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Community Commemorates 75th Anniversary of Babi Yar

Community Commemorates 75th Anniversary of Babi Yar

26 September 2016

At the Jewish Holocaust Centre on Sunday 25 September, the Victorian Jewish community commemorated the 75th anniversary of the massacre of Jews at Babi Yar, a ravine near Kiev, where 33,771 Jews were shot over a two day period starting on 29 September 1941.  For decades, little was known of those events, despite evidence from survivors and witnesses of the events.

The commemoration was a joint project of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV), Kangarusskis, the Australian Forum of Russian Speaking Jewry, Russian Sunday School LIDER, the Jewish Holocaust Centre and the Association of Former Inmate of Nazi Concentration Camps and Ghettoes from the Former Soviet Union (AFICC).

Over 150 members of the Victorian Russian-speaking Jewish community attended the commemoration, which focused on the dangers of antisemitism, the importance of remembrance and the celebration of freedom for new generations.

Jennifer Huppert, President of the JCCV welcomed the members of parliament and other dignitaries who attended, including Inga Peulich, Shadow Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Steve Dimopoulos MP, representing the Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Margaret Fitzherbert MP, representing the Leader of the Opposition, Sam Hibbins MP, Member for Prahran, VicPol Deputy Commissioner Andrew Crisp, Sam Almaliki, Victorian Multicultural Commissioner and Bayram Aktepe, President of the Islamic Council of Victoria.  The dignitaries later toured the Jewish Holocaust Centre with Survivor Guide Henri Korn.

Highlights included performances by Russian Sunday School LIDER students, young musicians and Kangarusskis representing the future of the community.  Gennerdi Vilkov, President of AFICC, brought soil from Babi Yar to the stage as a symbol of the link to the past.

Yevgeni Yevtushenko’s famous Babi Yar poem was movingly and dramatically read in Russian and English by Larry Fudim and Sara Bendevsky, with witness testimonies read by Tanya Schwarzman, Lev Mendes and Ella Apter.  The singing of Hatikvah was masterfully led by Alex Pokrishevsky.

Ms Huppert and Mr Vilkov spoke about the importance of remembering Babi Yar and other tragedies that befell the Jews of the Former Soviet Union.

Mr Vilkov stated, “We must never forget.  And it must never ever happen again.”

Ms Huppert stated, “The commemoration of events such as the terrible massacre at Babi Yar are a reminder of both the importance of our strong democratic and multicultural society, and of taking a stand against antisemitism and all forms of racism.”

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