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Holocaust Memorial Day

York Minster’s historic Chapter House has once again been the setting for the lighting of 600 candles – the cathedral’s poignant act of commemoration for Holocaust Memorial Day.

Holocaust Memorial Day is an annual, global act of remembrance for the six million Jewish men, women and children murdered by the Nazis in the Second World War (1939-1945).  York Minster’s commemoration is one of a series of events taking place across the City of York for Holocaust Memorial Week.

The cathedral’s commemoration started with a dedicated Evensong service followed by a procession to the Chapter House for the lighting of the 600 candles which were set out on the floor to form the Star of David.

Representatives from the Jewish community, refugee support groups, interfaith groups and community organisations were present for the event which will include readings, music and prayers, interspersed with silence for quiet reflection.

Returning again was Edith Jayne, born in Vienna in 1936 to a Jewish father and Catholic mother. Edith recounted her family’s perilous escape from Nazi occupied Austria to Portugal and then to the United States where they arrived as refugees when Edith was just three years old.  She recalled how it felt to be strangers in a new country and, how her family managed to carry on after discovering that more than 40 members of their extended family were transported from Hungary to the Auschwitz concentration camp and murdered there in 1944.

Commenting on the event, York Minster’s Chancellor, the Reverend Canon Dr Chris Collingwood said: 

“The Holocaust and other genocidal events such as Rwanda in 1994, leave behind them a trail of suffering which continues for years.  The shattering terrorist attacks of 2016 and continuing conflicts and religious persecution in Syria, Iraq, Sudan, Yemen and elsewhere provide bleak reminders of human cruelty and our inability to learn from history.

“However, time and again, nations, communities, families and individuals demonstrate astonishing courage, resilience and a remarkable capacity for forgiveness.

“Holocaust Memorial Day shows how these human characteristics, and remembrance and commemoration of these terrible events help us to survive, forgive, rebuild and renew:  how to carry on in spite of such adversity.”

Premier’s Northern Correspondent Ian Britton was at the act of commemoration for Holocaust Memorial Day and you can listen to his report here.

Edith Jayne, a member of the Quaker community in York, recounts her family’s perilous escape from Nazi occupied Austria to Portugal and then to the United States where they arrived as refugees when Edith was just three years old.  

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