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Russian Emigré Group Raises Funds to Fight Terror in Israel

November 29, 2007 By:
Lynn B. Edelman, Jewish Federation Feature
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Lyric soprano Galina Sakhnovskaya and her husband, Dr. Mikhail Yanovitsky, an award-winning pianist, performed during a recent fundraising concert.

Uru Akhim, a volunteer organization of émigrés from the former Soviet Union, organized a concert on Sept. 29 to raise funds for IsraeLife Rescue and Hatzalah, the largest independent, all-volunteer emergency organization in Israel. The goal of the concert, which was attended by more than 500 people, was to purchase bullet-proof vests for the paramedics, who are often the first responders during terrorist attacks, and other emergency situations for the organization. They treat and stabilize victims until they can be safely transported to hospitals.

The concert featured performances by an internationally recognized husband-wife team of musicians: lyric soprano Galina Sakhnovskaya and Dr. Mikhail Yanovitsky, an award-winning pianist.

Impressive Through and Through

Sakhnovskaya made her operatic debut with the Delaware Valley Opera Company in Philadelphia singing the role of Nedda in I Pagliacci in 2001, while attending the prestigious Peabody Conservatory of Music. She has performed as a soprano soloist in Lord Nelson Mass and Theresa Mass of Haydn, Handel's Messiah, and Bach's Magnificat. She is also just one of a few singers to perform with great success Poemes pour Mi by Olivier Messiaen.

A native of Leningrad, Yanovitsky trained with the Moscow Conservancy before emigrating to the United States, and has performed all over the world. He completed a doctoral degree at Temple University in 2002, where he worked with Harvey Wedeen, and joined the faculty at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago as an assistant professor. He made his concert debut in New York in 1991 under the auspices of Young Concert Artists, where Yanovitsky was the most frequently re-engaged artist on the roster.

The recipient of the 1993 Aaron and Irene Diamond Soloist Prize for Young Concert Artists, he performed with the New York Chamber Orchestra with Gerard Schwarz conducting.

His other major solo orchestral appearances include the San Francisco Symphony with Michael Tilson Thomas, the Jupiter Symphony, the Moscow Philharmonic, the St. Petersburg Philharmonic and, most recently, the Shanghai Symphony and Philadelphia Chamber orchestras.

The fundraising event, which was organized in cooperation with the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia's Center for Israel and Overseas, raised nearly $20,000.

According to organizer Lazar Alex Trachtenberg, "one of the concert attendees was so moved by the efforts of the performers -- all of whom volunteered their time and talent -- that he decided to match the proceeds from ticket sales, contributions and sponsorships dollar for dollar!"

Founded in the fall of 2004, Uru Akhim -- Hebrew for "Rise Up, Brother" -- is a fraternal organization with an organizing committee of about 15 to 20 people based in Northeast Philadelphia.

"We are trying to bring Jews together by focusing their attention on Israel, its achievements and problems as the center of all of our activity," explained Bella (Kamenetskay) Teperov, an organization leader, adding, "We recognize that we owe our well-being, as well as our very dwelling in this beautiful country, to the creation of the State of Israel, and we are trying to do our modest best to help it to fight its and our enemies."

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