Haywards Heath stands together to remember and ‘bring peace and harmony’ on Holocaust Memorial Day
To mark Holocaust Memorial Day on Monday, Amnesty International and Haywards Heath Town Council held a remembrance service at Muster Green in Haywards Heath.
Town mayor Alastair McPherson led a procession of local school children from Haywards Heath Town Hall to the war memorial for the service.
Members of the Jewish, Muslim and Christian communities were present, and the public marked the Holocaust with prayers, hymns, readings and poetry.
Mr McPherson said: “It is my pleasure to welcome you all to this ceremony to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust as well as those who have died in the genocides suffered by men, women and children throughout the world.
“It is a privilege for us to be joined today by young people from our local schools because it allows us to fulfil our solemn duty of passing on to them a part of history which demands to be remembered.”
The theme of the service was ‘Standing Together’, and the service was to remember all victims of the Holocaust, and those killed in other genocides.
At the start of the service, young people from Warden Park and Oathall stood with Irene Balls, chairman of the Haywards Heath branch of Amnesty International, to read part of the Stockholm Declaration.
Mrs Balls said: “The unprecedented character of the Holocaust will always hold universal meaning.
“After so many years, it remains an event close enough in time that survivors can still bear witness to the horrors that engulfed the Jewish people.”
Reverend Deacon David Turner read the story of Father Maximillian Kolbe who was martyred at Auschwitz after volunteering to die in the place of Franciszek Gakowniczek, and ‘Shalom My Friend’ was sung.
Prayers and religious readings were read by Father Ray Smith, and Rabbi Andreaz read the Kadish.
Mr McPherson said: “We will make a commitment during this service to work for all that makes for peace.
“Peace is not just the absence of war. Peace exists when we respect all humankind and not just those living within our borders.
“Peace can begin here today in each one of us no matter what our age, faith, political viewpoint, gender, colour or sexuality.
“That peace can begin when we show respect by allowing each other the space to be who we are.
“Let us today promise we shall do just that so that we can live in a society where all can flourish, grow and feel respected and honoured.
“Never let the part of history we remember today ever be repeated.”
Children brought the mayor, the rural dean of Uckfield and the Rabbi the candle of peace.
They said: “We the young of this community call on you, our spiritual and civic leaders to promise us that you will always work for the common good, the peace of the world and for the acceptance of all no matter their race, creed, colour, gender or sexuality.
“We invite you to light this candle in the hope that its light will shine in all our hearts and minds.
“Let us stand together to bring peace and harmony on our world.”