Chief Rabbi pays tribute to UK veterans at Ajex D-Day ceremony at JFS

The event was attended by leaders and religious figures from across the community


Beacon lighting ceremony, organised by AJEX, to mark 80th anniversary of D-Day, June 6, 2024

AJEX, the Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women, held a Beacon lighting event to commemorate the 80th anniversary of D-Day, honouring the bravery and sacrifice of Jewish soldiers who fought for peace and freedom.

During the proceedings on Thursday evening at JFS in north London, a beacon was lit by property investor Leo Noè to coincide with beacons being lit around the country, symbolising the light of peace that emerged from the darkness of war.

The packed-out event began with an address from AJEX national chair Dan Fox, followed by moving video testimony from the late David Teacher, a Jewish D-Day veteran who passed away last month at age 100. Video messages and reflections were also provided by veterans Walter Bingham and Stanley Fisher.

300 attendees listened to an insightful interview with Judith Steinberg, daughter of a Mulberry Harbour veteran, providing personal reflections on the contributions of Jewish servicemen and women to the UK military.

Speeches were delivered by Keith Black, chair of the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC), and Adrian Cohen, senior vice president of the Board of Deputies, while the Chief Rabbi of the UK, Sir Ephraim Mirvis, offered words of encouragement and led the recitation of the Memorial Prayer and Kaddish. The Prayer for the Armed Forces was recited by Rabbi Nathan Godleman, and Psalm 23 was read by Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg of Masorti Judaism.

The Exhortation and Kohima Epitaph were recited by members of the Combined Cadet Force Cadet - Cadet Aboody and Lance Corporal Wolchover. The ceremony ended with the Benediction, and the National Anthem followed by a traditional L’Chayim led by Dan Fox, celebrating life and the enduring legacy of those who fought for freedom.

Councillor Tariq Dar MBE, the mayor of Brent, also attended the service. He told the JC he was “very touched by the welcome and greetings” of the Jewish community, and said of the many thousands Jewish and non-Jewish servicemen and women: “We will remember them.”

National Chair Dan Fox said: “Eighty years ago this morning, the Allied Expeditionary Force began taking back Europe from the Nazi empire, yard by yard, on the shores of northern France. Operation Overlord was underway. On June 6th, we raised a salute and a toast once more, to the men and women of the Allied Expeditionary Force. And to life!”

Chief Executive Fiona Palmer added, "D-Day was a monumental campaign to rid Europe of Nazi horror and the 80th anniversary of this remarkable operation deserved the recognition and gratitude of our country. We were pleased to see hundreds join us to commemorate the sacrifices made by so many in our name.

“The D-Day anniversary is not just a moment to reflect on history but to celebrate the enduring legacy of those who fought and died for our freedom. Thank you to all our speakers, to everyone who attended and especially the JFS and JCCOS Combined Cadet Force".

D-Day, June 6, 1944, was a pivotal moment in World War II, leading to the liberation of Europe from Nazi occupation. Jewish men and women played crucial roles in this victory, contributing to efforts that secured peace and freedom for future generations. AJEX, the national Jewish veterans’ association, is committed to honouring the legacy of Jewish and non-Jewish soldiers who fought for freedom.

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