Jewish Belarus

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Jewish communities have existed in Belarus since the 14th century. The Russian empire required Jews to live in designated areas (the Pale of settlement), one of which was Belarus. Most Jews lived in urban centers. In some towns they made up half the population. By 1914, Jews made up 10% of the population of Belarus.

In the 19th century, Belarus was home to one of the largest Jewish communities in the Pale of Settlement and an important center of Jewish religious life and cultural creativity. A community of 875,000 Jews thrived in towns whose names — Minsk and Pinsk, Brest and Grodno — resonate in the collective memory of World Jewry. The Chassidic movements of Habbad and Karlin–Stolin were born here as were the famous Yeshivoth in Volozhin and Mir. And it was there that so many giants of Jewish culture, religion and history were born: Marc Chagall and Mendele Mocher Sforim; Chaim Weizmann, Golda Meir and Menachem Begin.

More than 1 million Jews lived in Belarus before the war.

Belarus — country of the great Jewish past and unprecedented tragedy — the Holocaust. In 1941 the Nazis occupied the country and murdered about 90% of its Jewish inhabitants.

Because of the genocide of the Second World War and postwar emigration, Jews now are represented by 50,000 people.

However, the Jewish community is also experiencing a revival. After Russia and Ukraine, Belarus is the third–largest Jewish community in the CIS. Minsk maintains the largest concentration of Jews (30,000).

 

Candle lighting time

  • 20.04.2014 20 Апрель / Нисан 20 - 20:01
25.06.2013

“Ben-Yehuda From Bobruisk”

alt In everyone’s experience there are milestone events and significant people, who mark the most brilliant moments of our life. These people are able to inspire, to evoke the most precious memories of our childhood and even those, which are hidden deep in our genetics.
Faina Paley was born in 1934. She graduated as a teacher of Russian and Russian literature from Pedagogical Institute in 1954, later she continued her education and took a correspondence course of Kaliningrad Pedagogical Institute in 1961. She was working as a teacher at Bobruisk school for children with hearing impairment. Faina has many prestigious awards such as for the excellence in public education, the Diploma of the Academy of Pedagogical Science of the USSR and the badge of honor "For the development of tourism and sightseeing in the USSR" as she used to work as a guide of Bobruisk travel agency.

23.10.2012

Galina Livyant

Looking at the Levyants you can tell that creative talent runs in the family.
Evgeny, the head of the family, is the author of an innovative pedagogical technique and numerous articles about the educational system in Belarus. Julia, his wife, is a Math teacher. They have two beautiful daughters: Anya and Galina. The girls have remarkable musical abilities which reconnected the family with their Jewish roots, history, and culture.
It all started four years ago, when a five-year-old Galina went to JCC Emunah’s vocal studio and Anya joined “Neposedy” dance ensemble. A year later Galina won her first award when her wonderful, ringing voice and artistic expression impressed the jury of the Galaxy of Talents festival. As time goes by, Galina keeps winning awards and has a great potential and desire to develop her vocal abilities.

15.10.2012

Elizaveta Carp

Elizaveta Carp (b.1958) lives in Minsk. During the Second World War her parents were evacuated. Her grandfather died in the war while the other family members, like the overwhelming majority of Belarusian Jews, were tortured to death in the Minsk Ghetto.

Elizaveta finished secondary school and got a job as a factory worker. Now she is officially classed as disabled. She has had two strokes resulting in mobility loss and speech impairment. She also suffers from ischemia and diabetes which caused her leg amputation last year.

Elizaveta never got married and has no kids. Her sister Sofia is the only relative she can turn to for help and emotional support. Sofia never lets her sister down no matter how challenging the situation is. Right now she has arranged for Elizaveta to move in with her despite having declining health, poor living conditions and a physically challenged daughter to look after.

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