The Together Plan’s office staffer Jake Goldman and project coordinator Sonia Richardson were invited to speak to students at the Jewish Community Secondary School in London. They ran three extremely well received interactive workshops for Years 7, 8 and 9, in which they introduced the topic of Belarus and invited students to think about the challenges facing Jewish communities in eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Jake and Sonia received extremely positive feedback from students and teachers alike, and many of the participants had not previously considered the difficult and often brutal environment in which their coreligionists in Belarus find themselves. It was a truly eye-opening and insightful experience!
Our co-directors Debra Brunner (London) and Artur Livshyts (Minsk) attended a variety of events across Belarus this week, representing The Together Plan. One such event was a reception at the British embassy, hosted by Ambassador Fiona Gibb, at which two survivors of the Minsk Ghetto shared their moving and important stories. These staunch activists now remain resolute that they will shout their stories to the world until the day they die. Also in attendance was Michael Mail, founder and director of the Foundation for Jewish Heritage.
The Together Plan’s co-directors Artur Livshyts and Debra Brunner took part in an historic visit to the Slonim Synagogue this week. The synagogue in western Belarus, which was visited by Jewish community leaders and local dignitaries, is a site of immense cultural and historical significance. This is the latest stage in a groundbreaking restoration project to revive the neglected building and facilitate its use by local Jewish and other communities as a tool in community capacity building. Having tragically fallen into disrepair since the obliteration of Jewish communities during the Holocaust and the subsequent Soviet campaign against religion and Jewish material culture, only vestiges of the building’s former glory remain. Our project to restore this remarkable building and establish a museum and interdenominational prayer space will be a living testament to a rich and meaningful heritage.
The Together Plan’s development coordinator Jonathan Clingman won the prestigious Graham Edwards Award for Young Adult Leadership in Volunteering at the Jewish Volunteering Network annual gala dinner in North London. These awards celebrate active participation in Jewish voluntary projects, bringing together the most prolific and active volunteers of the UK Jewish community. This is the second time Jonathan has been rewarded by the Jewish Volunteering Network, following six years of dedicated involvement volunteering at The Together Plan. His coordination of projects in the UK and Belarus has ranged from leading on summer camps to teaching and leading b’nei mitzvot across Belarus, as well as volunteering year-round.
This past year Jonathan has taken on a full-time role at The Together Plan’s London office, although many of his hours remain voluntary, devoted to helping to incubate and grow the charity. Jonathan also took the time this summer to visit, engage with and consult many of our partner communities across Belarus, providing a crucial link between the London and Minsk teams.
We all wish Jonathan a hearty mazeltov on this award!
The Together Plan’s co-directors Debra Brunner (London) and Artur Livshyts (Minsk) were invited to attend a moving ceremony marking the unveiling of a memorial in Novogroduk to the victims of the Holocaust. The Together Plan also facilitated the attendance at this event of many members of the Minsk Ghetto Survivors’ Association, who were provided with transportation to the ceremony and invited to personally unveil the memorial themselves. The well-attended afternoon brought together representatives who made this memorial possible, as well as local and international dignitaries including the mayor of Novogroduk and the United States Chargé d’Affaires Robert Riley.
The memorial comprises an impressive, beautiful statue outside the Museum of Jewish Resistance in Novogroduk, depicting a young girl in what is likely a fancy dress costume. Its design is based on a photograph, taken before the tragic destruction wrought by the Holocaust, of a Jewish child named Michle Sosnovski, who, as a young woman, was later tortured and murdered at the hands of the Nazis.
The ceremony included haunting renditions of Eli Eli and Hava Negilah sung by local Belarusian artists, as well as dance pieces and speeches. The event concluded with a panel discussion around the theme of ‘Remembrance and Commemoration’, in which The Together Plan's co-director Debra Brunner was invited to participate. Also on the panel were Frida Reisman, chair of the Minsk Ghetto Survivors’ Association, and Tamara Vershitskaya, curator of the Partisans Museum in Novogroduk, both of whom are longstanding partners of The Together Plan.