Abbey’s Yiddish memorial
Westminster Abbey will echo to the sound of Yiddish prayers and song next month at a special Kristallnacht commemoration.
The Service of Solemn Remembrance and Hope — held jointly with West London and Belsize Square synagogues — will take place at the historic London landmark on November 10, on the 75th anniversary of the Kristallnacht attacks.
Senior church official Reverend James Hawkey described it as “one of the abbey’s most important events this year”.
The service will include a speech from Kristallnacht survivor John Izbicki, as well as sermons from the Dean of Westminster, Dr John Hall, and Baroness Rabbi Julia Neuberger.
It will also feature a programme of music combining traditional Christian and Jewish themes.
Songs by Jewish composers will be performed in Yiddish and English, while hymns will also be sung by the congregation.
Rabbi Helen Freeman of West London Synagogue, who organised the event alongside Rev Hawkey, hailed it as a significant moment in Christian-Jewish relations in Britain .
She said: “The fact that Jews and Christians are working together in a national sacred space for a commemoration service is a sign of enormous hope for Jews in the UK. It’s a really positive sign.”
She pointed out that it had only been recently discovered that Jews had partly paid for the building of the abbey in the 13th century.
Rev Hawkey said: “This represents not just the beginnings of collaboration, but symbolises the maturing relationship between the abbey and the Jewish community.
“Despite our obvious fundamental differences, we have a shared interest which is something we need to celebrate.”
He added: “This service is specifically for Jewish and Christian communities to remember what happened, but also to say that Jews and Christians are now in a very different place.”
Otherwise known as “the night of broken glass”, Kristallnacht was a two-day pogrom launched against Jews throughout Nazi Germany and parts of Austria in November 1938.
More than 90 people were killed, 30,000 sent to concentration camps, and thousands of synagogues and Jewish businesses destroyed.
Tickets for the one-hour service are free but must be obtained in advance from the abbey’s website.