Limmud Vancouver is a unique community event that brings together people of all ages, from all streams of Judaism and at all levels of Jewish knowledge to learn, teach and share their knowledge and experience for a weekend. Limmud activities are held around the world and organized entirely by volunteers.
This year I was both honoured and flattered to be asked to make two presentations, one tonight at a cabaret-style evening at the Jewish Community Centre, and one tomorrow at Eric Hamber School as part of the day's educational program.
Tonight I will tell the story of two trips to Odessa Ukraine (once Russia) where my forefathers once lived. Odessa is also Vancouver's sister city and when I first visited with my father in 1994, then Mayor Phillip Owen wrote to the recently elected mayor of Odessa, (who coincidentally was a Jew) asking for a reception at City Hall. While the mayor was in Kiev, we were received by the Deputy Mayor.
At the time I joked that since every Geller who I ever met came from Odessa, I wanted to see how many Gellers there were in the Odessa telephone directory. Unfortunately we had such a busy and exciting day, we forgot to check.
However, this past spring I returned to Odessa following a business trip to Moscow. This time I did not forget and found a young lady at the Jewish Museum who helped me check out the directories!
Tomorrow I will give a presentation on the many fascinating and beautiful synagogues and museums I have toured around the world. Both presentations will be posted on-line after the event.