Firstly, I would like to draw attention to an exhibition which Mrs Abecasis has curated at the Imperial War Museum: “Against All Odds: Britain and the Rescue of Jewish Children”.
At the opening of the exhibition last Sunday guests included family members of the rescuers, Rabbi Dr. Solomon Schonfeld & Sir Nicholas Winton, and children of the Kindertransports. Guest speakers included Rachel Donnelly from the Imperial War Museum; Mrs Abecasis who curated the exhibition; Barbara Winton, daughter of Sir Nicholas Winton; Jonathan Schonfeld, son of son of Rabbi Dr. Solomon Schonfeld; as well as rescued children: Lord Dubs, Benjamin Abeles, John Fieldsend and Lili Pohlmann.
Since the exhibition opened, groups of Hasmonean students have been taken to it and the feedback from them and the teachers who accompanied them has been excellent. We are hopeful that this exhibition will now move on to schools in London and perhaps further afield. My sincere thanks go to Mrs Abecasis for curating this incredibly inspiring exhibition.
At both schools, we will mark Holocaust Memorial Day next Friday and guest speakers and guest pupils from other schools will be visiting Hasmonean.
I was reminded when I learned that this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day theme is ‘Stand Together’ of Rabbi Sack’s words in A Judaism Engaged with the World:
I discovered how much non-Jews admire Judaism and are lifted by it. Jews are admired by others for the strength of their families and the support of their communities, for their commitment to philanthropy and social responsibility; and for their ability to combine reverence for the past with sensitivity to the present and responsibility to the future. I discovered that non-Jews respect Jews who respect Judaism.
It made me reflect, as somebody who is not Jewish but who has worked within the Jewish community for many years, that there is a duty that we too have, particularly at a time when anti-Semitism has been rising. If, according to Rabbi Sacks, Jews have a duty to embrace their Judaism, our duty is to carry your light with us when we leave your company. When questioned about Jewish life in your absence, we must celebrate what we have seen and regale those who are ignorant of Jewish communities with tales of generosity and warmth. Jews and non-Jews must stand together even when they are parted. To those of us who have worked in Jewish communities for a long time, this is as easy as it is sadly now necessary.
Mr A McClusky
CEO, Hasmonean MAT