Emma Raynor, one of the Holocaust Educational Trust's Regional Ambassadors, on what the group achieved during their latest get-together in London
Since becoming a Holocaust Educational Trust Regional Ambassador for the South West in early 2013, I’ve been working hard to raise awareness of the Trust’s work, share the memories of the inspirational Holocaust survivors that travel the country to speak with young people and to coordinate the Ambassadors in my region to ensure that their passion for the work of the Trust is put into action.
Last Friday Regional Ambassadors from across the UK met in London for our first meeting of this academic year. Many of us had travelled to Yad Vashem in Israel together in the summer on the Trust’s first Ambassador Study Visit (ASV2013) so our meeting started off as a bit of a reunion! After catching up, we started on our busy schedule at London Central Synagogue. We began the morning by discussing the progress of the Regional Ambassador group since the beginning of this year. A few Regional Ambassadors took charge of giving everyone a brief update on the Trust’s many events over this summer, ranging from the first ever Ambassador Conference, the Regional Ambassador Steering Group Meeting headed by Lord Browne of Madingley, and ASV2013, before we were met Rabbi Marcus a tour of his Shul.
Many participants from the Lessons from Auschwitz Project will remember Rabbi Marcus from their own visit to Poland. Friday was a great chance for us to update Rabbi Marcus, who’s invested so much time to support the Trust’s Ambassadors since the Lessons from Auschwitz Project began . We were delighted to be shown around Central Synagogue. It was incredibly interesting to learn in more detail about its history. Having stood on the same site for the last 155 years, Central Synagogue is a special place of worship, and the perfect place to learn more about British Judaism. I found visiting the Children’s Synagogue particularly interesting – everything was a scaled-down version of the larger synagogue, including the Torah scrolls!
We later travelled to the Imperial War Museum where we sat down to an interesting lecture by Professor David Cesarani, who spoke on the subject of British responses to the Holocaust. Over the past year, the Regional Ambassador group has been given numerous opportunities to learn more about the Holocaust, and I am indebted to the Trust for my own personal growth in knowledge since undertaking the role.
The afternoon largely focused on the practicalities of being a Regional Ambassador. We’ve been tasked with galvanizing support of the Trust’s Ambassadors around the UK, so we split into groups to discuss our progress over the last year and make plans for the future. It gave us all had the chance to share the great work we’ve all been doing. We had time to discuss topics ranging from fundraising ideas to collecting the memories of the Trust’s Ambassador community. We also spent time thinking about how best we can mark significant dates throughout the year. The Regional Ambassadors are volunteers, and so making sure that our responsibilities fit around our studies and work means that we all need to plan in advance. It was really helpful to work together to help each other develop and improve our plans.
We ended the day with time to explore the Imperial War Museum’s Holocaust Exhibition. Visiting Britain’s National Holocaust exhibition was quite different from my experience of seeing other exhibitions and memorials, such those we visited at Yad Vashem over the summer. It was interesting to think about how different countries remember the Holocaust.
As a group, the Regional Ambassadors have grown and developed over the last few months. We are the first cohort of Regional Ambassadors and so we’ve had to remain flexible as the programme evolves, but it is great to be part of a passionate, dedicated group of young people who want to focus their time and effort on encouraging others to learn about and remember the Holocaust. It is really beneficial to have the support and encouragement of each other as we go forward to represent the Holocaust Educational Trust in our regions.
The day was hugely successful; it gave us all a lot to think about and I left with plenty of ideas on how to move forward with my own plans. I’ve got a survivor coming to share their testimony this month, as well as plans for Holocaust Memorial Day – Friday’s discussions have really helped as I organise these.
I am so proud to represent the Trust in the South West and I can’t wait to find out what the group has been doing at our next Regional Ambassador meeting early next year. I know there will be a lot going on over the next couple of months, so watch this space…