'Spice girl' wows Odessa

August 11, 2011
The spice box that was returned to Odessa

The spice box that was returned to Odessa

When Bertha Pogrebinsky left Odessa 100 years ago, a silver havdalah box was among treasured possessions she took with her.

Now the spice box has been returned to the Odessa community by her granddaughter Sue Finer during a fact-finding trip to the city by 11 Edgware Reform Synagogue members.

The party visited Edgware's newly-twinned community of Temple Emanu-el, which in 11 years, has grown from 20 members to more than 300. Leaders want to open a kindergarten and reclaim the stunning Brody Synagogue building, which is now a government archive.

Edgware Reform's Rabbi Danny Smith joined the Progressive Chief Rabbi of Ukraine, Alexander Dukhovny, in officiating at a Shabbat morning service.

"It was very moving to see Judaism coming back to life in a city that once enjoyed such a vibrant and varied Jewish existence," Rabbi Smith observed.

The spice box was presented to Rabbi Dukhovny, along with a shofar and a leather-bound siddur.

Ms Finer said it would have given her grandmother "great pleasure to have a little piece of her life back in beautiful Odessa".

    Last updated: 12:59pm, August 11 2011