Programs

Programs Overview

Enlightening the Jewish community for a better tomorrow

In 1993, Rabbi Shlomo Baksht arrived in Odessa to revive Jewish life in this former communist region. Seeking out the remaining Jews, he established a small Jewish school and utilized educational and social programming to reach and mend this dwindling Jewish community. While working towards that goal, Rabbi Baksht discovered the plight of hundreds of local Jewish children suffering abuse and neglect, living on the streets or confined to bleak and often cruel institutional settings. In response, he secured an apartment, removed six Jewish children from a state orphanage and created the first ‘children’s home’, the nucleus of what has come to be Tikva.

Happy Jewish Kids

What started as a small community outreach program has improved the lives of more than 3,000 men, women, and children through programs including:

  • The Tikva Boys’ and Girls’ Homes caring for almost 160 children ages 1 to 4
  • An Infants’ Home for 40 infants and toddlers
  • A Day Care Center serving 125 children
  • Co-ed elementary and pre-schools, and boys’ and girls’ high schools serving over 780 Jewish children from Tikva’s homes and the Odessa region
  • A university program serving 176 students aged 17-21 that is accredited with diplomas from five state Ukrainian Universities
  • An international program that has sent over 300 boys and girls to Israel to continue their studies
  • The renovation and return to the community of the Great Choral Synagogue which has inspired the historical and religious rebirth of Jewish culture in Odessa.
  • A vibrant Jewish Community Center
  • A non-profit kosher restaurant and market offering the only kosher food products available to the Jewish community in Odessa

40 Infants & Toddlers
40
Infants & Toddlers

73 Girls Aged 7-16
73
Girls Aged 7-16

75 Boys Aged 7-16
76
Boys Aged 7-16

70 Girls Aged 17-21
70
Girls Aged 17-21

60 Boys Aged 17-21
60
Boys Aged 17-21

2,500 Jewish Children Still need to be saved
2,500 Jewish
Children
Still Need To Be Saved

Children's Homes

Rescuing Jewish children from a life of suffering
Thousands of Jewish children, even those living in supportive family settings, go hungry every day in Ukraine. Given the extremely low wages (the average being $50 per month) and lack of extensive social safety nets like those of Western Europe, many parents cannot cope and abandon their children out of sheer desperation. It is estimated that approximately 2,500 Jewish children are still orphaned or homeless in Ukraine.
Some of these children suffer abuse, spend devastating childhoods in state orphanages, or are at risk due to broken homes and the despair brought on by poverty and hopelessness. These are the children who are rescued with your help by Tikva. These Jewish children lacking basic vital necessities, care and a home to call their own enter Tikva and an entirely new reality of a loving, supportive environment.

A Daily Rescue Mission

Since 1996, Tikva has engaged in a constant search mission for Jewish children in need from the southern regions of the former Soviet Union, specifically Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus and Russia. Tikva employs 30 full time staff in order to seek out, document and rescue these destitute Jewish children. Last year alone, Tikva found over 100 indigent and imperiled Jewish children.

A Loving and Supportive Home at Tikva

A Loving and Supportive Home at Tikva

Tikva operates three children’s homes and two university dormitories in the heart of Odessa. The Infants’ and Toddlers’ home cares for 40 children, from newborns to five-year-olds; 80 girls, ages 6 to 16, live in the girls’ home; 75 boys, ages 6 to16, are raised in the boys’ home; and two university dormitories house 130 of Tikva’s home graduates who continue on to higher education. In the process of creating these homes, Tikva has reunited dozens of siblings, now living together in the loving familial atmosphere of this compassionate and caring Jewish community.

Tikva helps its children and young adults transition from a life of hardship to one filled with happiness and hope. In Tikva’s homes, children sleep in their own beds (some for the first time in their lives), are provided with clothing and warm blankets, eat nutritious food, attend school, obtain medical treatment when necessary, and receive a modest allowance to help foster independence and individuality.They celebrate Shabbat and holidays, play sports, and have fun with their friends like children everywhere. They have the freedom to act their age – without worrying about how and where they will find their next meal. At Tikva, they are transformed from scared, detached children into lively, inquisitive, self-sufficient young adults.

Medical Care

Medical Care

Many of the children arrive at Tikva with medical, psychological and developmental difficulties following emotional and physical neglect and trauma. Once they arrive, the children are often found to be suffering from a wide range of problems, from regular childhood diseases to acute illnesses. Beyond these conditions, some children also have social impediments or significant learning challenges.

Tikva’s medical program employs seven doctors, twenty three nurses, six psychologists and two psychiatrists who perform complete medical evaluations. They identify the child’s most urgent needs, create an individualized treatment plan and prescribe and dispense essential medications as necessary. Once the children are part of the Tikva family, they have complete access to the Tikva health care facility and its professionals with a medical office open 24 hours a day in each home.

Jewish Education

Giving Jewish children the tools for a successful future

In addition to the hundreds of children who have benefited from the love and care given in Tikva’s homes, many more disadvantaged Jewish children from the broader community attend Tikva’s schools and receive a well-rounded Jewish and secular education. Of the approximately 720 children who are enrolled in Tikva’s schools, but do not live in Tikva’s homes, 80% are from families or situations where they suffer from poverty, hunger and overall neglect. By providing these at-risk children with a free, high-quality education within a caring Jewish environment, as well as three hot meals a day and after-school care, Tikva supports and empowers single parents to go to work, secure in the knowledge that their children are in good hands.

