To honor late prime minister Ariel Sharon’s family history, Limmud FSU (former Soviet Union) will feature a special event during its June conference in Belarus, where both his parents lived before immigrating to Israel.
In 1922 Shmuel and Vera Scheinerman made aliya from Brest and Mogilev, respectively, in the wake of growing persecution against Jews in the region by Communist authorities.
Sharon, who changed his name at the suggestion of former mentor and prime minister David Ben-Gurion, was born in 1928 near Kfar Saba, in the Sharon plain.
Limmud FSU’s co-founders Chaim Chesler and Sandra Cahn Chesler said Tuesday that the organization will hold a special event in Sharon’s father’s hometown and invite the celebrated leader’s two sons to attend.
Government officials representing Belarus and Israel are also expected to attend.
Created for Russian-speaking Jews in 2006, Limmud FSU brings world-class Jewish scholars and professionals to regions in Russia and the Former Soviet Union where Jews were stripped of their religious identities during Communist rule.
Once home to a thriving Jewish populace, decimated by World War II, Belarus is considered one of the most storied countries in Jewish history, having produced nine Israeli presidents, two Nobel Prize laureates and dozens of world-class rabbis, intellectuals and artists.
Most notable among these figures are President Shimon Peres, former prime ministers Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir, former president Chaim Weizmann, the Soloveitchik rabbinical dynasty and renowned artists Marc Chagall and Chaim Soutine and the World Jewish Congress’s longtime president Nahum Goldmann.
Last June Limmud FSU commemorated the 90th birthday of Peres and 100th birthday of Begin by honoring both leaders’ childhood homes in the country, and hosting a photo exhibition illustrating their legacies and contributions to Israel.
The June event is expected to attract some 700 Russian-speaking young adults from across Belarus, Ukraine, Russia and the Baltic states, Chesler said.