Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Baltimore, Odessa and Partnerships

I've spent the last couple of days with my amazing colleague, Irina Zborovskaya, Director of JDC Odessa. Born in Odessa, Ira has become a leader in the area of Jewish Community Development in Southern Ukraine. She leads JDC projects and programming that provide Jewish Renewal as well as welfare relief for Jewish elderly, children and families.

One of the most fascinating aspects that we’ve been discussing here in Baltimore with our colleagues and friends from the Associated, the Jewish Federation in Baltimore, is how Odessa is not just a strong and vibrant partnership but also a microcosm of much of what is happening in the Jewish world today, in general, and specifically in the FSU (former Soviet Union).

There are two clashing trends clearly visible in Odessa today, that are playing out in many of the 75+ countries in which we work: hunger and thirst.

There is real hunger – real need, real poverty. 
Thousands of Jewish elderly are given food, medicine, homecare, winter supplies on a daily basis. 
But there is also real thirst – a thirst for Jewish knowledge, identity, community. 

And our task is to continually find the balance between the two in how we prioritize, how we allocate precious resources, how we predict the future trends and demographics of the community.

Ira is at the forefront of this grappling. And we’re fortunate to have partners like the Associated working with us on these, and many other, challenges and horizons.

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