Remembrance 2016

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(Please go to previous post for Shalom Radio – November’s Programme or just click on the link above)

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Talk by Elisheva Mechanic, Sunday 13 November, 2016, Etherly, County Durham, United Kingdom

Remembrance Sunday brings people together in a unique way. We are longing to make sense of war and of the loss of lives which seems to be at the same time heroic and also tragically cut short.

We gather together to remember and reflect. We each bring our own thoughts of those we knew, who have fought in world wars, and those we lost in war, perhaps only having a photograph or war medals left. Perhaps some of us carry the memory of a loved one who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Today we pray that all countries will find ways of resolving their differences and that peace may come to this earth.

Perhaps some of the poems written about war come to mind.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

I am sure that we have all watched films where soldiers march through the village with drums and trumpets playing a rousing march. Look a little further to the trenches among the rats and lice, with bodies shattered beyond recognition. Or to the prison camp where people were tortured, beaten and starved, or led away as the smoke rose above the ovens and carts trundled from the gas chambers.

I have had no personal experience of armed conflict but my father and his eldest sister served in World War 2. He was in the navy in an anti-submarine ship. His Father was a marine engineer in the Merchant Navy in World War 1. He only survived because he got a boil on his neck and was put ashore to go to hospital. His ship continued and was blown to bits. Someone had thoughtfully sent him a parcel with his toothbrush and a note, on its last call into port.

My Father was very young when he was called up. He had just started work and was in his first year of university studying accounting. His life, like many others was totally disrupted for five years. When the war ended he returned to work and picked up the threads of his studies. He very seldom talked to us about his war experiences. He had a few photographs of himself with other sailors taken when they went ashore. Perhaps for him silence was the only way he could do justice to his feelings. Perhaps he wanted to save us, his family, from ever having to go through what he did.

Roni’s father was also a soldier in the war, mainly in Brittany and France and also an anti-aircraft gunner on the Kent coast. Towards the end of the war he joined the Black Watch which is a Scottish regiment and did guard duty. Roni’s paternal grandfather served in the Devonshire regiment in the First World War and his maternal grandfather also fought in IWW in Egypt for the British Armed Forces as an infantry man.

We too have a time of silence on Remembrance Sunday. Perhaps this is the only real way to do justice to the enormous cost of war. We do not need to tell another story, but rather to be silent together. We have time to think and time to breathe the same air together. Perhaps we can think of those on active service breathing in the hot and sandy air with hardly a chance to compose themselves before the next round of bullets or bombs.

All this makes us all the more committed to make for peace and to pray for peace. We need to strive for that peace which passes all understanding. We also need to build a future that is inspired by hope.

When we break the bread we remember the sacrifice of Jesus and at that last Supper, Passover meal (Seder) his friends at supper. He held the bread and broke it, saying ‘this is my body.’ He held aloft the cup of wine and said ‘this is my blood’. He knew the power of sacrifice and remembrance for us. This is our hope for the Kingdom of God. This is our longing that we may have a future of justice and peace and mercy. That we may find forgiveness for our sins and the cleansing of our hearts and souls from all our faults and failures. We know that this gift of God is not only for us, but for all the world, if only they would stop and open their hearts to God’s Son, who is the Messiah and Saviour of Humankind.

Amen.

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Other Acts of Remembrance

Friday, 27 January, 2017

How can life go on? is the theme for Holocaust Memorial Day 2017 also called Yom HaShoah – 

There are a number of Holocaust Memorial Days; though not all on the same day.

Yom Hazikaron laShoah ve-laG’vurah (יום הזיכרון לשואה ולגבורה; “Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day”), known colloquially in Israel and abroad as Yom HaShoah (יום השואה) and in English as Holocaust Remembrance Day, or Holocaust Day, is observed as Israel’s day of commemoration for the approximately six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust as a result of the actions carried out by Nazi Germany and its accessories, and for the Jewish resistance in that period. In Israel, it is a national memorial day. It was inaugurated in 1953, anchored by a law signed by the Prime Minister of Israel David Ben-Gurion and the President of Israel Yitzhak Ben-Zvi. It is held on the 27th of Nisan (April/May), unless the 27th would be adjacent to the Jewish Sabbath, in which case the date is shifted by a day.[1]

Some other countries have different commemorative days for the same event—see Holocaust Memorial Day (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yom_HaShoah).

 The aftermath of the Holocaust and of subsequent genocides continues to raise challenging questions for individuals, communities and nations. HMD 2017 asks audiences to think about what happens after genocide and of our own responsibilities in the wake of such a crime. This year’s theme is broad and open ended, there are few known answers.

 Author and survivor of the Holocaust Elie Wiesel has said:

For the survivor death is not the problem. Death was an everyday occurrence. We learned to live with Death. The problem is to adjust to life, to living. You must teach us about living.’

How can life go on? is the theme for Holocaust Memorial Day 2017. The aftermath of the Holocaust and of subsequent genocides continues to raise challenging questions for individuals,…

Read more

There are other people of other nationalities who have perished as a result of acts of genocide

– See more at: http://hmd.org.uk/#sthash.wIbkUP0x.dpuf

 Download a copy of the full Theme Vision here.

Download the Further Resources document here.

 Scope of the theme:

  • Trauma and coming to terms with the past: The theme will ask audiences to consider how individuals and nations who have survived the horrors of genocide can begin to come to terms with the trauma and their past.
  • Displacement and refugees: Times of genocide are always times of acute social upheaval; tens of thousands, sometimes millions, of people are forced from or flee their homes. The question of how life can go on is bound up with where it goes on.
  • Justice: Some claim there is no such thing as justice after genocide. The theme will encourage thinking about what the concept of justice means and who gets to decide what form it takes.
  • Rebuilding communities: Genocide destroys and divides communities. The theme will challenge people to think about how communities can rebuild when whole sections are missing or when survivors and perpetrators live side-by-side
  • Reconciliation and forgiveness: Is true reconciliation and forgiveness possible or even desirable? The theme will explore attitudes towards forgiveness.
  • Remembering: The theme asks the questions: Why is remembering important to helping life go on? How do we remember when there is nobody left to tell the story?  
  • Facing hate – denial and trivialisation: Denial is the final stage of genocide. The theme will call on everybody to fight denial and ask the question of how life can go on after the Holocaust and genocide whilst denial and trivialisation exist.
  • Facing hate – today: Antisemitism and other forms of hate continue today. The theme will help people to consider individual, organisational, community and governmental responsibilities for protecting the rights of marginalised communities.
  • Teach us about living: Everyone will be asked the question: ‘what can you do to help those who have survived genocide, as well as all those from persecuted groups ensure that life goes on?’

 – See more at: http://hmd.org.uk/resources/theme-papers/hmd-2017-how-can-life-go#sthash.YzdmGFgI.dpuf

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