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Ruth Pyke’s article in the August Diary July 24, 2019

Posted by nicholastufton in The Diary Monthly letter.
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Eva Kor, a survivor of Auschwitz, died recently at the age of 85. She and her twin sister had been subjected to terrible medical experiments conducted on them at the hands of the Nazis. Even when she was made ill she clung to life in order to save her twin sister from being killed in the name of further experiments. It is a powerful story.

But more powerful still was her lifelong determination to forgive – to allow herself the inner healing which this brings.

Anti-Semitism has resurfaced in our mainstream news and racial tension is never far away in our contemporary world. We are aware of the current plight of the Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang.

Eva Kor’s programme of forgiveness and education will never exonerate the evils which men and women can inflict upon each other, but they do show us a way to rebuild society in the wake of such horror. The book of Deuteronomy shared by both Jews and Christians reminds us that God “is not partial and takes no bribe, he executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and loves the strangers, providing them with food and clothing.” And if this is God’s way of welcome then it is expected of his people as well. The words follow on, “You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” Deuteronomy 10. 17

Barley once played its own small part in welcoming the stranger when The Reverend James Parkes lived in the village, working and campaigning against anti-Semitism, rescuing Jewish refugees and speaking out during the Holocaust. He contributed to the founding of the Council of Christians and Jews and worked for tolerance between those of all faiths and none. Parkes’ work, some of which was pioneered in Barley, formed the foundation for the Parkes Institute, now part of the University of Southampton.

During November an exhibition of the work of James Parkes will be held in Barley Church, courtesy of the Parkes Institute. It will form a focus for our Remembrance Day service with a lecture during the week of the exhibition.

As we look at the world today, whether on the international stage or in our own lives, Eva Kor’s message of the healing we can find through the power of forgiveness, and the willingness to welcome the stranger are powerful reminders of a way forward to build strong and settled communities.

Ruth

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