Walton high school’s special tribute to Holocaust survivor

Alsop High School was recently represented at the formal dedication of the monument in memory of the late Zigi Shipper BEM. This took place at Bushey New Jewish Cemetery on Sunday 17 December 2023. 

In the Jewish tradition it is customary to hold the unveiling within the first year after death. It can be held at any time between the end of shiva and the yahrzeit.  

Shiva (Hebrew for ‘seven’ refers refers to a seven-day period of formalized mourning by the immediate family of the deceased, while ‘yahrzeit’ (Yiddish for ‘anniversary’) is the anniversary of the death. 

The commemoration began in the Prayer Hut within the cemetery. The service consisted of the recitation of several Psalms, the El Malei Rachamim – a Jewish prayer for the soul of a person who died -, and the Kaddish – a Jewish hymn praising God. 

The eulogy was delivered by Chief Rabbi Sir Ephraim Mirvis, KBE., Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth.  

The Rabbi spoke fondly of his meetings with Zigi, and how Zigi was a true bearer of light as he travelled the length and breath of the UK delivering his Holocaust survivor testimony. He recalled the three words reiterated by Zigi to hundreds of thousands of young people: “DO NOT HATE.” 

The gathered congregation then moved to the graveside for the unveiling, which is the formal removal of a veil or a cloth draped over the stone. This symbolizes the erection of the tombstone. 

Zigi Shipper died on his 93rd birthday, 18 January 2023. Zigi worked tirelessly for the Holocaust Educational Trust, delivering his Auschwitz survivor testimony and delivering words of HOPE. 

Mr Bull from Alsop High School said: “In his late 80s, Zigi continued to travel the length and breadth of the UK speaking to young people.  

“He was truly inspirational and many recall how he captivated the attention of Alsop students and truly won our hearts. Zigi loved visiting Alsop and always ended with one simple message: ‘Do Not Hate’. He was delighted that we were able to produce two films, including his testimony.” 

During January 2024, Zigi’s daughter, Lu Lawrence will deliver Zigi’s Auschwitz Survivor Testimony as part of the schools commemoration of Holocaust Memorial Day. 

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