Hundreds of Jewish communities across Russia commemorated yesterday the country’s victory over Nazi Germany in 1945. Victory Day, celebrated in Russia every year on May 9th, is an important date for the country, whose entire population, including millions of Jews, was affected by World War II and its aftermath.
The day was marked by memorial marches, veteran parades, official governmental ceremonies and more. FJC’s Jewish communities members of all ages joined the official ceremonies and also organized many memorial events of their own.
In Moscow, Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar visited the Fallen Soldiers’ memorial near Kremlin. He was joined by the city’s Jewish community’s war veterans and Jewish school students. Rabbi Lazar recited the Kaddish prayer for soldiers, who perished fighting the Nazis. “By defeating the Nazi army Soviet soldiers did not only save their country – they saved the entire world,” he said at the ceremony. Rabbi Lazar also addressed the veterans, thanking them for their heroism during and after the war, when they found “strength to rebuild burned homes and repair broken lives.”
A memorial event was also held in Moscow’s Shaarei Zedek humanitarian aid center. It was attended by Israeli ambassador to Russia, Mr. Gary Koren, who told the community members about the Victory Day events in Israel.
Across the region, other FSU countries such as Ukraine and Belarus also joined the commemorations. Jewish communities attended memorial ceremonies in Minsk, Odessa, Kharkov, Zhitomir and beyond.
Jewish school students and young adults met with war veterans to hear their stories and express gratitude. EnerJew activists visited those of them, who are home-bound, making sure no one was left out on the date. The movement also created a video-project in which teenagers share their thoughts on the war – many talk about their grandfathers and great-grandfathers and the sacrifices they made.
“Even now, after more than 70 years since the war’s end, the memories of the black hole it left in people’s lives and in the course of all humanity are vivid – they can never be erased from the nation’s collective memory. Our mission is to fill that void with light,” states one of the participants in the video.