As our team continues to work on the Brest-Litovsk Jewish Cemetery preservation project in the south of Belarus, more headstones have been discovered. Meanwhile, our archivist in Brest, a member of the Brest Jewish community, is now working to identify records that will tell us more about some of the Jewish people who were buried in the cemetery. There is a real buzz in Brest as this project gains traction. It is a longed-for project that some never thought would be realised. The work at this stage is immensely arduous, but the team are working at an unrelenting pace. We are delighted to bring you here an update of what has been happening in Brest, with some added history and links to extra reading should you be interested.
To read more click here.
There is simply no greater way to garner support than through networking and developing real and personal connections and being willing to give to others in the hope that they will give to you. This month, in a matter of days, businesses in the north London area got behind a call to action for which we are enormously grateful. A team of non-Jewish runners in Belarus heard about the Maccabi Fun Run that took place on Sunday 29th August and wanted to be part of it. They wanted to fundraise – an unusual phenomenon in Belarus and not straightforward to facilitate and they wanted to raise money for a very specific cause. Members of the BNI business network rallied and helped the team that they have never met to reach their target. As a result, students in Minsk will be designing and building a bench that will be installed in a park in Minsk that was once the Jewish cemetery. The bench will be in the name of one of the 100,000 Jews who were killed in the Minsk Ghetto. There is no memorial like this in Minsk and we hope that it will be the start of a bigger initiative to commemorate the lives that were lost and tell the story of the Minsk Ghetto. This is an incredible collaborative effort and we just love this story.
Click here to read the story.
After 17 months it is just an amazing feeling to be participating in an in-person charity event once again. The north London community gathered in the sunshine at StoneX Stadium this Sunday to cheer on the runners and walkers taking steps to make a difference for their chosen charities. In the spirit of togetherness, we never let distance separate us and we are excited to tell you more here about the 7 runners who rose to the challenge in different parts of the UK and in Belarus.
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This month, we were excited and delighted to be part of a collaboration that brought to life a most extraordinary and thought-provoking summer workshop in the depths of the Naliboki Forest in Belarus. This immensely powerful international project was created by German artist Roman Kroke, our very own heritage specialist in Belarus Tamara Vershitskaya, André Bossuroy MEDIEL Documentaries, Belgium and Dr. Matthias Hass
The Memorial and Educational Site House of the Wannsee Conference Berlin/Germany. It brings together a whole new way of thinking about our relationship with memorials, memory and ourselves. The project explores the concept of a “Living Memorial” engaging young people in shaping the narrative at historical sites of National Socialist persecution linking the topics of history and memory with the arts, philosophy, literature and the contemporary question of responsible citizenship. The project, although it had to be adapted because of many current challenges, went ahead this month as 12 Belarusian participants immersed themselves for a week exploring Jewish Novogroduk, survival, Partisans, memorials, metaphors and where they as individuals fit into the bigger life picture. This is only the first part of the project with the second part to take place at the Site of the Wannsee Conference in Berlin followed by a television documentary.
As Sonya summed up after she emerged from her week in the forest: ‘No matter where you are from, how old you are, whether you are a student or a history teacher, we are artists with our own vision, feelings, ups and downs, with our exceptional universes. Our life is a forest with mosquitoes, wild animals, running rivers and impenetrable swamps. And we are trees intertwined into one ecosystem. Once we’ve come out of the forest we will always get back to our roots.’
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Behind every great project there is a great team and this month we celebrated our incredible volunteers who work tirelessly to ensure that donations of aid are collected, sorted, packed and loaded so that they reach communities and individuals that we support across the whole of Belarus. Our volunteers are the lifeblood of everything we do as a charity and so it is important to take a moment and show them that we appreciate them and that is exactly what we did this month. After days of rain, the weather was on our side and we had a glorious afternoon garden party – a welcome change from all the carrying, collecting and organising that goes into making the Aid Together Project a reality. As much as we love the project – it was just so great to stop, sit, eat and chat, reflect and appreciate the work we do and the impact it has on our beneficiaries. Saying that we always manage to eat and chat when we are packing and sorting – that’s why we love it so much.
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It’s coming! The European Days of Jewish Culture Festival activities across Europe will begin on September 5th with an array of exciting events taking place and there is so much to get your teeth into; in person or online. Wherever you are – you will be able to get involved.
With our support and guidance, we are pleased to announce that the Polotsk Jewish Community in Belarus will be participating in the Festival and have organised a day of events on September 26th. Meanwhile, we at The Together Plan are putting the finishing touches to our Zoymen online Conference which will take place on the 10th and 17th October and we will be bringing you a very exciting line-up of 32 fantastic international sessions! We are literally bringing the world together in dialogue which is the theme of this year’s festival.
Click here to find out more.