Foundation Stones Event

On the evening of March 2nd, twenty-five people joined together via zoom for turned out to be a most uplifting and stimulating event to mark International Women’s Day and also to remember victims of the Holocaust.

Elinor Chohan welcomed us and said how we must challenge prejudice to bring about change. She described the courage of the women of Sebrenica who refused to hate, and cited Emily Pankhurst as a champion of suffrage as being a person she admired. Mostly she focused on her Mother-in-Law – a remarkable women, being full of compassion and who had the gift of unconditional love. Elinor said how she taught that we should love everyone around us, no matter what their colour or culture. If everyone did that, there would be no need for Holocaust Memorial Day.

Then Angela O’Callaghan and Shakira Alam from Big Ideas explained the Foundation Stones project whereby people painted stones to dedicate to the Holocaust and other genocides. This was the aim tonight, to paint a stone and send it to the new Holocaust Memorial Centre where it would become a part of that Centre.

Three young women of different faiths then talked about women who had inspired them. First was Alexia Bastien from the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints, who talked about Raina Aboto who was the leader of a women’s organisation and had had many trials. She taught how hard times don’t define us, they refine us, and that things won’t be difficult for ever and was a source of inspiration to many.

Rumaysa Quraishi from the Altrincham and Hale Muslim Association chose Kadijah, wife of prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him), as someone who inspired her; she was strong, brave and powerful, and a wonderful wife, mother and business woman supporting Mohammed and being the first to believe him.

Finally, Shoshana Elituv, from the Shaare Hayim Sephardic synagogue spoke about her great-great Grandmother who escaped Germany to settle in Israel, taking with her some beautiful silver candlesticks so the light of the Sabbath candles should continue wherever she went. Shoshana had inherited these and showed them to us, saying we can all be the light to drive out darkness.

People were then invited to paint their stones and to share them afterwards. There were various themes including a butterfly to remember the 1.5 million children who died in the holocaust, and a stone with patches of red to represent blood and the names of all the genocides, on the reverse having a red heart to represent love. Others bore the words “Shalom,” “We will remember them,” “Give love, never forget,” and “United” with symbols of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and more. It was a very rewarding experience.

Ruth Neal, Chairman of AIG then thanked all the speakers for their stimulating stories of women who had made a difference to their situations.

Carolyn Jones

(Hon. Sec., Altrincham Interfaith Group)