Compass

Gomel Jewish Community “Beit Yakov”

Grant Awarded: 
2013
Country: 
Belarus (Gomel)
Areas of activity: 
Adults,
20’s and 30’s,
Teens,
Children,
Grandparents,
Families,
Students
Background: 

The Gomel Jewish Community “Beit Yakov” aims to develop the Jewish Life in Gomel and the region and educate Jews about their history, culture and tradition. The Community invests heavily in educational activities for youth and young people, while at the same time serving all ages, from children to grandparents. The Community is partly maintained by the support and involvement of local businessmen who co-fund and spearhead its activities. This has allowed the Community to remain largely independent. The Head of Community managed to recruit young talented activists and engage them in the community as volunteers and professionals. Some of them have joined together to establish a local Moishe House. The “Beit Yakov” Community is one of the first Jewish communities in Belarus that developed autonomous links with international Jewish foundations, who have been supporting its educational activities.

Despite difficult economic circumstances ad scarce resources, the Community over the past five years has grown and developed. It has some 500 members who attend services and programmes each month. Jewish festivals such as the communal Passover Seder attracts 250 people and in the past year three weddings and 12 circumcisions took place.

The Community has managed to establish ongoing high-quality religious education and Jewish studies provisions such as a Sunday School for 40 kids, mainly from intermarried households, as well as STARS and intensive STARS torah studies programmes for youth and young adults. The Community also runs the successful ‘Lucky Ticket’ project which offered at-risk teenage Jews from Gomel and its surroundings a one-year vocational training in the Gomel diamond factory alongside Jewish education, room and board.

Capacity building project: 

The “BeitYakov” Community is an exciting Jewish Community in Belarus. Almost against the odds it has succeeds in fostering local philanthropy among Jewish businessmen and activism among Jewish young people. Besides offering day-to-day services to local Jews, it is a Community that believes in investing in creative programming.

Number of employees:

4 full-time,
11 part-time