In a world where cultural heritage and traditions are invaluable, fostering a sense of belonging and understanding among youth becomes increasingly important. Recognising this need, Dialog, The Together Plan’s partner in Belarus recently organised the first-ever Jewish Youth Heritage Conference in Minsk. This groundbreaking event brought together youth from across Belarus, offering them a unique platform to explore the hidden Jewish history and heritage of their own country, the opportunity to connect with one another, and to strengthen their collective identity. The conference was a resounding success, leaving a lasting impact with participants hungry to learn more and do more.
The team in Minsk, Sonya Shaipak, Vasily Zaitsau and Artur Livshyts planned the conference bringing expert speakers with a wealth of knowledge and experience from across Belarus. Sonya Shaipak and Artur Livshyts played a key role during the days of the conference to ensure that the participants’ needs were met and all the logistics were seamlessly managed.
The Conference held was a celebration of Jewish culture, traditions, and history. Participants had the opportunity to delve into the rich tapestry of Jewish heritage, exploring topics such as Belarusian Jewish history, ritual religious items, the Yiddish language, the Holocaust in Belarus and more. The conference aimed to bridge generational gaps and also build a sense of unity among youth both Jews and non-Jews regardless of their geographical location.
One of the primary objectives of the conference was to create meaningful connections. This diverse gathering offered a platform to explore and learn. By engaging in interactive workshops, discussions, and collaborative projects, the participants forged friendships and established a new network around Jewish heritage and culture.
With the rise of assimilation and the passage of time, the preservation of Jewish history and heritage has become vital. The Jewish Youth Heritage Conference emphasized the importance of cherishing and safeguarding the rich cultural legacy of the Belarusian Jewish people. Through engaging presentations and expert-led discussions the participants gained a deeper understanding of the rich Jewish history that Belarus has to offer and the challenges faced, not only by the Jewish communities of the past, but also the challenges of the communities of today who are trying to revive out of the shadows of oppressive recent history. This exploration and now shared knowledge has inspired a renewed commitment to preserving and passing on Jewish traditions to future generations.
The impact of the conference extended far beyond its duration, as the participants returned to their respective communities with newfound knowledge, connections, and inspiration. The conference also created a solid foundation for future events and collaborations and plans for the next conference in 2024 are already underway.
With grateful thanks to the Dutch Humanitarian Fund for the support of this event.