FSU’s Jewish communities participated in Victory Day events last week that marked 73 years to the end of World War, which, in a considerable part, came about as a result of the Soviet Army’s efforts in defeating Nazi Germany. The war took the lives of at least 15 million USSR citizens, both troops, and civilian, amongst them many Jews.
This year, for the first time ever, at the impressive parade which took place in the nation’s capital, alongside Russia’s Prime Minister Mr. Putin, marched Israel’s Prime Minister Mr. Netanyahu.
Former President of the FSU Mr. Michael Gorbachev was there too, next to the Chief Rabbi of Russia Berel Lazar. Rabbi Lazar recited the “Kel Malei Rachamim” prayer in memory of the six million Jews who were murdered and placed a golden wreath in their remembrance as per the Russian custom. In his speech, Rabbi Lazar said: “The truest victory is in providing a good, quality education to the younger Jewish generation.”
There is a wide variety of FJC programs currently available to the region’s youth, both in formal and informal education. Formal education includes the network of Or Avner Jewish education institutions – colleges, schools and kindergartens, after-school study programs and Sunday schools. Informal education is carried forth by the EnerJew youth movement, YAHAD programs for young adults, and various others.
A group of Jewish war veterans accompanied Rabbi Lazar to the ceremony, coming from a special event held in their honor at FJC’s Shaarey Tzedek Chessed Center. The center provides help consistently throughout the year, with food and medical assistance to over 15,000 indigent Jews, among them many Holocaust survivors and war veterans. This year in honor of Victory Day, special food packages were distributed to all the veterans by the community’s students who traveled personally to their homes.
This special project for the Jewish war veterans was initiated by Rabbi Lazar, who personally went to visit an elderly Jew named Yaakov Viderman in his home in the Marina Roscha neighborhood. Yaakov was so moved by this visit, he put on Tefillin for the first time in his life at age 93, and had a mezuzah affixed to his door.