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December 2014

INNA ROGATCHI IS AWARDED WITH THE PATMOS SOLIDARITY PRIZE 2014

At a special ceremony in Helsinki, the writer, film maker, artist and philanthropist, co-founder and president of The Rogatchi Foundation Inna Rogatchi was awarded the Solidarity Prize 2014 by The Patmos Foundation.

Inna Rogatchi receives The Patmos Solidarity Prize 2014. From the left: Inna Rogatchi, The Patmos Foundation president Pirkko Säilä, and the Patmos Foundation Chairman Leo Laitinmäki. Helsinki, December 2014. Courtesy (C) The Rogatchi Foundation

Inna Rogatchi receives The Patmos Solidarity Prize 2014. From the left: Inna Rogatchi; The Patmos Foundation president Pirkko Säilä; and The Patmos Foundation chairman Leo Laitinmäki. Helsinki, December 2014. 
Courtesy © The Rogatchi Foundation

In the statement of The Patmos Foundation, it said that Inna Rogatchi has been awarded 'for active stand in culture, philanthropy and public life to maintain moral values and decency of human life and conditions; for commitment and achievements in establishing historical justice and spreading the knowledge about it reaching wide international audience; for the passionate and creative approach in a hard labour of memory'.

The Prize's Diploma states that "internationally renown historian, researcher, author, artist, photographer, humanitarian and philanthropist Dr Inna Rogatchi is recipient of the Solidarity Prize 2014 honouring her life-long mission for the sake of the persecuted Jewish people and the Nation of Israel".

Inna Rogatchi is the third person and the first woman to receive this prestigious award. Her predecessors as Solidarity Award recipients were Brother Andreas from the Netherlands, and priest Jouni Lehikoski, vicar of the Mikael Church in Turku, Finland, both for their exemplary, brave and far-reaching humanitarian efforts.

Inna Rogatchi at the Patmos Solidarity Prize 2014 Award Ceremony. Helsinki, December 2014. Courtesy (C) The Rogatchi Foundation

Inna Rogatchi at the Patmos Solidarity Prize 2014 Award Ceremony. Helsinki, December 2014. 
Courtesy © The Rogatchi Foundation

The Patmos Foundation (www.patmos.fi) is a Finnish Christian organisation internationally known for its wide-spread global humanitarian work. It was founded by well-known public figure Leo Meller, and operates under steady and devoted management of the Foundation's president Pirkko Säilä. From the 1970s onward, Patmos has been operating world-wide, and demonstrates tireless efforts in providing badly needed help on four continents.

According to The Patmos Foundation chairman Leo Laitinmäki, "support of Israel and the Jewish people is the core of The Patmos Foundation's work".

In his opening speech, Leo Laitinmäki emphasised that he sees "a direct similarity between Finland's fight for the country's independence and Israel's fight for the independence of the Jewish state, the national Jewish home. This kind of independence which is achieved via daring struggle, via wars with attacking enemies, via defending the country's attacked civilians, is achieved at a very high price, indeed, but it also stays on as a Rock. And belief is quite an important part of this Rock, as we know from history. Looking from an historical perspective toward the modern day, we do know, we do realise how much Israel still needs the help of its friends, being constantly attacked and challenged against all criteria of acceptable and normal historical justice. We, at Patmos Foundation, always have provided, still provide, and will provide that needed help to our friends in Israel. Our hearts are beating in unison with the hearts of the people in Israel. And tonight is a celebration of this fact - we know a lot of Dr Inna Rogatchi's many years of multi-sided activities in support of Jewish people and the State of Israel, and we will hear more about it during this evening. Our warmest congratulations to you, dear Inna!"

On the left: In the front, The Patmos Foundation Chairman Leo Laitinmäki. Courtesy (C) The Rogatchi FoundationOn the right: Leo Laitinmäki addresses the public; in front is Mrs Zahava Ashbel, wife of Israel's Ambassador to Finland H.E. Dan Ashbel. Courtesy (C) The Rogatchi Foundation      

On the left: in the front, The Patmos Foundation chairman Leo Laitinmäki; On the right: Leo Laitinmäki addresses the public; in front is Mrs Zahava Ashbel, wife of Israel's Ambassador to Finland H.E. Dan Ashbel
Courtesy © The Rogatchi Foundation

The Patmos Foundation is an active partner of Keren Hayesod (Israel National Foundation Fund) in many activities of Keren Hayesod world-wide.

They are particularly active in several demanding tasks of supporting aliyah from such countries as Ethiopia, CIS countries, Georgia, Argentina in both organisational and financial ways of co-operating closely with Keren Hayesod in these tasks; and currently Patmos is deeply involved in assisting the aliyah from Ukraine. The organisation is also a long-term partner of Magen David Adom (MDA), and has sent to Israel several ambulances, MICU's (mobile intensive care units) and equipment for MDA blood bank and MDA stations. The Foundation also is the donor of various projects in Israel, e.g. Shaare Zedek hospital. Their latest campaign in this direction is collecting funds for the next equipped ambulance in the aftermath of the Har Nof synagogue massacre.

Patmos supports schools (Eden and Liman) and has donated many shelters to Israel.

