The annual Migdal's Winter Playground-2004 devoted to the partnership relations with Baltimore Jewish community was entitled “Odessa-Baltimore”. January 25th marked the official opening of Beitenu center.
January 4-10 (50 kids). The annual Migdal's Winter Playground-2004 devoted
to the partnership relations with Baltimore Jewish community was entitled
“Odessa-Baltimore”. Numerous activities and classes — Baltimore, Jewish
Odessa, literature, computer, etc. — were designed in an invigorating form.
Beitenu Opening in Odessa
January 25th marked the official opening of Beitenu center run jointly by
Migdal JCC and Gmilus Hesed of Odessa. The project is targeted at the most
needy children of 2-18 years old, providing for their physical, social and
emotional needs and using a holistic, family-wide approach engaging both the
children and their families in various activities that include a significant
Jewish component (classes in Jewish subjects, Shabbat, etc.).
Prior to the opening, a lot of effort was undertaken by the organizations to
identify the prospective participants of the program, to assess their needs
and make them interested in coming to the center five times a week: after
school on weekdays and during the mornings and afternoons on Sunday. Help in
doing home work in different school subjects, tutoring, psychological
sessions, computing, wood and metal work for boys, sewing, embroidery and
knitting for girls — these are just a few activities that, besides
introduction to Jewish history and tradition, will be run on a regular basis
for some 35 children of 6-15 years old.
The program is housed in a specially rented, spacious facility of some 160
square meters, which has a multi-purpose room, library, game and activity
room, relaxation and rehabilitation center, fitness room, bathroom with
washing machine. The library has been compiled and possesses of an array of
books on Jewish tradition and history, periodicals and training manuals.
In addition to the social and psychological rehabilitation in Beitenu
premises, the children and their families will also be encouraged to take part
in other numerous programs offered in the community (some of the children have
already taken part in winter children's playground on January 4-10).
While it is too early to estimate the effectiveness of the new initiative
supported by the JDC and give prognosis for its development, such words of
some grandparents participating in Beitenu together with their grandchildren
as “new life has begun here not only for the children but for us too”, sound