Their Struggles are our Struggles

Rabbi René’s sermon at our Civic Service, honouring our Czech scrolls

On Saturday 18 November, we held our annual Civic Service. We were joined by Mayors of Kingston and Elmbridge, Sir Ed Davey, MP for Kingston and Surbiton, Assistant Commissioner from Surrey Police and the Leader of Kingston Council. Members of other local faith groups also attended.

This was a commemorative Shabbat service to honour our three Czech scrolls, on long-standing loan from the Memorial Scrolls Trust, and to remember the communities from which the scrolls originate. Those Czechia communities, of Tabor, Rychnov and Blatna, all perished in the Holocaust.

Rabbi Rene Pfertzel read from the historic Tabor scroll, as he told the story of Jacob and Esau, who gave rise to “two separate peoples.” He described this line as “one of the most fateful verses in Torah.” As well as reflecting on this week’s portion, he also spoke about current events in Israel and Gaza. You can read his full sermon here.

Sir Ed Davey, leader of the Liberal Democrats, spoke movingly about the importance of remembering the lost communities and his own experience of visiting Auschwitz.

“The last few weeks have been so shocking and awful … I want to thank Liberal Judaism for giving voice to humanity,” he said.