This Shabbat falls between two importance anniversaries.
The first is the 70th Anniversary of Kristallnacht, Night of Broken Glass.
As many, of course, know this was a night in which more than 200 synagogues were destroyed, 92 Jews were murdered and 25,000-30,000 were arrested and deported to labour camps. It is widely held to mark the turning point in the Nazi oppression of the Jews – from economic, political and social to physical.
The second is the 90th Anniversary of the end of the Great War.
A War marked by mass destruction, an estimated 20 million deaths amongst 40 million casualties.
There is much to remember, but memory, in the Jewish understanding of the term, is not merely an intellectual construct. To remember is to be called into action.
We remember in order to bring some sense of meaning to those whose lives were lost in one or other of the awful destructions of the last century.
How, then, is it possible to make meaning out of such mass destruction?
We must make efforts to seek peace, to build bridges between different nations and peoples, creeds, colours and faiths.
We must show our gratitude to those who have given of their lives in service and support to work of charities like the Royal British Legion.
We need to support the work of those such as the Holocaust Education Trust and the Aegis Trust who work to ensure that Never Again becomes more than mere words.
We shall pray, in shul this Shabbat; prayers of gratitude that we have survived, and petitionary prayers for the vision of Isaiah, a time when war and bloodshed shall cease. But we can never forget to act.