Top 'Cat' honoured with civic send-off

Rev Ze'ev Amit at the reception

Rev Ze'ev Amit at the reception

The retiring minister of Catford and Bromley Synagogue was honoured on Tuesday with a civic reception at Lewisham Town Hall in recognition of his work for Holocaust Memorial Day.

Mayor Sir Steve Bullock led the tributes to the Rev Dr Ze'ev Amit, who is bowing out of the pulpit next week after 11 years with the south London community.

"There will be a place in our hearts for you for a very long time," he said.

Councillor Pauline Morrison, who chairs the borough's HMD committee, said Dr Amit had been the "leading light" in the commemoration.

"He is such an inclusive person. He has reached out to schools, to all religions together to become involved.

"I will miss him because he has contributed so much to the life of Lewisham. All those children are going to grow into more enlightened adults as a result of their experience of Holocaust Memorial Day."

HMD has become a two-day event in Lewisham. After Shabbat prayers, the synagogue hosts a multifaith service on the Saturday morning with readings by different religious representatives. On the Sunday, children from local schools stage a performance at Lewisham Broadwalk Theatre.

Preparations have already begun for next year's HMD with an educational programme in schools.

The close links between the council and the Catford community have been demonstrated by the recent grant to the synagogue for a computer and digital projector to help with educational visits by local schoolchildren.

Dr Amit said Jews "have no monopoly on the Holocaust. Unfortunately, other people have their own Holocausts," referring to Rwanda, Darfur and Cambodia. "If we can share sadness together, then we can laugh and dance together."

His final hope was for the local Muslim community to "see the light and join in" future HMD commemorations.

Last updated: 2:56pm, November 24 2011