This year Holocaust Memorial Day commemorations focus on the theme ‘Torn From Home’, featuring the accounts of many who had left their homes and their lives behind to flee for safety.
Selections of short films were also shown throughout the afternoon, including the story of Susanne Pearson MBE, who came to Sheffield on the Kinder Transport from Prague in 1939. The events were planned for the day after Holocaust Memorial Day to enable all religious communities to fully participate in the activities.
Deputy Leader of Sheffield Council, Olivia Blake, led the vigil in a reflection after the lighting of candles.
A series of poems, readings and music followed, from speakers including: Julia Black, Chair of Sheffield & District Reform Jewish Congregation, Debbie Sunday of Disability Sheffield, Rabbi Golomb of Sheffield Jewish Orthodox Community, David Sharman of LGBT+ Hub, Emily-Rose Barker, PhD Student and local school children.
The vigil culminated in a minute of silence, led by Lord Mayor, Cllr Magid Magid.
Councillor Olivia Blake, Deputy Leader of Sheffield Council said:
“I would like to thank the people of Sheffield for coming together this Holocaust Memorial Day to remember the lives and bravery of those who were persecuted in the Holocaust, and subsequent genocides, and to pay tribute to the survivors.
“This year’s subject was ‘torn from home’.
“It is important to reflect on what this means in the context of the Holocaust. Home immediately makes you think of comfort, family, friends and safety. Tragically many people are still having to leave their homes behind because of persecution and war.
“This year marks the 25th anniversary of the horrific genocide in Rwanda and the 40th anniversary of the end of the genocide in Cambodia. It is important that we take time to remember and reflect on the events of the past.
“ As we can see across the world many people are displaced and by necessity have to seek support and safety far from their homes, likely never to return and often unsure where they will end up.
I am proud to be a part of our city that led the way as the first City of Sanctuary in the UK, we must continue to be warmly welcoming and supporting to those in their most desperate time of need.”
An exhibition of posters and artwork, including a display from Sheffield Reform Synagogue, was also showcased in the Winter Gardens last week.