Kazantsev officially opens the Inaugural Russian-American Person of the Year Awards and announces nominees



New York, November 21 — Kira Kazantsev, Miss America 2015, thanked the Russian-Jewish community today for supporting her efforts to become the third New York woman to win the crown. “I’m not Jewish, but I’d like to thank the Russian-Jewish community for being so supportive on my journey to becoming Miss America,” she said. “There were a lot of Russian-American Jews who came to my homecoming celebration after I won the title of Miss America and I’m grateful for their support and for being there.”


Kazanstev added that “my best friend is Jewish, and I’ve participated in many of her Jewish and family traditions at her home.”


She made the remarks while hosting a press briefing Friday at the Gallery Shchukin in midtown to officially open the Inaugural Russian-American Person of the Year Awards and announce the nominees. The awards, which strive to unify the diverse communities of all Russian-speaking Americans in the United States, are sponsored by the World Forum of Russian Speaking Jewry, with support from the American Council for World Jewry.


The winners of the Russian-American Person of the Year Awards in all categories eligible for public nomination and votes will be announced at the awards’ Inaugural Gala on Nov. 23.


“This award is a testament to the Russian community, and to how important it is that we honor Russian-Americans,” she said. “My parents lived the quintessential Russian-American dream and they’re the reason I’m where I am today. I’m honored to be part of the Russian-American community.”


Also attending were Russian-American Person of the Year Advisory Board Members and Honorees, including: Vitali Komar; Yuri Foreman; Sergey Gordeev; Mikhail Turovsky; Larissa Saveliev; Aleksandra Gerson; Seva Kaplan; Edward Bekkerman; Jack Rosen; Alexander Levin; and Curtis Sliwa.


On September 14, Kazantsev made history by becoming the third consecutive Miss New York to be crowned Miss America. Her acceptance of the highly-prized title was just the beginning of a Year of Service that will take her to every corner of the nation. As Miss America 2015, she will embark on her national speaking tour, addressing an array of audiences on her platform “Love Shouldn’t Hurt: Protecting Women against Domestic Violence.”


She is a graduate of Hofstra University, where she held a triple major, studying political science, global studies and geography. Kira is also trilingual, speaking English, Russian and Spanish. For more information, please visit www.missamerica.org


The Russian-American Person of the Year Awards:

The Russian-American Person of the Year Awards Advisory Board members has selected the following nominees in the following categories which are eligible for public voting: Educator of the Year – Lenny Krayzelburg, Larissa and Gennadi Saveliev, Rabbi Aryeh Katzin; Emerging Leader of the Year – Michael Belogorodsky, Yuri Foreman, Leonard Petlakh and Alex Rubin; Visual Artist of the Year – Edward Bekkerman, Vitaly Komar, Alexander Melamid and Mikhail Turovsky; Media Award – Aleksandra Gerson, Sergey Gordeev, Seva Kaplan, Gennady Katsov, Katya Kazakina, Ekaterina Kotrikadze and Victor Topaller; Performer of the Year – Philippe Quint, Regina Spektor and Borislav Strulev.


Advisory members of the board include Ambassador Ido Aharoni, Consul General of Israel in New York; Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Laureate; Larry King, Emmy and Peabody Award-Winning Host; Curtis Sliwa, Founder and Leader, the Guardian Angels; Boaz Vaadia, World Renowned Sculptor and a Member of the International Sculpture Center; Alexander Levin, President of the World Forum of Russian Speaking Jewry; Jack Rosen, President of the American Council for World Jewry and Shai Baitel, Co-founder and Senior Vice-President of Mana Contemporary. Other advisory board members include the American Forum of Russian Speaking Jewry, American Section of the World Zionist Organization, COJECO, and others.


About the World Forum of Russian Speaking Jewry:

The World Forum of Russian Speaking Jewry is an international organization representing diaspora communities of Russian-speaking Jews of the United States, Canada, the European Union, Israel, the CIS countries and Australia. The organization is committed to unifying the Russian-speaking Diasporas, increasing their influence in their countries of residence for the sake of the prosperity, security, economic, spiritual and cultural development of their countries and the State of Israel. For more information please visit: www.wfrj.org


About the American Council for World Jewry:

The American Council for World Jewry was founded as a home for Jews from all over the world, joining together as partners to ensure our common and collective survival. The Council acts on the belief that the key to countering threats against the Jewish people and the State of Israel is political empowerment. Therefore, the Council’s central mission is to articulate the concerns of Jewish communities internationally by building bridges to the United States Congress and Executive Branch, and to important political figures in other countries. For more information please visit: http://www.world-jewry.org/


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