Beth Shalom - The House of Peace - is a centre for reflection, learning and discussion. It is a place wherein the duty of remembrance and the responsibility of education combine and present to society the implications of the past and challenges of the future.
Beth Shalom was originally conceived by Stephen and James Smith in 1991 following a visit to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, Israel.
They felt it a personal and social duty to respond to the tragedy of the Holocaust particularly as the world had largely stood by at the time. As contemporary society seemed reluctant to teach or to question the role of human responsibility, they wanted to create a place that would do this.
Toward this end, the Smith family decided to dedicate space within the confines of their Christian retreat, Beth Shalom, to forward the aims of commemoration and education. This they saw as being a means of bringing the Holocaust to the attention of the wider community, and in particular, the Christian world, which had in many ways failed in its duty during the Nazi years.
"It is the duty of the Christian world to respond to the tragedy of the Holocaust and to own up to its failings towards the Jewish community over many centuries. While the Jewish community suffers the burden of the Holocaust, it is simply not a Jewish problem, but that of all of those who are prepared to admit the failings of humanity," remarked director, Stephen Smith on the concept of the centre.
This duty they realised through developing an environment in which the communities destroyed by the Nazis are remembered with dignity, and where future generations can be challenged by the tragedy they represent. It is a centre for education wherein Jews and non-Jews work together to address issues such as anti-Semitism and racism in society today and to challenge the complacency of the civilised world towards vulnerable groups in society. In light of the Holocaust, particular attention is paid to the Jewish-Christian relationship, but it also asks questions of a broader nature, too.
To achieve this, Beth Shalom offers opportunities for young and old, for those close to these events and for those who are more removed, to learn and to discuss its implications together. To this end, the centre provides education facilities for a range of age groups and backgrounds. There are seminar facilities for educators, clergy and students who wish to explore the Holocaust or discuss its implications on Jewish-Christian relations. It is in part a place of remembrance for the destruction of European Jewry, but in addition, its library facilities and exhibition provide alternative means of reflection and research.
The centre focuses on educational activities and group seminars, and so there are a number of constraints which you may wish to be aware of. Firstly, it is important to realise that the centre is not open to the general public. School parties/universities, synagogues and churches mainly use the centre although all groups are welcome. You will need to join a group in order to make you visit to the centre worthwhile. The centre works with groups as the programme of the visits allows for lectures, discussions and workshops and is tailored to meet the specific needs, requirements and perspectives. If you are planning a one-day visit we have a minimum group size of 20 persons per visit. It is recommended that you book well in advance, as the centre is very much in demand.
At Beth Shalom you will find everything laid out for your convenience. We want your group to be able to spend time to reflect and to take away an experience, which leaves further food for thought. Toward this end, we will tailor the day to suit the needs of your group. It is important that whoever comes is able to take away something relevant to their own experience, interest and background.
Around the centre there are spaces for reflection and contemplation on its beautifully landscaped site. Beth Shalom is based in the grounds of a 19th century farmhouse in rural Nottinghamshire. Within the grounds there are also commemorative gardens dedicated to the memory of the victims of the Holocaust. The memorial rose garden is a particularly sensitive way in which visitors to the centre can contribute to the on-going duty to remember. The rose garden has become increasingly meaningful as it captures the thoughts, feelings and experiences of many hundreds of visitors who have chosen to plant roses in it.
For further information, please contact:
NOTTINGHAM NG22 OPA
TEL: 01623 836627
FAX: 01623 836647
If you would like to make any comments or contribute to the scribe please contact us.