Barnet Council held its annual Holocaust Memorial Day commemoration yesterday (Sunday 29 January) with a service at Middlesex University, bringing together the borough’s multifaith community to remember the victims of the Holocaust and genocide.

This year’s theme for Holocaust Memorial Day was ‘ordinary people’ – the everyday people who were the enablers and the victims of the Holocaust.

Speakers at this years’ service included Mala Tribich MBE, whose family were forced to flee their home in Poland when the Nazis invaded in 1939.

Also speaking was Laura Marks OBE, Chair of the board of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, and Asma Ali, an award-winning educator and leader for the Somali Bravanese Welfare Association.

The Mayor of Barnet, Cllr Alison Moore, welcomed members of the public and councillors to the service. She said: “Holocaust Memorial Day gives us an opportunity to reflect on the atrocities of the past and the devasting effect the Holocaust has had on individuals and families across the world, as well as those living in our borough.

“I am very grateful to Middlesex University for once again hosting this year’s commemoration and enabling us to come together to remember and honour their memory.”

Councillor Liron Woodcock-Velleman said: “Having attended the Holocaust memorial commemoration service in Barnet alongside my grandfather Alec Ward, a Holocaust survivor, I am particularly proud to attend this year as a Councillor of the borough. This year’s theme is ‘ordinary people’, and I will be reflecting on those who both enabled, but also resisted the Nazi regime. My grandfather’s message was ‘not to hate’ and this year we should all commit to act as ‘ordinary people’ to tackle hatred and discrimination in all forms.”

Mala Tribich MBE, who shared her story of having to try and pass as Christian to save herself until deportations were over, said: “Ordinary people consist of those who care and those who turn a blind eye. So, let us hope that as we get better educated and see the difference between good and evil the world will become a better place.”

Asma Ali said: “I believe that it’s very important we stand together in opposition of crimes against humanity. Such as the Holocaust and other genocides, in Rwanda, Darfur, Armenia, Cambodia, Bosnia and what is occurring to the Uyghurs in China and the Rohingya in Myanmar.”

Laura Marks OBE said: “Having brought my children to the Barnet Holocaust Memorial Day ceremony over many years, I am particularly honoured to speak here myself. Whilst Barnet is home to a large Jewish population with strong Holocaust connections, the ceremony also recognises that genocides continued after 1945 and continue to this day. This lesson is important for us all, if we are to leave the world safer for future generations of all faiths and backgrounds.”

Rabbi Debbie Young-Somers of Edgware and Hendon Reform Synagogue said: “It is a privilege to stand alongside those wishing to remember the Holocaust and the many acts of human genocide that are recalled on our National Holocaust Memorial Day.

“The horrors of the Holocaust are unique, but genocide has been allowed to flourish over and over again. Holocaust Memorial Day calls on all of us to understand what humanity is capable of when hatred and prejudice are allowed to flourish.

“We must recommit ourselves as a part of the human family to challenge antisemitism, racism, xenophobia, homophobia and all forms of hatred and oppression. Many small acts of silence and passivity can allow ordinary people to play their part in the cogs of genocide, and we must all do our part to stand up to hatred.”

There were also musical performances from the Edgware and Hendon Reform Synagogue Choir and The Barnet Band.

Students from Alma Primary placed memorial candles in commemoration, and students from The Compton School spoke of Lessons from Auschwitz and read the Barnet Statement of commitment.

At the end of the ceremony and as part of Barnet’s project to plant a snowdrop in memory of every one of the 1.5 million children who died in the Holocaust, snowdrops were handed out by students from Akiva School.

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