Community life

Survivor's Story: Martin Bennett

By Robyn Rosen, January 28, 2010

Martin Bennett, 84, attributes his survival in Auschwitz to his older brother who told him to lie about his age and skills.

Born in 1925 in Izbica Kujawska in Poland, Mr Bennett left his parents and eight siblings when the Nazis invaded in 1939, being sent to the Posnan forced labour camp. He was told that he would be able to work and earn money to send back to his family, so he was happy to go. It was only on arrival that the grim reality dawned.

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Gay groups join Holocaust Memorial in Manchester

By Jonathan Kalmus, January 28, 2010

Involvement in the Manchester HMD commemorations helped the city’s gay and lesbian Jews bridge the “chasm” with the rest of the Jewish community.

They marked HMD with a film event under the banner of Keshet, a local Jewish support organisation.

“It is a really important day in both the gay and Jewish calendars as it is the day where we remember atrocities done to both groups from the same source,” organiser Suzy Schneider pointed out.

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British communities remember the Holocaust

January 28, 2010

Commitment to actions to prevent another Shoah was the focal point of Sunday’s Leeds HMD commemoration, held at the town hall and attended by 300 people.

A drama inspired by artwork by children in the Theresienstadt camp was performed by young members of the Carriageworks theatre group. Survivor Iby Knill read her poem, I Was There, and other speakers included the Lord Mayor, Councillor Judith Elliott.

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Anne Frank Trust goes for the youth vote

January 28, 2010

Student groups used HMD to launch a campaign in conjunction with the Anne Frank Trust to encourage those at college to “vote wisely and reject extremism in the forthcoming general election”.

Both the National Union of Students and UJS are backing the initiative, which Anne Frank Trust director Gillian Walnes said used an updated version of the Anne Frank anti-racist declaration, ending with the phrase: “Don’t just vote — think.” It was sobering to recall that “some of the most enthusiastic supporters of National Socialism were students”.

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Haringey teenagers' Holocaust education

January 28, 2010

Interviews with survivors filmed by six Haringey teenagers were shown at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre in Tottenham.

One of the film-makers, 16-year-old Reece Taylor, said that before embarking on the project, “I didn’t really understand what the Holocaust was, or how it could be of interest to me. While making the films, I realised that these survivors had amazing stories to tell that help remind us of the importance of the past in learning lessons for the future.”

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Survivor's story: Ben Helfgott

By Robyn Rosen, January 28, 2010

Ben Helfgott went through “hell” during the Holocaust — and 70 years on, his life is still consumed by it.

Mr Helfgott, 79, was a boy when the Nazis invaded his Polish home town of Piotrkow, Lodz. He was moved to a ghetto, the first in Europe, in November 1939 and worked in a glass factory. At one point, SS guards marched into the factory and rounded up anyone they believed was Jewish. The man in charge saved his life by telling the SS men that he was Polish.

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Pupil's painting for Holocaust survivor grandfather

By Robyn Rosen, January 28, 2010

A Jewish pupil at a leading public school has created a Holocaust exhibition in memory of his grandfather as an A-level art submission.

Alex Ziff, 18 — one of just eight Jews at Wellington College in Crowthorne, Berkshire — wanted to bring home to his peers the reality of the Shoah.

Alex’s grandfather, Heinz Samson, passed away in September. He had fled to England from Germany, aged 19, but his parents died at Minsk and his sister at Auschwitz.

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Huge demand for Holocaust education in schools

By Jay Grenby, January 28, 2010

Huge demand for the annual educational HMD programme organised jointly by Kingston United and Liberal synagogues necessitated its extension to three days this year.

Almost 500 secondary school students attended workshops, heard testimony from survivors and joined candle-lighting ceremonies.

Over 40 volunteers from the shuls were involved and the project was supported by neighbourhood grants from the local council.

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Kaddish Dropped after complaints

January 28, 2010

A WOMAN rabbi is distraught that an invitation to recite kaddish at the City Hall ceremony was withdrawn after complaints from “observant Jews”.

Rabbi Miriam Berger of Finchley Reform Synagogue was “honoured” to have been approached by Boris Johnson’s office. “But a few weeks ago I got a call asking to do a reading instead. They said pressure had been put on them not to allow kaddish by a woman.

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Boris: ‘Keep driving the message of the Holocaust’

By Robyn Rosen, January 28, 2010

Boris Johnson stressed the importance of keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive at City Hall on Tuesday.

After hosting an HMD ceremony for survivors, civic and Jewish community leaders and students, the London Mayor said: “It’s so easy to become desensitised to the events of the Holocaust and forget how important it was. That would be tragic. We have to keep driving the message.

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