Friday, February 9, 2007

Welcome to Belarus!

The parties in the retirement center are wonderful!
Click the link below the picture.

Posted by Picasa


Thursday, February 8, 2007

On the way to Bobruisk

On the way to Bobruisk, a two hour drive,we decided to stop for a tailgate picnic, Belarusian style. Bobruisk was known as the Jewish center of Belarus with a population that was over 80% Jewish before WW II. Legend has it that the first Jewish settlers in Belarus settled here in the 10th Century, although some people in Pinsk dispute that. "Don't believe the Pinskis!" says Maya, Cultural Director of the Bobruisk JCC, "we were here first by 48 years." There are a few thousand Jews in Bobruisk now, and after having been decimated by the Nazis, as well as enduring the restriction of cultural and religious identities during the Soviet era, are rebuilding a vibrant community.
The city was named after the beaver, which is the town symbol and refers to the abundant population of beavers which brought the early trappers and traders. Rena and I are posing with Maya and the bronze beaver in the town square.
Another monument, sadder but also inspiring, is the memorial stone, in Hebrew and Russian, paying tribute to some of the 'righteous Christians' who risked their lives and those of their families to give shelter and hiding space to their Jewish neighbors, some of whom barely escaped during the horrendous night when 10,000 were shot by the Nazis. The unveiling of the monument was widely attended by citizens and officials of all faiths.
The photo shows Maya standing behind the monument, and Erica Fishbein, an American volunteer from the JDC, beside it. There is also a path of individual stones with the names of those honored, but at the time of the picture, they were hidden under the snow.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

So Here We Are!

After a month and a half we're finally (more or less) organized. Our first two nights were dominated by the stunning urban landscape behind our hotel. The photos are of a small piece of Lenin Square.
And now, at last, we can begin to download some of the hundreds of photos we've taken and tell you more than you'll ever want to know about life in a 112 sq metre two bedroom apartment on the 13th floor of a corn cob shaped building with an elevator that bangs, clangs, hisses and moans, but always (so far) gets us up and down. Stay tuned for more.