«Jewish Observer»
July 2002
5762 Av

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True school is not only lessons. In any case the Odessa "Or Sameakh" puts before itself large-scale tasks. Education here is inseparable from upbringing, first of all moral that is an integral part of the national tradition. Here they work not only with children but with parents as well.

The beginning was laid last autumn. The program named "Parents' university" received its continuation in Uman during the first "Shorashim veesodot" seminar. Just several months later the second seminar under the same name and with the same number of listeners was held, this time in Odessa.

"I am particularly glad, - says director of the "Or Sameakh" school Mark Dreerman, - that after the lectures listeners do not quit, they are eager to ask questions. It is noteworthy that not only our teachers and parents attend these seminars, but also former pupils now students of the Odessa higher institutions".

Half a year ago Rabbi Shimon Grilus characterized his new acquaintances in the following way: they are "inquisitive, subject to doubts, stubborn, hard to be convinced, but they respect and listen to their lecturer". Rabbi Shimon was born in Vilnius, participated in the Jewish underground movement. He spent five years - from 1964 till 1969 - in Perm' and Mordova's camps... For over 25 years he lives in Israel. He defines the aim of his teaching activity, including the participation in seminars of "Or Sameakh", in the following way, "A. Exupery wrote in his "Little prince", "There will be, at least, two stars in the sky if there is just a pair of eyes searching for them". We meet owing to inquisitiveness of people who know to search".

Here are opinions of the seminar participants.

Sergei Ushakov, educational organizer at the school "Or Sameakh": "Or Sameakh" builds its life on our tradition, children are attracted to it every day. Alongside there emerges a considerable gap between levels of knowledge of school's teachers and pupils and parents whose children go to "Or Sameakh". Such seminars organized for both teachers and parents help resume a dialogue. Parents, teachers and children should speak the same language".

Ludmila Sverdlova, teacher at "Or Sameakh", "Jewishness for me began when my son got to a Jewish theatre. The whole prior life when I was asked about my nationality I used to feel some inferiority. My grandmother, not me, was a believer, she prayed and observed Sabbath... And I was a bureau member of the regional komsomol committee (the only Jew), five years worked at the "Artek" camp. I realized my true belonging to Jewry only several years ago. I simply have to learn everything I have not been aware of during my entire previous life. And I find it at the seminar".

Chief Rabbi of Odessa and its region Shlomo Baksht highly estimates the experience of the Odessa "Shorashim veesodot" seminar:

People began realizing what Jewishness, Judaism, tradition is. We felt it, for example, during Pesakh in our synagogue, we feel it every day at a kosher shop, during various community events, at our school. Attitude is different; the atmosphere itself is totally different which I consider most important.

Unfortunately, the community reduces in number, but I feel I work with people who deeply understand what Judaism is. One should not only take interest in, but also live by tradition deeply perceiving particularities of our psychology, culture, everyday life. It's much more pleasant for me to work now because I understand: this is already a true community, a true community life. We are planning to significantly widen the work with young married couples, with parents, teachers. People show interest, they are eager to increase their knowledge of Jewishness and, consequently, they approach to their roots, return to the Jewish world.

Our problem is different - to try "to hold back" some of these ideas, to postpone them in time a little... You know, there is a Jewish joke. They ask why parents hold by hands a bride and groom walking under a hupa.

The answer is - for them not to run... To be serious, we've got a great number of plans. And we shall try to put all of them to life.


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