Exploring the Present through Memory Maps: Volozhin and Smorgon

In an oversized bus that Clare Fester and Robby Adler-Peckerar procured for Helix, we arrived at the Nanosy Complex, a postmodern, post-Soviet reconstruction of a “traditional” Belarusian village on the beautiful banks of Lake Narach. The village was the brainchild of a very wealthy Russian who enjoyed hunting, fishing, and recreating “authentic” Belarusian villages. This… Read More Exploring the Present through Memory Maps: Volozhin and Smorgon

Life and Death: A Tour of Minsk and Its Surroundings

Our first day in Minsk began with our morning poem (a daily Helix tradition) and then we embarked on a walking tour of the city. As we started out, we learned that the factory across the street from our hotel was the historic factory that features in Moyshe Kulbak’s Zelmenyaners. This late 1920s Kulbak novel,… Read More Life and Death: A Tour of Minsk and Its Surroundings

From Lukashenko’s Belarus to the EU: Polotsk, Breslau, Daugavpils, and Lithuanian Shtetls

We have been crossing borders for the past three days, since my last posting. As I wrote this we are on the road from Daugavpils (the name in Latvian, Dvinsk in Russian, Dineburg in Yiddish) to Vilnius (known as Vilna in Yiddish and Wilno in Polish) and are crossing the Latvian/Lithuanian border. Both states have… Read More From Lukashenko’s Belarus to the EU: Polotsk, Breslau, Daugavpils, and Lithuanian Shtetls