As summer draws to a close, the trees turn a red and orange hue and the cooler air blows in. All of this beckons in the Jewish new year, bringing the joys of Sukkot and Simchat Torah and a new year ahead filled with renewed hopes and dreams. In the north of Belarus, a small, tenacious and determined Jewish community is flourishing. They operate under the banner of the Polotsk Jewish Cultural Educational Foundation Finchley (referred to as the Finchley Foundation or FF). Why Finchley when Finchley is 1512 miles from Polotsk? The answer is simple. In 2012 Debra Brunner, member of Finchley Reform Synagogue (FRS), as part of the FRS Belarus Project became the official founder of the Finchley Foundation and set the organisation up as a strategy to help the Jewish community there plan for growth, development and regeneration. This was a defining moment that inspired Debra Brunner and Artur Livshyts (based in Minsk) to start The Together Plan Charity in 2013.
The strategy inspired new possibilities and new ways of thinking. Today, the community’s modus operandi is something quite special and unusual for that part of the world and it is working. With the continued support and guidance from The Together Plan and valued annual support from Finchley Reform Synagogue, the community is thriving. They plan and run their own events. They have weekly shabbats, a youth heritage club, Sunday School, an arts and crafts programme, cookery activities and they celebrate the festivals.
The core leadership team work alongside The Together Plan’s team in Minsk and they collaborate on events and educational programmes which helps to build a strong and supportive network and we have plans to grow that network.
We are delighted and excited to see how much the Polotsk Jewish community has grown over the years and we know that there is so much more to come.
Thank you for your contributions to the Polotsk Jewish community and please continue to support them as they grow and develop.
Click here to experience the Streets of Jewish Polotsk – the audio tour that the community researched and created as part of their heritage club programme.
To make a donation please click here.
If you are in the USA – you can make a tax-deductible donation through our sister non-profit ‘Jewish Tapestry Project’ – click here to donate.