Holocaust Memorial Day service of reflection - Friday 26 January 2018

Published: Friday, 26th January 2018

The Lord Mayor of Oxford, Councillor Jean Fooks will be hosting a short reflection service to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day at noon on Friday 26 January 2018 at Oxford Town Hall.

The power of words is the theme for Holocaust Memorial Day 2018. All members of the public are welcome to attend.

The service is to allow members of the public, City Council employees and Councillors to honour survivors of the Holocaust, Nazi persecution and subsequent genocides and reflect on how we can ensure the lessons of history are never forgotten.

The Lord Mayor of Oxford, Councillor Jean Fooks said: “Holocaust Memorial Day serves to remind us all of the horrors of the Holocaust and other atrocities committed when people give way to racism, fascism and intolerance of those different from themselves. The service on Friday is open to all to come and share their memories and their hopes for a better future.” 

Spoken and written words from individuals, corporations, community organisations or the government can have a huge impact, whether good or bad. The theme for Holocaust Memorial Day 2018 explores how language has been used in the past, and how it is used in the present day.

Holocaust Memorial Day activities could focus on the impact that words had in the Holocaust and subsequent genocides, through propaganda used to incite, through slogans written in resistance, and through memoirs written to record and respond to what was going on. The words that we see and hear all around us today – in newspapers, online, in conversations – the words that we choose to use, all have an impact upon us and those around us.

Penny Faust, member of Oxford Jewish Congregation and Chair of the Oxford Council of Faiths said: “Name-calling is very often not perceived to have any intrinsic danger. We still teach our children that 'sticks and stones may hurt my bones but words will never hurt me.' But that's certainly not true in this day and age.

"There, needs to be wider recognition, for both public and private figures, that words are very powerful and once written or said are very difficult to withdraw. Name calling nowadays can lead at least to active discrimination and at worst to violence. 

"The descriptions that we conjure up and the implications of what we say or write can be devastating. And the opportunities for the dissemination of our words through texts, tweets and the internet are all pervasive. I believe that we must tread with care when we cast about for appropriate ways to describe our opponents, neighbours, colleagues and even our friends.” 

The Lord Mayor of Oxford will be joined by the Interim City Rector, The Very Reverend Charlotte Bannister-Parker, Penny Faust, Oxford Jewish Congregation and Chair of the Oxford Council of Faiths, Imam Monawar Hussain DL, The Founder of the Oxford Foundation and representative from the Muslim Community, and Chairman of Oxfordshire County Council, Councillor Zoe Patrick.

During the service we will be lighting a Yahrzeit or year time candle to commemorate the lives of the six million Jews and five million others, gypsies, disabled people, homosexuals and political prisoners who died during the Holocaust. For many of us it also serves as a memorial to victims of other genocides and carries our hopes for a better future.

All are welcome to join the Lord Mayor of Oxford at the top of the main stairs in Oxford’s Town Hall to arrive by 11.45am for the service to start at noon.