The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), the world’s leading Jewish humanitarian assistance organization, and the Odessa Jewish community formally dedicated today the Beit Grand Jewish Cultural Center. The Beit Grand JCC—the central address for Jewish life in Odessa—has been supported and expanded through the generosity of philanthropists Nancy and Stephen Grand and the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany and serves one of the former Soviet Union’s most vibrant Jewish populations.
“The dedication of Beit Grand is a remarkable moment in the great history of Jewish life in Odessa and speaks volumes about the role JDC has played in the miraculous renewal of Jewish life in this city and across the former Soviet Union,” said JDC CEO Steven Schwager. “It’s with an enormous sense of pride that JDC, together with the Grand family and the Claims Conference, helps ensure that Jews of every generation in Odessa can both experience the joys of Jewish tradition and culture and receive critical welfare services.”
Beit Grand is home to the city’s Hesed Shaarey Tzion Welfare organization and its Jewish Family Services program, as well as Hillel and the Odessa Regional Association of Ghetto and Concentration Camp Survivors. In addition to hosting concerts and holiday celebrations in its spacious concert hall, the Beit Grand also plays a key role in helping to organize and sponsor community events outside the building such as the Days of Jewish Culture event.
Boasting an extensive library and community gym, the Beit Grand campus has wide-ranging cultural programming including an arts studio, a Jewish writers club and a course for Jewish Odessa tour guides. The campus recently celebrated the opening of the Montessori-style Anavim Jewish kindergarten. And since 2009, a Jewish educator has been coordinating all Jewish renewal programs and working with the Beit Grand’s newly established Youth Club.
In addition to local Jewish community leaders, government representatives from Ukraine and Israel, a delegation from JDC’s Board of Directors, led by JDC Board Member Mark Sisisky, joined JDC Staff, a Claims Conference delegation, and other international guests for the dedication.