Hi all (and hi mum!),

First a quick security update: we are proceeding with our program but are certainly taking security warnings very seriously and taking extra precautions. Odessa is located far away from Kiev and we are told has a very different mentality. The feeling on the streets is one of heightened awareness but that’s very much to be expected. We are all safe and have various entities monitoring the situation and guiding the decision makers.

Day 5 - Catacombs

The focus of the today was Odessa during World War 2. We visited the catacombs where we explored the headquarters of the Ukrainian resistance. It was eye-opening to see the resourcefulness of these groups including their living quarters, kitchen, workshop and communication center. It was also fascinating to hear how they were able to outmaneuver the Romanian guards by understanding the direction of the wind and being so familiar with the terrain.

We then visited the Holocaust Memorial and Holocaust Museum, both of which added to the complexity and nuance of this period of history.

Day 5 - Warm House HesedDay 5 - Warm House Holocaust

Our last stop before Shabbat was to JDC’s ‘warm houses’- groups that gather to share stories and keep each other company. We split into two groups with some visiting a group of Holocaust survivors and the other visiting a group of community volunteers. The afternoon with the Holocaust survivors and the daughter of a righteous gentile was fascinating, inspiring and uplifting. We ate, drank, sang, laughed and listened. So much of what we have experienced over the last few days has been about history, the future, and the role of organizations and while these are important there is something about engaging one-on-one with people and sharing stories and laughter that touches our very souls.

Shabbat Shalom from Odessa!


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