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East End's diverse communities stand together to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day

PUBLISHED: 17:00 28 January 2020

East London Central Synagogue president Leon Silver, Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs and Sandys Row Synagogue president Harvey Rifkind at the Holocaust Memorial Day service. Picture: Tower Hamlets Council.

East London Central Synagogue president Leon Silver, Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs and Sandys Row Synagogue president Harvey Rifkind at the Holocaust Memorial Day service. Picture: Tower Hamlets Council.

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People were urged to challenge prejudice and the language of hate as the community came together for Holocaust Memorial Day commemorations.

A multi-faith memorial event was held at Sandys Row Synagogue in Spitalfields on Sunday afternoon, which followed an East End walking tour of several historic Jewish sites.

Civic and faith leaders from many backgrounds and members of diverse communities stood together in solidarity and shared common values.

The service was an opportunity to reflect on the lessons learnt from history and remember the millions of people murdered under Nazi persecution and in genocides that followed in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur.

Mayor John Biggs said: "Tower Hamlets has always been a place of refuge and diversity.

"As we remember the millions who lost their lives during the Holocaust and other genocides, we must learn to celebrate our differences.

"Standing together as a community is our strength and long may it continue."

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The Sunday service was moved from the East London Central Synagogue in Whitechapel after its ceiling collapsed earlier this month.

East London Central Synagogue president Leon Silver was "deeply moved" by offers from other synagogues and even a church to help ensure the service went ahead.

"It would have been disastrous if the East End's Holocaust Remembrance had to be cancelled," he said.

The borough's programme of commemorative events continues this evening with a workshop discussing representations of the Holocaust and anti-Semitism in film.

The workshop, which includes watching clips of films, will be held at Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives in Bancroft Road from 6.30pm - 7.30pm.

This year, Holocaust Memorial Day marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau as well as the 25th anniversary of the genocide in Bosnia.

Holocaust Memorial Day Trust chief executive Olivia Marks-Woldman said: "Today our world often feels fragile and vulnerable, with widespread prejudice and the language of hatred needs to be challenged in the UK.

"We need to stand together with others in our communities to stop division and the spread of identity-based hostility in our society."

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