THE JOINT DISTRIBUTION COMMITTEE’S new Belarus country director Alex Kushnir lights 100-year-old philanthropist Ralph Goldman’s birthday cake in Vitebsk with Limmud founder Chaim Chesler and event performers looking on..
(photo credit: YOSSI ALONI)
The requirement of an entrance visa to Belarus for Israeli citizens is to be canceled, Ambassador to Minsk Yosef Shagal has announced.
The decision was reached after negotiations between the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem and the government of Belarus.
The ambassador announced the decision during the opening ceremony of Limmud FSU in the Municipal Theater of Vitebsk that was attended by some 700 participants, including representatives of the government of Belarus, the chairman of the Union of Belarusan Jewish Public Organizations, Boris Gerstein, and the founder of Limmud FSU, Chaim Chesler. The ambassador made a point of thanking Limmud FSU for its contribution to strengthening cultural relations and tourism between the Jewish people and Belarus.
Limmud FSU will be attended by more than 600 participants from Belarus, neighboring countries and Israel. The three-day conference will take place in Vitebsk, the birthplace and childhood home of Marc Chagall. Some 70,000 Jews live in Belarus today.
At the opening gala of the Limmud FSU event, the organization saluted Ralph Goldman, honorary executive vice president of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, on the occasion of his 100th birthday. Those in attendance responded with enthusiastic applause and the singing of happy birthday in three languages – English, Hebrew and Russian.
Chesler thanked Goldman for his support of Limmud FSU since its founding nine years ago. Back then, Goldman stated, “Limmud FSU is the best way to attract young unaffiliated Russian-speaking Jews around the world.”
The minister of culture of Vitebsk province, Larissa Olinsiya, pointed out that several world famous artists grew up in Vitebsk, including Chagall (1887-1985) and painter and arts teacher Yehuda Pen (1854- 1937). She lauded the contribution of the Jews of Belarus to world culture and to the development of the State of Israel, notably Eliezer Ben-Yehuda (1858-1922, the reviver of Hebrew as a modern language.
Limmud Vitebsk is entirely planned and organized by volunteers from the Belarus Jewish community and more than 100 presentations will be given.