During the 19th century, Minsk was one of the largest and most important communities in Russia. In 1847 the Jewish population numbered 12,976, rising to 47,562 (52.3% of the total population) in 1897, which made Minsk the fourth largest community in the Pale of Settlement. During the Holocaust between 1941 and 1943, more than 100,000 Jews lived in or passed through the Minsk Ghetto – a brutal place of terror. As a result of starvation and repeated brutal pogroms, most did not survive. Beyond the war, those Jews who did survive remained silent. A few are still alive and still living in Minsk.
Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Jewish activity has started to revive, albeit slowly and with many challenges, but right now in Minsk – something is happening and we are excited. As a result of our work and our support a new Jewish heritage centre is starting to take shape. Under the directon of Minsk based Artur Livshyts, co-founder of The Together Plan and the recently appointed Vice Chair of the Jewish Religious Union of Belarus, a large and airy space at the Daumana Street Synagogue in Minsk is undergoing restoration.
This new space will be a research centre to explore the Jewish heritage of Minsk and wider Belarus. It will be a Jewish information centre, and it will host events such as talks, films, discussions, exhibitions and concerts. It will be a meeting place for Jewish heritage clubs – a real hub for Jewish heritage.
This is an ambitious and exciting project which will create new opportunities for Jewish people in Minsk to come together, but it will also provide a community space for visitors both Jewish and non-Jewish. With our own resident Jewish historian, Jewish artist, and valued Jewish musicians in Minsk we are well set to start as we wish to continue and much of our work on building the Jewish Heritage Route in Belarus will be based here at the new Minsk Jewish Heritage Centre.
Here is a sneak peek of the renovation works underway as the centre starts to take shape….
To support the new Jewish Heritage Centre in Minsk and help to stock the centre with books and equipment – you can make a donation here or if you are in the USA through Jewish Tapestry Project by clicking here.