Ladies and Gentlemen, each year on Yom HaShoah, the Jewish community comes together to mourn the heartbreaking loss of six million Jewish men, women and children who were so brutally murdered in the Holocaust.
This evening as we mark seventy-five years since liberation, I am only too aware that the majority of survivors and refugees will be isolated at home and deeply concerned that, this year, they will be unable to do justice to what is such a significant anniversary. As Patron of both Holocaust Memorial Day and World Jewish Relief, I can only say that my heart goes out to you all as you remember the Shoah.
Despite the unimaginable horrors that they endured and the losses they suffered, the survivors and refugees who found a welcome in Britain somehow managed to piece their lives back together to become the leaders and builders of your community, active citizens and dedicated contributors to wider British society. They have been, and continue to be, shining examples to the world of how it is possible to triumph over adversity.
Whilst they may consider themselves the lucky ones when so many did not survive, to us they are simply nothing short of “living heroes”, who were determined not just to survive - but to thrive - as they built new lives, new homes and new families here in the United Kingdom.
Of course, for many of you watching this evening, these are more than heroes: they are your parents, grandparents and great-grandparents of whom, I know, you are enormously proud. Above all, I am aware from the privilege of meeting many of the survivors during my lifetime that their greatest concern had always been that succeeding generations should never forget the lessons of the unimaginable horror which engulfed so many ancient Jewish communities throughout Europe and robbed us in one fell swoop of so much talent, genius and unrealized intellectual promise.
For seventy-five years, survivors, refugees and liberators have inspired us with their positive messages of hope which now, at such an unprecedented, anxious and strange time in all our lives, can perhaps remind us that, through faith, resolve and determination, the day will soon come that we will all be safely together again – when, as the Psalmist writes, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” Until then, I am with you all in spirit and send my warmest greetings.