Yad Yisroel – Kalinkovichi Sunday Cheder Program
Yad Yisroel initiated a Sunday cheder program in Kalinkovichi, a Belarusian town devoid of Jewish character.
The Sunday cheder program has achieved two main objectives: it provides the children with the basic foundations of Jewish knowledge and practice, including Torah stories and values, holiday customs and mitzvot, and it instills in them a love of yiddishkeit and sense of Jewish community. Every Sunday the boys and girls enter a warm environment where they hear tales of Abraham and Moses, sing Jewish songs, eat kosher food and learn about the history of the Jewish people.
When the cheder first opened its doors there were only nine participating children from the ages of seven to twelve, but every week more children are being drawn in. They listen wide-eyed to their instructor, a local woman with a real Jewish neshama, as she expounds on subjects such as why we eat matzot on Pessach and light candles to welcome the Shabbat, and then spend fun filled afternoons playing games and participating in arts and crafts sessions. The Sunday cheder also includes online classes from Israel given via Skype. The enthusiasm of the children has been most encouraging: So far not one child has returned home and expressed disinterest in continuing.
The cheder is currently operating in a rented apartment. A building has been purchased by the community and renovations are underway. When the work is completed the renovated building will serve as a community center that will accommodate the cheder with fifteen participating children, an elders club and Sabbath meetings.
For larger events, Yad Yisroel rents halls that accommodate up to a hundred people.
Parents are encouraged to attend the ongoing cheder sessions, to witness first-hand how their children are being guided towards the light of the Torah. The positive feedback we have received from the parents has encouraged us to carry on with the cheder and expand our operation:
The remains of other small Jewish communities in Belarus are in dire need of a strong Jewish presence and spiritual guidance. Yad Yisroel sees this need as an opportunity to spread the word of Torah values and yiddishkeit to Jewish populations all over Belarus.