Persecutions on Jews that started in Europe in the XIV-th century forced them look for another home. Such a place for them was the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (it consisted of the whole Belarus, parts of Poland, Lithuania, Ucraine, Russia and Latvia). Over time, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania became a part of Poland, then a part of the Russian Empire, borders of the states changed several times, as well as the religious, political and military situations, "pale of settlement" was established and the Jews had to live according to the professional specialization in urban-type settlements - shtetles, the years passed, but the Jews and the Belarusians still lived side by side... For five centuries they all lived together in peace in the Belarussian lands. The Jews were second in number ethnic group here, in the XIX - XX centuries the percentage of Jews in some shtettles was about 80%.
Belarus gave birth to outstanding political doers such as Chaim Weizmann (the first Israeli President), Menachem Begin and Shimon Peres (the Prime Ministers of Israel and Nobelists), Nahum Goldman (President world Jewish Congress), Marc Chagall and Chaim Sutin (famous artists), David Sarnov (the founder of modern radio communications) and others.
When WWII broke there were about 1,000,000 of Jews in Belarus (10,000,00 was general population). When it was over about 200,000 of them were alive only...
Today there are still old people who were witnesses of the events of WWII on our lands, they used to live near Jews as their neighbours. But their number every year becomes less and less... There are still old wooden houses in former Jewish shtetles who remember their previous owners and Jewish cemeteries with graves nobody takes care of, as there are about 30,000 Jews in Belarus today. At persent, memorials and memorial signs in the places of mass executions of the Jewish population reminiscent us of the terrible tragic events of WWII, Jewish heritage of Belarus is being preserved and conserved, new memorials on the site of mass exterminations are open.
Any wish of our foreign guests who come to Belarus searching for their roots can be fullfilled. Meetings with old residents of the settlements are a part of a tour, they make visits more informative and fruitful. No matter what point of the counrty you're interested in - there's no reason why we can't go and get there. Nesvizh, Mir, Radun, Grodno, Brest, Minsk, Bobruisk, Logishin, Zheludok, Motol, Druya, Kobrin, Ivie, Rakov, Volozhin, Zelva, Oshmyany... The list of former Jewish shetles is not full!