Members of the Patmos Foundation Board and distinguished guests during the ceremony. Courtesy (C) The Rogatchi Foundation       Awarded tenor Reijo Ikonen sings with accompaniment of acclaimed violist Päivyt Meller. Courtesy (C) The Rogatchi Foundation

Members of the Patmos Foundation Board and distinguished guests during the ceremony. 
Awarded tenor Reijo Ikonen sings with accompaniement of acclaimed violist Päivyt Meller
Courtesy © The Rogatchi Foundation

The Award Ceremony took place in Helsinki at the celebration dinner and concert in the presence of H.E. Dan Ashbel, Ambassador of Israel in Finland, Jacob Snir, director of the Berlin bureau of Keren Hayesod, members of the board of The Patmos Foundation, members of the Board and International Advisory Board of The Rogatchi Foundation, the leadership of the Helsinki Jewish community and the Central Board of the Finnish Jewish community, and distinguished international public figures, including Leo-Dan Bensky, president of the Maccabi World Union.

From the left: the Patmos Foundation activist Leena Metsämäki and Professor Carl Öhman, member of the Board of The Rogatchi Foundation. Courtesy (C) The Rogatchi Foundation       From the left: Leo-Dan Bensky, President of Maccabi World Union, Inna Rogatchi, H.E. Dan Ashbel, Ambassador of Israel in Finland. Courtesy (C) The Rogatchi Foundation

From the left: The Patmos Foundation activist Leena Metsämäki and Professor Carl Öhman, member of the Board of the Rogatchi Foundation. From the left: Leo-Dan Bensky, President of Maccabi World Union, Inna Rogatchi, H.E. Dan Ashbel, Ambassador of Israel in Finland. 
Courtesy © The Rogatchi Foundation

The celebration dinner and warm and moving ceremony was enriched greatly by the exquisite concert conducted by internationally acclaimed violist Päivyt Meller, her young daughter and very able musician Julia Meller, and a very well-known musical couple in Finland and abroad, the prolific opera singer tenor Reijo Ikonen and harpist and cantele player Ulla-Stina Uusitalo-Ikonen; this couple are also notable philanthropists.

Young talented violist Julia Meller performs a difficult piece at the ceremony, accompanied by Ulla-Stina Uusitalo-Ikonen on cantele. Courtesy (C): The Rogatchi Foundation       Guests listen to the concert and speeches. From the left: Annu Saarinen, Ethel Salutskij, the head of the KKL bureau in Finland; Rony Smolar, prominent journalist and former vice-president of the European Jewish Council; and Pekka Haapasaari, the treasurer of The Patmos Foundation. Courtesy (C): The Rogatchi Foundation

Young talented violist Julia Meller performes a difficult piece at the ceremony, accompined by Ulla-Stina Uusitalo-Ikonen on cantele. 
Guests listening to the concert and speeches. From the left: Annu SaarinenEthel Salutskij, head of the KKL bureau in Finland; Rony Smolar, prominent journalist and former vice-president of the European Jewish Council; and Pekka Haapasaari, treasurer of The Patmos Foundation. 
Courtesy © The Rogatchi Foundation

The celebration started with Inna Rogatchi's recent short film Jerusalem. My Stones which is her tribute to Jerusalem and Israel, and which was inaugurated at the celebration of the Day of Jerusalem 2014 at a special event in the Tallinn New Synagogue in Estonia in May 2014. This is one of the most popular short films by Inna Rogatchi.

In his warm speech, H.E. Dan Ashbel, Ambassador of Israel in Finland, told the guests how happy he and his wife Zahava were to be present at the occasion, and how important it is to ponder what 'solidarity' means under concrete circumstances and at the given moment. "Under the circumstances and due to the development of the situation in the world as it is, a solidarity which one could expect to be to unify people and to appeal to them naturally due to the humanistic foundation of the world, society and human relations, is not, however, something that can be taken for granted nowadays, sad as it is. The matter of solidarity nowadays is a matter of responsibility of people and countries towards each other, and living in the world we are in now, we all do need to be quite serious about it, indeed. In my understanding, solidarity is not only about need; it is also about happiness, of mutual understanding and true friendship and colleagiality. We do feel true solidarity during times of sorrow, and we do feel it also during times of inspiration and joy.

I would like to end my speech by a quote from a recent letter of the Speaker of the Knesset Yoel Yuli Edelstein to his friends, Inna & Michael Rogatchi. In this letter, the Speaker of the Knesset was responding to the Rogatchis' solidarity during the tragedy of the massacre at the Har Nof Synagogue in Jerusalem. He wrote to Inna and Michael: "We are grateful for your friendship and ongoing efforts to combat the baseless hatred that promotes such heinous acts. Indeed, this vicious crime must spur us to ensure that such beliefs are given no quarter, whether in Israel or anywhere else. We join you in praying that G-d may console the bereaved families, and I look forward to sharing happier tidings from Israel in a near future".

