Members of Pinner Synagogue have come together to write, collate and create a book of personal Holocaust narratives, as part of the community’s commitment to Shoah education.
Called Zachor, meaning 'remember', the book features personal testimonies alongside stories from children and grandchildren for which the Holocaust is part of their family history.
It follows the United Synagogue’s 70 Days for 70 Years project earlier this year, which marked the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and aimed to engage people in an uplifting educational and memorial programme via 70 essays each written in memory of a Holocaust victim.
Pinner Synagogue’s project likewise shares intimate and sometimes harrowing narratives but from its own members.
Since Pinner began its own 70 Days project, in the presence of the Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis in January, the synagogue has hosted commemorative events including film screenings, discussion groups, lectures and exhibitions.
The publication of this book came in the wake of a special Shabbat in which members were invited to share their memories with the community.
For many contributors, it was the first time they had disclosed their story.
The aim of the book, sponsored by the Association for Jewish Refugees and the 70 Days project, alongside several generous donors who helped to pay for its dissemination, is to ensure as a community that they will never be forgotten and that the community will do all they can to keep their memory alive for future generations.
Pinner Synagogue member Leonie Lewis was part of the committee established to oversee this project:
“Our community has long had a history of being at the forefront of Holocaust education and I believe this book testifies to that,” she said.
“Through this project, people’s stories have come alive and we have safeguarded these important memories and lessons for future generations, so that their legacy lives on.”
Featuring 17 different accounts from one of the darkest periods of history, Zachor takes the reader on a journey across Europe and from life before 1939 to today, including the impact the Holocaust has had on our generation.
According to Rabbi Andrew Shaw, director of the 70 Days for 70 Years Programme, the core idea of the whole project is to be inspired by our Judaism.
“We should strive to learn more while remembering one of the six million as a name not a number. In more succinct terms, to remember the past to build the future,” he explains.
“So many communities have embraced the project; none more impressively than Pinner whose ideas really motivated and inspired the entire community.”