Berl Katznelson (1887 – 1944) was one of the intellectual founders of Labor Zionism, instrumental to the establishment of the modern state of Israel, and the editor of Davar, the first daily newspaper of the workers' movement. Katznelson was born in Babruysk, nowadays Belarus and dreamed of settling in the Jewish homeland from an early age. He was a librarian in a Hebrew-Yiddish library and taught Hebrew literature and Jewish history. He made aliyah to Ottoman Palestine in 1909 and was one of the founding fathers of the Israeli workers union, the Histadrut.
Limmud FSU has mounted a photographic exhibition on the life of Berl Katznelson, curated by Yoram Dori, which Katznelson niece, Dita Vered-Katznelson opened together with MK Gila Gamliel, the Israel Minister for Social Welfare at the Limmud FSU Belarus conference in Minsk in 2016.
Dita is Berl’s nearest living relative and feels a personal mission and responsibility to preserve his memory. When Limmud FSU invited her to join the visit to Babruysk, her reply was immediate: “I am already packing!” .
During the event, Limmud FSU's delegation together with her visited the city, exploring the hometown of her noted uncle. “For me it will be the closing of a circle." said Dita. "I never dreamed I would get here. My parents left here with absolutely no yearnings for Russia.”
Also, to celebrate Israel's Independence Day, a special festival was hosted by the local community, Limmud FSU, the Jewish Agency and the Israel Cultural Center, with the participation of singers Dorit Reuveni and Maria Yakubovich.
The 350 participants saw Dita ascend the stage and unasked, she sat at the piano and raised the roof as she played a rousing rendition of Lechayeh ha’am hazeh, “To the life of the people of Israel.” Among those clapping their hands along with her, were three other Limmud FSU Belarus guests – Ze’eva, Ya’akov and Yossi, the children of another emigrant from Babruysk, Abba Achimeir.