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The Star of David in 600 Candles: York Minster’s commemoration for International Holocaust Day

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Posted 22 Jan 2020

Six hundred candles set out in the shape of the Star of David will be lit at York Minster on Thursday 23 January, in memory of more than 6 million Jewish people murdered by the Nazis in the Second World War.

The candle-lit star on the floor of the cathedral’s ancient Chapter House, is part of a week-long programme of events across York and the region, marking International Holocaust Memorial Day which takes place on the 27 January each year, the date in 1945, of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp – the largest Nazi death camp.

The international theme for this year’s commemoration – ‘Stand Together’ – encourages people everywhere to support each other, speak out and stand together against forces – such as religious and racial hatred, social and political inequalities – that divide and displace communities and which can lead to acts of genocidal violence.

York Minster’s event will begin with a Choral Evensong service attended by representatives from York’s Jewish community and other faith communities.  This will be followed by a procession to the cathedral’s Chapter House for the act of commemoration, which will include readings, music, poetry, prayers and periods of silence for quiet reflection.

Singers from York Minster Choir will perform a setting of the Kaddish – the traditional Jewish prayer of mourning – in English.  Throughout the event, people will be invited to light a candle and then add it to the Star of David until all 600 candles are lit.

The Revd Canon Dr Christopher Collingwood, Canon Chancellor at York Minster said: “This act of commemoration brings people together to remember and reflect upon the horrific events of the Holocaust, in which 6 million of our Jewish brothers and sisters lost their lives, as well as other genocides and persecutions that have happened in more recent history.

“It also challenges us not to be complacent. There are communities and individuals around the world today experiencing, discrimination, persecution, violence and the constant threat of death as part of their daily reality.  We must ‘Stand Together’ in solidarity with all who suffer, and raise our voices in protest against those who perpetrate these acts.  We must also encourage our leaders to be brave and bold in speaking out and in taking positive action to create a safer future for everyone.”

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