800 children to attend Holocaust workshops

Around 800 school children will take part in Holocaust memorial workshops in Kingston this week in the run up to Holocaust Memorial Day on Friday.<--break->“></p>

<p>The five-year-old scheme by Kingston United Synagogue and Kingston Liberal Synagogue will see pupils from five Surrey schools attend an exhibition and talk to Holocaust survivors from Kingston.</p>

<p>Barbara Richards, PR officer for Kingston Liberal Synagogue, said: “These elderly people have belonged to our community for some time and they speak to our Sunday school children about their experiences.</p>

<p>“The annual workshops are different because the children who come are not Jewish children – they are coming from all sorts of schools all over the borough.”</p>

<p>Initially a day-long workshop with two schools, the event has grown over the years with “schools queuing up to be included,” said Ms Richards.</p>

<p>The children, aged 14 years upwards, will hear the stories of five survivors before taking part in volunteer-led study sessions where they will discuss themes such as intolerance and bullying.</p>

<p>Sessions include a film about people who risked their lives to help Jewish Holocaust victims and a candle-lighting ceremony to commemorate those who died.</p>

<p>Students will also have the chance to write a personal message to the speakers.</p>

<p>Judith Thwaites, chair of Kingston Synagogues Holocaust Committee, said: “The survivors feel strongly that however difficult it is important to share their stories if they can play a part in encouraging greater respect for differences, tolerance and combat bullying and discrimination.”</p>

<p>The children “really engage with the subject matter and how lessons can be applied to their own lives,” she said.</p>

<p>“They are responsive and respectful and genuinely moved by the courage of the speakers.”    </p>

<p>Schools taking part this year include Tolworth Girls School and Esher Church of England High School.</p>

<p>Last year four of the survivors: Martin Bennett, Gerald Cohen, Annamarie Seelig and Bronia Snow, featured in a DVD to preserve their stories for future generations.</p>

<p>Launched on 8 December and filmed by cameraman Paul Wheeler, the film shows each of the survivors talking to children about their experiences and different paths during and after the Second World War.</p>

<p>This year’s Holocaust Memorial Day events in Kingston will include a civic service at the Guildhall on 29 January featuring a talk by hate crime expert Dr Hannah Mason-Bish of Roehampton University, local councillors and pupils from Tolworth Girls school.</p>

<p><em>The survivors’ DVD is available from February and costs £6.50. To get a copy contact Judith Thwaites at  <a href=judythwaites@gmail.com. Proceeds will go to the Kingston Synagogues Holocaust Committee.

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