Sunday, April 13, 2008
Belarus Jewish graves get little respect
By Associated Press
The Jerusalem Post
Gomel - Workers rebuilding a sports stadium on the site of an 18th century Jewish cemetery in Belarus say they have no choice but to consign the bones to city dumps. "It's impossible to pack an entire cemetery into sacks," said worker Mikhail Gubets, adding that he stopped counting the skulls when the number went over 100. But critics say it's part of a pattern of callous indifference toward Belarus's Jewish heritage that was prevalent when the country was a Soviet republic and hasn't changed. The stadium in Gomel, Belarus's second largest city and a center of Jewish life until World War II, is one of four that were built on top of Jewish cemeteries around the country. The Gomel cemetery was destroyed when the stadium was built in 1961, but the remains lay largely undisturbed until this spring when reconstruction began and a bulldozer turned up the first bones.
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Historic Yeshiva Faces Uncertain Future
By Rukhl Schaechter
Volozhin - A jewel of Eastern European life has been returned to Jewish hands, but will the community be up to the task of holding on to it? This is the dilemma facing the Jewish community of Belarus, which has been struggling to maintain the building that once housed the historic Volozhiner Yeshiva. Two months ago, authorities in Volozhin, located 55 miles from the capital city of Minsk, threatened to take over the structure if Jewish communal leaders couldn’t raise the $20,000 needed to renovate it. They gathered the money, but a new challenge seems to have emerged: disagreement over exactly what to do with the building.
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