Odessa’s Jewish history is a fascinating story to tell. Opportunities provided by the fast growing city and port both for the poor Jews from the shtetls and rich Galicia Jews were plentiful. In hundred years Odessa boasted Jewish bankers and traders, architects and doctors. The city became home to the Jewish intellectuals, housed the Haskalah movement and Odessa’s Palestine Committee. The “Star in Exile” to a Jew in the Russian Empire during the first half of the nineteenth century, Odessa evolved into the “Gates of Zion” several decades later.
Sylvester Stallone, Sydney Pollack, David Copperfield, Kirk Douglas, Steven Spielberg, Sigmund Freud, Bob Dylan, Boris Pasternak – these are just a few celebrity names, whose family roots are connected with Odessa.
How did Odessa become the third largest city in terms of Jewish population in the world by the end of the XlX century? What made the Jews in Russian Empire and Odessa escape the country at the first decade of the XX century? On this 2.5-hour walking tour we’ll talk about the “Golden Age” of Odessa’s Jewish community:
“Lebn vi Got in Odes!” went a traditional Yiddish phrase. “Live like God in Odessa”. Indeed, a 19th century Odessa in Isaac Babel’s words was a “star in exile” for a Jewish person. Why was it so?
The nineteenth-century Odessa
Coming a bit later than usually, this is our look back on 2014 tourist season, how it went for us here in Odessa. All opinions are ours and the commentary draws solely on the experience of Odessa Walks team.
Needless to say, the 2014 did not go as planned. It proved to be the year when all forecasts were useless, external risks to business were unmanageable and all planning could be done only for tomorrow. The day after tomorrow was already unpredictable. Due to political unrests that had been happening in Ukraine throughout the winter months, we thought we wouldn’t see any tourists in 2014 whatsoever. However, the first private tours were arranged already in May. As situation in Odessa stabilized later in the year, we saw more guests coming from Europe and USA.