You know Hornstein has been in Ukraine when….
Every meal is fish, potatoes, and bread
Melissa and Ira learn to read Russian on the way to Odessa
You drink 7 cups of Americano per day
Vodka with kompot
Group bonding happens at the outhouse
Yes this is just one day in the life of Ukraine….

In one day we confront our historic tragic past and end the day
looking into the future. Where we go from visiting holocaust memorials
in the morning to drinking wine at Moishe house. The range of emotions
and experiences bewilders me.

Lets begin with Friday. Lena, our hilarious, non Jewish, guide, with
her fur coat and orange scarf arrives to meet us. By this time, we
have had our delicious breakfast a the beyond fancy hotel. And I drank
at least 3 americanos. With scarves, ,tights, three pairs of socks,
and hats we are ready to sight see Odessa…today’s theme. Holocaust
memorials. Odessa catacombs…free time for shopping and exploring
followed by dinner at the Moshe house. Lets break it down now.

Driving barely 20 minutes outside Odessa, we visit the site where Jews
were massacred. 600 out of 35,000 survived in 1943. Just one year. As
Elena says in wonderful British accent, can you imagine it?
Next we visit the catacombs, an extensive network of tunnels used by
the soviet partisans during World War II. We had only walked 500 m out
of 3,000 km.  They thought they would be there for 6 months. It was
three years. There was bedrooms, classrooms, a kitchen.  I’ll give an
Odessa souvenir to whoever can tell me why the mirror was there as

These tunnels lead to the railroad station in Odessa. If you don’t
know your way around, it would take ten years. Can you imagine it? So
interesting to witness and experience the resistance and guerrilla
movement..then walk in downtown Odessa seeing Che Guevara art on cars.

Before departing from the tunnels, we are advised to visit the
restrooms. No, let me clarify. It consists of three holes  in the
ground separated by a wall. No doors. And yes its below freezing. Lets
just say we reached a new level of group building at that moment.

We continue on…to the Jewish cemetery….To the neighborhood where
criminals lived and the school of “pickpockets” was located. Headed by
whom? Chaim Epelbaum. Who later became the model for a Karl Marx
monument. People in Odessa say hmmm our Karl Marx monument looks a lot
like the Jewish guy who taught kids to steal…welcome to Odessa.

We visit another holocaust memorial where 25,000 were killed. I
confront my history. I acknowledge the past. And I thank g-d that I
never experienced real fear in my life. And I thank g-d that being a
Jew has never been dangerous. As it was for our grandparents. We walk
away from the memorial as others pass it to get to their homes. And I
wonder. Who will continue to tell the story? Better yet, who will know
the story to tell?

We continue the day with lunch, if you read above, you’ll assume what
we ate. Ad some shopping :). We then gather together at the hotel to
walk to the Moshe house for Shabbat. This was one of the highlights
from the entire week and I still can’t get over how much I will truly
miss each of the residents. They are bright, open, interesting and are
truly exploring and expressing their jewish identities  and sharing it
with all of us. The house opened only 3 months ago and dates back to
pre revolution times. A beautiful space, with beautiful people. And a
ping pong table. Tis is the third Moshe house I’ve been to and it’s
interesting to note how different they are but how they truly bring
the community together.

So we started with the past and continued with the new generation. I
will not say finished with the day..because we are not done. It is up
to all of us to learn from each other, learn from different
communities, and impact the Jewish community.

I cannot wait to talk more about the trip when we get back. And yes, I
have many stories. 🙂


Name (required)

Email (required)


Speak your mind

  • Subscribe to the Hornstein Blog via Email

    Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 3 other subscribers

  • Like Us on Facebook!

Protected by Akismet
Blog with WordPress

Welcome Guest | Login (Brandeis Members Only)