Holocaust Memorial Day 2019: Havering residents vow to stand against prejudice at poignant Romford ceremony
PUBLISHED: 17:09 27 January 2019 | UPDATED: 17:09 27 January 2019
On a bitterly cold Sunday afternoon, scores of Havering residents came together to mark Holocaust Memorial Day 2019 in Romford and pledged to continue to fight hate and prejudice.
At the borough’s Holocaust memorial stone in Coronation Gardens, Main Road, Romford, representatives of the council, Havering Police, the Royal British Legion and a number of the borough’s Jewish communities gathered to pay their respects.
The ceremony was opened by the Mayor of Havering, Cllr Dilip Patel, who used his speech to pay his respects to the memories of millions who have died, not just in the Second World War, but in other genocides carried out since – namely Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.
This was followed by an address from Rev Lee Sunderland, Rabbi of the Romford and District Synagogue, who gave a speech on the theme of the year’s Holocaust Memorial Day – Torn from Home – drawing parallels between the welcoming of Moses and his family to Egypt and today’s society in the UK.
Rev Sunderland urged all present to continue to work to make Romford, and Havering as a whole, as welcoming a place as possible.
He said: “It’s very pleasing to be able to stand here now, here in Romford particularly, because here we do feel, as Jews, very much a part of the wider community. “It’s somewhere where we’ve been able to grow, and feel safe, and be able to give back.
“There are so many others coming in to the area that need to be encouraged to do the same, and the trouble is that yet again this year they’re not here, because they don’t feel that they can be.
“We have to work hard to make sure that they can, because the word ‘holocaust’ in the context we use it mustn’t just be about one particular incident in history.
“As the mayor mentioned we’re commemorating other major anniversaries of other holocausts that have taken place since 1945, and we have to give them the same accent that we give this one.”
This was followed by a speech from Rev Mike Power, of Romford’s Church of St Edward the Confessor, who implored the audience to continue to fight hate and prejudice in all its forms.
He said: “Intolerance is not genetic, it is learned behaviour and if it can be learned then it can be unlearned. It is for this reason that events like today are so very, very important.
As time passes, the number of survivors of the Holocaust grows smaller. It’s therefore important, and the responsibility of us, to pick up that baton and pass it on – to educate, and re-educate if necessary.”
Dignitaries including Romford MP Andrew Rosindell and Hornchurch and Upminster MP Julia Lopez then lay candles at the town centre’s Holocaust memorial stone while the congregation bowed their heads in prayer.
Finally, Cllr Patel delivered the statement of commitment, in which he pledged that Havering Council will continue to do all it can to educate people about the horrors of genocide, and to mark Holocaust Memorial Day every year.
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