The ceremony's honourable speaker: H.E. Dan Ashbel, the Ambassador of Israel in Finland. Courtesy (C) The Rogatchi Foundation       The ceremony's honourable speaker: Jacob Snir, director of the Berlin office, Keren Hayesod, the Israel National Foundation Fund. Courtesy (C) The Rogatchi Foundation

The ceremony's honorable speakers: H.E. Dan Ashbel, Ambassador of Israel in Finland (left) and Jacob Snir, director of the Berlin office, Keren Hayesod, the Israel National Foundation Fund. 
Courtesy © The Rogatchi Foundation

Director of the Berlin Bureau of Keren Hayesod, the Israel National Foundation Fund, Jacob Snir, who came to Helsinki from Jerusalem to attend the ceremony, in his vivid and engaging speech mentioned the very close and long-term co-operation that Keren Hayesod has conducted with Patmos Foundation all over the world. In his speech, Mr Snir was talking about 'regular Jewish miracles' - such as the dramatic change of of the Negev desert that is happening right now, following the stunning vision of Ben Gurion decades before; and the biggest in the world Jewish community centre which appeared a couple of years before the current drama unfolding in Ukraine, in Ukrainian city of Dnepropetrovsk, Inna Rogatchi's native city.

"I have come here, to Helsinki, from Israel where just a few days ago I participated in an unbelievable-but-true ceremony at Sde Boker, the place, the kibbutz, where Ben-Gurion has moved for his retirement, his last home where he has spent the last ten years of his life. I cannot stop thinking on his amazing vision - yet back in 1963, the leader of the Jewish state had envisaged the future development of that extremely daring place to develop just in the middle of the Negev desert. And today, we all were seeing amazing development in what used to be nothing but a desert. Today, you just cannot get an apartment in places in the Negev region, such as Dimona and the others, even if you are ready to put up a substantial sum for it. There is simply not enough apartments at the moment, as so many people would love to move in there. Isn't it a miracle? Of course, it is. Another 'regular Jewish miracle', as I call it. Or take another Jewish miracle of the sort. For three months I was learning to pronounce the name of the city where our laureate Inna Rogatchi was born, Dnepropetrovsk of Ukraine. Now I am not only familiar with that difficult name, but I visited the place while working together with Patmos on our very important project support, back in July 2014. And I was absolutely amazed by what I saw there - Menorah, the biggest in the world Jewish Community Centre, is such a building and an institution that it is hard to believe our eyes, especially to those who were busy helping Soviet Jewry, for decades, as I did. I know that Inna and Michael have done very much for this unique institution, and I am just amazingly grateful for being able to be there and to see their works there, and to hear on their input during many years of their philanthropic support of the Jewish community at the place native for their families. These 'regular Jewish miracles' are the essence of our Jewish history, during which so many times a help had been needed. Our long-term, devoted partner Patmos is providing just this kind of help to Jewish people, both in Israel and all over the world; and not 'just' help, but help with love, loving help. What can be more essential than this for 'a regular Jewish miracle' to happen?.. With all my and my colleagues' deepest concern, I can tell you that under the circumstances of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, the Jewish people there, where there are many refugees already, will be needing more of our help, our joint help. And I am appealing to all of you on that, and am counting on our great friends in Finland. Congratulations, Inna!"

Distinguished guests of the ceremony. From the left: Matti Saarinen, Chairman of Kreab-Gavin Andersen Consulting. Courtesy (C) The Rogatchi Foundation       Distinguished guests of the ceremony. From the left: Chairman of The Patmos Foundation Leo Laitinmäki, member of the International Advisory Board of The Rogatchi Foundation Maija-Liisa Marton, member of the Patmos Foundation board Jussi Ketola, Professor Carl Öhman, member of the Patmos Foundation board Marja Rantanen. Courtesy (C) The Rogatchi Foundation

The distinguished guests of the ceremony 
From the left: Matti Saarinen, chairman of Kreab-Gavin Andersen Consulting
From the left: Chairman of The Patmos Foundation Leo Laitinmäki; member of the International Advisory Board of The Rogatchi Foundation Maija-Liisa Marton; member of the Patmos Foundation board Jussi Ketola; Professor Carl Öhman; member of the Patmos Foundation board Marja Rantanen
Courtesy © The Rogatchi Foundation

Member of the International Advisory Board of The Rogatchi Foundation, famous actress, director, translator, cultural and public figure, and close friend of Inna Rogatchi, Maija-Liisa Marton, appeared with her personal tribute to her friend, coming back to the beginning of their friendship, both a professional and personal one, and portraying Inna's and her husband Michael's way of artistic and charitable work over the last 25 years, both in Finland and internationally. "In the multiplicity of her professional and public activities, her writing, her research, her films, and her art photography projects, Inna was working tirelessly and very hard, always being driven by the main imperative, this is - always searching for truth. I do not need to tell you in more detail what a demanding work this one is.

A personality is always important in a person of creative profession, as we all know. And I can tell you all, dear friends, that Inna has a big heart; a very big heart; and that she always has time for her friends, and for people in general, does not matter how busy is she. I will always cherish a unique experience when Inna and Michael had invited me to share a Shabbat dinner at their home in Italy a few years back. Of course, I knew of the meaning of Shabbat for Jewish people, but when I was a part of it and saw how both Inna and Michael are celebrating it, in very literal meaning of the word, it has become one of the most cherished memories and experiences of my own for which I am deeply grateful to my dear friends Inna and Michael.

