Isaac Herzog
Isaac HerzogHaim Zach/GPO

Israeli President Isaac Herzog and First Lady Michal Herzog on Friday sent a special Novy God greeting to Russian-speaking citizens of Israel.

In her greeting, Mrs. Herzog said: “Russian-speaking Israelis, a dear and beloved community, good evening and happy holidays to all: S Novim Godom! When the yolka, or yolochka, tree is lit up and the table is decorated with shuba (dressed herring), Olivier (potato salad), and champagne, families and friends gather again to celebrate Novy God.”

The holiday of Novy God finds a warm place in people’s hearts, a place that has been saved for it for many years, from the Soviet Union of the past to the State of Israel of the present. Novy God allows us to sit together and to shine a light on an expansive culture and historical heritage.”

President Herzog added: “And on the holiday when we give our children presents, it is important to take the opportunity to give them, and ourselves, the gift of familial and national tradition, culture, and history.”

In recent years, we have seen a great and significant awakening in the cultural life of Israelis from the former Soviet Union. It is an awakening that seeks to weave the story of the aliyah (immigration to Israel -ed.) from these countries into our discourse, that seeks to give a place of honor to Russian culture among all the other cultures that together create what we know as Israeli culture.”

“It is our responsibility as a society to make space for more stories in general and for the stories of Russian-speaking Israelis in particular. It is our responsibility to let our boys and girls become more familiar with the history, the personal, familial, and communal identity, the customs, the major figures, and the cultural assets of 1,200,000 Russian-speakers here in Israel.

“Allow me to ask something of you this holiday: even now, as we pray to overcome the pandemic affecting the whole world, including us, I call on all of you to observe the rules of caution and most importantly — I call on everyone again to go and get vaccinated! We must not forget: vaccines save lives.

“This year has also reminded us of the mighty contribution of aliyah to the State of Israel, especially from countries in the former Soviet Union. In the economy, in medicine, and everything else. There is no doubt that we have been blessed, as a people, as a society, and as a state. And we must acknowledge this all the time.”

First Lady Michal Herzog added: “On this special holiday, in the embrace of our families and communities, as we all love and are loved, we want to wish you all, from the President’s Residence in Jerusalem — may we all have a good year, a year of health and joy, a year of togetherness, of our breathtaking shared Israeli mosaic. Happy holidays! S Novim Godom!”