Learn About Odessa, Ukraine

Here are six fun facts you may not have known about our partner city and its Jewish community.

Thriving Jewish Community
In partnership with The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), the Jewish community in Odessa is thriving – they even have two Jewish Community Centers! The Beit Grand JCC and Migdal JCC serve as venues for large concerts & holiday celebrations and offers a wide range of cultural programming for individuals and families – including theater, dance, art, volunteering and so much more.

Jewish Camp Connections
The Associated collaborates with the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) to provide Jewish youth in Odessa with transformative summer camp experiences. Youth learn Hebrew, celebrate Shabbat, and make Jewish friendships. In summer 2019, eleven teens and one camp counselor from JAFI will travel to Baltimore, MD to attend summer camp in the US. This experience will introduce them to American Jewry and connect them to peers from their sister cities of Ashkelon and Baltimore.

PJ Library in Odessa
In the spring of 2019, The Harold Grinspoon Foundation, in partnership with The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore launched PJ Library in Odessa! This exciting opportunity provides each child with a free Jewish book each month. This program has been desired in the Odessa Jewish community for many years and its been wonderful to see hundreds of families signing up for the program.

Odessa Cuisine
The food in Odessa is unique since it combines several culinary traditions: Jewish, Ukrainian, Bulgarian, Moldovan, and Greek. Guests in Odessa are commonly served stuffed fish, vegetables and small vareniki, cabbage rolls, pancakes and other traditional dishes.

Famous Zionists of Odessa
Vladimir (Ze’ev) Jabotinsky is one of the many Zionists who was born and raised in Odessa, Ukraine. Jabotinsky was born to a Jewish family in Odessa in 1880. He became a powerful speaker and influential leader in the Zionist movement. He established a Jewish self-defense organization to safeguard communities throughout Russia and became the leader of the right-wing Zionist group after Theodore Herzl’s death in 1904.

Odessa Opera House
The Opera House in Odessa was listed by Forbes Magazine as one of the most remarkable sights to see throughout Eastern Europe. The building was reconstructed in 1887 after a fire destroyed the first building in 1873. The unique acoustics of the horseshoe designed hall allows performers to deliver in a whisper-low tone of voice and can still be heard from any part of the hall.

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