Ecumenical Shoah Memorial Service (19 April, 2004)
The memory of the Shoah (often referred to as “the Holocaust”–the systematic murder of more than 6 million Jews in Nazi Germany) continues to haunt Christians as well as Jewish people today. For that reason, and also to show solidarity with the Jewish community, the Commission’s Sub-committee for Relations with the Jewish Community invited members of the Christian communities to gather together for a “Shoah Memorial Service” at St Francis Church, Lonsdale Street, on the evening of Monday 19th of April, 2004. (The 17th of April is universally recognised as Yom Hashoah, the Shoah Memorial Day).
Sr Verna Hollyhead had prepared a poetic and inspiring text for the service around readings from those who experienced the Shoah. Nine large candles were lighted on the altar: six for the six million Jews who perished in the Shoah, one for the non-Jews who died, and one for the “righteous gentiles” who did what they could to save those in danger of their lives. An earthen container of earth from a concentration camp was placed in the centre of these candles and a ninth candle lit as we all spoke aloud “Never again!”. Singing included the “Lord have mercy”, the “Shamah Israel (Hear O Israel the Lord your God is one God)” and the singing of Psalm 136 (Haugen setting) at the end of the service. A cellist accompanied much of the action playing a solo lament. Young people, in particular students from Our Lady of Sion College in Box Hill, assisted with the service.
Mr Michael Cohen, chairman of the Council of Christians and Jews in Victoria, and his wife attended the evening as did a number of other members of the Jewish Community.