Between post-Soviet flair and hopeful development – a meeting with Likrat Moldova

The Likrat encounters will soon also be carried out in Moldavia. The Likratinos completed their training in February. Likrat Moldova was started by the LivingStones Association and is supported by SIG. Susan Reznik, a Likratino from Basel with roots in Chisinau, attended a Likrat seminar in Moldavia and led a workshop on the theme of identity. Here is her report on Likrat Moldova.

«This is it then, this Chisinau.» With curiosity, a flutter of excitement and a bit of uncertainty for what awaited me outside the airport, I stepped into the arrivals hall.

There I discovered my driver waiting for me with a large sign. He took the longer route through the centre just for me and drove down the long main street «Stefan cel Mare». We drove past the triumphal arch and the parliament buildings and I tried to imagine how my father and his family would have lived here before and what their day-to-day life would have looked like. Shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union, my grandparents came to Switzerland with my uncle, his wife, my then small cousin and my father. I was born in Basel. Until now, Chisinau had only been a distant place I had heard about in stories. But this would change over the coming weekend.

Likrat Moldova – an important project

Early the next day, my two Likratino colleagues from Switzerland and I – all still a little bit sleepy – were collected by Heli. The fifteen-year-old is part of the Likrat Moldova programme. We got a flavour of authentic Moldavia on the journey in one of the old trolley buses. Heli doesn’t like them at all, but I, of course, found it all incredibly exciting.

We got on with the Likrat Moldova representatives from the two Jewish schools in Chisinau straight away. The young people’s curiosity and motivation moved and fascinated me. That day, each of us Swiss Likratinos led a workshop on topics such as identity, traditions or prejudices. This is the last weekend before the Likrat Moldova representatives receive their certificates and will themselves go into school classes to talk about Judaism. This is very important in Moldavia because talking about Judaism is often swept under the rug. Because of the underlying and sometimes open antisemitism during Soviet times, many people today know hardly anything about their Jewish identity and have no idea about the history of Jewish Moldavians. Many of the young people knew almost nothing about Jewish life at the beginning. Yet everyone – probably because of this – approached the task with so much passion that during the moment on the last day that they proudly received their certificates, we were almost brought to tears. And for me personally, I felt the hope for a change brought about by a new, ambitious generation.

To finish, it can be said that the republic of Moldavia is actually a little bit like the forgotten daughter of Europe: despite many efforts, Moldavia hasn’t shaken off the cloak of Soviet times and has many problems still to solve. Everyone congratulated me that my family migrated away at that time, because they said «there is nothing here».

With Likrat Moldova, a small wheel in the direction of a future full of promises has been set in motion: a future in which Jewish identity also has a place.

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Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities (SIG)
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Gotthardstrasse 65
P.O. Box 2105
CH-8027 Zurich

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