Irish Council of Churches. Irish Inter-Church Meeting

Holocaust Memorial Day – 27 January

Toni Griffiths

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Holocaust Memorial Day Candle Lighters

Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) is the international day on 27 January to remember the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust, the millions of people killed under Nazi Persecution and in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. 

Faith and interfaith organisations play a crucial role in fostering understanding and good relationships between different communities. HMD is an opportunity to celebrate the diversity within these communities and to challenge prejudice and intolerance. 

HMD has special significance for faith and interfaith groups. During the Holocaust, under Nazi Persecution and in the subsequent genocides, individuals and groups were targeted simply because of their differing identities and beliefs. The Holocaust was a campaign to murder European Jewry in its entirety. In addition, Nazis persecuted Jehovah’s Witnesses, as well as Roma and Sinti people. Many Christians who resisted the Nazis in the name of their faith also died. There are examples of convent communities and individual Christians hiding and rescuing Jews. During the 1990s war in Bosnia, extremist Bosnian Serbs promoted hatred of Muslims and murdered around 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica.

The theme for HMD 2022 is One Day. Survivors of the Holocaust and of genocide often talk about the One Day when everything changed, sometimes for the worse and sometimes for better. One Day is just a snapshot in time and therefore cannot give the full context, the background that is needed, but it can help bring a piece of the full picture to life. For those who suffered for days, weeks, months, years focussing on just One Day is a starting point. It is a way in for us to learn more about what happened during the Holocaust and the genocides that followed in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur and help create a safer, better future. 

Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT) is funded by the UK Government to promote and support HMD and we are here to help you to mark HMD 2022. We understand that being physically together whilst living with the challenges of Covid–19 may not be possible this year and that is why we have created HMD Together. This collection of virtual resources has been specifically designed to enable you to mark HMD in meaningful ways with other people – even if you are not able to gather together in person.  

The HMDT website has an extensive amount of helpful information and resources to help you explore ways to commemorate HMD, including tailor made guidance specifically for faith and interfaith groups. We have also supported the Council of Christians and Jews (CCJ) in their production of a resource designed for use by Christians in a worship setting on or around HMD 2022. It includes prayers, activities, scripture readings, a poem, and a testimony. This resource can be adapted as necessary for your own context, and it will provide inspiration and guidance so that church communities can remember the Holocaust, Nazi persecution of other groups, and subsequent genocides, as a fundamental part of their Christian witness and discipleship.

We encourage you to mark HMD in 2022 and play your part in creating One Day in our communities without hate, prejudice and intolerance.

Toni Griffiths is Senior Outreach Officer at the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust. You can contact her on toni.griffiths@hmd.org.uk 

The HMDT website can be found at: www.hmd.org.uk

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