National Holocaust Memorial Day

Chatham Memorial Synagogue - working in partnership

Since 2004, the Medway commemoration of Holocaust Memorial Day has been organised jointly by Medway Council, Chatham Memorial Synagogue, Rochester Cathedral and the Medway Inter-Faith Action Forum. In 2010 they were joined by the Medway Youth Parliament. These five  organisations are committed to ensuring that the Holocaust and other human atrocities are never forgotten.

We in Medway support the work of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust. Further information about Holocaust Memorial Day can be found on their comprehensive website.


The theme for 2015 is Keep the memory alive. By teaching the younger members of the community about what happened in the Holocaust, together with the subsequent events in Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda and Darfur, then hopefully we will learn lessons from the past to create a safer, better future.

The Medway event at Chatham Memorial Synagogue will include poetry, readings, music and drama by students from local schools as well as an account of an educational visit to Auschwitz. We will also be lighting one of 70 special commemorative candles issued by the HMD Trust as this iss the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.


The theme for 2014 was Journeys. The Medway commemorative event took place in Rochester Cathedral on Monday 27 January 2014.

On HMD 2014 we can learn how journeys themselves became part of genocide, and how the journeys undertaken were often experiences of persecution and terror for so many people who suffered in the Holocaust, under Nazi Persecution and in the subsequent genocides. We can also learn about the life stories of journeys that brought survivors to the UK and how, in many instances, journeys of return have been part of the experience of rebuilding.

The Medway event consisted of a selection of readings, poetry, drama, music and prayers based on the 2014 theme and the recollections of a Holocaust survivor.


The theme for 2013 was Communities together: Build a Bridge. The Medway commemorative event consisting of a selection of poetry, readings, drama and music involving students from local schools and colleges was held at Sir Joseph Williamson’s Mathematical School, Rochester on Sunday 27 January 2013. To view the Meridian News coverage of the event, click here


The theme for 2012 was Speak Up Speak Out. Please click the logo on the left for more information. The Medway commemorative event took the form of an extended Friday evening service at the synagogue on 27 January 2012 involving students from local schools, Mid-Kent College and the Medway Youth Parliament.


The 2011 event was held at Rochester Cathedral on Thursday 27 January 2011.

The event was based on the national theme, which for 2011 was Untold Stories. We were very pleased once again to have the involvement of the Medway Youth Parliament and local junior and senior schools. This year the University for the Creative Arts took part in the exhibition which was dispayed in the cathedral to coincide with the event. The UCA also designed the publicity posters and the commemorative plaques for the schools and other participants. The plaques were presented by the Mayor of Medway. During the event, representatives the five partner organisation reaffirmed their support for the Medway Statement of Commitment.


The 2010 event was organised and presented by the Medway Youth Council and was held in the Corn Exchange, Rochester on Wednesday 27 January 2010. This was the first time that the youth parliament had a major role in the event and eveyone agreed that the event was a credit to the young people who took part.

The event which was based on the national theme, the Legacy of Hope contained a selection of music, poems, readings, dance and prayers by students from local schools and members of the youth parliament


The 2009 event was be held at Chatham Memorial Synagogue on Tuesday 27 January 2009. The event was based on the 2009 theme “Stand up to hatred” and featured students from local schools who gave readings poems and songs telating to Anne Frank, the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and Rwanda. PC Terry Sims spoke about Standing up to hatred and Immam Shaffiq Din spoke about Islamophobia.

There were prayers read by members of Chatham Memorial Synagogue, Medway Youth Parliament and Rochester Cathedral.

Prizes for the exhibition were presented by the Mayor of Medway, Cllr David Carr.


Organised in partnership with Medway Council, Rochester Cathedral and Medway Inter-Faith Action Forum, a commemorative event for Holocaust Memorial Day was held at Rochester Cathedral on Sunday 27 January 2008. the event was attended by over 200 people.

The event, based on the 2008 theme “Imagine... remember, reflect, react,  involved students from local schools and the Rochester Cathedral Special Choir.

The Dean of Rochester in his welcome emphasised the importance of the cooperation between the cathedral, the local authority, the inter-faith group and the synagogue as well as the importance of involving young people. Central to the programme of poetry, readings and drama were the very moving recollections of three young people who had been on educational visits to Auschwitz.

There were memorial prayers by Hazel Bishop of Kent Liberal Jewish community, Jon Weiner of Chatham Memorial Synagogue and Shaffiq Din, a local Imam, representing Medway Inter Faith action. The event concluded with the Cathedral Special Choir singing the Aaronic Blessing.

An exhibition of work by students from local schools was on display at the cathedral to coincide with Holocaust Memorial Day


Organised in partnership with Medway Council, Rochester Cathedral and Medway Inter-Faith Action Forum, a commemorative event for Holocaust Memorial Day was held at the Chapter School, Strood on Saturday 27 January 2007 at 7pm.

The programme of poetry, readings, drama and dance was produced by members of the teaching staff and performed most movingly by a group of students. There were also audio-visual presentations and an exhibition of art and written work.


