From the Pale of Settlement to the USSR and Beyond:

The History of the Jews of Belarus

Sunday, December 6

USA (10:30 am Pacific Time Zone / 1:30 pm Eastern Time Zone)

UK 6:30 pm / France 7:30 pm / Israel 8:30 pm

The talk will last approximately 90 minutes

About this talk

Belarus' Jewish story is rich, vital, traumatic, fascinating and barely spoken of. The modern country of Belarus was formed in 1991 but it can trace its origins to Slavic peoples who entered the area in the early Middle Ages. The territory was ruled at different times by Lithuania, Poland and Russia. Jews are believed to have been active as traders in the region of Belarus from the 8th century. However it is only in the 12th century after the Crusades and increasingly difficult conditions in Germany, that a large influx of Ashkenazi Jews arrived in the area. They brought with them the Yiddish language, the traditions of Torah study as well as urban skills from the German cities.

The arrival of the Jewish merchants was a significant factor in the emergence of towns and cities in what had until then been a far more rural region. These Jews would not develop a distinctive Belarusian identity but rather be part of the emerging Lithuanian (Litvak) culture. Come on the journey through time and explore the story of Jewish Belarus across the centuries, its rich history with artists like Chagall and Rabbis like Gaon of Vilnius. Learn from the Jewish activists offering support, training and aid to Belarusian communities today, in order to help them being self-sustaining again.

About Debra and Artur

Debra Brunner is originally from London and has been working in Belarus for over ten years. She is a passionate advocate for Jewish community, history, heritage and identity. Debra has worked tirelessly to grow The Together Plan in order to give agency to Jewish people coming out of a traumatic past, to empower them and give them skills and self-belief to rebuild and revive. It is Debra's mantra that together we can make a real and positive difference for a better, stronger and more cohesive Jewish landscape in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

Artur Livshyts was born in Minsk and spent two years living with a relative in Nashville, Tennessee. It was there, as a child of the Soviet Union, that he discovered Judaism; he studied Hebrew and had a bar mitzvah. It was his first foray into Jewish life. He spent a year living in a boarding school in Israel before returning to Belarus where he completed his education in Minsk, studying Human Rights Law. Having had a taste of Jewish life, he has made it his life's work to strive for a revival of the Jewish community in Belarus. He met Debra Brunner in 2009 and together, since that time, they have worked to build and grow The Together Plan.

In partnership with

10% of the profits will be donated to the The Together Plan, a small charity with a big vision - to put Jewish Belarus back on the world map and help isolated Jewish communities find their voice and learn skills for self-development.

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