Begin’s 100th Birthday Events Kick Off Today in His Hometown of Brest, Belarus
A ceremony took place today, June 4th, in Brest, Belarus, the hometown of Former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, to officially launch a series of events around the world marking his 100th birthday.
The commemoration, which was organized by Limmud FSU and the Menachem Begin Heritage Center, took place in front of the school he attended as a child (Tachkemoni School in Brest; 49 Kuybeshava St.) and was the official launch of a host of events that will occur over the next few months to honor the Former Israeli Prime Minister and Nobel Price Laureate. Participants at the ceremonies included around 200 members of the local Jewish community, a delegation from Limmud FSU and representatives from the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem. The event was part of the Limmud FSU Festival that took place this entire week in different cities throughout Belarus.
“We are very proud that we had the opportunity to open the events for Menachem Begin all over the world here in his hometown in Brest,” said Chaim Chesler, Founder of Limmud FSU. “Begin is not only the most famous Jew to come out of Brest, but probably the most famous resident to ever live in the city. By the turnout at these great ceremonies, it seems the people of Brest are beginning to realize that.”
Before the Holocaust, there were 26,000 Jews that resided in Brest, but only 19 survived after the war. Now, there are currently a couple of hundred Jews that live in Brest.
“The Jewish community of Brest honored today one of its most famous sons in a very emotional and touching event,” said Herzl Makov, Head of the Menachem Begin Heritage Center. “I think it is only natural that we launch these series of events honoring the 100th birthday of Begin in the city where he was born and where he began his so illustrious career.”
And in the JPost:
Limmud FSU holds Jewish conference in Belarus
VITEBSK, Belarus – The latest incarnation of Limmud FSU (former Soviet Union) took place for the first time in Belarus over the weekend, one of the most storied countries in Jewish history.
Once home to a thriving Jewish community decimated by World War II, Belarus produced nine Israeli presidents, two Nobel Prize laureates and dozens of world-class rabbis, intellectuals and artists. Notable among these figures are President Shimon Peres, former prime ministers Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir, former president Chaim Weizmann, the Soloveitchik rabbinical dynasty, and renowned artists Marc Chagall, Chaim Soutine and Nahum Goldmann.
In Vitebsk, a four-hour drive outside the capital of Minsk, over 500 young Jewish men and women converged from Friday to Sunday to learn more about their shared history.
...“We combined Limmud with Vitebsk, the capital of culture of the former Soviet Union – the country of Chagall and many other distinguished artists, as well as the former home to two great Israeli leaders and Nobel Prize winners, Shimon Peres and Menachem Begin,” said Chesler.
He praised the governments of Minsk and Brest, known to be politically restrictive, for having agreed to honor Peres’s childhood home and recognize Begin.
“It is a great achievement for Limmud to work on a joint effort of this kind with these governments, and shows that there is still a future for Jews in this part of the world,” he said.