Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Purim Project: Hillel Minsk Gearing Up for Atlanta Invasion

Over two thousand years ago, the Jews of Persia equipped themselves to thwart away the troops of the evil Haman. In honor of their bravery, this Purim, Jews in Minsk are preparing themselves for a more festive foray—the arrival of a group of Jewish students from Atlanta.

Emory University is sending its 10 most adventurous Jewish undergraduates to Belarus to pair up with 10 members of JDC-supported Hillel Minsk. Together, the group will be “Purim Postmen,” delivering the joy of Purim throughout Belarus. The delegation will be distributing mishloach manot to Jewish children, and will bring presents to low-income families and to the elderly. Last year’s special messengers collectively visited over 60 homes. This year, the couriers are aiming for more than 70.

“It’s always great to see that people want to be volunteers and like to be volunteers and are willing to spend 12 hours a day doing this,” explains Hillel Minsk director, Maxim Yudin. “Our students are motivated by meeting the Americans and we find that the Minsk students in past years have continued volunteering. And for the Americans, it is also an emotional experience and a way for them to become more involved in Jewish life at home.”

After last year’s Purim Project participants returned to Emory University, they organized a fundraising project which raised $3,000. The money will go to low-income families in Minsk who are clients of the JDC-funded Jewish Family Outreach Service. Hillel Minsk volunteers are working together with JFOS professionals to asses which families can benefit most from this support and how it will be distributed.

Besides delivering gifts, the Purim Postmen will be packing food parcels and humanitarian aid items from World Jewish Relief and distributing them to needy families and individuals in their homes. In addition, they will be attending the annual JAFI Purimspiel in Vitebsk, and are organizing a Purim carnival at the Minsk Jewish Campus for the Jewish youth of Minsk.

“We hope this will motivate more partnership between Minsk and Emory students-- maybe by sending madrichim from Minsk to participate in Atlanta Jewish summer programs, or by bringing students from Atlanta here to take part in our Jewish camps. Both the Americans and Minsk Jews really learn a lot and benefit from the exchange.”
For more on Purim happenings in the Minsk Jewish Campus, please see MJC Website.

Above Photos: Hillel Minsk director, Maxim Yudin, tries on his new armor to prep for the mission from Atlanta; Planning Committee makes a toast to the success of their partnership with the Atlanta group.

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