Twelve communal leaders and two professionals from The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore returned on May 26 from a mission to Baltimore’s sister city, Odessa, in the Former Soviet Union. The seven-day trip was in the works, according to Baltimore-Odessa Partnership Committee Co-chair Andrew Razumovsky, for upwards of nine months.
“We tried to model a lot of things based on the success of the Baltimore-Ashkelon Partnership,” said Razumovsky. “The only way to make [the partnership] successful is to build personal connections.”
Razumovsky said one of the most important outcomes of the mission was the hiring of a local Odessa coordinator, who will serve as a liaison between the Baltimore and Odessa communities. Another success was the percentage of Russian speakers who traveled with the group. Of the 12 lay people, four were Russian.
“One-and-a-half-million people left the Former Soviet Union because of Operation Exodus,” Razumovsky said. “No one in the Soviet Union grew up with a concept of charity, of giving or philanthropy. Here, we want to get everyone more involved, so our kids will know about that — and teach their kids.”
Razumovsky said a 2014 mission is being discussed, and more information will be available in the coming months.