A unique event marked the end of the season for the EnerJew Jewish youth movement this year. About 250 movement activists from 41 FSU cities gathered in Minsk, the capital of Belarus for the 5-day Grand Shabbaton seminar last week.
Belarus is known for its rich history of Eastern European Jewry and the seminar’s organizers used the location as a kick-off point for the event’s general theme – “Explore Your Roots, History and Identity”. Every day the participants discovered something new about the Jewish past, which most of them share – they mapped out their personal family history; learned in detail about the trades practiced within Jewish communities, such as that of a teacher, kosher butcher, store owner, or synagogue gabbai; and even visited the villages that are known throughout the whole world as part of global Jewish heritage: Mir, Volozhin, Novogrudok and Ivye.
“The atmosphere at the seminar was just wonderful,” said EnerJew programming director Vitaliy Tikhiy. “The groups came well-prepared, ready to participate, and hopefully what they brought back to their cities is a blast of energy and enthusiasm that will support and illuminate their EnerJew activity in the new upcoming year.”
The movement’s Instagram and Facebook channels are full of raving reviews and memorable moments from the seminar. “I already miss everyone!”, “These were the best 5 days of my life”, “Can’t wait to see you all again!” say the captions to hundreds, if not thousands, of pictures from the event.
Besides the roots discovery program, the seminar also included a lot of fun and high-energy activities: a Jewish projects initiatives competition, concerts and celebrations. “When Jewish youth from seven countries come together – meet, connect, bond – there is no other feeling like that in the world. They learn about their past and understand that the future of Jewish life in the region is in their hands,” said Konstantin Shulman, EnerJew director.
EnerJew launched in the FSU four years ago with five cities and today is the largest Jewish youth movement in the region. It is supported by the Finger family foundation, the FJC and the Jewish Agency for Israel.