Organised in partnership with Medway Council, Rochester Cathedral and Medway Inter-Faith Action Forum, a service for Holocaust Memorial Day was held at the synagogue on Friday 27 January at 7pm. Speakers included the Mayor of Medway and the Bishop of Tonbridge. There was a Kiddush after the service.

The Mayor read the Holocaust Memorial Day - Medway Statement of Commitment which has been signed by the Mayor of Medway, the Dean of Rochester Cathedral and the chairmen of Chatham memorial Synagogue and medway Inter-Faith Action Forum. Click here to see a copy of the signed statement.


The Holocaust Memorial Event took place at the Corn Exchange, Rochester on Thursday 27 January 2005. This event was jointly organised by representatives of Chatham Memorial Synagogue, Medway Council, Medway Inter Faith Action forum, Rochester Cathedral and the Royal School of Military Engineering. As this year’s event fell on the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the theme was liberation. Introduced by Judith Armitt, chief executive of Medway Council, the event included recollections of the Holocaust and of peace-keeping in Bosnia. There was also a section entitled “the Hope of Liberation” by Canon Jonathan Meyrick of Rochester Cathedral. Music was provided by the Band of the Corps of Royal Engineers - a full report is available on the Jewish Kent Web Site.


An emotional Holocaust Memoral Day event was held in Rochester Cathedral for the first time with a congregation of nearly 200 people including the Mayor of Medway.

The inter-faith event was a joint project between Rochester Cathedral, Chatham Memorial Synagogue and Medway Inter Faith Action forum. It grew out of a conversation between synagogue chairman Jon Weiner and Acting Dean of the Cathedral, Canon Jonathan Meyrick after the service in the synagogue in January last year. The event was organised by Jon Weiner (centre), Jonathan Meyrick (right) and Canon Noei Beattie (left), chairman of the Inter Faith forum.

The event included psalms by the Cathedral Special Choir and music by Bloch, Bruch and John Williams. Synagogue members Jon Weiner and Gabriel Lancaster read passages from the Torah and two synagogue members (Inge Hack and Edith Bown) who came to England on the Kindertransport, losing their families in the Holocaust, read selected readings relating to the Holocaust. There were also stories of other attrocities, namely Armenian Christian and Iraqi kurd, representing the many terrible acts of attrocity and genocide which have occured in recent times. After the lighting of memorial candles, the event ended with a statement of hope from the leaders of various religious traditions in Medway endorsed by the the Bishop of Rochester after which the choir sang the Aaronic Blessing.

This was an excellent example of the synagogue working together with the cathedral and and the local Inter Faith action forum in organising what was a well-attended and successful event. Plans are now under way for a joint event for 2005.


A Holocaust Memorial Service was held at the Synagogue on Sunday 26 January 2003, the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day. The service was conducted by Jon Weiner, David Herling and Gabriel Lancaster. The service as well as honouring the memory of the six million victims of the Nazi Holocaust provided an opportunity for the unveiling and dedication of a beautiful new Holocaust Memorial Window. The window was originally designed by Hilary Halpern and the design was developed by Sharif Amin who ceated the windowand crafted the stained glass. The 24ft-long window is positioned in the roof of the Synagogue and features the names of 22 of the death camps. A circle of clear glass is surrounded by rays of coloured glass which fade from yellow to orange and red, then into purple and black. Symbols of barbed wire, watchtowers, chimneys and the Star of David are all included in the design. According to Hilary Halpern, the intention was to explode light from the centre and radiate it out to black, suggesting the horror of the event but the light in the centre is also intended to be a ray of hope.

The new window, which was largely funded by Medway Council, was unveiled by the Mayor of Medway Cllr. Ted Baker. The service was also attended by the Mayoress, the Chief Executive of Medway Council, the Leader of the council, the Deputy Lieutenant of Kent, the acting Dean of Rochester Cathedral, the treasurer of the Board of Deputies and representatives of other faith communities.
At the start of the service, a memorial candle was lit by a member of the community who had herself lost members of her family in the Holocaust. Later in the service, her husband recited the Mourners’ Kaddish for all of the Holocaust victims. Another member of the community who escaped to Britain on the Kindertransport read a letter she received after the war from a non-Jewish German lady who at great risk to herself had helped look after the reader’s parents until they were transported.


The National Holocaust Memorial Day was inaugurated by the government to ensure that this nation among others never forgets the most awful act of inhumanity committed in modern history.  In remembering the Holocaust, we also call to mind the capacity that humans have to inflict horrendous crimes against one another, often whole groups of people, and indeed have committed before the time of the Holocaust and up to the present day.

We must not let these events fade away into history, to be out of sight and out of mind.  We constantly need to guard against those who would deny that they happened at all or were significant.  All of us in a democracy are required to be watchful that power never over-reaches itself so as to bring disaster upon its people or any group of people within civilised society. 

To remember is one part of the collective responsibility.  We also dare to hope that in spite of the worst that humans can do, we have the capacity to renew the world and bring peace. Therefore, collectively in Medway we shall renew our hope and recommit ourselves to work for a better world.

The 27th January is chosen for National Holocaust Memorial Day because it was the date on which British troops liberated the concentration camp at Auschwitz

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Chatham Memorial Synagogue is a registered charity - No. 800902        Website last updated 22 January 2015