Smaller numbers but the feeling is the same

April 11, 2013 by David Zwartz
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From the huge crowds attending Yom Hashoah functions in Melbourne and Sydney, J-Wire takes you to the tiny Jewish community in Hamilton, New Zealand.

David Zwartz reports:

Reading the plaque

Reading the plaque

Jessica lights the memorial candles

Jessica lights the memorial candles

On a balmy autumn afternoon in the Hamilton Memorial Gardens, about 130 people gathered for a public ceremony of Holocaust remembrance which included the Hamilton Mayor Julie Hardaker and other dignitaries co-planting a 2-metre tree with a special plaque, not far from the city’s main war memorial.

As well as the mayor, three local members of the NZ parliament and an  Israeli Embassy representative were there and spoke, and there was a strong attendance of interfaith and ethnic group representatives, as well as the RSA (New Zealand equivalent of the RSL) and local Christian groups.

The function was organised by the Waikato Jewish Association and the Christian Friends of Israel.

New Zealand’s fourth largest city has only a tiny Jewish community, which does not have a high public profile; but they were hugely heartened by the support for the Yom Hashoah observance from across the wider community, and the sincere and moving tributes made to Jewish suffering from the Shoah. The personal remembrances, songs and group prayers were deeply felt.

MP Tim McIndoe struck a chord when he spoke directly to the children present, urging them to learn about the history of the tragic events of seventy years ago.

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