County chaplain marks Holocaust Memorial Day

The Chaplain to Norfolk County Council, Rev Dr Liviu Barbu, was asked to mark Holocaust Memorial Day on January 27 with a message to Senior County Hall staff and a seminar on this year's theme, 'Torn from Home'.

To help Norfolk County Council mark Holocaust Memorial Day on Sunday, January 27, their Chaplain, Rev Dr Liviu Barbu, who is also Rector of the Romanian Orthodox Church in Norwich, was asked to share his reflections about the significance of the day in a message on the weekly blog for Norfolk County Council's Senior Officers.

Rev Dr Liviu Barbu will also be hosting a lunchtime reflection seminar around the Holocaust Memorial Day’s theme for this year, 'Torn from home', on Monday, January 28 from 12.30-1pm, in the Quiet Room of the Ground floor in the South Wing of County Hall (by the interview rooms).

Rev Dr Liviu Barbu writes:

Ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day on 27 January, I would like to share with you a few thoughts on the significance of this commemoration. It is a day for everyone to remember the millions of people murdered in the Holocaust, under Nazi persecution, and in the genocides which followed in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

I grew up in quite a homogeneous society in Romania, where, at the time, as a child, seeing a person of a different colour was a rare occurrence and met with acute interest and even wonder. Years later, I found myself in London, amid a most diverse society.

Having learnt about the historic struggles of different groups of people, for freedom and basic human rights, I was puzzled, and still am to this day, by the ills of racism and its many disguised ideologies and practices. I keep asking myself: how could one’s skin colour, race, religion or any other personal trait be used by some as an excuse for humiliation, mutilation or killing? What could make one’s views, attitudes, decisions or actions so extreme and inhuman? What could possibly qualify a person - who looks very much and is in every way as human as everyone else, in his or her basic existence, needs and aspirations - as less human?

If were to go back to our common roots, we find that we all share the very fundamentals of humanity, which today are recognised as our inalienable human rights: the right to life and free determination and enjoyment of it. We are all brothers and sisters, descending, according to the Judeo-Christian tradition, from the same parents.

The Book of Genesis also informs us that each and every person is born with a divine seal in them (Genesis 1:27: God created man and woman in his own image), which is uniquely tailored to each person. That means that in God's sight every person is unique, irreplaceable and eternal, enduring even beyond death.

As we commemorate the sacrifice of so many lives of people, who were denied their divine and human right to live out and fulfil their own lives on earth, we pray that their memory may live on for ever with us as it does with God!

Whatever our background, race, religion, belief, or no belief, Holocaust Memorial Day is a day for us to reflect on how far we have come – as individuals, as a county, as a country, as a world – and how far we still have to go, to achieve understanding, peace and compassion.

The chaplaincy of Rev Dr Liviu Barbu to Norfolk County Council is funded by Good Work.

Published: 23/01/2019