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A tour of Old Trafford was a highlight of the three-week visit by 15 youngsters from Belarus who were hosted by Orthodox families in Manchester and the north.
The youngsters, aged 10 to 15, and two teachers, also spent three days at St Annes and Blackpool. Three of the girls were batmitzvah during a special Shabbat service conducted by St Annes Hebrew Congregation’s Rabbi Leonard Book. They also toured the Lake District, participated in lessons at Manchester’s King David High and had dental and optical check-ups.
The visit was arranged by Minsk Children to Manchester, (MC2M), inspired by Robert Pinkus, a driver in a World Jewish Relief humanitarian aid convoy to Minsk. He had met a local cheder teacher who asked if pupils could visit the UK — not least for the opportunity to breathe fresh air with Belarus still tainted by the Chernobyl disaster.
Mr Pinkus consulted friends Andrew Brown, Gidon Stemmer, Harry Sager and Simon Lader and MC2M was born. The programme is now in its sixth year.
“When they go back to Belarus, it is all smiles and tears of farewell,” Mr Brown reported. “We feel the visit has done them so much good from both the religious and medical point of view.”
Participant Jenya Vakulenko, 16, said: “We really love the friends we have made and the families we stayed with.”