This past week, the National Belorussian Jewish School – Atikva in Gomel, Belarus hosted a conference on pedagogy in formal Jewish education. Take a look below to experience the conference first hand and learn how a Jewish day school in Belarus celebrates Purim.

The opening ceremony of the conference, featuring a performance by some of the school’s students.


A dance at performed for the opening of the Butterfly. Children of the Holocaust exhibition.

During the seminar Natalia Kravchenko, the principal of the kindergarten-school Atikva and Michael Kemerov, executive director of the Religious Union for Progressive Judaism opened the exhibition Butterfly. Children of the Holocaust.  The project was created with the support of the educational program “The Holocaust and the United Nations” and the Holocaust Museum in Houston.  The exhibition will be visited by the students of the local state schools as well as by the Gomel citizens. After looking at the exposition all the visitors will be invited to create their own butterfly.

Children present a Purim inspired play as part of a masterclass on using theater in education.

Within the frameworks  of the seminar, the participants  had the opportunity to learn new forms and methods of working with children of different ages, to attend master classes at art-n-craft, to discuss the methods of teaching the Shoah to children, to learn from students the history of theaters and to enjoy wonderful kids Purimshpel and, of course amazing Kabbalat Shabbat and Shaharit for four generations of Gomel Reform Jews led by Rabbi Grisha Abramovich.

Students in the first and second grades perform their Purim Shpiel Spectacular, under the direction of teacher Oksana Saponeko.

The Atikva School in Gomel is the only Reform Jewish primary school in the Former Soviet Union. Students learn a curriculum including Hebrew and Jewish Literature, history, culture and Jewish tradition, on top of the standard secular curriculum. 


Schoolchildren light the candles for Kabbalat Shabbat with conference attendees.

Representatives of the World Union for Progressive Judaism wish the school a Shabbat Shalom and Purim Sameach.

Margarita Feitzer, Director of Programs and Operations in the FSU and Eyal Ronder, Vice President for Operations, took part in the seminar and warmly greeted the participants from Bobruisk, Gomel, Lida, Minsk, Mogilev as well as the Jewish Progressive Community “Kadima” in Gomel and its Chair Leonid Kazimirski.

Ronder and Feitzer speak with Saponeko after the performance.

After the prayer service, the school’s professional staff presented to the group about the school’s unique model of Jewish education.

The community was presented with a mezuzah by Ronder and Feitzer, which was ceremonially hung by Rabbi Grisha Abramovich.

The next day, conference attendees joined the Kadima community for Shabbat morning.

Ronder and Feitzer presented the congregation with candlesticks, and thanked them for all they do for the Progressive Jewish community in Belarus.

The experience you all provide to young people in our communities is the backbone of this movement. Your dedication, your creativity, and your vision are inspiring, and its impact will be felt for generations to come. Thank you for being here.
-Rita Feitzer


The day was concluded with a masterclass on baking Hamentashen.

To learn more about the National Belorussian Jewish School Atikva, click here.

All images courtesy of Dorofeev Andrey. CC BY-NC-ND