The little chapel was full to bursting! Among the congregation were the Deputy Mayor of Derby, and representatives from the Ukraine community and the Jewish community., and the service was led by The Reverend Dr. Elizabeth Thomson, Canon Missioner.
Coming so soon after Christian Unity week it is another opportunity to show our commitment to Unity not just with Christians but with people of all faiths and of no faith. The theme of the service this year was “Don’t stand by”.
We were privileged to listen to the reflections of Isaac Pizer, on his spiritual retreat at Auschwitz. Isaac feels very deeply about the suffering of the Jewish people under Nazi Persecution, having lost many members of his own family. He was accompanied by his German friend who though not responsible in any way still felt a deep sense of shame over what happened – What a wonderful example of true unity, to be able to comfort each other in such a situation!
We then listened to Nadia Surma who told us a little about Olga Nahlik. Born in Zbaraz, a village in Ukraine. Olga risked her life to hide Jewish families in her cellar and to feed and look after them. Even, at one point pretending to be pregnant so that the baby born to one of her refugees could be cared for out in the open without questioning! In 1965 Olga moved to Derby where she lived until her death. In 1989 she was awarded the Certificate of Honour and the medal of “The Righteous Amongst the Nations” .
The service then continued with prayers remembering the Holocaust and all subsequent genocide,s and those who “still carry with them the memories of their experience”, and followed by the singing of “The sound of silence” composed by Paul Simon and sung by The City of Derby girls Choir.
We then moved across the bridge to where the second part of the service took place – at the trees planted in the memory of Olga Nahlik and Anne Frank, across the road from the chapel. Prayers were said and stones were laid at the base of each tree in memory of citizens around the world who have suffered, and as a sign of our commitment to work for peace and to seek justice.