The Liberal Synagogue Elstree

TLSE's Twinned Community in the Ukraine

TLSE now has a "twin" Community in the town of Lutsk in the Ukraine. This is an exciting project for us, and we have been developing and strengthening our link with the Progressive Jewish Community in this Ukrainian town. We have been exchanging letters, photos and information about Lutsk and TLSE, and we hope that both communities will benefit from the link.

Two small groups of TLSE members have visited Lutsk so far, and we were all particularly pleased that Rabbi Pete was able to accompany us on our trip there in March 2007. Funds raised for Lutsk this year from TLSE's Yom Kippur Appeal have been used to help fund Hebrew classes for the Lutsk Community members who are keen to learn more about their Judaism and areas of religious practice.

Lutsk is situated in the north west of the Ukraine, near the Polish border, just north west of Lviv. In 1939, when it was part of Poland, about 40% of the city's population was Jewish and there were 38 synagogue buildings and Jewish congregations and communities in the town. But after the tragedies of the Holocaust and decades of Soviet rule, there had been no Jewish Community there for many years, so it is a great achievement that this Liberal Jewish Community that was set up here only in 1999, now has as many as 200 members.

They do not have a rabbi based in Lutsk - there are only 2 progressive rabbis in the whole of the Ukraine - so they have to rely on their own members for most of the services. And although many of the members in Lutsk have not had the traditional Jewish backgrounds that many of us remember, they are trying to involve all age groups in community life.

So we at TLSE look forward further developing our relationship with the Lutsk Community, and hope that members from both communities will benefit from the link. We have much in common in spite of our different backgrounds and geographical locations. A Lutsk Planning Group has been set up at TLSE to co-ordinate the project - do contact the office if you are interested in participating, and look out for details of Lutsk Link news and activities on the synagogue noticeboard and in our Hakol Magazine

Photo Gallery

The building in Lutsk used by the community for services and social events Family Kiddush Celebrating Havdallah
Simchat Torah Sukkot The community with their new scroll, at Shavout
Shabbat service Kabbalat Shabbat Yom Ha'Shoah memorial service at the Lutsk holocaust memorial
In the Art Studio Don & Stella with Tanya (interpreter), at Shabbat lunch Kesher Women's Group mock seder
Street scene, Lutsk Tanya (interpreter), and one of the older members of the community, on the ramparts of the 12th C Lutsk castle Netzer group
TLSE group visiting in March 2007, outside the synagogue building Concentrating . . . . Hakol arrives in Lutsk!
Erev Shabbat Barmitzvah ceremony Meeting with the synagogue Board
Erev Shabbat Members of both communities on our last evening Members of the Netzer group in Lutsk