ODESSA, Ukraine (JTA) — An exhibition in Odessa on Israel’s national poet, Hayim Nahman Bialik, was featured in the opening of the third Limmud in Ukraine.
Some 500 Russian-speaking Jews convened Saturday in Odessa for the four-day Jewish learning conference featuring lectures and activities connected to the historic ties between Odessa and Tel Aviv, as well as to Bialik.
“The idea is to emphasize the links between the cities and show Odessa’s huge impact on the Zionist endeavor through people’s lives,” said Limmud FSU founder Chaim Chesler.
Bialik, an eminent 20th-century Hebrew-language poet, was born 140 years ago in what is now Ukraine. He had his first poem published in Odessa.
The exhibition “Poet’s Path” at the OK Odessa Hotel was curated by the Bialik Complex Museum of Tel Aviv and co-organized by Limmud FSU and Nativ, the Israeli Cultural Center. Mayor Aleksey Kostusyev is expected to visit the exhibition later this week, organizers said.
It features photos of Bialik, poems and reproductions of archive material.
The Limmud learning festival also includes activities and lectures on other prominent former Odessans such as the writer Asher Zvi Hirsch Ginsberg; Zionist leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky; Tel Aviv’s first mayor, Meir Dizengoff; and historian Simon Dubnov.
Best known for his jarring poem “The City of Slaughter” about the Kishinev pogrom of 1903, Bialik established himself as a pillar of modern Hebrew prose with versatility that ranged from protest poems to playful nursery rhymes and even erotic poetry.
“When Bialik arrived in prestate Israel in 1924, he was already aware of his status as a national poet of the entire Jewish People,” said Ayelet Bitan Shlonsky, curator of the Tel Aviv museum, at the opening.
“In Tel Aviv, he was consulted on and involved in virtually every cultural development of prestate Israel,” she said.