From October 2 through October 10, Federation CEO David Weisberg traveled to the Ukraine, with primary visits to Kiev and Odessa.  During his trip, he visited with people and saw projects related to our Federation's allocations to support the Jewish people in Ukraine, including the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and Project Kesher, as well as the newly developed Anatevka Project being led by the Chief Rabbi of Ukraine, for which Federation allocation beneficiary The Jewish Agency for Israel is a partner.  In addition, David made a journey to Obodivka, a small village in the west of Ukraine, where David's great grandparents came from, and where there is no longer any Jewish population. This page documents David's journey.

November 26, 2017

Tomorrow will mark seven weeks since I visited Obodivka, a place where I connected with my Jewish roots but in which I found no Jews.

As Dmitriy and I were leaving Obodivka on that memorable Sunday, after we visited my great grandparents' old neighborhood, after we saw the mass grave to the Obodivka pogrom of 1919 and that old Jewish cemetery in the woods, after we had gathered some dirt from the ground on which my Zayde Charli...

October 10, 2017

It's 9:30 am at Kiev Airport as I await my connecting flight home to JFK.  I've been awake now for over 27 straight hours.  Having a 7:00 am flight from Odessa, I chose, instead of getting up very early to catch an Uber to the airport, to instead simply skip sleeping altogether, in the hope that would put me in a better position to sleep for most of my 11 am flight out of Kiev and begin to get my body back on schedule (not tha...

October 9, 2017

On a minor sidenote to my trip, right after landing at the airport in Odessa a few days ago, I realized I had accidentally left my camel hair sports jacket in the wardrobe of my hotel room in Kiev.

I was disappointed, and I had originally bemoaned that I wouldn't get it back.  But then I reconsidered.

I emailed the staff at the Kiev JDC office and asked if they could make arrangements to pick up the coat and give it to a client...

October 9, 2017

My last stop on my JDC Odessa itinerary today, and indeed for my entire Ukrainian journey, was back at the Beit Grand JCC, Odessa's newest Jewish Community Center, built nine years ago.

Inna introduced me to Maryna London, the JCC's Program Director, who oriented me to the JCC's entrance.  

Above the lobby hangs a beautiful sculpture, known as Jacob's Ladder, the image of which has become a symbol of Beit Grand.  Directly below...

October 9, 2017

This morning, I was picked up at my hotel in Odessa by Inna Vdovichenko of the JDC Odessa office.  The JDC had planned a full day of activity for me on my final day in Ukraine.

After a visit to the Odessa Holocaust Memorial, Inna took me to Odessa's Holocaust museum, run with great caring by volunteer Director, Pavel Kozenko, and to Migdal-Shorashim, the Jewish Museum of Odessa,  a small space that packs into it rich stories of...

October 9, 2017

On the way home from Obodivka, Dmitriy and I resolved to make one more stop.

We would be driving through the neighboring town of Bershad, and the helpful article I had read about Obodivka noted that there was an old synagogue still existing in Bershad.   As there wasn't a synagogue to see in Obodivka, we agreed to drive around in the hope that I could at least see a shul from that era and in that region.

Amazingly, the article,...

October 8, 2017

While I have met with many Federation-related partners on this trip, and I've enjoyed evenings at the ballet, the operetta theatre, and an international violin festival gala concert, the centerpiece of my journey was always going to be today.

As I have heard the story told (and I already apologize to my relatives for any details I get wrong, but that's the thing with family lore), Charlie was a teenager who delivered milk in th...

October 7, 2017

In the two weeks before I left for my trip to Ukraine, I spent five high holiday services in five different Upper Fairfield County congregations.

While I do that, at least in some part, because of my professional role in our Jewish community, the truth is that I also do it because I love the variety, I find meaning in all different kinds of services, and I consider it part of my own Jewish journey.

It came as no surprise to me t...

October 6, 2017

Housed at B'nai Israel and serving the community, Upper Fairfield County has the Kesher Project, a program that "kindles the light of Judaism in developmentally challenged adults," under the dedicated leadership of Rhea Farbman.

On the other side of the world, in the Former Soviet Union - including Ukraine, and for Russian speakers now living in Israel, our Federation has also supported Project Kesher, with a misssion to "give...

October 5, 2017

As I got into my Uber this morning to head to Babi Yar, I was grateful for the gray and gloomy weather.

For many local residents, Babi Yar is nothing but a park adorned with monuments, and, when the weather is nice, I am told that those visiting the site might witness people riding bicycles and walking dogs, children playing soccer, and even the occasional wedding.

This all belies the reality that 76 years and 7 days ago, the Je...

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