The first Jews appeared in the territory of Belarus in 1388, when Grand Duke Vitaut granted them the right to settle on those lands. According to UNESCO's policy, a community that has inhabited a certain territory for 500 years or more is considered indigenous.
Why then do we hear hardly anything about Jews in present-day Minsk? Where has a whole community, or even a whole civilization gone? Jews constituted 51% of the city’s population at the end of the 19th century and had their own language, Yiddish, that was even an official state language in the USSR in the 1930s. Yet where are all the synagogues, cemeteries and yeshivas?
That is exactly what we are going to talk about during our tour! We will visit the former Choral Synagogue, see the place where the Cold Synagogue, the oldest building of its époque, dating back to the 16th century, used to stand, walk the streets of the Minsk ghetto, visit the Jewish cemetery, the «Yama» («Pit») memorial and the only synagogue that stood the test of time and escaped renovation: the Cantonists' Synagogue in the Trinity Suburb.