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At Westminster Abbey gardens, fallen Jewish soldiers memorialized

“Jewish people have served in His Majesty’s Forces since 1745,” said Brian Bloom, of the Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women.

Stars of David memorialize thousands of Jewish men and women who died serving in the British military at the Royal British Legion Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey, November 2023. Photo by Georgia L. Gilholy.
Stars of David memorialize thousands of Jewish men and women who died serving in the British military at the Royal British Legion Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey, November 2023. Photo by Georgia L. Gilholy.

In a poignant tribute to the sacrifices of Jewish soldiers, the United Kingdom’s Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women recently funded tributes to the thousands of Jewish men and women who died serving in the British military.

The Royal British Legion Field of Remembrance, the 95th since the Poppy Factory began overseeing the initiative in 1928, is annually constructed as a space in the gardens of Westminster Abbey to commemorate British war heroes.

The installation is organized each year in the weeks around Nov. 11, the anniversary of the Armistice that ended World War I in Western Europe.

Brian Bloom, vice president of the Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women, told JNS that the initiative shows “the service and sacrifices that we as Jews have contributed to our country.”

“Jewish people have served in His Majesty’s Forces since 1745, and, of course, we still have Jews serving in today’s HM Forces,” said Bloom. “This year, I placed 225 Magen David markers that represented the thousands of Jewish men and women, who were killed in action serving in HM Forces.”

A section of the memorial was laid in honor of the Jewish Brigade Group, a formation of the British Army beginning in 1944. Thousands of Jews in British Mandatory Palestine had already enlisted by 1944, but upon the outbreak of war, Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann—later, Israel’s first president—sought a Jewish formation.

Due to British data protection laws, AJEX “does not know exactly how many Jews are serving in HM Forces today, but we believe there are several hundred,” Bloom told JNS.

Each year, AJEX asks Jewish families to share details of individuals who served in the British or Commonwealth armed forces and were killed in action. The association then lays Stars of David markers in their names.

Field of Remembrance ran for about a week earlier this month.

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