The Together Plan works in partnership with many communities in the UK, the former Soviet Union and elsewhere. We’d love you to meet them!
Bobruisk was once home to one of the biggest Jewish communities in the country. Yet, The Together Plan found a small group of Jewish people, isolated, unsupported and visionless, with only a basement storage room as their community centre. The Together Plan helped to identify other support partners which helped the Bobruisk community to relocate to new premises. Youth programmes began, a Sunday School opened and community led projects have been initiated. The Together Plan brought their annual Summer Camp from the UK to Bobruisk to run training for young adults and revive an interest in Judaism.
A strategic border town of enormous historical importance, once a part of Poland, Brest is a Pandora’s box of hidden Jewish history and heritage. In spite of the ravages of years of oppression and suppression, Jewish life still exists in Brest, but support has been minimal. The Together Plan has identified a group of Jewish people with a will to develop, a desire to reconnect to their Judaism, but with no experience or understanding of how to grow. Currently The Together Plan team have linked to the different groups of Jewish people in Brest, are bringing them together and are now creating a forum to explore the projects that can be created. The community, young adults to elderly members, are keen to explore and research the Jewish history and heritage in the region, locate and mark important Jewish landmarks as a way of attracting people Jewish and non-Jewish to the region. This common vision is bringing the Jewish people together and will act as a vehicle to start a new Jewish community. Already, The Together Plan has identified support partners outside of Belarus who will collaborate on the development of the projects being proposed for Brest and they are seeking the support of the Brest Regional Authorities for permission to signpost significant buildings and areas of the town.
The Together Plan is working with Finchley Reform Synagogue in London. As the interface between UK communities and the communities in Belarus, TTP has helped launch projects in the UK which attract young adults who are interested in the social action element. Finchley has a youth 4 youth membership attracting people between the ages of 14 to 30 who are exploring their own Judaism by helping to fill in the missing Jewish content for their peers in the Former Soviet Union. Members of all ages in the Finchley community are finding ways of involvement, some by volunteering for the Aid and Mutual Assistance project which is a vital recycling programme, others by organizing and/or attending community events which raise funds for the projects. Lay leaders and professional staff offer educational support. Regular visits of members to communities in Belarus take place thereby helping to build real and lasting links.
The Together Plan is working with the only state supported Jewish School in Belarus. Currently TTP is helping to oversee the building of a new school playground with support from the Jewish Child’s Day Charity in London. TTP is also helping to build the school’s library of English books through the Aid Together programme. If anyone would like to donate simple English books to this project please contact us.
The Together Plan is working with the University of the Golden Age in Grodno and has helped to set up a cultural/educational link with the University of the Third Age (U3A) in the UK. Their U3A partner is the Beaconsfield U3A ‘Linking with Belarus’ group. This link was initiated on a request to The Together Plan from Ambassador Bruce Bucknell (British Ambassador to Belarus 2012-2015).
The Together Plan has a number of synagogues in the Hendon area of London collaborating in the project. Hendon Reform Synagogue acts as a central hub for the Aid project, where donations are dropped and volunteers and members meet to sort and pack the donations to be forwarded to the Former Soviet Union. Members collect and donate, as well as hold community events which raise funds and awareness of the work being done for communities in the Former Soviet Union. The Rabbi and members have visited Belarus, offered teaching support and give on-line educational support over Skype.
The Together Plan is working in Minsk with the former prisoners of the Minsk Jewish Ghetto. Young adults in Belarus, who have been trained by their peers from the UK, are now heading projects for this community helping them to feel less isolated and valued. TTP’s youth-run Kabbalat Shabbat for the ghetto survivors and their families and TTP is helping to translate and publish a book of the ghetto survivors’ memoirs from Russian to English.
In Minsk The Together Plan is helping to develop projects for the Jewish disabled community, a very marginalised and vulnerable group.
The TTP Aid and Mutual Assistance Project where clothes, toys, stationery, computers and books are collected, sorted and packed and are dispatched by road destined for Minsk. The Together Plan assists the Belarus charity ‘The Association of Families with Many Children’ with some of the aid sent, giving relief to socially and economically underprivileged families. The project works on the basis of mutual assistance as members of the association, offer their time and help to unload the containers of aid and assist in the administering of the aid as their give back and thanks for the assistance.
The Together Plan is a development partner in the formation of the ‘Minsk Jewish Community’ which was registered in 2015 and is now in development. This centre will be a base for youth 4 youth activities, and community projects for all ages.
Polotsk is the oldest town in Belarus and home to The Together Plan’s first community in Belarus. Two years were spent establishing links and building trust with local Jewish people. A centre was found, and TTP representatives with UK youth volunteers and lay leaders helped to establish an organisational structure, run training. Community members were then helped to start their own projects which they now run and self-manage. At first there were just a few members, but slowly people started to come forward. Numbers continue to grow.
Today Polotsk holds weekly Shabbats, celebrates all Jewish festivals, has a growing Sunday School teaching Hebrew, festivals and traditions, runs social welfare projects for vulnerable members who are homebound, have established a heritage project identifying isolated and lost Jewish cemeteries. The community now run projects for the wider non-Jewish community, running youth projects at the local childrens’ shelter and distributing humanitarian aid. The Together Plan continues to work with the community in Polotsk developing their skills for self-sufficiency.
The Reform community in Radlett collaborates with The Together Plan in developing support for Jewish communities in Belarus. Young adults from Radlett help to run TTP’s annual summer camp in Belarus. These young people benefit enormously themselves through participation and bring a real view of life in the Former Soviet Union back to their own Radlett membership. Interest from the Radlett youth is growing which is perpetuating new and deeper interest and involvement from the wider Radlett community.
Slutsk has a small Jewish community that historically received support from other charitable agencies working on the territory of Belarus, receiving a budget and following the programmes being set, but due to the small size of the community, the agencies withdrew their support to focus on the major cities, leaving Slutsk with no tools to self-develop. The Together Plan has connected Slutsk to other partners and they now feel supported. The Together Plan are helping the community to initiate new projects, are introducing Hebrew to their Sunday School and are helping members learn how to self-manage. This was an elderly community when The Together Plan first started working in Slutsk. Jewish people living in Slutsk have been attracted to the developments and there is now an active and growing youth presence.
A community of families with physically and mentally disabled children and adults in this town in the south east of Belarus, very close to the site of the Chernobyl disaster. The Together Plan are in discussion with this group developing a strategy of support through the Aid Together Project.