Leeds unites to remember victims of the Holocaust

Rudi Leavor at today's event.
Rudi Leavor at today's event.

They came together to remember victims of an almost unimaginable tragedy and to show their determination that it must never happen again.

Hundreds of people gathered in the historic surroundings of Leeds Town Hall today for a civic service held to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.

The United Hebrew Congregation Choir.

The United Hebrew Congregation Choir.

Hosted by the Lord Mayor of Leeds, Coun Jane Dowson, the service included music and dance as well as thought-provoking speeches and moments of quiet contemplation for all those who died or suffered persecution during the Holocaust and other genocides.

Attendees at the event included Liesel Carter, who fled her native Germany aged four in 1939 and now lives in Moortown.

She told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “It is important that people don’t forget, not just the six million Jews, but everyone else who was murdered.

“The younger generation needs to know what happened and what happens when hatred takes over.”

Zeynab Ahmed from Remembering Srebrenica.

Zeynab Ahmed from Remembering Srebrenica.

The event began with an address from Coun Dowson, who urged people to learn the lessons of the past and use language of “compassion and tolerance”.

She also read out a quote from The Diary of Anne Frank, saying: “Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news. The good news is that you don’t know how great you can be.”

Members of the United Hebrew Congregation Choir sang hymns including Lo Teda Milchama (Let There Be No More War).

A performance by the Northern School of Contemporary Dance’s Youth Dance Company used poetry, film and movement to describe the agonies endured by people living under Nazi occupation.

The hour-long service’s keynote speech came from Cambodia’s ambassador to the UK, Dr Soeung Rathchavy.

She spoke about the impact of her country’s murderous Khmer Rouge regime on her loved ones, saying she was still “haunted by the ghosts of the past”.

Rudi Leavor, president of Bradford Synagogue, sang El Malei Rachamim (God Full Of Compassion) before the service drew to a close with a minute’s silence.

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