How can life go on? With de­ter­mi­na­tion to sur­vive and re­build af­ter the Shoah

The Jewish Chronicle - - COMMUNITY NEWS - BYDANIELSUGARMAN JC

WHEN THE image of Lily Ebert flashed up on the screen at the Queen El­iz­a­beth Con­fer­ence Cen­tre in West­min­ster, there was a no­tice­able re­ac­tion among the 1,000-plus au­di­ence at the na­tional HMD cer­e­mony.

Sur­rounded by two dozen fam­ily mem­bers, the Auschwitz sur­vivor was liv­ing proof of the de­ter­mi­na­tion to sur­vive and re­build af­ter the Shoah. In other words, the an­swer to the ques­tion posed by the HMD theme — how can life go on?

Video tes­ti­mony from Mrs Ebert and other sur­vivors of the Holo­caust was shown dur­ing the cer­e­mony, along with ac­counts from sur­vivors of later geno­cides in Cam­bo­dia, Rwanda, Bos­nia and Dar­fur.

“Each sur­vivor is dif­fer­ent and we have all coped with what hap­pened to us in our own way,” said Han­nah Lewis, who ad­dressed the event in per­son.

“For me, the memories will al­ways be there, sharp and clear. They will al­ways be a part of who and what I am.”

Oth­ers speak­ers in­cluded Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, who ob­served: “It’s not just what you think or say that counts but what you do that will change the world.”

Re­call­ing a visit to Auschwitz-Birke­nau, Arch­bishop of Can­ter­bury Justin Welby said: “It is wit­ness to ap­palling hu­man suf­fer­ing caused by the ter­ri­ble col­lu­sion of the silent ma­jor­ity.”

Zigi Ship­per, 87, a sur­vivor of the Lodz ghetto and the A u s c h w i t z - Birke­nau and Stut­thof camps, Han­nah Lewis ad­dress­ing the cer­e­mony told the HMD was “more im­por­tant than ever be­fore for a sim­ple rea­son — how many Holo­caust sur­vivors are still alive?” Olivia Marks-Wold­man, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Holo­caust Me­mo­rial Day Trust, said around 6,000 com­mem­o­ra­tive ac­tiv­i­ties were be­ing held in the UK, some con­tin­u­ing well into Fe­bru­ary. “Events take place in mu­se­ums and gal­leries, in pris­ons, in young of­fender in­sti­tu­tions, in li­braries.” The rise in racist in­ci­dents af­ter the Brexit vote had made peo­ple keen to en­gage with HMD, both to strengthen bonds be­tween neigh­bours and be­tween com­mu­ni­ties and to demon­strate tol­er­ance to­wards oth­ers.

PHOTO: JUSTIN GRAINGE

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