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Singing with survivors: Chief Rabbi visits Holocaust Survivors Centre

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Ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day, Chief Rabbi Mirvis paid a visit to a unique Jewish Care facility that provides holistic support and diverse programmes for both Holocaust survivors and refugees from the former Yugoslavia.

The Holocaust Survivors Centre hosted the Chief Rabbi for afternoon tea, during which he praised their courage and unremitting stoicism, before partaking in a lively Q & A session. He told survivors that he would never truly know what it felt like to experience the trauma of the Shoah, and related the tale of his great-uncle, who escaped Europe ahead of the Holocaust but lost many family members and students to it nevertheless.

“I want to thank you for moving forward in a practical and wonderful way…you are a true inspiration to me and to the entire Jewish people.”

The floor was opened to questions, an opportunity the Centre’s users promptly availed of as they engaged the Chief Rabbi on matters ranging from antisemitism, to cross-communal unity to ways of promoting interfaith relations. Aware of the Chief Rabbi’s recent trip to India, one gentleman related his own experience of the Republic, having once been called upon as a Cohen to perform a pidyon haben in a Jewish village near Cochin.

The Chief Rabbi further delighted the gathering by performing a song from an Italian opera, followed by some classical Chazzanut that had everyone singing along. He was then presented with a gift by Freddie Knoller, a recent recipient of a Queen’s Honour recognizing his services to Holocaust education, who thanked him for visiting and for his congratulatory letter.