January-February, 2009. 17th Anniversary of Migdal JCC’s Establishment
“Today, when my JCC is turning 17 years old I can celebrate “bar-mitzvah” of my own involvement with it, cause it was 13 years ago when I first opened the door leading to the Center, just with some interest in it, but more – following my elder brother. At that point I had no idea the JCC would become my large Jewish family”, Daniil Spector, one of the JCC activists and those who had been preparing a special event on February 1st – celebration of the 17th anniversary of Migdal JCC establishment – mentions.
Like many other girls and boys, Daniil knew nothing about his Jewishness and his first stable steps in acquiring this totally new experience were made at Migdal. “Before I came to Migdal, everything was unusual to me and I didn’t know much about Jews but imagined them just in big black hats and with long curled hair near ears. Later on, I realized that Jewish people are great. In addition, they are very merry, interesting, smart and amiable”.
After Daniil had attended the JCC Sunday classes for a year, he joined the dance group and his creative way of life began. Numerous rehearsals, concerts, contests, and most favorite – summer family retreats - were more than interesting for the teenager.
“Since the time I got enrolled at the JCC, many things have changed here – there is an array of new programs, new people and new impressions. Migdal cannot fit itself in one facility, so we have a separate center for little children and those at risk (Mazel Tov and Beitenu Center) and our special pride – Shorashim Museum of History of Odessa Jews. Still, there is one thing that has always been the same - warmth and friendship of all the JCC members. You know, when I was younger and had a few problems at high school it was here, at Migdal, where I was able to find real support and understanding. Some time later the things improved at school as well. Or… it must have been Migdal that actually changed me, my personality, for better”, Daniil, now a 20 year-old sophomore at one of Odessa colleges, smiles.
The 17th anniversary celebration was, as always, done in a very creative way. This time, the program had some cosmic fleur – Migdal members decided they needed to do some outreach on other planets of the Universe. The cosmic costumes, lights and even refreshments in the lobby contributed to the general atmosphere of something unusual and made everyone present look forward to the “cosmic” program in the theatre hall. The latter able to host some 250 spectators “got expanded” in some way (there were those ready to stand or sit in the aisles) in fact had some 300 community members and special invitees.
The celebration program lasted for about 3 hours and, as usual, demonstrated all the talents and achievements of the JCC members of all ages. Children from Mazel Tov and Beitenu, members of the Students’ and Teenagers’ clubs, parents from Family Club – all of them were identified by masters of the ceremony on various “planets” and performed on the stage throughout the program. Beautiful decorations and costumes, music, singing and dancing filled in hall with special festive atmosphere on that cold winter day in Odessa.
Tu-bi-shvat celebration in Migdal JCC was as bright and festive as always. Many beautifully decorated tables, delicious fruits, small children running around, playing games, laughing and smiling people…a truly unforgettable sight! A special hand-made fruit panel was made by kids from Mazel Tov and Beitenu, with the help of students from Jewish Students’ Club and crafts and beads’ weaving teacher. And after everyone enjoyed the gorgeous view of this panel, olives, figs, grapes, dates, pomegranate from it were immediately eaten with great appetite. Following that exciting meal, Dina and Sol Adelsky - Jewish Service Corps Volunteers - led the kids through all the numerous Tu-bi-Shvat traditions and holiday history. The ones who saw how it all went declared that all the children listened with their mouths wide open with curiosity.
Tu-bi-Shvat for parents became yet another interesting event. They also had a chance to try tasty Israeli fruits together with stories on the State of Israel and various holiday discussions. And certainly amusing stories, jokes from person experience became an inevitable part of this event.
Students were willing to go for extreme and modeled their own virtual situation. They made up a story that they were living at the beginning of the 20th century and each participant was a representative of Jewish youth organizations from various shtettles of Bessarabia, who were chosen for the honorary mission of reviving the Holy Land. The group created was to reach Israel and start its revival, overcoming all obstacles on their way. And the key point in problems solving were to be fruits of Israel. Each of them symbolized some unique quality with the help of which the issue could be solved. Pomegranates symbolized ability to work in team, olives – enthusiasm, raisins – joy and optimism, dates – orator’s skills and figs – good, strong character. The group was to make five “Steps” to choose which quality was needed in one situation or another. And when everyone came to one common decision, they could all taste real fruits and move to another task. Thus, the whole game turned into an extremely fun and useful activity, teaching to listen to one another, to compromise, to be able to explain one’s point of view. All in all, in the course of the event all Migdal JCC members made up their own order of “tasting” fruits of Israel.