UK Chief Rabbi salutes Holocaust survivors

Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis says survivors 'have been absolutely determined to teach the world about love, unity tolerance and peace.'

Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis ,

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis
Eliran Aharon

A house is made of stone and beams,
A home is made of hearts and dreams.
In a house you find floors, doors, windows, ceilings,
In a home you find people, thoughts and feelings.

A house provides something to live with; a home provides something to live for. That is why in the book of Psalms, we find the ultimate aspiration: “may I dwell in the home of the Lord for evermore” – charging us to take the presence of almighty God with us wherever we go and whatever we endure.

I devote my brief words today to survivors – because I believe that they are among the most extraordinary people within our society.

Fascinatingly, not many survivors have taken up opportunities to return to the houses in which they were raised - from which they were cruelly torn. That’s because they took with them the essence of the homes that they had come from – their beliefs and values – and their fond memories of the people they loved so dearly.

Against the odds, they emerged from the Holocaust, absolutely dedicated to recreating their homes. And this they have done magnificently - apart from themselves, with a new generation, but with the same values and beliefs. They have been absolutely determined to teach the world about love, unity, tolerance and peace. They have been equally determined to confront antisemitism and all forms of racism and prejudice. Like Holocaust survivors throughout the Jewish world, in the aftermath of the Shoah, we strengthened our homes and deepened our Jewish identity, recognizing that healthy homes mean a healthy future.

In addition, in the immediate aftermath of the Holocaust we created a national home for the Jewish people – the State of Israel.

Like Holocaust survivors, we are absolutely determined – and nothing will stop us in this task – to confront antisemitism and all forms of racism and prejudice.

Holocaust survivors, together with survivors of other genocides are an outstanding model of positivity and hope within our society, particularly for those who are struggling to rebuild their lives and their homes, having suffered loss and trauma.

Every time we approach survivors to encourage them, we have emerged from their midst encouraged. Whenever we have tried to give them strength, we have emerged from their midst strengthened. No words are adequate to pay tribute to them nor to our express our gratitude to them.

May almighty God bless them all and through their merit, may we come closer to a world of unity, love, tolerance and peace.

Speech delivered by UK Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mervis at the ceremony on International Holocaust Memorial Day.