March – November 2008
Migdal-Shorashim Museum of History of Odessa Jews
Migdal-Shorashim Museum organized several exhibitions on its premises in the course of this period, such as the exhibition that was dedicated to work of famous Jewish historian B. Minkus and the one revealing life and work of Odessa artist I. Ostrovsky. In May, 2008 Shorashim opened a new exhibition on art and graphics that shows works from the museum’s archives. Among some of the main exhibits are wonderful judaica that the museum has in its collection.
However, the museum did not only organize its own exhibitions, but also actively participated in Odessa exhibitions, presented in the local museums including Odessa Art Gallery and Odessa Literary Museum.
Summer Family Retreat Halom-12
Familiar camp-sight, familiar faces, usual warm atmosphere…and all this was Halom-12 – annual summer family retreat organized by Odessa Migdal JCC. This year it took place on August 20-27 and included 145 participants among whom were both new members of the community and those who had taken part in Migdal camps every year. Just as all the previous years Halom-12 took place in a small town of Ribakovka, Nikolayev region on a camp-sight “Wave”. Beautiful line of seashore, bright summer sun, many shady trees and colorful flowers – all of this contributed to amazing spirit of the camp.
Halom’s annual tradition is to give a special name to every camp. This year’s name was “Matanland” and the whole theme and activities of camp interwove with the word “Matan”, which in Hebrew means “present”.
All the participants, in the course of the week, were blessed with dozens of presents – starting from amusing skits, songs and dances and finishing with literally presents from a big sack that appeared almost every evening «from nowhere». There was another present, this time for Migdal JCC from the participants. During arts and crafts classes special donations’ box – Tzdaka - was made and parents along with their children gave donations for a new set of books for Migdal’s library.
This camp had everything – sports and intellectual games, among which was well-known “Monopoly”, special events celebrating Jewish traditions, various performances prepared for Havdallah and Kabbalat Shabbat. Every group had their own special activities: babies went in for choreography and dancing being coached by a professional dancer, teenagers and parents organized a real theatrical studio and created absolutely fantastic plays based on biographies of three Jewish people – Ida Rubenstein, Albert Einstein and Valentin Parnach. Those performances left no one indifferent and became an extremely bright highlight of the whole camp. No one expected such on-the-spot creativity from Halom participants.
There is a lot more that can be added about Halom-12, but one thing may be said for sure: “It was awesome. Truly fantastic. I think even better, than last year and I can’t understand how Migdal manages to improve it all the time. When one believes that it simply can’t be better, they make another pleasant surprise for you. It was fun and educational, warm and touching at the same time” – the phrase belonged to Anna, one of the camps active participants.
Mazel Tov and Beitenu Centers Resume their Activities after Summer Vacation in New Premises
The new school year for Mazel Tov and Beitenu centers operated by Migdal JCC started in wonderful new premises. They aren’t only figuratively wonderful, but already have performed a bunch of “wonders”.
First of all this new apartment was immediately blessed by the Rabbi to become Mazel Tov and to be the center for Jewish children’s education. The second very important “wonder” concerned repairs and renovation in the apartment. It seemed almost impossible and unbelievable that Migdal leaders were able to fundraise such a large amount of money to run the renovation process. 114 community members willingly donated money for construction and repairs of new Mazel Tov. It became an unprecedented action.
Now the “updated” Mazel Tov brings joy to an enormous number of kids, which has almost doubled, due to what a couple of programs, like trainings of dance groups for the smallest ones, were moved to Migdal JCC. Luckily, Mazel Tov is only about 5 minutes away from Migdal JCC.
Mazel Tov immediately became known for a couple of its know-hows. For example, its relaxation room, which has already started to serve many good causes. It’s the kids’ favorite place, as it has awesome animal-shaped armchairs, stars on the ceiling and multi-colored lights everywhere. It also serves for consultations and trainings with psychologists and it is where pregnant women have their classes.
