Today we revive our spiritual and cultural wealth, our heritage, we are blessed again with our Jewry. Today we are proud of our people, of our past.
On the 18th of March we'll celebrate the 10th anniversary of the birth of our community. Though the idea of setting up a community appeared a half a year earlier, when Tamara Moyseyevna Borodach gathered together 12 Jews and offered us a surprisingly daring idea (at that time), she suggested creating a Jewish community! But the day of its birth is considered the day when the community was registered. 10 years passed. Those were the years of formation, spiritual development, growth. Why do we call our community regional? Because it unites the Jewish families living in Lida, Ivye, Lida and Ivye regions. The elderly people of these families are surrounded with care of the "Charity Service" of our community. All the families of far-off villages come to Lida to celebrate all traditional Jewish holidays. We are all one family, we call each other. How many of us here? According to the census of 1999 there are 110 people in Lida and 11 in Lida region.
Memorial work is one of the main directions of our activity, as before the World war two Lida was the hometown for 8,5 thousand Jews. About 8 thousand are buried in 3 huge ditches in the northern suburb of Lida. Jews from Wilnius, Dyatlovo, Voronovo and other settlements surrounding Lida are buried in the same ditches.
Every year on the eighth of May we get together at the monument erected in memory of horrible destruction of 6700 Jews of Lida community on the 8th of May 1942. In 1967 those who survived in that terrible catastrophe put up an obelisk at the place of the murder. Their names are Golubovich Meir, Vilensky Ilya, Polyakov Moyisei, Korabelnik Isaak, Kopelevich Khatskel, Golempol David, Dvilyansky Yakov.
In 1992 Boris Golubovich, Meir Golubovich's son, erected a majestic memorial at this mournful place. On the 12th of May, on the day when 2700 Jews from Ivye were shot down, we go to Ivye every year. You know, last year there were only four Jews there, this year there's only one Jew there, and in the past Ivye was mostly a Jewish settlement.
We also visit the abandoned Jewish cemetery in Belitsa, which is almost 54 centuries old. Belitsa was once a Jewish settlement and at this time there are no Jews there. We organize Voskresniki (hours of unpaid labour) to clean the territories around the memorials, to fix them in case of vandalism. In February 2001 Zenon Bunko reported about the place where Jews from Lida and Vilnius were buried. We needed two and a half years to gather proofs, documents and to find sponsors. On the 13th of August 2003 the monument was opened. Boris Golubovich gave money for the fence (8mx22m) around this "third ditch". And Lida's painter and sculpter Richard Grusha put into the monument his talent and a great sum of his own money.
We are searching for and collecting all the documents concerning Lida's holocaust of Jewry, we are creating "The Book of Memory".
Our essential aim is the revival of Jewish traditions, spirituality and culture. In 1996 Community of Progressive Judaism appeared. Since that time each Friday we get together in order to light candles, sing "Leha dodi", nip off a piece of Saturday's challahs, have a little wine, see each other. Michail Dviljansky is at the head of the community. At the same time in 1996 he organized a wonderful ensemble "Sholom".
All members of the ensemble have conservatoire education and they are teachers of music school. Michail is a violinist and a soloist. Their repertory has Sabbath prayer, Jewish musical compositions , Jewish folk music, songs in Hebrew, Yiddish, polish and Russian. How marvelous Michail and Tamara Dviljansky sing the song "Mame reit mit mir afYiddish" composed by Arkady Dviljansky, Michail's brother! The ensemble appeared on stage in Poland, in Israel, in Moscow, in the cities of Belarus. The ensemble recorded several audio tapes and disks. The whole community spends all traditional Jewish holidays together and each time ensemble "Sholom" brings us happiness.
Each month we have lectures on the Jewish literature, history, traditions and culture. Once a month we organize a "Family Club" were we celebrate jubilees, birthdays, arrange contests in order to define "The Family of the Year", we also arrange musical and literature parties. The scientific employee of our museum wrote "The history of Jews in Lida" starting in 1579 - the year of building of the first synagogue. The member of our community Vladimir Semenovich Murahver is an outstanding figure of art of the Republic of Belarus, he had been the chief artist at the Glassworks "Neman" in Beresovka. He has created not only marvelous pieces of art made of glass but also he has drawn many wonderful pictures. His pictures "Exodus 1941", "Yanush Korchak", "Machuels - The King of Lyre" leave unforgettable impression.
There is a small library in the community headed by Lazar Heifits. We have got also Sunday school where our children study Hebrew, traditions and history, draw and dance. The children of our Sunday school always take part in our holiday concerts. Their performance is always to great advantage. We have "Ulpan" for grown-ups who would like to study Hebrew. Vladimir Shpiljansky teaches young people to work on a computer and to study Jewish dance.
In 1995 the "Charity Service" was established with the help of "Joint". The service was set up by Maja Sumtsova and it has been successfully headed by Elena Minina for the last two years. Old people and invalids receive packages of products , fuel for the winter time from the "Charity Service", the helpless invalids are given support by home-nursing workers ( we have 15 volunteers , Michail Gofman and Yakov Skakalski are the best of them ). Each member of our community may count on the community's support in any situation no matter whether he lives in Lida or in a far away village.
Our community's proud and care are righteous people of the world. Those are Vladimir Pobol, Iraida Saveljeva, Marija Tihon, Vatslav Konopelko. About the heroic deed of Pobols' family there's a movie "Freedom to the Saved" produced by Stanislav Gaiduk in 2003. This film is also about holocaust in Lida, Ivje...
Our community of course has got many problems, not all plans can be realized, but we celebrate the 10 th anniversary with happiness and hope.
Chairman of the Managing Committee of Jewish community