The Victory Day, or in Russian, “Den Pobedy” is celebrated worldwide by World War II veterans from the former Soviet Union on May 9. In many countries, the veterans, relatives, and friends gather to remember the anniversary of the victory over the Nazis and "the brown plague" that was very close to conquering Europe in the middle of the 20th Century.
For the past several years in Chicago, a number of organizations, sponsors, and volunteers have joined their efforts to honor Soviet-era veterans and to celebrate the Victory Day. This year on May 9, the Skokie Library hosted an annual meeting for Chicago Association of (Russian) WWII veterans, and a celebratory banquet with the veterans on May 10 at the Zhivago Restaurant in Skokie. Guests and their children had an opportunity to mingle with about 100 veterans in attendance and introduce their children to heroes, history and heritage.
At the banquet, children and volunteers presented flowers to veterans. Community musicians performed, and veterans recited poetry, sang victory-themed songs, played a guitar, and a large overhead screen played famous tunes of the historic times. A local ensemble “Melody” comprised of veterans performed many emotionally charged songs remembering the fateful times and the fallen comrades.
This year, the Victory Day celebration became part of L'Dor V'Dor - from Generation to Generation - a volunteer project by the Russian Jewish Division of JUF. This is an organization that serves the Russian Jewish Community in Chicago and promotes the value of chesed, or loving kindness.
L’Dor V’Dor, under the supervision of RJD Director Genia Kovelman, was instrumental in organizing volunteers to visit over 250 house-ridden veterans throughout Chicago and the suburbs. Volunteers presented flowers and gifts, while children and musicians performed for the veterans.
Abram Sagalovich, president of the Chicago Association of (Russian) WWII Veterans said, “thank you to all of the sponsors and volunteers who never forget about the veterans and their heroism.”
As the veterans and supporters raise the traditional toast to celebrate the Victory Day and to honor those no longer with us, we are reminded that this is a bittersweet celebration. This is one holiday that we should never forget.
Leonard Mogul is a community advocate/journalist with Kontinent Media.
For more information about JUF's Russian Jewish Division, contact RJD@juf.org