A CANDLELIT ceremony was staged at Clifford’s Tower in York to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.

Local clarinettist Lesley Shatzberger played traditional Jewish Klezmer music to accompany the ceremony of prayer and the laying of stones last night. Lesley told the gathering that two of her grandparents had perished in the Holocaust.

Coun Sonja Crisp said the ceremony remembered those who died at the tower in 1190. A large number of Jews in York had sought sanctuary from a mob in the then wooden castle, and many took their own lives rather than be slaughtered.

Many others died when the castle was burned to the ground. One account claimed a total of 150 lives were lost.

Those taking part in last night’s ceremony moved on to the Friends’ Meeting House in nearby Friargate, where Riding Lights Theatre Company held a reading, telling the story of a group of York residents preparing to welcome refugee children from the Kindertransport Scheme at the onset of the Second World War, which has subsequently led to York being recognised nationally as a City Of Sanctuary.

Organisers of the memorial day in York this year said it was “a journey” to remember and honour those who had fallen victim to or survived acts of genocide in the past.

Forthcoming events include a Theatre Imp presentation of the first production outside America of Broadway play Irena’s Vow, the story of a Polish Catholic who began a rescue campaign for Jews in German-occupied Poland. It will be performed on February 17 and 18 at the National Centre for Early Music.

Focusing on the Kindertransport scheme will be Karen’s Way, a hit at the Edinburgh Fringe and in Jerusalem. Performed by Yellow Leaf, the play, which tracks a 15-year-old’s journey during the war and her lifetime, will be staged with live music at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre on February 1.

The full programme of events can be found at yorkfestivals.com/holocaust-memorial-day.html