Sadiq Khan tells City Hall HMD event this year’s service ‘feels more important than ever’

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Sadiq Khan tells City Hall HMD event this year’s service ‘feels more important than ever’

Mayor of London spoke at annual event held in collaboration with the Holocaust Educational Trust and the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

City Hall HMD event
City Hall HMD event

The Mayor of London has told the Holocaust Memorial Day service at City Hall that this year’s commemoration “feels more important than ever as we confront the depressing reality that antisemitism is on the rise once again here and around the world.”

In a speech delivered to Jewish community leaders and Holocaust and genocide survivors, Sadiq Khan noted: “The Holocaust is one of the most harrowing events in history and it’s vital that we continue to hold events like this to ensure we never forget those who were killed and never forget where prejudice, racism and hatred can lead if allowed to fester unchecked and unchallenged.

“This feels more important than ever as we confront the depressing reality that antisemitism is on the rise once again here and around the world.

“As Mayor, I’ll continue to ensure we take a zero-tolerance approach to antisemitism and hatred in our city and work to unite our communities as we build a better London for everyone.”

Sadiq Khan speaks at HMD event in City Hall

In collaboration with the Holocaust Educational Trust and the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, City Hall’s annual service is held to remember the survivors and victims of the Holocaust as well as those affected by other genocides.

The theme of this year’s event was  ‘Fragility of Freedom’. This year also marks the 30th anniversary of the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda – 49 years after the Holocaust ended and 19 years after the genocide in Cambodia, more than a million Tutsis were murdered in 100 days by Hutu extremists.

The ceremony featured testimonials from Holocaust survivor Janine Webber BEM, who shared her account of having to flee Poland with her family after the Nazi invasion and Safet Vukalic BEM, who is a survivor of the Bosnian genocide.

Chair of the London Assembly, Andrew Boff AM said: “Holocaust Memorial Day is the time for us to remember the tragic loss of life in the Holocaust and other genocides across the world.

“It is essential that we continue to commemorate those who suffered, to ensure future generations are aware of the history faced by so many. “Genocide tears communities apart, and this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day theme – ‘Fragility of Freedom’ – highlights the loss of freedom suffered through genocide. We come together to remember and support Londoners who have suffered and survived, and with the hope of a future without such horrific crimes.”

Karen Pollock CBE, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said: “We are proud to once again be supporting City Hall in marking Holocaust Memorial Day.

“This commemoration provides London with the opportunity to pause and remember the six million Jewish men, women and children who were murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators, and honour those who survived. This year, as antisemitism once again sweeps across the globe, it is more important than ever to remember the six million Jewish victims and remind ourselves that anti-Jewish racism did not begin nor end with the Holocaust.”

Olivia Marks-Woldman, chief executive of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, said: “In an era marked by growing susceptibilities to divisions and biases, it was an honour to listen to the narratives of Janine Webber and Safet Vukalic.”

“Their testimonies, set against the backdrop of our theme for Holocaust Memorial Day this year – ‘The Fragility of Freedom’ – are a stark reminder that freedom is not a given, but something we must actively cherish and protect.

” I especially commend the Mayor of London and everyone at City Hall for bringing together people from different backgrounds each year, inspiring us to learn from history and build a better future.”

The El Male Rachamim memorial prayer was read by Rabbi Epstein and Rebbetzin Ilana Epstein of the Western Marble Arch Synagogue.

Musical performances by Cantor Rachel Weston and accordionist Josh Middleton on behalf of the Jewish Music Institute opened and concluded the service.

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