COMMUNITIES OF UKRAINIAN SMALL TOWNS: TODAY AND TOMORROW
This was the subject of the seminar for the leaders of Jewish communities of Kiev and Cherkassy oblasts, members of the regional association of Jewish organizations of Ukrainian small towns. The organizers of the seminar are Boris Zabarko and Sofia Kremer, managers of the Kiev Institute for social and community workers, Natan Gomberg, director of the Kiev "Hesed Avon", Lev Shpilsky, manager of the "Kiev oblast" program, and Petr Rashkovsky, president of the regional association. They did their best to make the work of the seminar rich and constructive.
The participants (there were about 40 of them) learned much about the problems that the Jewish world is interested in. The speakers at the seminar were Max Shenkerman, second secretary of the Israeli Embassy, Leonid Matsik, pro-rector of the International Solomon University, rabbi Shlomo Wilgelm, Flora Shevchenko and Tatyana Ivanko, workers of the Kiev "Joint" office. Boris Zabarko spoke about the realization of the very important "Holocaust" program in the communities.
Petr Rashkovsky spoke about the present and future of small Jewish communities in the world. In his speech he mentioned the achievements and problems they face. Svetlana Rashkovskya spoke about festivals to be held in 11 towns of the association. Inna Druz described the activities of the "Yiddish and Yiddishkait" program. Klavdia Kolesnikova informed the participants about the "Nadezda" newspaper.
The participants were interested in many problems and asked numerous questions: How to immortalize the places of mass Jews' shooting? How to involve youth in the community's activity? How to prepare younger generation for substitution? How to deal with Jews who are afraid to call themselves Jews? How to counteract "Jews for Christ"? Is there any future for Yiddish? How to react to the Jew's consumer attitude towards Jewry?
Problems do always exist. They were in the past and they will be in future. There are no problems when nothing is done.
However, there are also some achievements. Money was collected to restore Jewish cemeteries. This work is being done in Fastov, Uman, Korsun-Shevchenko, Buki, Tarashcha and Boyarka. Children were involved to active community activities in Brovary. In Smela the youth studies and tries already to comment on the Torah.
In conclusion, one may say that there are many problems the Jewish communities of small towns have to deal with. Despite all these problems the communities are alive and develop, trying to rely on their own strength. Therefore, let us hope that they have not only the present but also the future.