Michael Gove leads tributes to Barry Marcus on retirement

Pioneer of Holocaust educational trips leaves Central Synagogue


Friends and supporters of Rabbi Barry Marcus have saluted him for pioneering one-day educational visits to Auschwitz.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove, a former Education Secretary, led the tributes to “a truly wonderful man” at a reception at the House of Commons to mark Rabbi Marcus’s retirement from London’s Central Synagogue after 24 years.

Mr Gove said Rabbi Marcus had led the way in “opening the eyes and awakening the conscience of the next generation” through his educational programme.

Rabbi Marcus launched the one-day visits to Poland in 1997, teaming up with the Holocaust Educational Trust the following year.

The HET, which takes sixth-formers and teachers from across the country, clocked up its 200th trip last week.

Rabbi Marcus recalled the first occasion he took schoolchildren from Northern Ireland. Arriving at Belfast Airport, they split up into “two very distinct groups” — the Catholic children on one side, the Protestants on the other.

But by the time of the return flight, the distinctions were no longer visible as their experience had brought them together.

“It shows what can be done through education by engaging and through dialogue,” Rabbi Marcus said.

The reception, arranged by philanthropist David Mellor, was also attended by Conservative peers Lords Polak, Howard and Pickles and by Labour MP Ian Austin.

Rabbi Marcus received an MBE for services to Holocaust education four years ago.


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