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Remembering horrors of Holocaust

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Heartbreaking stories of families torn apart and the millions of people killed during the Holocaust provided a sombre backdrop to the annual Remembrance of the Shoah service held on November 7.

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As the wind howled outside, Christians and Jews of Adelaide stood side by side in St Francis Xavier’s Cathedral listening to recounts of the atrocities that occurred at death camps such as Auschwitz during World War II.

The gathering also served to remember the anniversary of Kristallnacht – or ‘night of broken glass’ – which was a turning point in the Nazi’s persecution of Jews as Germans rioted across the country on November 9 1938, targeting Jewish homes and businesses.

The Holocaust, or Shoah, saw the systematic murder of six million European Jews, around two-thirds of the Jewish population of Europe, between 1941 and 1945.

An initiative of Archbishop Wilson, the annual Remembrance of the Shoah service has been held for several years to enable local Christians and Jews to ‘stand in solidarity against hatred and oppression’.

In welcoming guests to this year’s event, Administrator Delegate Fr Philip Marshall encouraged those present to pray for the people who died in the Shoah “so terribly, so unjustly”.

“God would be glad to see God’s family together in this way,” he said.

Rev Michael Trainor, co-chair of the Council of Christians and Jews, added that while the history of relations between Christians and Jews had been a tormented one, “we stand together tonight, all of us children of the One God, we commit ourselves anew to peace in the world, in the hope that never again will such evil be perpetrated”.

Stories depicting the horror of the Holocaust were shared by readers from both Christian and Jewish communities, with six candles of remembrance being lit by students from Mercedes College. Andrew Steiner from the Beit Shalom community and Sarah Moffatt, representing the Catholic community, then lit the candle of hope.

The order of service was prepared by Rabbi Shoshana Kaminsky of the Beit Shalom Synagogue in conjunction with Dr Jenny O’Brien from the Office for Worship. Hauntingly beautiful music was sung by the Jewish choir, with students from Blackfriars Priory School and St Mary’s College providing a presence from the younger generation.

Following the service, Dr Ron Hoenig, co-chair of the Council of Christians and Jews, spoke of the importance of the interfaith ceremony for Adelaide’s approximately 1000-strong Jewish community.

“There is a sense of reconciliation here and it provides a powerful lesson for us all, that it’s important to respect divinity, especially at this moment in time,” he said.

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