Ilia Salita, the President and CEO of the Jewish philanthropic organisation Genesis Philanthropy Group, has died in New Jersey after a battle with cancer.
Mr Salita led the organisation’s efforts to bolster Jewish communities and Jewish youth engagement around the world and oversaw the foundation’s expansion in Israel, North America and the former Soviet Union.
Under his stewardship, the Genesis Philanthropy Group also expanded its reach into Germany and Britain, supporting institutions in the British Jewish community including JW3, the Jewish Lads’ and Girls’ Brigade and the Partnerships for Jewish Schools.
The Genesis Philanthropy Group was founded by Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman and four other business associates. The organisation's focus has been to promote Jewish values and identity among Russian-spekaing Jews worldwide, although it also supports broader Jewish causes and non-Russophone communities.
Born in the Soviet Union, Mr Salita graduated from Moscow State University before emigrating in 1991 to the United States.
Mr Salita was a firm believer in the leadership role that Russian Jews could play within the broader global Jewish community.
Pinchas Goldschmidt, the Chief Rabbi of Moscow and the President of the Conference of European Rabbis, led the tributes to Mr Salita saying: “I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Ilia Salita. As the CEO of the Genesis Philanthropy Group, Mr Salita dedicated his professional life to international Jewry and in particular Russian Jewry internationally.
“I had the pleasure of working with Mr Salita on a number of important issues and projects,” Rabbi Goldschmidt continued. “His inexorable commitment to the strengthening of the Jewish world was extraordinary and his leadership touched the lives of so many people across the globe.”
Gennady Gazin, the Chairman of the Board of Genesis Philanthropy Group also paid tribute.
Mr Gazin said that Mr Salita “left an indelible mark on our organisation, those who knew and loved him, and on the Jewish people. We will feel his loss profoundly.”
He added: “As President and CEO of Genesis Philanthropy Group, Ilia’s leadership touched the lives of countless people across three continents, inspiring the young and supporting the most vulnerable among us."
Mr Salita is survived by his wife, Irina, his sons, Joshua and Robert, and his father, Mikhail.