On Sunday, January 27, the International Holocaust Remembrance Day was commemorated in hundreds of Jewish communities throughout the former Soviet Union. Memorial gatherings were held as well as visits to communal burial sites and educational activities in FJC’s schools and youth groups.
Children gathered in school auditoriums to hear stories from survivors, to light memorial candles and to recite the traditional memorial prayer, Kaddish, along with verses of psalms in memory of the six million. Several schools took their students to visit communal burial sites, to pray, connect and mainly, to carry on the messages of ‘Never Forget’ and ‘Am Yisrael Chai’, that although there are those who attempt to destroy us, we will persevere.
The Jewish community of Kaliningrad, which is on the coast of the Baltic Sea, together with many other locals, commemorated the day through a large event memorializing the 7,000 Jews who were murdered in the concentration camp in their region. Amongst the speakers at the event were the consuls of Lithuania, Germany and Poland and the new General Consul of Israel to the Russian Federation in St. Petersburg, Mrs. Olga Slova.
The Mogilev Jewish community, including the members of the Kolel Torah men and women’s learning group and the EnerJew youth group, gathered around the monument to the victims of the Mogilev Ghetto. There the traditional memorial prayer, Kaddish, was said along with a specific memorial prayer to the victims of the Holocaust.
Zmievskaya Balka in Rostov is the site of the largest mass executions of Jews in Russia. Around 20,000 Jews were marched to this site and shot in August 1942. Unlike the other extermination locations where the Nazi’s carefully documented who they killed, at this location, they did not document the identity of those murdered. The Jewish community of Rostov visits this site every year and recites the memorial prayer in honor of their anonymous brethren.
“I urge you to do a good deed today in honor of those killed in the Holocaust and may their memory be a blessing,” said the Rabbi of Rostov, Rabbi Chaim Danzinger, while standing at the Zmievskaya Balka memorial site.