Belarus SIG #Belarus Re: Mogilev #belarus
Dear Myra:toggle quoted messageShow quoted text
There are/were Jews and Jews in Mogilev. As David so rightly puts
it, since the breakup of the USSR, the community there struggled to set
up its own Jewish Sunday School, at one point there were two, with one a
regular school meeting in a classroom of a state school. they did
everything through their own ingenuity, as the Jewish Agency was not
interested in helping Russian Jews stay in Russia. So Mogilevers taught
themselves Hebrew and taught it to their kids, learned Jewish history and
taught it to their kids. They had little help >from the outside, and
managed to do a wonderful job.
While it is true that the Mogilev government has not given back
any of the synagogues, of which there were many, they had at one point
offered a ruined shell of one. They said Americans would pay to fix it.
The main synagogue in Mogilev is a gymnasium.
As in America, there were Mogilev Jews who felt more connected to
Judaism, and those who felt less connected. Kosher meat was nonexistent,
unless one bought the animal and "shecht" it oneself. The grandparents
who lived through the war tried their best to impart Yiddishkeit to their
children and grandchildren.
I have videos of holiday celebrations, some 4-5 years ago, in
Mogilev with yiddish songs and music by adults and children. Very moving
As you know, Myra, I know the family in question. We cannot make
judgements on what they know or don't know. In the same apartment complex
in Tucson is a very religious family >from Tashkent, whose mother has been
trying to teach the other new Russian-speaking immigrants about holidays
and customs. I visited both families on my trip to Tucson. The woman >from
Tashkent was amazed that the people >from Mogilev and other cities in the
apartment complex had no knowledge of the simplest things in Judaism. But
this is just one family.
As American Jews, we need to understand what happened in Mogilev,
and hundreds of other places just like it. The fact that these people
survived, and are now giving their children Jewish educations is
wonderful. Also, in the family in question, the in-laws speak yiddish.
The Taskhent family is Sephardic. Sharing a meal with them,
complete with all brachas and birkat hamazon (grace after meal), I saw
the grandfather with what I thought was a siddur or prayerbook. As soon
as I could, I asked to see the book, and saw it was printed in Russian.
They were not allowed to learn Hebrew, as I understand it, but learned
all the prayers in phonetic Russian transliteration.
As regards the community in Mogilev, about 5 years ago, we
brought two teenagers to Camp Ramah in Palmer, Mass. The girl married and
now lives in Israel, and I think the boy has also gone to live in Israel
as well. Both were very active in the youth activity groups in Mogilev. I
have been told that a few years ago, the Mogilev groups were considered
the most active, and they traveled to Minsk and other area cities for
what we, as former USYers, would call kinnusim or shabbatonim (weekend
There are descendents of religious families in Mogilev, some of
whom still have Torah scrolls saved >from the war, hidden in their homes
or perhaps now in Israel.
It is hard to make generalizations about one community >from only
speaking to one person. Different people move in different circles and
different things are or were important at the time.
I am glad you had a chance to meet Raisa. Have you met the rest
of the family?
JGS of Southern Nevada-East
MODERATOR'S NOTE: Myra, I don't think your friend is fully informed. I