Small ceremony held at Cenotaph to commemorate Jewish servicemen and women

By Ted Hennessey, PA
·2-min read

A small ceremony has been held at the Cenotaph to commemorate Jewish servicemen and women who have died since the Second World War.

The Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women’s (AJEX) 86th annual remembrance event went ahead despite coronavirus restrictions in Whitehall on Sunday afternoon.

It occurs every year the week after Remembrance Sunday and has been a major event for the UK Jewish community since the 1930s following the permission of King George V.

AJEX 86th Remembrance
A small socially distanced ceremony took place at the Cenotaph (AJEX/PA)

This year the usual parades could not go ahead but a small gathering took place, during which three wreaths were laid and a silence was held.

The Queen and Boris Johnson were among those who wrote letters to pay tribute, with the Prime Minister saying it was a “disappointment” the parades could not be held as usual.

Mr Johnson wrote: “I know that this year, as with so many other events, it must come as a disappointment not to be able to get together in person for the AJEX annual ceremony and parade at the Cenotaph.

“But I have every confidence that your virtual commemoration ceremony will keep alive the memory of those who fought in both world wars as well as other conflicts, and their dedication and loyalty to our country.”

AJEX 86th Remembrance
Mike Bluestone, national chairman of AJEX, laid a wreath (AJEX/PA)

The Queen also sent her “best wishes” to the event’s organisers.

To ensure those who usually attend the ceremony could still mark the occasion, AJEX also created a pre-recorded online ceremony and short film.

Chief executive Fiona Palmer said: “AJEX was determined to have a presence at the Cenotaph following Remembrance Sunday to honour those in the Jewish community who fought to defend our freedoms.

“To that end, within the constraints of Covid regulations, we held a small symbolic ceremony today and honoured our fallen servicemen and women.

“We are committed to continuing this traditional presence which has been taking place since the 1930s.”