Moreover, there are a lot of new classes and activities that are being held in Mazel Tov now. Kids have English language and music classes every evening and what is most important Native speakers teach them English. This became possible due to the fact that volunteers from the USA Dina and Sol were now staying in Odessa. They get along with the kids very well and it is great to see what progress in English the children make. New classes were started in Mazel Tov. These are chess and drawing classes for three-year-olds.
The new school year just as usual coincided with many Jewish holidays, which certainly were celebrated in Migdal, Mazel Tov and Beitenu on a wide scale. Rosh-Ha-Shana was celebrated together with Dina and Sol and looked like a big talent show with songs, dances, culinary contest, etc.
Before the Yom Kippur there was Kaparot in Mazel Tov. It was lots of fun for kids. Besides usual Mazel Tov members there were three new guests – two hens and a cock. From time to time the birds managed to run away from the big room, where everyone was gathered and then all the kids joyfully ran around Mazel Tov, trying to catch the birds and take them back to everyone.
Sukkot were also celebrated in friendly and warm atmosphere, so characteristic for all Mazel Tov events. For Sukkot there was also a special invitee – an extremely interesting personality – actor Faust Mindlin, who managed to impress the kids immensely literally taking them to the world of fairy-tale with his brilliant stories and amusing anecdotes. And it seemed that the weather definitely made up its mind not to spoil the days for the children. The sun kept shining and it was rather warm for October.
Everyone who visits Mazel Tov now can’t help admitting that it’s a miraculous place, where one wants to come more and more, because every time one comes, a piece of miracle seems to touch his soul.
Seventh International Scientific Conference “Odessa and Jewish Civilization”
Migdal-Shorashim Museum of History of Odessa Jews and Migdal JCC continued their yearly tradition to hold International Scientific Conference “Odessa and Jewish Civilization” within the framework of OFEK Festival in Odessa.
Seventh International Scientific Conference “Odessa and Jewish Civilization” took place on November 5-7, 2008 and was devoted to topics, connected with international and interregional contacts of Odessa Jews and their relations with other ethnic communities of the city in various periods of its existence in the following aspects:
• Trade and industry;
• Functioning of political, welfare and professional organizations;
• Education and science;
• Literature, theater, cinematography, music;
• Jewish immigration and aliah.
In the XIX century Odessa played a leading role as a “communicative” centers of the Russian empire. It was possible due to the port status of the city and other means of trade connections. Rapid development of Odessa as an educational, scientific, cultural center and a unique combination of industrial development and resort became fruitful base for international and interregional contacts. The role and contribution of Jewish population in Odessa is hard to overestimate. All these facts have established the basis for the themes and goals of November 2008 Conference in Odessa.
Last year, evaluating the results of the Sixth Conference everyone suggested that the scope of problems risen in the course of the Conference was to be widened to involve a larger number of participants from other countries. Thus in the form of an experiment it was applied to the Seventh Scientific Conference. And the experiment worked very well. Never before was there such a huge number of applications sent from all over the world with wishes to take part in the conference. Among prospective participants were professors, journalists and historians from Paris, Israel, Italy, Moscow, Latvia, Germany. However, not everyone was able to come due to different personal reasons. Nevertheless, many scientists from other countries still came and made the Conference interesting and informative. Odessa was widely represented by historians and professors of Odessa National University, where the second day of the Conference took place. Generally, both first and third days passed in Jewish Shorashim Museum. Besides University professors there were also representatives of Odessa museums: Literary museum and Local History Museum.
Definitely all of the reports were of great interest to everyone, but everyone was impressed by reports on unusual themes, among which was, for instance, a report made by professor of Ekaterinburg University, dedicated to analysis of verse in “Odessa chanson”, which dates back to the times of Jewish folk songs; a report on history of Odessa and Nikolayev football in 1900-1910 made by a historian from Nikolayev Museum of History. Some of the reports were not only of great interest, but also would be extremely useful for museum staff while giving tours around the museum.
This year the amount of topics connected with literature and art exceeded the ones on history. The finale of the Conference was just another proof of this. One of the most interesting reports on the heritage of Odessa architects and Jewish musicians in literary pieces was presented. The third day was concluded by a tour to Odessa art exhibitions.