City Councilmember Mark Treyger hosted a moving tribute commemorating Victory Day and the contributions of local war heroes.
He was joined by World War II veterans, members of Holocaust Survivor Associations, elected officials and community members who were there to thank the veterans for their courage and sacrifices during the war.
Treyger, whose district includes portions of Bath Beach, Bensonhurst, Coney Island, Gravesend and Sea Gate, held the event on Monday, May 13 at the Marks Jewish Community House of Bensonhurst. This year marked the 74th anniversary of Victory Day, when on May 9, 1945, Germany surrendered to the Soviet Union to end World War II in Europe.
Victory Day is an important event for Brooklyn’s Russian-speaking community. They celebrate the end of what was a great patriotic war for the USSR, which suffered 25 million casualties during the four years of fighting. Since 1965, its 20th anniversary, it has been a national holiday in Russia, with schools and most businesses closed for celebrations. Many people attend a local military parade and watch fireworks at night. Russians in this country mark the anniversary with commemorations such as the one Treyger organized.
The ceremony honored three community leaders who have dedicated themselves to assisting and improving the lives of Russian-speaking veterans, Holocaust survivors and their families. Treyger, the only Russian-speaking councilmember, presented City Council proclamations to Boris Lerman, Vilya Gil and Raisa Latrushkina.
Lerman is a Holocaust survivor who was born in Moscow at the beginning of World War II, and after immigrating to the United States, dedicated his life to raising awareness about his experience.
Gil was born in 1925 in Kiev, Ukraine, grew up in the Soviet Union and came to America in 1992. Upon arriving he dedicated his time to volunteering to help other recent immigrants to the country.
Latrushkina, who was born in Belarus and came to the U.S. in 1995, was honored for her unwavering dedication to helping address the needs of Holocaust survivors and their families.
“As the grandson of World War II veterans and Holocaust survivors, events like this are extraordinarily important, especially as we lose veterans and survivors with each passing year,” said Treyger. “I’m proud to work with our local organizations to honor these remarkable individuals and their contributions. At a time when there has been a rise in hate crimes in New York City, we have to be vigilant in preventing hate, bigotry and anti-Semitism citywide and nationwide once and for all.”
“There were about 400 people in attendance at this wonderful event,” said Ari Kagan, a Democratic district leader and community liaison for New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer. “It was an emotional and unforgettable ceremony. There were survivors from the Siege of Leningrad who attended along with their families.”
Also attending the event were Brooklyn Civil Court Judge Elena Baron, Acting Supreme Court Judge Carolyn Wade and Irina Khlevner from the office of City Councilmember Chaim Deutsch, along with representatives from the offices of U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, Councilmember William Colton and Mayor Bill de Blasio.