‘We have found our long lost brethren’: Jewish and Christian army chaplains at the liberation of Bergen-Belsen

Bergen-Belsen memorial image showing topic of seminar
A powerful story of Jewish-Christian encounter as the world came face to face with the aftermath of the Holocaust, explored through the experiences of Rabbi Levy and the Christian chaplains at Belsen.


January 14, 2021 - 5.00 pm


January 14, 2021 - 6.30 pm

In June 1945 Rabbi Isaac Levy, Senior Jewish Chaplain to the British 2nd Army, wrote to Jewish soldiers to inform them of the liberation of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp and to describe his work there. ‘We came to Europe to liberate the oppressed’, he wrote, ‘and we have found our long lost brethren.’ Alongside Rabbi Levy at Belsen, were several Jewish and Christian army chaplains. Together they helped to bury the dead, care for the sick, and listen to the stories of survivors of the Holocaust. John Levy is Rabbi Isaac Levy’s son and Rob Thompson is a Wolfson Foundation funded PhD candidate at University College London, researching post-war Christian engagement with Holocaust survivors. John and Rob will share the experiences of Rabbi Levy and the Christian chaplains at Belsen: a powerful story of Jewish-Christian encounter as the world came face to face with the aftermath of the Holocaust.

Date: Thursday 14 January 2021
Time: 5.00pm UK / 7.00pm South Africa
Venue: On Zoom (link will be provided shortly before the session)
Booking opens soon – register your interest here: book@sirmartingilbertlearningcentre.org

In partnership with the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre.

 Rob Thompson is a Wolfson Foundation PhD Scholar in the Hebrew and Jewish Studies Department at University College London where he is researching Christian encounters with Holocaust survivors in post-war occupied Germany. Previously Rob was for four years Senior Programme Manager at the Council of Christians and Jews (CCJ), the UK’s leading forum for Jewish-Christian relations, where he was responsible for CCJ’s Holocaust Education programmes. During his time at CCJ Rob studied for a part-time MA in Jewish History and Culture from the University of Southampton, researching British Christian army chaplains at the liberation of Bergen-Belsen. His MA thesis was named Proxime Accessit for the Royal Historical Society’s Rees Davis Prize 2020. Rob’s contribution to interfaith relations and Holocaust Education was recognised in 2018 with a 21 for 21 award, sponsored by Jewish News, British Muslim TVThe Church Times and Coexist House.

John Levy is a Sociology graduate of Bedford College, London University. John spent nearly a year as a social worker in South London, before joining the Zionist Federation Information Department in 1970. John is now Hon. Director of The Academic Study Group on Israel and the Middle East (ASG) an educational charity which sends speakers to audiences actress the UK promoting an informed and analytic understanding of Israel and the Middle East; and organises 3-6 Research Workshops in Israel each year to advance closer collaborative research ties between academics and other experts in the UK and their professional counterparts in Israel. John is also the senior Trustee of the UK branch of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel; and past Co-chair of The Indian Jewish Association. His late Father Rev Dr Isaac Levy was for many years the Senior Jewish Chaplain, having served in the Middle East and Europe in WW2, latterly as Senior Jewish Padre overseeing relief at the Belsen Concentration Camp in 1945. He was totally committed to inter-faith dialogue, a passion which John continues.