The Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women (AJEX) held its Annual Remembrance Ceremony and Parade this afternoon, with hundreds of members of the UK Jewish community turning out along Whitehall to honour Jewish veterans and those who fell in their country’s service.
Wreaths were laid at the Cenotaph by General Sir Peter Anthony Wall, the Parade’s reviewing officer, as well as by AJEX’s President, the Hon Vice Admiral The Lord Sterling of Plaistow, and AJEX’s National Chairman, Colonel Martin Newman. Their wreaths were laid respectively in memory of Jewish personnel who died in World War Two, those who died in the Civil Defence Forces, and Recalling the end of World War Two. Among the other wreaths laid were those commemorating the centenary of the Battle of Passchendaele and the Middle East Campaign of World War One, as well as the 75th anniversary of the Dieppe Raid and the Second Battle of El Alamein.
A prayer was recited for the welfare of the British armed forces, as well as a memorial prayer “to all who have bravely laid down their lives in the service of the Crown and to the six million victims of the Holocaust". The Chief Rabbi then recited the mourner’s Kaddish.
David Sherman, a veteran of the Royal Air Force among the marchers said that “we’re very very fortunate to have a unique parade in the whole world, where they close a main street - Whitehall - specifically for a Jewish parade. And we will try to keep it going as long as we can. We’re now mainly relatives of deceased fighting servicemen and women, who are now in their nineties.”
His comments were mirrored by Jeffrey Fox, past national chairman and Vice President of AJEX.
“AJEX was given the right by George V in 1934, and we’re the only ethnic minority who are allowed to hold a religious ceremony at the Cenotaph with all the roads closed”, he said.
“And that's something that we treasure immensely and hopefully will keep going for many more years.”
He added that “the most emotional bit is to hear Adon Olam sung with a military band."
Clive Boxer, an army veteran, said that the parade was “people like us recognising that many of our compatriots were killed - people older than myself were killed in the war, and then people like myself who served national service abroad, we were on action, and we’re trying to remember what sacrifices they made.”
He said that people would try to keep the parade going “as long as we can.
“If you look around you'll see that the age profile is not healthy. We're all in our eighties now. But our children are here, my sons in law are here, and they're representing their parents, wearing their medals, so we’re passing it on."