Belarus became an independent state in 1991 but many Soviet-era-style policies, including state ownership of enterprise, have continued to present day. The result has been a lasting legacy of poverty amid a crumbling infrastructure.
In 2009 the country fell into recession and the economic situation deteriorated drastically again in the summer of 2011. Meanwhile, the rising costs of food, medicine, heating fuel, and utilities pushed struggling families, pensioners, and the disabled deeper into poverty.
For over 20 years, the Jews of Belarus—nearly eradicated by World War II and years of enforced atheism under Soviet rule—have been working with JDC to rebuild self-sustaining Jewish life for their community and supportive institutions for those with no other social safety net to rely on.
Today, in collaboration with the local Jewish community, JDC:
- Saves Belarus’ poorest Jews by providing the basic daily necessities for thousands of at-risk elderly and for struggling young families, including those who have children with special needs or disabilities.
- Revitalizes Jewish life by offering frameworks for Jewish learning and connection such as camps, retreats, community holiday celebrations, workshops, and Jewish festivals. The center of the country’s Jewish renaissance is the Minsk Jewish Campus, whose many JDC-supported services and organizations include a Hesed welfare center, Jewish Community Center (JCC), Hillel, and the Jewish Family Outreach Service.
- Develops tomorrow’s Jewish leaders by developing professionals and communal volunteers with strong Jewish identities and by working to educate and engage a new generation in Jewish programming.
Learn more about how JDC in Belarus is supporting the community’s neediest members and ensuring their connection to Jewish life.
Take an in-depth look at JDC’s work and the vibrancy of Jewish life in our Minsk city profile.
DID YOU KNOW?
For nearly a decade, the JDC-established Jewish Family Outreach Service in Minsk has provided essential support to families and children at risk, ensuring their basic welfare and bringing social, educational, and cultural programs to meet their needs.