(FJC.ru) The Jewish community of S. Petersburg, Russia, spent a day cleaning up the Preobrazhensky Jewish Cemetery, one of the city's most historic burial sites.

Before they set on their mission of clearing brush, resetting tombstones and carting off debris, the crowd listened to presentations by Holocaust survivor Lev Emmanuilovich, Jewish Community Center director Alexander Frenkel and Chabad-Lubavitch Rabbi Menachem Mendel Pewzner, the city's chief rabbi.

Emmanuilovich, who was living in Chernovtsiy, Ukraine, when World War II broke out, spent the war in the Jewish ghetto near Mogilev-Podolska. He spoke candidly about his childhood, but shared in inspiring message of survival.

For his part, Pewzner urged the audience to take the tragedies of the past and use them as a catalysis for action.

"After this meeting, we will clean up this cemetery," said Pewzner. "This is a concrete action that we can do to strengthen our connection to the past, and to make this occasion memorable for the younger generations."