Staff and pupils at St John's Catholic Primary School and St Leonard’s CE Primary School in Bridgnorth planted a tree this morning to mark the occasion and held a dedicated assembly.
Holocaust Memorial Day is held each year on January 27, to commemorate the millions of people who were murdered in the Holocaust under Nazi persecution and in the genocides which followed in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.
The cherry trees will add to the orchard of remembrance that is gradually being grown across Shropshire, following on from the tree planted at Sheriffhales Primary School in 2022.
Headteacher of St John's, Jessica Buzzing said: "As part of our school community, we promote cohesion, tolerance and mutual respect of all individuals. The children are the future and it is important to learn lessons from the past.
"The planting of the cherry tree in our school grounds is a symbol of unity and hope; remembering the past but also looking forward to the future and making our world a better place for all."
Shropshire Council has worked with South Shropshire Interfaith Forum and Shrewsbury Interfaith Forum to organise ceremonies with the two Bridgnorth schools.
Kirstie Hurst-Knight, Shropshire Council’s cabinet member for children and education, said: “In making the decision as a council on location of cherry trees for 2023, we have been guided by wishing to take further positive action here in Bridgnorth, following a distressing incident of anti-Semitic graffiti found in a public green space area of Bridgnorth town centre in November 2022.
“I and other Bridgnorth councillors were appalled, and also very conscious that local primary school pupils may have come across this graffiti before it was spotted and removed, and not been fully aware that it is a hate crime, and the reasons why it is so abhorrent.
“We will be highlighting that the graffiti could have come from people passing through the area rather than local residents; this is more about raising awareness that such incidents may occur anywhere, and will never be tolerated.”
The cherry tree was chosen because of the importance of fruiting trees in Judaism, Islam and Christianity, and to illustrate a collective wish to show welcome for different faiths within the local area.
A service was held in remembrance at Shrewsbury Abbey earlier today from 11am to 12pm, where attendees listened to a reading by Jean Boase-Beier of Holocaust poems translated from various European languages.
Each poem was briefly introduced and set in context, so that people could hear the voices of those who were murdered because they were Jewish, or disabled, or who opposed the Nazis on religious or political grounds.
Telford & Wrekin Council held a memorial service at Telford Minster at 11am today, which included a reflection from speakers such as a retired local GP and direct descendant of Holocaust survivor Dr Eve Clevenger.
In addition, the South Shropshire Interfaith Forum will be holding a commemorative service on Sunday, January 29 at 5pm at the United Reform Church in Church Stretton, to which all are invited.
There will also be two film showing in Shropshire to coincide with this year's theme of Ordinary People.
The “Ordinary People” film by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust will be showing with subtitles throughout the day in the library foyers at Shrewsbury Library and at Ludlow Library, from 9.30am-5pm, with a display of books and posters.
Ludlow Library, 7 Parkway, Ludlow, SY8 2PG
Shrewsbury Library, Castle Gates, Shrewsbury, SY1 2AS