Odessa – Day 2

Day Two in Odessa seemed like two days.  Wow.  The first half of our day was sightseeing with a Jewish bent.  The second half of our day was spent with an amazing agency called Tikva.  Let me share a little bit about the Jewish history of Odessa and then I will get to what’s going on today.

At the beginning of the Twentieth Century (i.e., before the Russian Revolution, WWI and WWII) Jews comprised roughly 35% of the population of Odessa – approximately 140,000 Jews.  That made it the the third largest Jewish city in the world at the time behind only New York and Warsaw.  And it wasn’t just the number of Jews – it was who they were and what they contributed to Jewish life worldwide.  Let me give you some examples.

In the world of literature, we saw memorials for

Isaac Babel…







Shalom Aleichem…








and Chaim Nachman Bialik….







(If you are not familiar with them, google them.)

In the area of Zionism, we saw the home of Ze’ev (Vladimir) Jabotinsky who just happened to live at #1 Evrenskya (which means Jew Street)….

IMG_0403 IMG_0404








We saw the two currently-functioning synagogues in Odessa (pre-WWII, there were FIFTY!).

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This building  was the Brodsky Synagogue, but is currently the municipal archives.








We also got to see some of the classic sights of Odessa – Catherine the Great monument and the Potempkin Steps…

100_0828 100_0827









It’s hard to believe that this was less than half our day.  More to come about the amazing Tikva program and all that they do for kids here in Ukraine.




About Rabbi Avi Friedman

I am the rabbi of Congregation Ohr Shalom - SJCC, a progressive Conservative and traditional congregation. I am also husband to Jodi as well as father to Gabi, Jonah, Jessica and Ilana. I have been a part of the Summit community since 2005.
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