«Jewish Observer»
August 2002
5762 Elul

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The Odessa Museum of literature hosted an exhibition under such name, which became the continuation of the theme researchers turn to more and more often. This theme - interrelationship of Odessa history with that of State of Israel - is, probably, inexhaustible. Too much that began in our city in the XIX - XX centuries found its continuation in the then Palestine. This includes fates of wonderful people, and fates of ideas they generated, and concrete deeds as, for example, creation of pro-Palestinian committees, credit societies purchasing land plots in Erets - Israel, cultivation of those frequently barren lands, construction of new settlements in malarial waste land...

- Naturally, everything began in Vienna, naturally, by Gertzl, - says Yevgeny Golubovsky, - vice-president of World club of Odessa residents. - But if it had not been for Odessa, for Zhabotinsky, if it had not been for a mighty literary wave that brought ideology onto a high artistic level, we could have never seen what a true Jewish state is. The state with not only ideology, but with culture as well.

Director of the Israeli cultural center in Odessa Shmuel Katsev absolutely sides with this opinion.

The exposition "Odessa pages of Jewish culture" - is the continuation of an exhibitions' chain. They took place in the Museum of literature in different times. Some of them were devoted to certain personalities (e.g. Vladimir (Zeyev) Zhabotinsky), others had a more generalized character. But there was no such exhaustive, rich exhibition yet. The museum director Tatiana Liptuga admitted that alongside with Ukrainian and Russian cultures the Jewish one - is the part, without which there would be no Odessa phenomenon, no "Odessa-mama", Odessa character, Odessa mentality.

The basis of this exposition is composed of the materials of museum funds, private collections, books, photos, and documents. Each of them is the sign of its time. The exhibition became real due to the charitable fund "For life". Fund's activity began one year ago, when a ceremony of memorial stele's constructing took place in the former 2nd Jewish cemetery. It was the sign of constructing here a memorial complex. - Then a group of young, energetic businessmen decided to found a fund named "For life", - said Leonid Dusman, the fund director. - Its aim was participating in the renaissance of Jewish culture in Odessa, commemorating the memory, establishing names of Holocaust victims - nearly 120 thousands of Jews died in Odessa...

How exact and full the essence of the exhibition corresponds to its name - this question is rather disputable. Critical comments were heard already at the beginning of the exhibition. The reason was that, for example, figures and events of different times, importance and scope were put next to each other. Thus, hardly could the activity of Zhabotinsky or Dubnov be equal in the history of Jewish culture to that of writers of the Soviet time (of course, respecting their tragic destinies), or works of Pinsker - to a play in the theatre of musical comedy... However, founders of the exhibition call it fragmentary themselves. They say they do not pretend the exhibition to be all-inclusive. There is no full expositional embodiment of the declared aim yet. It is rather the acquaintance with separate fragments, a kind of portrait draft, answers only to some questions. But, meantime, this is also the basis for new questions to appear.


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© 2002 Jewish Confederation of Ukraine - www.jewukr.org