News Story

Mormons Host Holocaust Remembrance Service in Calgary

Latter-day Saints gathered with other Christians and Jews at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Calgary, Alberta, for an evening of music, stories and testimonies of hope during a Holocaust Remembrance Service on 21 April 2013.

“We are honoured and humbled this year to take our turn with other Christian communities to host a Holocaust memorial service,” said local stake president Larry Spackman. Over 1,000 people attended the service, which was entitled “Children of the Holocaust.”

One attendee, Calgarian Paul Vance, shared a sentiment told him by two Holocaust survivors he met while serving a mission in South Africa: “A sorrow shared is a sorrow halved. A joy shared is a joy doubled.”

The Church worked with the Calgary Council of Christians and Jews to present an evening of shared sorrow for a period of history described by Rabbi Shaul Osadchey as a time that “strangled hope.”

“The Holocaust was not only a Jewish tragedy; it was a human one — the devastating effects of which are still felt across the world,” added President Spackman. “The issues of religious and ethnic intolerance, marginalization, bigotry, persecution and subjugation are matters of grave concern to all of us.”

As the Holocaust was remembered, hope was offered through music and videos. A stirring piece from the film score to Schindler’s List was offered by internationally acclaimed violinist Cenek Vrba. Additionally, five Holocaust survivors sang in a Jewish Senior Choir while several Holocaust survivors looked on, seated in the audience.

Youth who had travelled to various international Holocaust memorials and had taken part in the “March of the Living” shared their experiences. Recognizing that they would be the last generation to have the opportunity to meet survivors and hear their stories, the youth pledged with greater resolve to stand for truth, to thwart those who would discriminate on religious or ethnic grounds and to preserve freedom.

President Spackman said, “It is our duty and our privilege to understand their story, become witnesses to their history and reflect on the [religious] rights and freedoms we take for granted today.”

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes in the importance of defending and preserving religious freedom throughout the world. Members of the Church recognize that religious freedom is critical to the health of a diverse society. 

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