Since the 8th century, Jews lived in Belarus. In the first half of the 20th century, they were the third-largest ethnic group in the country. Before World War II, due to mass migrations, the Jewish population had dropped from around 910,000 to 375,000. However, Jews still comprised more than 40% of the population in cities and towns.
Some 246,000 Jews were killed in Belarus during the Holocaust.
For now, the Jewish community of Belarus is the third-largest Jewish community in the former Soviet Union, after Russia and Ukraine. The largest center is in Minsk, where about 20,000 Jews live. Belorussian Jews also live in Bobruisk, Mogilev, Gomel and Vitebsk, Baranovichi, Borisov, Brest, Grodno, Orsha, Pinsk, and Polotsk.
There are synagogues, Jewish schools, including Sunday schools for kids. Several invited rabbis and organizations support Jewish life in Belarus.
The Union of Belarusian Jewish Public Associations and Communities was founded in April 1991.