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Thought for the Day: Holocaust Memorial Day 2024

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“I simply can’t build my hopes on a foundation of confusion, misery and death…I think peace and tranquillity will return again”.



These words, written by the young diarist, Anne Frank, are testament to the crucial importance of hope to sustain her and those with her whilst in hiding during the Holocaust.

The 17th century English poet, Joseph Addison, taught that there are three grand essentials to happiness in this life. They are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.

Holocaust Memorial Day, which falls tomorrow, does not just remind us about the power of hope to sustain those who endured the most unimaginable suffering, but beyond that, to ask how we can make space for hope today even in the context of a worrying increase of hate crime and a global resurgence of antisemtism.

The Holocaust survivor and Nobel Laureate, Elie Wiesel would say that hope is not a gift from God.

It is a gift only we can give one another. But how?

Fascinatingly, the Hebrew word for hope, ‘tikva’, which has its origins in the Bible, literally means a rope. The message it conveys is both powerful and timely.

A rope derives its strength from many threads which are intertwined. Each one, by itself, is fragile, but when woven together, they are unbreakable. The rope symbolises that where there is unity, there is hope.

When good people come together in the service of a common cause, nothing can destroy the hope that together, they can achieve their aspirations.

So, in our efforts to confront the world’s oldest hatred, there is room for hope –

If together, we recognise that Jew-hatred constitutes a threat to all of our society.

If together, we educate one and all about how antisemitism has developed and transformed over time and how we can recognise it when we see it.

If together, we are vigilant and brave enough to call it out when we encounter it.

If together, we teach our children that the superheroes of our time are those who pursue peace and lovingkindness and not violence and murder.

If together, we take care to form our opinions on the basis of facts rather than soundbites on social media and agenda-led reporting.

At a time when the forces of extremism and hatred darken our vulnerable world, there is room for hope if we all, together, passionately and sincerely declare, “Never again!” and then do something about it.