A free festival of klezmer music from Eastern Europe has been held in the Belarussian capital of Minsk, recognising an era when half the city’s population was Jewish.
Tsarina Catherine II decreed in 1791 that Jews could only live in certain cities, among them Minsk. A century later, the 1897 Minsk census showed 47,000 of the city’s 91,000 inhabitants were Jewish.
Last Thursday and Friday’s Litvak Klezmer Festival brought in musicians from the United States, Germany, Poland, Ukraine and Austria. There were also dance classes, exhibitions and “an extensive food court”.
In recent years, the city has sought to highlight its Jewish heritage with new tours and services, including from genealogists helping families trace their Jewish roots.