AJEX 2021 Annual Remembrance Parade and Ceremony – 21st November 2021

2021 is the 100th anniversary of the first wreath laying by the Jewish Veterans at The Cenotaph. This year it has been especially important after eighteen months of the Covid Pandemic to come together as a Jewish community, representing Jews from across the UK.

The anniversary reminds us of the sacrifice and courage of all those who have fought for our country so we could have “our tomorrow.” “From the fields of Flanders in the First World War, to the deserts of Africa in the Second and the mountains of Afghanistan today,” as the Royal British Legion said in their tribute, Jewish men and women have “continually sacrificed for our nation and for the protection of the people of Britain.”

We Remember Them (a Jewish prayer)

At the beginning of the year and when it ends
We remember them.
As long as we live, they too will live;
For they are now a part of us,
As we remember them

At the Parade, young and old were marching, whether from schools, youth organisations, shuls or veterans. Jews from across the UK came to The Cenotaph, uniting in the Jewish contributions and sacrifices made for our country.

The Loyal prayer was recited as well as Tehillim 23 and Kaddish, both talking of peace and our belief in the strength of G-d. “Though I walk through a valley of deepest darkness, I fear no harm, for You are with me” is a particularly poignant reminder of the self-sacrifice of those who have served in all Britain’s conflicts, yet still “gave their today so we could have our tomorrow.” We also recited the prayer for the safety of the British Armed Forces, a reminder that we wish all servicemen should never have to witness what our veterans gave their lives to fight.

Sir Lloyd Dorfman CBE, Reviewing Officer laid the wreath in memory of all Jewish personnel who died in the service of the crown. Mike Bluestone, AJEX National Chairman, laid the wreath in memory of those in the Allied Forces who died in the Two World Wars. President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Marie van der Zyl, laid the wreath in memory of the Board of Deputies who served in both World Wars. Mr Arthur Lawson MBE laid the wreath in honour of the 100th anniversary of the first wreath laying at the cenotaph by Jewish veterans of World War One. Rabbi Dweck laid the wreath in honour of all Jewish chaplains who have served in the HM forces. L/H Abi Sondack laid the wreath for the Armed Forces Jewish community in memory of the Jewish men and women who have died since World War Two. Lt Col Colin Shieff laid the wreath remembering those who served in the First Gulf War. Lt Gen Richard Nugee laid the wreath in honour of all our allies who stood by us since the start of the 20th century. Mrs Barbara Kober laid the wreath in memory of all Jewish women who served in the ATS, the WAAF, the Wrens, the Land Army, air transport, air factories and in nursing services. Sgt Ethan Fox, JLGB, laid the wreath in memory of members of the JLGB, Jewish youth clubs, Jewish Scouts and girl guides, and Jewish schools who died in service. Poppy posies made by students representing schools, cadets and youth groups were also laid.

A two minute silence was held, as on Armistice Day, to honour all those, in whichever service and war, served and died for our country. We recited Adon Olam as a unifying aspect between those from all backgrounds, schools and shuls to remember our connection to G-d and our unity when we come together, as well as civic unity under our Queen, whom we wished a long and good life.

It was an honour for me personally to be able to march with veterans and the Jewish community and to remember those who gave their lives for us. We will remember them.

By Leah W