Listening to Maija-Liisa Marton's speech. In the centre: Eva Bensky, Wizo leader in Finland. Courtesy (C) The Rogatchi Foundation       Maija-Liisa Marton addressing the public. Courtesy (C) The Rogatchi Foundation

Listening to Maija-Liisa Marton's speech. In the centre: Eva BenskyWizo leader in Finland; 
Maija-Liisa Marton addressing the public. 
Courtesy © The Rogatchi Foundation

Reviewing the way in which Inna went through in her books, plays, films, her lectures and her studies, I see the difference between various periods of her life, of course. If Inna's early works were very passionate ones, her later works are quite subtle ones. But nevertheless, the message is similarly strong and based on very well-researched causes and a principaled stand and conviction. Passionately or subtly, Inna always knows precisely what she is doing; why, and what for. This current, subtle in means and style, but strong in message and content outcome of Inna's work in different media and fields of art and literature, in my opinion, comes to the best in her art photography collection The Routewhich had been exhibited at the European Parliament at the commemoration of The Day of Jerusalem there in 2012. In my essay which is a foreword to that very special collection of a thoughtful, deep and engaging work of heartfelt art portraying the historical journey of Inna's people, I wrote the following: "Inna Rogatchi's fine perception and sense of human frailty make her visual world interesting and deeply moving. It makes me reflect on the words of Paul Johnsonin his modern classic A History of the Jews: 'No people has ever insisted more firmly than the Jews that history has a purpose and humanity a destiny'. There could not be a better description of the statement than Inna Rogatchi's personal journey shared by us in her works".

Awarded and internationally acclaimed violist Päivyt Meller not only brilliantly performed several touching musical numbers during the ceremony, but also shared her thoughts in connection with the event with the public. "One of the pieces I will be playing tonight is a famous score from The Schindler's List. Each of us remembers this film in one's own way, and so do I. For me, the one particular scene from the film stays in my heart and mind for good. You might remember the scene when being among those whom he saved, Schindler gets gradually more and more agitated, nervous, and clearly unhappy. And you start to think: why is that? What is he up to? Why is he so increasingly unhappy?.. Then the camera takes us to his ring, that he just noticed on his own finger; and he exclaims in despair: "Why didn't I take off the ring?.. I could be saving one more person!.." The message from that scene stays in me forever. We could not be another Inna, but we should, each and everyone of us, do everything that we can, in our own places, 'to save one more'. To provide help to those who need it. Thank you and Congratulations, dear Inna!"

Violist Päivyt Meller performing on her Nicola Gagliano violin 1777. Courtesy (C) The Rogatchi Foundation

Violist Päivyt Meller performing on her Nicola Gagliano violin 1777. 
Courtesy © The Rogatchi Foundation

The Patmos Foundation president Pirkko Säilä was very generous in her Award Ceremony speech to Inna Rogatchi: "On the diploma, I read descriptive words of yourself, dear Dr Inna Rogatchi. Let me widen the expression: you are a great humanitarian. Coming back to personal experiences of our joint work for the sake of persecuted Jewish people, yet at the Soviet time, you worked so hard to provide urgent help to those who needed it, and not only practical help; you were not afraid to speak up and defend the people who were not able to speak for themselves.

Further on, you are a protector of the Jewish people and the State of Israel. Your articles, you documentaries are well known around the globe. There is more, much more, and all the same - it is not enough said about you, dear Inna.

I admire your tireless energy and efforts to make things happen. I would like to compare you to a character of which we can read in the Bible, in Proverbs 31, the Wife of Noble character which is said to King Solomon by his mother to have the qualities of a woman who he should look for while searching for a wife for himself. "A wife of noble character, who can find her? She is worth far more than rubies. She sets about her work vigorously: her arms are strong for her tasks. She is clothed with strength and dignity. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all. Give her reward she has earned, and her works bring her praise at the city gate" (Proverbs 31: 10, 17, 25-26, 31).

The Patmos Foundation is very happy to award you with The Patmos Solidarity Prize 2014, dear Dr Inna Rogatchi!"

From the left: Leo-Dan Bensky and Inna Rogatchi listening to the Award Presentation. Courtesy (C): The Rogatchi Foundation       President of The Patmos Foundation Pirkko Säilä during her Awarding Speech. Courtesy (C): The Rogatchi Foundation

From the left: Leo-Dan Bensky and Inna Rogatchi listening to the Award Ceremony presentation. 
President of The Patmos Foundation Pirkko Säilä during her Award Ceremony speech. 
Courtesy © The Rogatchi Foundation

In her Award Ceremony acceptance speech, Inna Rogatchi defined a phenomenon of solidarity via the prism of her close and long-standing co-operation with The Patmos Foundation, and pointed out that "solidarity we need at times like the current ones when open, vile anti-Semitism has become a fashion; when terrorism has turned into routine, in what I call the 'beheading-for-breakfast' phenomenon, due to the ultimate weakness of the world's governments; when the general attitude towards Israel has become an exemplification of this new wave of enthusiastic anti-Semitism-without-borders".

Inna Rogatchi during her award acceptance speech. Courtesy (C): The Rogatchi Foundation

Inna Rogatchi during her Award Ceremony acceptance speech 
Courtesy © The Rogatchi Foundation

In her speech, Inna Rogatchi also emphasised some goals for the solidarity-based joint work of those people and organisations who would like to support Israel and the cause of the Jewish people: "We do need this solidarity in order to bring up children in schools in the way that they know good from evil; and one of the key-points in that direction should be an official decision of including a trip to a former Nazi concentration camp into every school's curriculum world-wide. I have been working on this task for many years, and will continue do so until it will materialise.

