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Westminster Abbey commemoration promotes inter-faith respect

February 6, 2015 - Board of Deputies - Share: Twitter Facebook

On Sunday night I attended a service organised by West London and Belsize Square synagogues at Westminster Abbey a fitting if slightly ironic end to a week of  commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

It was fitting, because to hold a Holocaust commemoration in such glorious surroundings and in such an atmosphere of inter-faith respect and goodwill testifies more eloquently to the message of Holocaust Memorial Day than any speech possibly could . It was ironic also because to hold the service on what is possibly the premier place of Christian worship in this country testifies to the degree to which the Church and the general community understands the enormity of the Holocaust.

While it was happening however this was not the case. Although the Church of England and many other Christian communities in this country made a very determined stand against Nazism from the very beginning, on the continent things were different. The moral compromises made by many may not have caused the Holocaust but they did make its execution much easier.

Now in the atmosphere of the soaring melodies, glorious architecture and moving readings from both testaments illustrating the Jewish roots of Christianity this could all be put on one side. Above all, the testimony of the survivors whose ranks are diminishing by the years, and for many of whom this may be their last significant anniversary, made this a moving evening that will leave a permanent impression on all present.