Remembrance

Jewish Ceremony Of Remembrance To Take Place Virtually

The annual event, which is usually held at the Cenotaph in central London, has been moved online due to COVID-19 restrictions.

An online service of remembrance has been organised for this weekend by AJEX, the Association of Jewish Ex-servicemen and women.

The annual AJEX Ceremony of Remembrance commemorates the contribution and sacrifice made by the Jewish community during wartime.

Traditionally, the event takes place the weekend after Remembrance Sunday and includes a service, which has been held at the Cenotaph in central London since the 1930s, to honour the contributions of Jewish servicemen and women.

COVID-19 restrictions have forced this year's commemorations to be held virtually instead.

AJEX chairman Mike Bluestone told Forces News: "This event is widely supported by the Jewish community.

"There’s never less than 1,500 to 2,000 spectators. Youth groups take part, it’s a community parade as well and so everyone is gutted that we can’t be there, but we’re mindful of the reasons.

"We’re there on Sunday in small numbers, just as a symbolic presence, but we’ve gone for an online virtual event."

The Jewish population has served in huge numbers in all major conflicts, but it was antisemitism in the 1930s that led to the creation of the remembrance event.

AJEX ceremony around the Cenotaph 171119 CREDIT BFBS
AJEX's Ceremony of Remembrance at the Cenotaph in central London last November.

"There were those that still couldn’t get used to the fact that there was a Jewish population in the country, there were antisemitic tropes that we weren’t doing our bit, that we weren’t serving," said Mr Bluestone.

"Ex-servicemen and women from the First World War said: ‘Enough of this. We’re going to march with our medals and we’re going demonstrate and show who we are and what we did’ and so we’ve continued that ever since.

"It's very much embedded in the heartbeat of the Anglo-Jewish community. It’s a very, very important national event for us."

Many Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day ceremonies over the past week have been impacted by the coronavirus restrictions, with some also moving online. 

Much of the British public had to observe the traditional two-minute silences from their homes, while some scaled back, socially-distanced commemorations did take place