We also need this solidarity to establish a fair balance in shamelessly biased media coverage regarding Israel in many countries, Finland included, where its public TV and Radio broadcast company YLE follow their colleagues at the BBC not only in the way of its funding by the tax-payers' money, but also in a shamelessly biased attitude against Israel.

We need this solidarity to be able to create jointly a fair attitude towards Israel and Jewish causes based on fundamental human rights and moral values, not distorted and manipulated ones.

We all need it for making life decent, - not only in Israel, but here, in Europe and elsewhere, as a sign of dignity and fairness and a measure of self-respect. And I am sure that being together and sharing our understanding and devotion, we will certainly make it happen".

Inna Rogatchi and the Patmos Foundation leadership during the Award Ceremony. Courtesy (C): The Rogatchi Foundation       Inna Rogatchi. Courtesy (C): The Rogatchi Foundation

Inna Rogatchi and The Patmos Foundation leadership during the Award Ceremony. 
Inna Rogatchi. 
Courtesy © The Rogatchi Foundation

In a reciprocating gesture, The Rogatchi Foundation presented to The Patmos Foundation with an artistic replica of Michael Rogatchi's well-known work Eve Spring. The Light of Belief, with a plaque saying "To the Patmos Foundation from the Rogatchi Foundation, with Solidarity".

Michael Rogatchi hands the giclée of his work The Eve of Spring to leaders of the Patmos Foundation. Courtesy (C) The Rogatchi Foundation

Michael Rogatchi hands the giclée of his Eve Spring work to the leaders of The Patmos Foundation. 
Courtesy © The Rogatchi Foundation

Inna Rogatchi's acceptance speech in full can be read at Inna Rogatchi's World - Speeches & Public Appearances section.

The Patmos Solidarity Prize 2014 Award Ceremony. From the left: Michael Rogatchi, co-founder and chairman of The Rogatchi Foundation; violist Päivyt Meller; H.E. Dan Ashbel, Ambassador of Israel in Finland; Jacob Snir, head of the Berlin office of Kereyn Hayesod, the Israel Foundation Fund; Leo Laitinmäki, chairman of the Patmos Foundation board; Inna Rogatchi; Pirkko Säilä, president of The Patmos Foundation; members of the Patmos Foundation Board Kimmo Metsämäki, Jussi Ketola, Marja Rantanen and Satu Räsänen. December 2014, Helsinki. Courtesy (C) The Patmos Foundation

The Patmos Solidarity Prize 2014 Award Ceremony 
From the left: Michael Rogatchi, co-founder and chairman of The Rogatchi Foundation; violist Päivyt Meller; H.E. Dan Ashbel, Ambassador of Israel in Finland; Jacob Snir, head of the Berlin office of Kereyn Hayesod, the Israel Foundation Fund; Leo Laitinmäki, chairman of The Patmos Foundation board; Inna Rogatchi; Pirkko Säilä, president of The Patmos Foundation; members of The Patmos Foundation Board Kimmo MetsämäkiJussi KetolaMarja Rantanen and Satu Räsänen. December 2014, Helsinki. 
Courtesy © The Patmos Foundation

Inna and Michael Rogatchi and The Rogatchi Foundation express their deepest gratitude to The Patmos Foundation and to all good friends and colleagues who attended the Award Ceremony and those who expressed their congratulations and good wishes in connection with The Patmos Solidarity Award given to Inna.

 

MAY 2014

The ROGATCHI FOUNDATION and the JEWISH RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY OF ESTONIA'S JOINT SPECIAL EVENT IN COMMEMORATION OF THE DAY OF JERUSALEM and the 7th ANNIVERSARY OF THE TALLINN NEW SYNAGOGUE

A special and joyful event on the occasion of the 7th anniversary of the Tallinn New Synagogue and in commemoration of the Day of Jerusalem was co-organised by the Jewish Religious Community of Estonia and The Rogatchi Foundation in Tallinn, Estonia, at the end of May 2014.

The programme of the Event was both intense and multi-sided and it included the opening of Michael Rogatchi's Jewish Melody exhibition of his original art series; addresses by Members of the Knesset and leaders of the World Jewish Congress in Israel; a greeting speech by the Finnish Ambassador in Estonia; several greeting addresses from Israel, Lithuania and Estonia; a special presentation Jerusalem, My Stones by Dr Inna Rogatchi; tasting of kosher wines; and a celebration dinner.

The event was opened by the hosts, with Rabbi Efraim Shmuel Kot, the Chief Rabbi of Estonia, who had been greeting the public in the completely full synagogue and introducing the participants. Specially selected historical footage on the touching scenes of June 7th, 1967 when Jerusalem was united by the Israeli army, returned guests to that unique moment in modern history. Rabbi Kot was also a master of ceremony for the first part of the evening.

