Yom HaShoah at Alyth

Every year Alyth Synagogue commemorates Yom HaShoah with a ma’ariv evening service and moving testimony from members of the synagogue who are survivors of the Shoah, were refugees from Nazi Europe or the children of survivors.   This year the commemoration focussed on the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp on April 15th 1945.

Rabbi Josh Levy of Alyth’s grandfather, Rev Dr Isaac Levy, was Senior Jewish Chaplain to the British Liberation Army which entered the camp on that day. During the service, in which he wore his late grandfather’s preaching robe, Rabbi Levy shared extracts from Rev Levy’s harrowing memoir of the liberation of the camp. Later in the service Major Adam Wise RLC, Chairman of the Armed Forces Jewish Community spoke about the moment of liberation and its effect on the troops who entered the camp.   Alyth member Victor Baneth shared his mother’s experiences as a survivor of the Bergen-Belsen. Alyth member Walter Kingsley spoke during the service for the first time in public about his experiences as a prisoner in Bergen-Belsen.   During his period there, in November 1944 he celebrated his Bar Mitzvah and told the congregation at Alyth how that had happened and how it had been possible to mark the event at the time. The Alyth Youth Singers, the Synagogue 13-17 choir, interspersed the testimony and prayer with Yiddish and Ladino song from the period.Major Adam Wise at Alyth Yom HaShoah

Rabbi Josh Levy said: “Remembering the Shoah as a Synagogue community has a special power as you realise that the people amongst whom you pray, learn and socialise have the pain of the Nazi era. deep within them. It is always extraordinary to hear, almost every year at Alyth, someone relay their experiences for the first time and somehow the safety of a Synagogue community can make that possible. Recognising the role of the British Army in liberating Bergen-Belsen and letting the world know the horror of the atrocities committed by the Nazis made this year special for us.”