Trees planted in memory of Jewish refugees

Relatives take part in planting ceremonies at two Enfield parks, reports James Cracknell

Mendel Markinson and Annie Doctors planted a tree at Bush Hill Park in memory of their mother Feiga Markinson, a Jewish refugee who fled Nazi Germany
Mendel Markinson and Annie Doctors planted a tree at Bush Hill Park in memory of their mother Feiga Markinson, a Jewish refugee who fled Nazi Germany

Trees have been planted in two Enfield parks by relatives of Jewish refugees who fled to Britain to escape Nazi Germany, marking the 80th anniversary of the Association of Jewish Refugees (AJR).

The national charity, providing social and welfare services to Holocaust refugees and survivors in the UK, launched the ’80 Trees for 80 Years’ project to commemorate its anniversary, with native oak trees being planted across the country in honour of people and places that symbolise the enormous contribution made by Jewish refugees.

Two planting ceremonies were held yesterday (Wednesday), ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day today; at Bury Lodge Gardens and at Bush Hill Park.

The tree in Bury Lodge Gardens was sponsored by David Schiff in memory of his parents Leo and Miriam, while the Bush Hill Park tree was sponsored by Annie Doctors (nee Markinson) and her brother Mendel Markinson, in memory of their mother Feiga Markinson (nee Marek). A time capsule was also laid by AJR member Nicholas Sigler, featuring his family history.

Speaking to the Dispatch following the tree-planting ceremony at Bush Hill Park, Mendel said: “I think it is wonderful to have a tree planted here in memory of our mother. Its growth will keep her memory alive for future generations.”

At the ceremony, prayers were read by Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, from New North London Synagogue in Finchley, and Mark Shaw, chair of Southgate Progressive Synagogue. Rabbi Wittenberg said: “The tree represents continuity, it represents life, and it represents hope.”

As well as acting as a platform for telling the story of Britain’s Jewish refugees and celebrating their contribution to British life, the trees are also forming part of The Queen’s Green Canopy, an initiative to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee this year.

Nneka Keazor, Enfield Council’s cabinet member for community safety and cohesion, said: “I cannot think of a more appropriate symbol than an oak tree to mark the significant contribution of the community of Jewish refugees in Enfield and throughout the UK. It is fitting that we remember Leo, Miriam and Feiga with the planting of oak trees, which are a symbol of strength, resilience and knowledge.”

Michael Newman , AJR’s chief executive, said: “As well as helping to mark the heritage of our members and a place of historic interest associated with them, the planting of this tree enables the AJR to give back to and create a living legacy within the country that became home to the Jewish refugees.

“Britain’s native oak trees are in decline and new trees are desperately needed. We hope these 80 special trees will be appreciated by future generations and provide natural habitats for other native species for many decades to come.”

The council has also commissioned a short film featuring testimony from the survivors of genocides around the world. One Day uses testimony from people who suffered during the Holocaust, plus survivors of genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda and Srebrenica.

An event taking place this evening (Thursday) to launch the film will feature pre-recorded contributions from local religious and civic dignitaries, starting from 7pm. It will be broadcast on the council’s YouTube channel at youtube.com/user/EnfieldCouncil.

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