Rabbi Efrain Shmuel Kot, Chief Rabbi of Estonia addressing the public at the Special Event on May 28th, 2014       Rebbetzin Kot and children attending the Special Event on May 28th, 2014

Rabbi Efraim Shmuel Kot, the Chief Rabbi of Estonia addresses the public at the Special Event on May 28th, 2014; Rebbetzin Kot and children attending the Special Event. 
Courtesy © The Rogatchi Foundation

For many guests, especially foreign ones, it came as a surprise that until 2007, Estonia had been the only country in Europe that did not have a synagogue, due to historical tragedies. In 1944, the great and beautiful Tallinn Synagogue, which was a pride of Tallinn Jewry, was bombed by the Soviet air force, with that magnificent building now destroyed, the rubble was removed from the Tallinn streets in 1947. For 60 years, almost three generations, Tallinn Jewry have had no normal house of prayer, and people have been using some sort of inadequate temporary options. From that perspective, the appearance of the Tallinn New Synagogue has its very special significance.

The chairman of the Jewish Religious Community of Estonia Mr Boris Oks - whose role in the new synagogue construction is a key one - addressed the audience with a warm speech emphasising how vital it is for any Jewish person to have their spiritual home, especially for the people who were deprived of it during so many decades. Mr Oks also shared with all those present his memories of the special and far from being easy process of building Beit-Bella Synagogue, from the beginning to the end.

Mrs Alla Jakobson, the chairwoman of the Estonian Jewish Community, greeted the public and remembered the hard life and devotion to the Jewish cause of the previous generations of Jews in Estonia, including her own father. In her vision, the more and deeper the current Jewish community of Estonia becomes with so many international guests visiting Tallinn from so many countries nowadays and they are all so happy to have such a beautiful and full of life and high spirit home for Jewish people as the new Beit-Bella Synagogue.

Chairman of the Jewish Religious Community of Estonia Mr Boris Oks addressing the public at the Special Event on May 28th, 2014Chairman of the Jewish Religious Community of Estonia Mr Boris Oks addressing the public at the Special Event on May 28th, 2014       Chairwoman of the Estonian Jewish Communith Ms Alla Jakobson addressing the public at the Special Event on May 28th, 2014

From the left: Chairman of the Jewish Religious Community of Estonia Mr Boris Oks, and chairwoman of the Estonian Jewish Communith Ms Alla Jakobson are addressing the public. 
Courtesy © The Rogatchi Foundation

The many people that gathered in the Tallinn New Synagogue were very interested to hear addresses by leaders of the Israeli official delegation - MK Gila Gamliel and Colonel (Ret) Moshe LeshemGila Gamliel who is the youngest Member of the Cabinet in the history of Israel, also a rare woman in the Israeli government and the only public Israeli figure among the permanent delegations and commissions of the Davos Forum told about the firm stand of the Israeli public and politicians, their special feelings and position regarding Jerusalem as the united and un-divideable capital of the Jewish state, and infused the audience with her firm patriotism and her assured statehood approach.

Colonel (Ret) Moshe Leshem, legendary solider who nowadays is a member of the Executive Board of the World Jewish Congress in Israel touched the hearts of everybody present in the Tallinn Synagogue Main Hall. Along with another member of the Israeli official delegation former Knesset member Shai Hermesh, who is currently chairman of the World Jewish Congress, Israel, Colonel Leshem was among the Israeli soldiers who were fighting for Jerusalem on June 7th, 1967. The presence of those two people at the Tallinn event united all the participants in no time; we all felt that the Jerusalem walls are just next to us, and that historic events and battles fought 47 years ago were happening just around the corner. Moshe Leshem who had been born in Poland in 1944 to Jewish parents during the horror of WWII and the Holocaust, came to Israel with his family as a child on one of the well-known ships that were bringing Jewish survivors from Europe to Palestine after WWII; and they spent several years in the Camp for Immigrants, not an easy experience for anyone. He has fought for Israel all his life, and some of his and his people's battles were remarkable ones. The battalion that Colonel Leshev had been commanding, was the one who had built the bridge over the Suez Channel during the Yom Kippur War. Today, this notable Israeli soldier told people celebrating the Day of Jerusalem in the capital of Estonia of how proud he is having a great - and big - family in Israel, being enrooted in the Jewish state, and blossoming there in the new generations of his family.

Member of the Knesset Gila Gamiel speaking at the Tallinn Synagogue on May 28th, 2014       Member of the Executive Board of the World Jewish Congress Colonel Moshe Leshem speaking at the Tallinn Synagogue on May 28th, 2014

From the left: Member of the Knesset Gila Gamiel and Member of the Executive Board of the World Jewish Congress Colonel Moshe Leshem speaking at the Tallinn Synagogue, May 2014 
Courtesy © The Rogatchi Foundation

The next speaker was also from Israel, and it was as if he was continuing the emotional and re-assuring address of the distinguished Israeli soldier. "Every morning I awake with a smile on my face. I am a Jerusalemite, the father of three, and I am so very happy to wake up every morning in that remarkable place on earth" - said Josh Reinstein, the head of the Israeli Alliance Caucasus organisation in the Knesset. Josh who has been named one of the 50 most influential Jewish people worldwide according to a top-list of the Jerusalem Post of 2012, is doing a very important job as the Israel director of the Israeli Alliance Caucasus organisation which he leads, in the Israeli branch of it, since day one of its establishment by another legendary public figure, the great politician and famous Rabbi Benny Elon. With people like Josh, with their energy, belief in what they are doing, and all the efforts they are putting for the cause internationally, one can be sure that the much needed dialogue and mutual support between the Jewish and Israeli people and their friends and colleagues world-wide will be growing. The Alliance is cementing such mutual understanding on the inter-parliamentary level, and this is very valuable and important work bringing on long-lasting results, in the interests of all civilised community worldwide.

