Ohr Avner Chabad students study during a break in Odessa, Ukraine.
Ohr Avner Chabad students study during a break in Odessa, Ukraine.

The Jewish community of Odessa, Ukraine, celebrated a decade of educational accomplishment last week as it marked 10 years since the founding of the city’s Ohr Avner Chabad network of schools.

Founded by Rabbi Avraham and Chaya Wolff, who began with a kindergarten and day school of 57 students, the network today boasts some 600 pupils.

“Everything started small,” said Wolff, who arrived as a Chabad-Lubavitch emissary in 1992 and serves as the city’s chief rabbi. “Now we have 11 couples from Israel who teach here.”

Wolff, who was attending a rabbinical conference in Dneprodzerzhinsk the same time as the celebration, pre-recorded a congratulatory message for the Odessa crowd. He echoed the assessment of network director Yakov Shostak, who credited the dedication of teachers and staff members with Ohr Avner’s achievement.

“Ten years gives the local community the feeling that the future of the school and the future of the community is secure,” said Wolff. “It makes parents more comfortable in sending their kids to our school.”

In addition to its schools, the network also runs an orphanage for about 60 children from Odessa and elsewhere in Ukraine, as well as a university specializing in business and economics.

The Odessa network is one of more than 100 educational institutions throughout Eastern Europe funded by the Federation of Jewish Communities of the Former Soviet Union and the Ohr Avner Foundation.