Right to left: Miryam Peretz, Alexander Mashkevich,
Shimon Peres, Roman Yagel, Boris Zubarev
President of Israel Meets With Russian Jewry
On the 10th of May, at the Moscow House of Scientists, a celebratory gathering of the Jewish community timed to the 65th anniversary of the Victory over Nazism took place. Its main event was the meeting with the President of Israel, Shimon Peres, who came to Moscow for the jubilee celebrations.
This meeting, which gathered over 700 participants, was organized by the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress (EAJC) and the Russian Jewish Congress (RJC) with the aid of the Embassy of Israel to the Russian Federation.
Near the entrance to the House of Scientists, the guests were met by a military field kitchen with kosher buckwheat and a brass band that played melodies from the war. Students of Moscow theatrical universities, dressed in uniforms reconstructed from the Great Patriotic War, led the guests, among whom were numerous veterans, to the lounge, where a buffet was waiting for them.
Among the guests of honor there were leaders of leading Jewish organizations of Russia: rabbis, business men community leaders and culture figures. Among them were, in particular: President of the Association of Wounded Soldiers and Partisans who Fought the Nazis Roman Yagel, triple laureate of the USSR State Price Boris Zubarev, Head Rabbi of Russia Adolph Shayevich, rabbis Itzhak Cohen and Dov Karpov, filmmakers Yuri Lyubimov and Joseph Raihelgauz, composer Oskar Feltzman, bard and scientist Alexander Gorodnitsky.
Before the beginning of the meeting, a movie was shown about the EAJC project for the Victory anniversary, the "Tree of Peace." In this project, EAJC Jewish communities plant symbolic Trees of Peace in memory of the heroes of the Resistance, the soldiers who worked for freedom, and the Righteous Gentiles. Before May 9, these trees were planted in Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Kazakhstan. Besides these, 25 trees were planted on EAJC funds in the hills of Jerusalem - one for each country of the Congress.
The official part was opened by EAJC President Alexander Mashkevich. He spoke words of thanks to the war veterans and the people of Russia for the sacrifices they made for victory.
"Despite the fact that Nazism was crushed 65 years ago, threats towards Jews and the Jewish state sound again and again. The memory of the horrors of the Holocaust will disappear with those who were witnesses to this terrible crime in history, if we do not give the future generations an inoculation through tolerance. If we do not stop the leader of Iran and those of like mind to him today.
I can assure you on behalf of the Euro-Asian Congress: a Jew can live outside of Israel, but cannot live without Israel. And as Israel is a defender of Jews wherever they might be, the Jewish diaspora does all it can, and shall continue doing all it can, to defend the Jewish state.
It is is Israel where the forefront of the battle with a new evil, which threatens all of humanity, is located. In Israel, our brothers and sisters are dying in battle with world terror. Their names fill the martyrologue of those who fell in battle with the plague of the XXI century. I am certain that this is understandable and close to the hearts of Russians, as one-fifth of the population of the Jewish state is comprised of their former compatriots."
Then Alexander Mashkevich gave the word to a mother of two Israeli soldiers who dies in the war of terrorism. Miryam Peretz, who was especially invited to the occasion, said to the participants of the meeting, "My sons did not want war, were not eager for battle, but they did not hesitate to defend their own people. Each generation has its heroes and its fallen, each generation has its own pride. So it was 65 years ago, when the sons of Russia fought the Nazis and defeated them, and my people were reborn from the ashes, and built a glorious country. So it was then, and so it shall be now."
The President of Israel, Shimon Peres, made a speech to conclude the celebratory gathering. He underscored that he came to Moscow so that he could express his "extreme gratitude to Russia and her people for the decisive input into the victory over Nazism."
President Peres spoke at length about Russian-Israeli relations, and noted that when he met with the President of the Russian Federation Dmitri Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, he felt an interest and sympathy towards Israel from them. "Now we must do everything within our power to develop and strengthen the Russian-Israeli partnership." He said.
When speaking of the Israel of today. Peres underscored that the country is going through a real cultural Renaissance, and that the influence of Jews from Russia is humongous both in the culture and the economics of Israel. "Recently I have had to present insignia of distinction to 120 soldiers of the IDF who distinguished themselves most," the President said. "And when they began to announce their names, I couldn't understand at first where I actually was. Vladimir, Alexander... They are your children and grand-children, and our collective future."