Andras Patkai from Hungary and head of the Israeli Alliance in Brussels and David Parsons, director for media at the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem, were the other members of the official Israeli delegation.

H.E. Ambassador of Finland to Estonia Aleksi Härkönen addressing the audience at the Special Event in Tallinn on May 28th, 2014       Director of the Israeli Alliance Caucasus Josh Reinstein addressing the audience at the Special Event in Tallinn on May 28th, 2014

From the left: H.E. Ambassador of Finland to Estonia Aleksi Härkönen and Director of the Israeli Alliance Caucasus Josh Reinstein address the audience at the Special Event in Tallinn. 
Courtesy © The Rogatchi Foundation

The President of the Rogatchi Foundation, Dr Inna Rogatchi was a master of ceremony of the second part of the evening.

She read the greeting letters from the Municipality of Jerusalem and from the Vilnius Jewish Public Library, and also conveyed to the public the personal greetings and congratulations from the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Estonia Mr Urmas Paet.

Inna Rogatchi addressing the public at the Special Event in Tallinn on May 28th, 2014

Inna Rogatchi addressing the public at the Special Event in Tallinn, May 2014 
Courtesy © The Rogatchi Foundation

In the greeting address of the Municipality of Jerusalem, Yossi Sharabi, director of culture, social and leisure activities administration of the Municipality of Jerusalem, and Francoise Kafri, director of international relations and exchange administration, was written:

"We are delighted to send on this special occasion our very best wishes to the Estonian Jewish Community and to our dear friends, Inna and Michael Rogatchi and the Rogatchi Foundation, for your love and support of Israel and of Jerusalem as well as strengthening the cultural ties between Estonia and Finland.

It is heartwarming to know that the Jewish community has been revived in Estonia and that the 7th anniversary of the Beit Bella Synagogue is taking place on the day that celebrates the reunification of the City of Jerusalem.

We hope that the ties between Jerusalem and Estonia will strengthen and that you all will visit our city, meet its people and experience its special spiritual and cultural atmosphere".

In the greeting letter written and sent for the event by Zilvinas Beliaskas, director of the Vilnius Public Jewish Library which hosted Michael Rogatchi's Jewish Melody exhibition from September 2013 through March 2014, was written:

"We are so happy that the sounds and sights as well as the spirit of the Jewish Melody links us up today with all of you letting us breathe in the same rhythm of emotional excitement. We are so happy that the Jewish Melody singing bird has perched in Tallinn Synagogue now and its melody is still reverberating in Vilnius with very vivid remembrance. Our hearts are with you and we wish all the happy moments of aesthetical delight as well as long flourishing years for the Estonian Jewish Community".

H.E. Aleksi Härkönen, the Ambassador of Finland to Estonia, was very supportive and understanding in his thoughtful and meaningful speech. He described to the audience at length about the activities of Inna and Michael Rogatchis' Foundation in Finland and world-wide, and its impact and significance. He also was telling at more length about the purpose of The Rogatchi Foundation's support of educational activities in Estonia which is known as having very high standards, so to try to develop it into even more excellence is both a noble and demanding task; but it is always very good when the objections are high in activities like that. Mr Ambassador also expressed his respect and support for the Tallinn Jewish Community and the meaningful dates they were celebrating with all the guests, friends and supporters gathered together from many countries - Finland included as the closest neighbour and always standing friend.

Representatives of The Rogatchi Foundation from Finland at the Special Event in Tallinn: Tapio and Marja Holvitie and Maija-Liisa Marton

The representatives of The Rogatchi Foundation from Finland at the Special Event in Tallinn: Tapio and Marja Holvitie and Maija-Liisa Marton
Courtesy © The Rogatchi Foundation

The other members of the Finnish delegation spoke at length at the celebration dinner. Famous actress, director and translator Maija-Liisa Marton, who is a member of the International Advisory Board talked about her personal experiences in after-war Finland, and how absolutely important the people's spiritual heritage is as a prerequisite for conducting one's own and one's community's life. Inna Rogatchi also told the guests gathered at the dinner, about Maija-Liisa's personal support and her personal stipend to a talented Jewish orphan girl from Ukraine who has made it to two top educational institutions, one in Israel and another in Vienna.

Finnish veteran politician and co-founder of the Finnish-Israel Culture Association Tapio Holvitie told in his speech at the celebration dinner about his many decades' experience of both parliament and public work with regard to international affairs issues and also about bringing the Israeli national heritage and legacy closer to the people living far from Israel, for better and deeper understanding of it, and for live, full and continuous dialogue.

Co-founder and president of The Rogatchi Foundation Dr Inna Rogatchi presented her new work that she completed to mark the Day of Jerusalem this year, 2014. Her essay The Feeling of Jerusalem and the accompanying video-essay Jerusalem. My Stones were presented to the guests at the Tallinn Event for the first time publicly. The video-essay was created by Inna Rogatchi on the collection of her fine art photography works The Jerusalem Album. The audience received the presentation wonderfully, saying that "there could not be a better presentation for such an occasion" as Tapio and Marja Holtivitie stated after the presentation, congratulating Inna. The Feeling of Jerusalem essay and Jerusalem. My Stones art video were both published by the Israel National News as the main material on the Day of Jerusalem coverage.

