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.
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 wider international audience; for the passionate and creative approach in a hard labour of memory’.
The Prize’s Diploma states that “internationally renowned 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 a special interview beforethe 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!”
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.
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.
The celebration dinner and warm and moving ceremony was enriched greatly by the exquisite concert conducted by internationally acclaimed violinist 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 kantele player Ulla-Stina Uusitalo-Ikonen; this couple are also notable philanthropists.
Inna Rogatchi with the president of Maccabi International Leo-Dan Bensky and the Ambassador of Israel to Finland H.E. Dan Ashbel. Courtesy © The Rogatchi Foundation
The celebration started with Inna Rogatchi’s recent short art 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 collegiality. 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”.
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 cooperation 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 about 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 are 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!”
Awarded and internationally acclaimed violinist 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!”
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 and 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!”
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”.
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 to 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 jointly create 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 © The Rogatchi Foundation
In a reciprocating gesture, The Rogatchi Foundation presented 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.
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.