WJC’s Russian and EuroAsian affiliates unveil Candle of Remembrance in Jerusalem, honoring the heroes and victims of the Leningrad siege

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WJC’s Russian and EuroAsian affiliates unveil Candle of Remembrance in Jerusalem, honoring the heroes and victims of the Leningrad siege

Photo: President of the Russian Jewish Congress and the World Jewish Congress-Russian Federation (WJC Vice President) Yuri Kanner, right, unveils the Candle of Remembrance monument in Sacher Park in Jerusalem. Credit: Presidential Press and Information Office of the Russian Federation (Kremlin.ru).

JERUSALEM – Representatives of the World Jewish Congress, the Russian Jewish Congress, and the EuroAsian Jewish Congress presided Thursday over the unveiling of the Candle of Remembrance monument in the Sacher Park of Jerusalem, honoring the heroes who defended the city of Leningrad during the years-long blockade of World War II. 

The inaugural ceremony took place in the presence of leading international figures, including  Russian President Vladimir Putin, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lyon, St. Petersburg Governor Alexander Beglov, President of the Russian Jewish Congress (RJC) Yuri Kanner, President of Euro-Asian Of the Jewish Congress (EAJC) Dr. Mikhail Mirilashvili, President of the Renova group, member of the Bureau of the Presidium of the RJC Viktor Vekselberg, head of the Jewish National Fund-Keren Kayemet LeYisrael Daniel Atar, the initiator of the project Leonid Litinetskiy, leaders of veterans of World War II community in Israel Abraham Grinzaid and Emilia Larina, foreign ambassadors to Israel, and other distinguished guests.

The creation of the monument was made possible through charitable donations, under the sponsorship of the EuroAsian Jewish Congress, the Russian Jewish Congress (including members of the Bureau of the Presidium of the RJC, Mikhail Fridman, German Khan, Andrey Rappoport, Grigory Roitberg, German Zakharyaev), philanthropist Victor Vekselberg, the Jewish National Fund, and Keren Hayesod.

Russian Jewish Congress President Yuri Kanner, who is also President of the World Jewish Congress-Russian Federation and a WJC Vice President, hailed the monument as “new evidence that the sacrifices and achievements of our people in the fight against Nazism are remembered and appreciated far beyond the borders of Russia,” emphasizing that its unveiling on the eve of the 75th anniversary of the Red Army’s liberation of Auschwitz and the 76th anniversary of the lifting of the Leningrad blockade was particularly auspicious as a time of “simultaneous celebration” for all victims of the Nazis and their descendants, including both Russians and Jews.

The Candle of Remembrance is an 8.5-meter obelisk symbolizing life torn by the "flames of war” that consumed the souls of its victims. The monument was designed as a collaborative effort of Russian and Israeli architects, who sought to express that the tragedy of the siege of Leningrad and the tragedy of the Holocaust were inextricably linked. On either side of the stele, the architects placed the crest of the Leningrad Siege – the Bronze Horseman and the silhouette of the Peter and Paul Fortress in the sight of the Wehrmacht's guns – as well as the Star of David and a menorah encased in barbed wire, as a symbol of the death camps. The initiative to place the monument in Jerusalem was spearheaded by former Member of Knesset Leonid Litinetsky, together with the Council of World War II Veterans and the Association of Leningrad Blockades in Israel. Prior to the installment of the Candle of Remembrance, in Jerusalem the Russian Jewish Congress also sponsored the creation of the Red Army Victory Memorial, which opened in 2012 in the Israeli city of Netanya, with the participation of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Since its unveiling, the Red Army Victory Memorial has become one of the city’s main attractions, a traditional site of pilgrimage for tourist groups and official delegations.

President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu inaugurate the Candle of Remembrance monument in Jerusalem. Credit: Presidential Press and Information Office of the Russian Federation (Kremlin.ru).

During International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27, and throughout the week, a series of memorial and educational events will take place across Russia. For the first time in the six years since Memory Week was first held in the country, 59 cities from 50 regions of Russia will take part. Memory Week is a collaborative effort of the Russian Jewish Congress, the Russian Research and Educational Holocaust Center, the government of Moscow, and the Federal Agency for Nationalities. The full program of events in Moscow and other regions of Russia is published on memoryweek.ru.

On January 27, World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder will join Holocaust survivors and dignitaries from around the world on the grounds of the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial site to express the urgent need for promoting education about the Holocaust in order to contend with the rise of antisemitism today. “Nothing is more important for the upcoming 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz than having the survivors of this horrible place present to help the world bear witness,” said Ambassador Lauder. “The survivors are the direct link. That is why I am willing to do whatever is needed to bring them back. Let the world see them, let the world hear them, make the world remember.”

Video courtesy of Israel's Government Press Office (GPO)

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