Preserving Memory in Russian: The Life and Work of Ilia Salita

Tue, 06/30/2020 - 7:13pm

This week, we pay tribute to the life and work of Ilia Salita, a key partner and friend to the Institute of many years.

In his role as President and CEO of Genesis Philanthropy Group, Ilia Salita led the global effort to support the Russian speaking Jewish community.  In this role he was also at the forefront of preserving the voices of the Soviet Jewish experience during World War Two and the Holocaust. Ilia cultivated many programs that celebrated the rich history of the Russian-speaking Jewish population and shared that history with a wide audience across the Former Soviet Union, in Israel, and around the world.  He understood and deeply believed in the importance of individual testimony in education, and was committed to supporting the collection of survivor testimony from the Former Soviet Union.

Through this special partnership, we are able to ensure that a critical conversation about the experiences of the Russian Jewish community during World War Two will take place now and in the future with those who directly experienced it. Without Ilia's vision these life changing interactive testimonies would not exist for future generations of Russian speaking students to converse with survivors and liberators of the Holocaust.  Through his insistence, their conversations will continue far into the future.

"Ilia was a visionary who called me often to discuss ways to ensure Russian speaking survivors were recognized and heard for the future. We sat and discussed testimony and technology together in New York, Los Angeles and Jerusalem.” said Stephen Smith, Finci-Viterbi Executive Director of USC Shoah Foundation, “I will miss his energy, and his insight. I will miss the courageous heart that he brought to his work. I find it difficult to believe he will not be there leading our field as he always did with such grace.”

Read our 2018 article on Dimensions in Testimony interviews of a Russian speaking survivor, Asia Shindelman, and liberator Leonid Rozenberg.