What an amazing, meaningful and memorable day it was on Sunday 28 November 2023. The March against Antisemitism was truly impactful. The camaraderie, the great atmosphere, the fact that we knew we were putting our heads above the parapet and standing up for our British and Jewish values – showing determination that we will not accept antisemitism in the UK.

105,000 people were on the March. It was the greatest gathering of Jewish people since the 1930s – but it was not just Jews who were marching. There were people from across the spectrum – Christians, Sikhs, Moslems, non believers of all colours and creeds. It was truly heart-warming.

Although before the March we were anxious (as we did not know what would happen), we were wonderfully protected by the police (many of whom had volunteered to police the event from all over the country), and all of the team from CST. It was a thoroughly good-natured March – lots of singing and cheering – no alcohol or bad behaviour. A few Palestinian flags were waved in Trafalgar Square, but we did not witness any incidents.

53 members across the Bournemouth community aged from 16 to 80, travelled by coach to London, to join the March against Antisemitism. The coach trip was brilliantly organised by Stephen White, Chair of Crisis in Israel Bournemouth (CIB) Group. CIB was set up by me as BCHC Deputy of the Board of Deputies after the October 7th pogrom to promote efficient cross-community response and communication.

All of Stephen’s superb arrangements went totally to plan and this brilliant team of Bournemouthians managed to keep together and return safely back to Bournemouth. Rabbi Lionel Rosenfeld was there to support us singing with unceasing energy and enthusiasm which added even more to the wonderful atmosphere.

All of us on the March benefitted from being an actively involved part of the entire Jewish community here in the UK. We proved once again that we are proud British Jews who are not scared to stand up and be counted.

There were thousands of banners, many provided by the organisers of this well run March, but also thousands of homemade banners –Bournemouth created 2 excellent banners – well done team! Many of these banners were most original – ranging from serious messages to those showing typical Jewish humour.

Never had so many smoked salmon beigels been eaten both in the coach and on the streets of London! And much chocolate provided by Marilyn (White) and Jane Cowland was consumed en route. Notwithstanding there were over 105,000 people on the March, many of us managed to meet up with our children, grandchildren and friends. Thank goodness for “Find my …”

Attending this March was a huge Mitzvah and a day in our lives which we can proudly tell the generations that follow us “We were there”. It was a really special moment in British Jewish history. It was sad that the March had to be held but we are proud of our unity and determination to make certain Never Again actually means NEVER EVER AGAIN!.

The March started in the Royal Court of Justice and terminated in Parliament Square where numerous speeches were made. We did not notice the drizzling rain, but supported and cheered the words from the CEO of the Campaign against Antisemitism (who mentioned our Bournemouth contingent), the Chief Rabbi, several politicians, and some celebrities.

We arrived home later than expected but proud that we had been there to show the flag!

Please join the brilliant Bournemouth cross community members who took part in this March on the first night of Chanukah Thursday 7 December at 6 p.m., for the lighting of the Chabad Giant Menorah at Pier Approach.

Marilyn Keen

NB Comments made by Bournemouth participants who marched are included in this article.