On September 29, 2021, on the 80th anniversary of the Babyn Yar tragedy, the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky by Decree awarded the title of Hero of Ukraine (posthumously) to the longtime President of the Council of National Societies of Ukraine in 1989-2014 I.M. Levitas. In particular, the Decree of the President of Ukraine states that he was awarded this title "For outstanding personal contribution to the revival and development of national cultures of Ukraine, preservation and honouring the memory of the tragedy of Babyn Yar, consolidation of Ukrainian society, many years of fruitful public and educational activities." (29.09.2021, № 494/2021).
December 11 this year would mark the 90th anniversary of the birth of I.M. Levitas. He was born on December 11, 1931, in Tashkent (then Uzbek SSR).
Ilia Mikhailovich Levitas belongs to the cohort of prominent Kyivans. During his pedagogical and sports activities, he reached the heights of skill and professionalism. A graduate of the Higher School of Coaches, Kyiv State Institute of Physical Culture and Kyiv State Pedagogical Institute, he had undeniable authority and respect among the capital's educators. For forty years I.M.Levitas worked in schools of Kyiv as a teacher of physical education and Russian literature.
At the initiative of I.M. Levitas, three school museums were established at the secondary school №146 in Kyiv: the Great Patriotic War, Russian Literature and Olympic Glory.
The pedagogical and public activity of IM Levitas was highly appreciated by the Motherland: Excellence in Public Education of Ukraine, Honored Worker of Culture of Ukraine.
In the 90s of the last century, he founded the Society of Jewish Culture and headed the All-Ukrainian Council of National Societies.
However, the real feat is his work to preserve the memory of the victims of the Kyiv catastrophe of 1941-1943 - mass extermination by Nazi invaders of peaceful Kyivites: Jews, Roma, Soviet activists, underground fighters, guerrillas, hostages, members of the resistance of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and prisoners of war.
Through the efforts of I.M. Levitas and his associates, unique documents were collected, eyewitnesses testified to this tragedy, and the Righteous - people who risked their lives and the lives of their families to save Jews from mass extermination by fascist Inhumans - were honoured.
I.M. Levitas is the author and compiler of 34 books on the history of the Jewish people, including 12 books on the tragedy of Babyn Yar. He is the author of more than 200 articles on this topic in various journals. In 1991, he founded the All-Ukrainian newspaper Jewish News. He was also the initiator of the founding of national newspapers: for Armenians, Bulgarians, Poles, Romanians.