Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Hevruta: Jewish Knowledge Day at the Minsk Jewish Campus

The following article is from the Minsk Jewish Campus Website.

At 8pm on March 9, 2008, over 500 participants of “Hevruta” — Jewish Knowledge Day, left the Minsk Jewish Campus. They looked tired, but extremely happy — they spent 10 hours of their Sunday studying Jewish tradition and history, making new discoveries about Jewish heritage and modern
research on burning Jewish issues. Each and every participant expressed hope that such a large scale educational event will take place in the Minsk Jewish Campus regularly.

It took over six months for the organizers to get everything ready for the event. There were lots of disputes and various ideas of how the “most perfect Hevruta” was to be held. Despite different views and arguments, the day was a great success and people want the initiative to be continued.

“We are happy we managed to involve many new people and volunteers in the “getting ready for Hevruta” process — they sewed textile tote bags for each participant, decorated the MJC halls where the activities took place, assisted in registration, prepared materials for booklets, and did other important things for Hevruta to become a real community event.

We also would like to express our deepest appreciation of the support provided for the event by the Ginsburg family and AJJDC ,” — said one of the organizers.

The event participants wrote wonderful comments in the Hevruta participant guest book:

…It was a real holiday! The lectures were so interesting and informative. We wanted to be present at all lectures simultaneously. This event was a great opportunity for communication. Thank you, Hevruta!

…Thank you for great lecturers and great Jewish atmosphere!

… Thank you for the opportunity to become one of the participants of this really Jewish event. Can it be held annually?

Aliyitchka's Hevruta Session

I chose to teach two sessions on one of my favorite Jewish traditions: the bedtime "Shma" and "Modeh Ani," said upon waking. Since each of these passages are traditionally recited before and after going to sleep, I thought it would be both interesting and practical to decorate pillows with the words of the Shma on one side, and Modeh Ani on the other.

First, participants who were unfamiliar with this tradition learned the words of each passage and their origins. Next, everyone got to craft their very own pillow with the words transliterated into Russian.I had a great time teaching this session and learning from the other volunteers in their sessions as well.

The Jews of Minsk simply can't wait for the next Hevruta!

(Giddy after a long day of Hevruta fun, I politely asked the jazz musician if I might momentarily sit down in his drum case. That's a normal request, right?)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Babushki (Grandmothers) are a very important part of life in the Former Soviet Union. That is why this new music video has rapidly become our favorite. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Holy Carp!

"Some carp are much more lovable than others, and that Passover, we had an unusually playful and intelligent carp in our bathtub"
"The Carp in the Bathtub"

One of my favorite children's books is "The Carp in the Bathtub." Until coming to Minsk, "The Carp in the Bathtub" was purely a fictional tale for me. But one of the most thrilling things about living in Minsk is to experience "The Carp in the Bathtub" as reality:

There's nothing quite like opening the door to the bathroom in a friend's apartment and being greeted with the sight of 9 carp swimming around (ok, some were unfortunately bobbing upside down) in the tub. I realize that some of these carp look a little less playful and intelligent than the ones in the book...