“My flower is made of lots of different petals, like all faiths, they come together to make something beautiful. The centre of the flower is round and strong binding communities together.” - Workshop Participant describing her Foundation Stone

For Inter Faith Week 2020 people across the UK took part in two Foundation Stones workshops, an opportunity to come together virtually and contribute to a national memorial – the new UK Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre.
In the first interfaith workshop, people from across England and Wales came together to paint stones and share their contributions to the memorial with each other. They were joined by residents from the Fed, a Jewish care home in Manchester who enjoyed creating their stones together during the workshop.
‘The shape of the stone tells you what to paint on it’ Workshop participant

The second interfaith workshop featured a panel of speakers: Michael Newman, Chief Executive of The Association of Jewish Refugees, Hifsa Haroon Iqbal, Chair of Trustees of  Nisa-Nashim, a Muslim and Jewish women’s network, and Revd Nathan Eddy, the Deputy Director of The Council of Christians and Jews. 
Michael Newman spoke movingly about his family connections to the Holocaust and relatives he had commemorated on his stone. He also shared stones painted by his children. 

Michael Newman’s grandmother was a refugee who came from Nazi Germany, and he was struck by a phrase he discovered in one of the letters she wrote to an aunt and uncle in America:

“She kind of despaired in the world and couldn’t understand why people don’t get along better because, in her words, “in the end, people are just people.”

Following on from this, Revd Nathan Eddy from the Council of Christians and Jews shared a poem: Testimony, by Dan Pagis, a Jewish poet who wrote about his experiences during the Holocaust years later. He also talked about the importance of always putting the victims at the centre of how we remember.

Hifsa Haroon Iqbal then spoke about Nisa-Nashim and the importance of interfaith friendships and networks.

People shared their painted Foundation Stones, inspired by these fantastic speakers. One young girl painted two people on her stones “for anyone who is lonely”. Another participant shared: “The tree on my stone represents my wish for many many more lives and for Jewish communities to continue to bloom and gain strength”.

These two workshops were a meaningful way to virtually mark Inter Faith Week 2020, and all participants were encouraged to send their stones to become part of the new UK Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre in London.