Taras Prokopenko

Taras (Easy) Prokopenko holds a Master of Law from the Belarusian State University. Currently he is studying at the Dnepropetrovsk Yeshiva via distance learning and attends Jewish culture and history lessons in his home Jewish Community in Gomel, Belarus. His thesis on Talmudic law received excellent marks and as a result is being used as part of a tutorial on Talmudic Studies.

Taras runs his own legal practice and volunteers for the local Jewish community in different areas. He is a Moishe House Gomel resident and a permanent idea generator and organizer of different activities. He has nine years of informal Jewish education experience. Taras has participated in and organized numerous Jewish seminars and workshops for children and youth.

Taras likes to read and is crazy about the Jewish history of Gomel. He plays guitar and his favourite occupation is “friendraising.” He is open-minded, humorous and is always ready to help others. He is able to inspire people. An idealist and maximizer, Taras is ready to change the world, starting with himself.

Organizational background:

  The Gomel Religious Community was created in 1993 from the existing community of BeitYackov, which is chaired by Yosef Zholudev. The Community holds holiday activities for the Jewish population of the city. Since the election of Yosef Zholudev as the chairman, and the beginning of our cooperation with several international Jewish foundations, Jewish life in the city has changed dramatically. About 200 Jews consider themselves members of the community and over 1000 residents take part in our events. More than 40 Jewish men from ages 1 1/2 to 74 years old underwent the Brit Mila ceremony.

There are regular prayers on weekdays, Saturdays and holidays. A permanent minyan (prayer group) has been formed. Young people are now engaging with the community. A Sunday School along with several educational project have been launched such as on-line classes with lecturers from Jerusalem have started. An ongoing dialogue with the Gomel city authorities has resulted in the participation of the local authority in efforts to regenerate Jewish life. Anyone interested can participate and get information about Judaism as well as moral support. There are seminars, tours, trips to Israel and visits to Jewish sites in Europe. There are numerous activities for children and young people - and this is not even a complete list of our activities. We are always available in times of sorrow and joy.

In the last few years, the Gomel Community has been working towards reaching financial independence. We work very closely with various foundations and organizations to this end and local and foreign sponsors are involved. We have already seen initial results of these efforts. With its own funds and loans the Community was able to buy a Torah scroll, order furniture and hire a rabbi.

Currently, we are trying to carry on with our work with the same positive results despite the financial crisis in Belarus.