On Thursday evening, May 9, Omaha’s Russian speaking senior community gathered at the Rose Blumkin Jewish Home to celebrate Victory Day. One of the most important Russian holidays, Victory Day marks Germany’s surrender to the Soviet Union in 1945, ending one of the bloodiest wars in Russia’s history. Anna Yuz-Mosenkis, who was born in Kiev long after the war, nonetheless has memories of those times. “Both my parents fought during those days. Three-quarters of my family — grandparents, aunts and uncles — were killed by the enemy. The Omaha community is home to several men and women who participated in those battles, and Victory Day gives us the opportunity to show our appreciation for what they did for us and for future generations.”
According to Maggie Conti, Director of Activities and Outreach Programs, approximately s7eventy seniors attended the event. Star Catering provided special Eastern European food including homemade perogies, smoked salmon on rye bread, blintzes, rugelach and beet salad. Participants also enjoyed live musical entertainment courtesy of Anna Mosenkis on piano, Lev Shekhtman on accordion, along with spirited Russian melodies sung by a vocal chorus. Arthur Masyuk performed poignant violin solos which captured the mood of the evening. The group also observed a moment of silence, lit a memorial candle, and recited Kaddish for the lost. Bouquets of red carnations — symbolizing the color of the Soviet flag and a sign of mourning and remembrance — decorated the RBJH Auditorium.
In addition, Mosenkis provided Russian film clips of past Victory Day parades in Moscow’s Red Square, as well as recent video showing fireworks displays enjoyed by thousands of people throughout the former Soviet Union who traditionally join together with friends and family to celebrate the WWll victory. Shelly Fox, Director of Outreach for Jewish Senior Outreach (JSO) said, “This event was very nostalgic and meaningful to the Russian members of our community. Memories of the past combined with present-day life made for a powerful experience. The opportunity to spend time together with others in the community that speak the same language and have a communal bond based on similar histories is valuable. It was my privilege to participate in planning and to attend this special evening.” Shirley Goldstein, Omaha’s much-loved activist who has fought for years on behalf of Soviet Jewish refuseniks and dissidents, was in attendance and given special recognition in honor of her birthday.
The Victory Day celebration was sponsored by the generous support of the Shirley and Leonard Goldstein Supporting Foundation of the Jewish Federation of Omaha Foundation.