Next Wednesday, May 21, there will be a gathering of Jewish Russian WWII veterans at the United Nations to announce the global Jewish observance of the rescue of the remaining European Jews in 1945.
Local Jewish veterans of the Soviet Red Army, representatives of the Israeli government and of local Jewish communities will convene at the U.N. to announce and commemorate the creation of a new Jewish holiday.
Israel’s UN Ambassador Ron Prosor, Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Faina Kirschenbaum, the President of the American Forum of Russian Speaking Jewry, Dr. Igor Branovan, and hundreds of New York-area Red Army Jewish veterans will be wearing their World War II regalia will celebrate and officially announce the new Jewish observance.
Among the new holiday’s advocates will be Russian-Jewish leader German Zakharyaev.
Zakharyaev is a Kavkazi, a Jew whose family is from the Caucasus Mountain region in Azerbaijan and neighboring areas in the former Soviet Union. His father is a famous Russian journalist, and he is the vice president of the Kavkazi Jewish World Congress, and the president of the International Kavkazi Jewish STMEGI Foundation
In recent months, the Russian-Jewish community, led by Zakharyaev, turned to Jewish communities around the world to call for a wider, global Jewish recognition of the rescue of European Jewry. The community joined forces with the American Forum of Russian Speaking Jewry, and won the support of others, including Keren Hayesod-United Israel Appeal, World Zionist Organization (WZO), the Israeli government, Israel’s chief rabbis and chief rabbis from Europe.
Perhaps the most important holiday in Russia, “Victory Day” on May 9, is also celebrated around the world in countries with major Russian émigré populations. Israel is one of those countries and on Victory Day Jewish immigrants who served in the Red Army march in their military finery. With more than 1.6 million Jews from the FSU, Israel officially recognized the holiday in 2000.
The new holiday’s supporters chose the Hebrew date of Iyar 26, which marks May 9, 1945 – to be called “Rescue Day of European Jewry.” That Hebrew date falls this year on May 26. A week before, on Wednesday, May 21, the Israeli officials and communal groups will convene at the UN to formally announce the new global Jewish holiday.
“As Jews we are proud to gather at the UN for this historic celebration honoring a great victory over evil,” said Zakharyaev. “While it’s important to remember the Holocaust’s end, we must still remain vigilant even today, as the Jewish communities throughout the FSU feel insecure amid instability in Ukraine.”
About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools.
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