The celebrations were organized by the American Forum of Russian Speaking Jewry (AFRJ) and the World Zionist Organization (WZO) with the support of Russian-Jewish leader German Zakharyaev, president of the STMEGI Foundation.
“As Jews we are proud to gather for this historic celebration honoring a great victory over evil,” said Boris Feldman, 94, from Brooklyn who fought with the Red Army for two years after being released from a Ukrainian ghetto. “While it’s important to remember the end of the Holocaust, we must remain vigilant even today. Jewish communities throughout the world feel increasingly threatened due to the rise of anti-Semitism.”
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, including in Israel, where Jewish immigrants who served in the Red Army proudly march in their military finery. With more than 1.6 million Jews from the former Soviet Union, Israel officially recognized the holiday in 2000.
To mark the liberation of European Jewry from the Nazis, supporters of the new holiday chose the Hebrew date of Iyar 26 – which marks May 9, 1945 – to be called “Rescue Day of European Jewry.” That Hebrew date begins this year on the evening of May 14.