Essex puts its best feet forward

Pat Lidiker reports from the AJEX Annual Remembrance Parade & Ceremony

IN NOVEMBER, Jewish ex-servicemen and women, together with family members and supporters of all ages, travelled from across Essex and the East Coast to take part in the AJEX Annual Remembrance Parade and Ceremony.

This year’s event was themed on connection. More than 3,000 people gathered, with 1,400 people then participating in the march from Horse Guards Parade down Whitehall to The Cenotaph.

It was another inspiring day and afterwards the Essex Jewish News was able to catch up with some of those from our area who took part.

Staff Sgt Dan Fox, national chair of AJEX, lives in Walthamstow. He told us why the event remains so popular, saying: “As time passes there are fewer and fewer people around who served in World War II, but their families still feel the need to remember, resulting in an attendance of thousands.

“My own Grandpa lived with the effects of severe scarring and shrapnel for the rest of his life and it was hearing him talk about his experience that led me to join the military and become a reservist serving in Afghanistan in 2009/10.”

Sadly, worldwide conflict did not stop after the ceasefire in 1945 so AJEX (The Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women) continues to be as relevant today as ever.

Jewish service people have continued to fight, and sometimes sadly die, as British soldiers in the Falklands, Ireland, Iraq, Afghanistan and other war torn regions across the world.

Dan added: “The very first British soldier murdered by the IRA was Jewish, while we lost other Jewish servicemen in the army, navy and airforce in the Falklands, Pacific and in fact all over the world.

“There are currently between 400 and 600 active Jewish service people but their role is seldom properly acknowledged and more education deserves to be done.”

AJEX has always received unstinting support from the Royal Family and this year King Charles sent a heartfelt message for the Parade, as did Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

The Service at The Cenotaph was conducted by the Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, AJEX Chaplain Rabbi Major Reuben Livingstone and Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg of Masorti Judaism, who said prayers in honour of those that served as well as in support of today’s Armed Forces.

A number of wreaths were also laid by senior members of AJEX, The Board of Deputies of British Jews, Mitzvah Day, fellow veterans organisations and military leaders. Students from Jewish schools laid poppy posies.

Dan said he was overwhelmed to see so many participants at what he saw as one of the most significant parades in the event’s long standing history. AJEX’s chief executive Fiona Palmer added that she felt the connection between both past and present generations when watching Jewish school children, cadets, JLGB and other young people walking alongside the veterans.

It was certainly an unforgettable day and, for all those clambering back onto their coaches to head home to Essex and the East Coast, the renditions by the Band of the Irish Guards of Adon Olam and the National Anthem were still ringing in their ears.

• To support AJEX in order to help their work continue, please visit

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, Rabbi Major Reuben Livingstone and Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg lead the AJEX service – photo by Frank Noon Photography

AJEX chief executive Fiona Palmer and national chair Dan Fox – photo by Frank Noon Photography



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