The borough of Rochdale marked Holocaust Memorial Day with a special ceremony on Monday, 29 January 2018.
Around 150 people attended The Act of Commemoration, organised by the borough’s Multi-Faith Partnership in conjunction with Rochdale Council’s neighbourhood services, which took place at Heywood Civic Centre.
The event began with the Mayor of Rochdale, Councillor Ian Duckworth, and the Mayor’s Chaplain Reverend Richard Bradley rededicating the Holocaust Memorial Stone in Heywood Memorial Gardens. The annual act commemorates the brutal extermination of 6million Jews and other minority groups by the Nazis.
Guests then returned to the civic centre for the service which encouraged attendees to speak up against persecution and remember the victims and survivors of the Holocaust, Nazi persecutions and other worldwide genocides, using this year’s theme ‘The Power of Words’.
'The event was very powerful'
During the service powerful speeches were delivered. The first speech was delivered by Councillor Neil Emmott, the council’s cabinet member for housing and environment, who spoke about his experience of visiting Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration and Death Camps in Poland. The next speech was given by Sajjad Miah, the council’s principal community cohesion & equality officer, who was part of a UK delegation that visited Rohingya Refugee Camps in Bangladesh with Tony Lloyd MP and members of Rochdale Council of Mosques to see first-hand how the £200,000 raised by Rochdale communities was being used to help the refugees fleeing the atrocities in Myanmar.
Rochdale’s member of UK Youth Parliament, Sarah Mahmood, also read a community pledge for cohesion and a quote from Nelson Mandela’s ‘Long Walk to Freedom’.
Rabbi Warren Elf, community development worker for the Faith Network for Manchester, who attended the event, said: “The event was very powerful and probably the hardest of the ceremonies I attended this year, although I was pleased to see that it dealt with what is happening to the Rohingya as well as the Holocaust. We still have a lot of work to do.”
'The words we use can make a difference in the world'
During the evening six candles of remembrance were lit by the Mayor and members of the community to remember other genocides from around the world over the last 100 years. This was followed by a minute’s silence.
The evening’s music was provided by Rochdale Music Service, Fiddlestix solo violinist and the Carer’s Choir.
Councillor Janet Emsley, the council’s cabinet member for neighbourhoods, community and culture, attended the event, she said: “The words we use can make a difference in the world for both good and unfortunately evil so, we must continue to use their power to fight against the discrimination and persecution we do not tolerate. This powerful service reinforced the message that the lessons learned from the Holocaust are as pertinent today as ever and that we must continue to stand together as one cohesive, caring and strong community.”