New Reform center and synagogue dedicated in Minsk

(JTA) — The Reform community in the Belarussian capital of Minsk has a new home.

The Sandy Breslauer Beit Simcha Center for Progressive Judaism was dedicated June 10. The opening ceremony, held during Shabbat services, included a baby naming and bat mitzvah.

Purchased in 2010, the building is located in the heart of the capital city’s former Jewish ghetto on what used to be called Jew Street.

It includes a synagogue, youth activity center, space for Jewish clubs and cultural activities, and a community center for Sheket, a Reform congregation for the hearing-impaired.

The center will also serve as the central venue for the city’s three Progressive, or Reform, congregations. There are 11 Progressive congregations throughout Belarus.

The Reform movement owns buildings in three cities of the former Soviet Union, including Moscow and St. Petersburg. Plans are underway for a building to house Kiev’s Reform congregation, which now occupies a small rented space.

The Minsk center is named for the late Sandy Breslauer, who with her husband, Steve, was instrumental in securing funding for the project.

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