tolerance and respect for people even if they are different from you’
‘It was so worthwhile bringing our pupils. Thank you for arranging this and we hope to come again next year’
‘This was a wonderful opportunity for our pupils to hear a survivor speaker as it will not be long until there are no more to hear. Thank you’
‘I have been involved in the project from the start and will be again next year as I find it so worthwhile’
‘Thank you for inviting me. I realize how important it is for us to hear survivor speakers, as they will not be with us for very long. Thank you for giving me that opportunity’

British pupils study about the Holocaust in synagogueBritish pupils study about the Holocaust in synagogue

Comments like these from pupils and staff and volunteer workers as well as from our many visitors make it a privilege and so rewarding to be involved in such a programme. We are now beginning to plan for sessions in January 2011. Thanks are due to a vast team of hardworking volunteers and professional educators but without your financial support this event could not go ahead. The event is now seen as an important part of the synagogue and local calendar and other local communities and synagogues are now also holding such events. To touch over 350 young people between the ages of 13 and early 20’s who might never have this opportunity again is a real privilege for all concerned. Thank you again for your continued support.