Beit Hatfutsot offered three exhibitions on Odessa - the city that a century ago was a center of Jewish modernism, with the second largest Jewish community in imperial Russia: Growing Up in Odessa: Paintings by Yefim Ladizhinsky, Literary Texts and Memoirs by Jewish Writers.
Growing Up in Odessa: Paintings by Yefim Ladizhinsky
This exhibition displayed a selection of tempera paintings by Yefim Ladizhinsky, accompanied by memoirs by prominent Odessa writers, such as Isaac Babel, Mendele Mokher Seforim, Eliezer Steinmann and Zeev Jabotinsky. The Odessa-born Yefim Ladizhinsky (1911 - 1982) painted in the 1960's and 70's scenes from everyday life in the city during the early decades of the 20th century. His works vividly depict a panorama of bustling marketplaces, city squares, parks, cafes, funerals and weddings. These cityscapes tell a kind of naive story whose heroes are the city dwellers, among them the Jews, going about their daily lives in their various neighborhoods.
This exhibition dealt with the literary circle that in the late 19th and early 20th centuries turned Odessa into the center of the new Hebrew literature. Prominent members of this group included Ch. N. Bialik, Achad Ha-am, Y. Klausner, Rawnitzky and S. Tchernichowsky. Their personalities and intensive activity attracted young Jewish artists and intellectuals throughout the Pale of Settlement, who streamed into Odessa. Photographer Debbi Cooper visited Odessa on behalf of the AJJDC. The 40 photographs displayed in the exhibition exposed the contrast between Odessa's glorious past, seen in the city's impressive architecture and expansive avenues, and the much poorer present-day living conditions. Cooper sensitively documents with her camera personalities from Odessa's Jewish community and the revival of Jewish life in the city, in synagogues, educational institutions and community centers.