Last September I went with my family to visit Prague. One of the most memorable tourist sites we visited was the Jewish Museum - four synagogues, a cemetery and some exhibitions. One of the most moving parts of the tour was exhibited in the Pinkas synagogue in which the names of nearly 80,000 Jewish victims of the Shoah from the Bohemia are listed by village. Real people being stigmatised, separated, persecuted and then killed.
The holocaust (which we remember on Sunday) was the most devastating period for Jewish people but was by no means new in Europe. We went a couple of years earlier to visit the Ghetto in Venice where Jews were forced to live in a segregated area from 1516. And there are records in Prague of Jews having to wear distinctive clothing, such as a yellow ribbon, from as early as the 10th century.
And still the stigmatisation and prejudice continues shamefully into the 21 century. Let’s take some time on Sunday to talk about these events and others like the genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur and to remember, and then undertake to work towards understanding, the eradication of prejudice, the bridging of divisions.
More information can be found about this year's theme 'Torn from home' at https://www.hmd.org.uk/what-is-holocaust-memorial-day/this-years-theme/