Inna Rogatchi's presentation to the audience at the Special Event in Tallinn on May 28th, 2014       Inna Rogatchi's work, The Cloud of Glory, from her collection Jerusalem. My Stones

Inna Rogatchi's presentation and the work from her collection Jerusalem. My Stones - The Cloud of Glory ©

In her presentation, Inna Rogatchi shared with the public a special story about her and her husband, Michael Rogatchi's personal and artistic relations with one of the most important and dramatic land-marks of Jerusalem, the Hurva Synagogue and its famous Arch. When both Michael and Inna Rogatchi saw the Arch of the Hurva Synagogue some 25 years ago, it went into both of their hearts, and stayed there, - said Inna. To the degree that Michael has painted his now famous My Stones. Jerusalem painting which belong to the Art Collection of the Municipality of Jerusalem, alongside works of Marc Chagall and other great artists who have loved Israel and Jerusalem with all their heart. Twenty years on, the Hurva Synagogue has been restored, to all its splendor, and this time Inna took one of her artistic photographs of the restored Hurva which has become the symbol of hope and life again. Moreover, together, Inna and Michael created a unique artistic collage merging Michael's painting of Hurva's Arch with Inna's photograph of Hurva restored. The art work which exists in only one copy is entitled Hurva Return. The Rogatchi family donated it to the outstanding Rabbi Shmuel Kaminetski who has played a pivotal role in making the restoration of Hurva possible and completed.

Hurva Returned original art collage by Michael and Inna Rogatchi

Hurva Returned original art collage by Michael and Inna Rogatchi

But the main point of Inna's speech was the "very special way in which a strong emotion caused by the dramatic history of ones' people and its spiritual land-marks could transform into a special and symbolic piece of art, to continue its life and bring out its message to the coming generations. That's what makes one's life and efforts worthy", - said Dr Rogatchi.

Michael Rogatchi and H.E. Aleksi Härkönen, Ambassador of Finland to Estonia, Tallinn on May 28th, 2014

Artist Michael Rogatchi and H.E. Aleksi Härkönen, Ambassador of Finland to Estonia, Tallinn, May 2014 
Courtesy © The Rogatchi Foundation

World-renowned artist Michael Rogatchi, co-founder and chairman of The Rogatchi Foundation, started his address with personal memories from the Soviet Gulag in Kazakhstan where his family had been exiled to. "During the war of 1967, I was at the age of Bar-Mitzvah. Living in exile, in the steps of Kazakhstan, in the middle of huge Karlag, one of the vastest parts of the Soviet Gulag, we were following events in Israel painstakenly, even at the very big risk of further punishment for listening to Voice of America. I do remember all my life, so very clearly, the sunny day in June 1967 when our close friend, the man who did not get emotional easily, jumped to the air, with his hands waving and crying out of joy: 'We won! We won! We re-took Jerusalem! Jerusalem is ours again!' many people were frightened - so if it will lead to new arrests and further persecutions which would be only natural under the circumstances. But our friend, neither do we, our family, we did not mind - we won on that day, and we won our Jerusalem back to us, forever and ever. That's one of my most vivid childhood memories - and today, I am truly very happy to celebrate this so special day with you, our friends in Tallinn, with you, our dear guests, and especially with you, the great soldiers of the great Israeli army who did fight for Jerusalem on that morning in June 1967" - said Michael Rogatchi in his speech.

The artist also presented to the public his Jewish Melody collection at the exhibition opening at the event. This unique art series is dedicated to the memory of the artist and his wife's grandparents. And importantly, it is also a charitable event. The proceeds from the sales of Michael Rogatchi's original art works during the exhibition - from May 28th through September 10th, 2014 - will be supporting the school and educational activities of the Estonian Jewish Educational Centre. The school which is the best in Tallinn teaches both Jewish and non-Jewish children.

Artist, co-founder and chairman of The Rogatchi Foundation Michael Rogatchi at the Special Event in Tallinn on May 28th, 2014       Public at the Special Event at the Tallinn New Synagogue on May 28th, 2014

Artist, co-founder and chairman of The Rogatchi Foundation Michael Rogatchi at the Special Event in Tallinn; and public at the Special Event at the Tallinn New Synagogue. May 2014

In his address at the celebration dinner, Michael told about the time of entering the new month in the Jewish calendar, the month of Sivan. "The word 'sivan' means twins in Hebrew. And for me, the twins are the Jewish people living in Israel and those Jewish people who live in Diaspora. As for real twins, for either of them the other 'twin' is essential, either cannot live normally without the other. And there is one thing which is vital for those both twins in their life - it is Jerusalem", - said Michael Rogatchi.

Inna and Michael Rogatchi and The Rogatchi Foundation presented to the Tallinn New Synagogue and the Jewish Religious Community of Estonia The Lion of Jerusalem art work by Michael Rogatchi, in commemoration of the 7th anniversary of the Beit-Bella Synagogue in Tallinn.

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