Every year there is a Holocaust Memorial Day event in Croydon and in most other local authorities. 

Part of my job as Croydon’s SACRE officer is to arrange the event, with a small committee of people from the Synagogue, Faiths Together, SACRE and from the Council. 

We start thinking in July and once again, last November, we had to take the decision to do an online event this year. We had to get the Mayor to send a film of him making the Croydon Pledge, and the Leader of the Council and the Cabinet member for communities to send in films of themselves talking about what the Holocaust means to us all. 

The theme this year was ‘One Day’ it is strange how one day in our lives can be so important and make such a difference. I think my working life was changed by one day when I was very small and my parents told me about the Berlin wall being put up and how if it happened here we would have lost my sisters who were much older and were both at school quite a journey away. On the day it came down I called my son, aged 8 at the time, to watch as history was being made. He has had a lifelong love of History ever since. 

So, the presentations this year were very poignant with Oasis Academy pupils telling us dates on which restrictions were put onto the Jewish population, Riddlesdown Collegiate pupils reading poems based on the theme. We also had Helen Stone from the charity Generation2Generation telling the story of her German Jewish mother and getting us to think about which was the most life changing day in her life. Marilyn Arbisman, from the Croydon Synagogue, talked about a day in 1941, the Farhud, was a pogrom carried out against the Jewish population of Baghdad and Basra, immediately following the British victory in the Anglo-Iraqi war. 

We also heard about a project, by After Eden, to get school children to perform an opera which was first performed by children in Terezin concentration camp. We hope that we will have our own Croydon performance next year.  

The organisation putting the films together and getting subtitles that made sense was a tremendous job undertaken by officers from Croydon Council and the whole presentation can be seen on the faiths together website and on this link https://bit.ly/3KBhaPX on the Council website. 

Also on the Faiths Together website are the winning and commended  entries to the schools Holocaust competition - https://faithstogetherincroydon.org.uk/weblog/ 

Penny Smith-Orr