Representatives of Rochdale Multi Faith Partnership and Rochdale Borough Council led the borough’s Holocaust Memorial Day commemorations at a special ceremony on Monday, 27 January.
The service at the Phoenix Centre, on Church Street in Heywood, began with the rededication of the Memorial Stone to commemorate the extermination of six million Jews and other minority groups by the Nazis. Cantor Modi Spitzer began the rededication by reciting the Jewish Memorial Prayer, followed by a reading from the Old Testament by His Worship the Mayor of Rochdale Borough, Councillor Peter Rush and the blessing of the stone by the Mayor’s Chaplain Reverend Michael Read.
It was followed by an Act of Commemoration with readings by members of the Multi-Faith Partnership, Frank Baigel, president of the Jewish Representative Council of Greater Manchester and Region, students from Siddal Moor Sports College, Henry West MBE, a former Chair of Middleton Township and himself a Holocaust survivor.
After the lighting of six candles of remembrance, other genocides from around the world over the last 100 years were remembered, including the 20th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda, followed by a minute’s silence.
Councillor Sultan Ali, Cabinet Member for Strengthening Communities, said: “We must continue to fight discrimination and persecution wherever it rears its head and so the lessons we have from the Holocaust are as pertinent today as ever.”
Also to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day, Rochdale Borough Council in conjunction with the Lesbian & Gay Foundation, Rochdale Area District Disability Action Group and Rochdale Mind created a display in the foyer of Number One Riverside to highlight the story and final outcomes of the millions of people affected by the Holocaust.
Adrian Palmer, LGB&T Community Development Worker for Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale for the Lesbian & Gay Foundation, said: “Holocaust Memorial Day is a time when we seek to learn the lessons of the past and to recognise that genocide does not just take place on its own, it’s a steady process which can begin if discrimination, racism and hatred are not checked and prevented.
“We’re fortunate here in the UK that we are not at risk of genocide. However, discrimination has not ended, nor has the use of the language of hatred or exclusion. There is still much to do to create a safer future and Holocaust Memorial Day was an opportunity to start this process.”
Holocaust Memorial Day is the international day of remembrance as designated by the United Nations, with January 27 marking the liberation of the largest Nazi death camp Auschwitz. It commemorates victims and survivors of the Holocaust and Nazi persecutions, as well as other worldwide genocides.
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