Mourning the loss of Ilia Salita, who helped strengthen the Jewish identity of Russian-speaking Jews.
Earlier this week we, the family of Genesis Philanthropy Group, have finished the traditional seven days in which we mourned the tragic passing of our friend, leader, mentor and colleague Ilia Salita, together with his grieving family and loved ones.
As a devoted professional and a passionate Jewish leader, Ilia brought forth and executed a powerful vision for GPG as a driving force. His efforts were felt both in the field of strengthening of Jewish identity of Russian-speaking Jews worldwide and in engaging and inspiring the young Jewish generation around the world, supporting communal life and ensuring a robust Jewish future.
Remembering Ilia, who was a member of the board of the Jewish Funders Network, said in its statement that “in his work, he married the rigor of the engineer to the passion of the activist, and he covered it all with a layer of kindness and good humor.” This is a perfect description of Ilia – intellectual, leader, Jew – a man like no other.
Yet, in this time of our own grief and of general turmoil and suffering caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, rising antisemitism and growing discord between Jewish communities in Israel and Diaspora, we cannot allow ourselves to slack in the same duty that Ilia fulfilled with such devotion. GPG must continue its mission in the Jewish world – the missions of unity, dialog and pluralism, of partnerships and cooperation – moving ever closer to our vision of an invigorated and optimistic global Jewish community. This vision’s goal is for no one to be left behind and is one where millions of Russian-speaking Jews take their rightful place and contribute on equal terms to the betterment of our world.
From now on, GPG will also strive to fulfil this duty as the best and most perfect tribute to Ilia’s memory. In the coming months we shall develop special initiatives to honor his name and his life’s work, in consultation and consent with Ilia’s loved ones.
To our team, our partners, our grantees, to everyone who was touched by the light of Ilia’s personality, we say: Let Ilia’s memory be not the cause of grief but the source of strength. Honor him by redoubling the hard yet necessary work for the future of Jewish people, by building bridges, instead of nurturing conflicts. Honor him by learning, teaching, engaging, connecting, by spreading the joy of living Jewishly and helping others to discover what it means – for them – to be a Jew.
As we return to our work and resume our global operations, Genesis Philanthropy Group extends its hand to those who share our ideals and wish to join forces to build this reality, so we can together inscribe the cherished memory of Ilia Salita: “If you seek his monument, look around.”
By Gennady Gazin, the chairman of the Board and trustee of Genesis Philanthropy Group.