Tikva's Curriculum

In addition to the hundreds of children who have benefited from the love and care given in Tikva’s homes, many more disadvantaged Jewish children from the broader community attend Tikva’s schools and receive a well-rounded Jewish and secular education. Of the approximately 720 children who are enrolled in Tikva’s schools, but do not live in Tikva’s homes, 80% are from families or situations where they suffer from povert, hunger and overall neglect. By providing these at-risk children with a free, high-quality education within a caring Jewish environment, as well as three hot meals a day and after-school care, Tikva supports and empowers single parents to go to work, secure in the knowledge that their children are in good hands.

What Positions Tikva Graduates Hold Now..

  • English Teacher
  • Accountant
  • Kindergarten Counselor
  • Travel Agency Manager
  • Translator
  • Social Worker
  • Psychologist
  • Local TV Program Director
  • Telephone Operator
  • Restaurant Administrator
  • IT Director
  • IDF
  • Dentist
  • Construction Worker
Programs Overview

The After School Club

Many of the girls and boys who are not living in Tikva’s homes come from broken families with a range of socio-economic difficulties. Once school is over for the day, they can end up roaming the streets and getting into trouble. A large number of day students also suffer from a lack of nutritious meals and adult guidance.

In its ongoing efforts to help disadvantaged children within the larger community, Tikva runs an after-school program in its schools, providing enrichment opportunities for children aged 7 to 17. The project is operational four days each week, from 4:30 pm until 7:00 pm. Children can choose from a variety of activities, including English language and conversation, art therapy, dance, music, drama, yoga, sports and choral groups, and even help with homework. They eat a well-balanced meal while at the club, and can receive individual counseling to assist them with the emotional, academic, familial and other problems encountered in daily life.

The Jewish University of Odessa

Tikva offers a five-year accredited Jewish university program for students aged 17 to 21 and currently has an enrollment of 240 students. The program features a diversified secular and religious curriculum with an emphasis on adult leadership skills. Courses include psychology, teaching, economics, law, foreign languages, early childhood education and business management.

The Jewish Ukrainian Holocaust Research and Education Center

In 2009, Tikva established the Jewish Ukrainian Holocaust Research and Education Center as a learning resource for students enrolled in the Jewish University of Odessa’s Teaching Program. The Center was originally established to address a complete lack of knowledge on the subject by high school and university students. In an effort to combat this lack of awareness and understanding, the Center set out to train student educators to teach the Holocaust from a Jewish and historical perspective in an engaging, effective and accurate way.

The program is designed to enable graduates to disseminate this information in Tikva’s network of educational and other Jewish schools in the region, educating young people about the Holocaust. Due to the fact that the Holocaust had not previously been taught in this region, the program aims to strengthen affinity with the Jewish nation and its unique history by providing factual information, meaningful dialogue, and a forum for students to connect to a tragic part of Ukrainian history. Gradually, the center hopes to incorporate Holocaust Studies as a core module in non- Jewish schools and regional universities.

Today, this pioneering initiative has significantly expanded to include a broad range of programs that effectively draw greater numbers of people in the community to learn about the Holocaust. Initiatives include dynamic lectures by prominent historians, newsletters to keep community members up to date on upcoming learning opportunities, Holocaust remembrance ceremonies, and distribution of food packages to elderly Holocaust survivors.

Community Building

Enriching a community that will continue to grow

Tikva has helped pioneer the revitalization of Jewish communal life in Odessa, offering a range of community initiatives to help sustain its continued growth. As part of its effort to inspire and enrich Jewish life, Tikva created the following programs that have impacted the lives of thousands of men, women and children in the Jewish community:

  • Meals-on-Wheels providing hot meals and holiday packages to more than 175 Jewish elderly every day.
  • 500 weekly meals at the synagogue for community members in need.
  • A Day Care Center serving 125 children
  • Shabbat and festival meals at the synagogue for over 500 people of all ages.
  • The Great Choral Synagogue, reclaimed and renovated by Tikva on behalf of the Jewish community in 1997.
  • An adult Jewish educational program offering lectures, Hebrew language classes, and cultural activities reaching nearly 400 previously unaffiliated adults.
  • The Kosher Food Market, established in 2001, that enables Jews in Odessa to purchase kosher products.
  • Chevron, a kosher meat restaurant frequented by Tikva’s staff and visitors, as well as the broader Jewish and non-Jewish community.
Instructor plays piano for kids

With other activities such as Passover seder meals for 2,000 people, regular synagogue services, and drives for warm clothing and other essentials, Tikva responds to the critical needs of this developing Jewish community while finding ways to strengthen Jewish involvement and promote personal enrichment.

These community-building activities have created a Jewish environment for Tikva’s children in a region where Jewish expression was once forbidden. In addition, this supportive infrastructure serves as a surrogate family for Tikva’s orphans while promoting a Jewish revival for Tikva residents and staff and the broader Jewish community.

"I remember the Jewish holidays celebrated in my parents home when I was a little boy,” says Leible, a Tikva meals-on-wheels recipient. "But after the War, we were left with nothing Jewish to hold onto. Unfortunately, that’s how my children were raised – completely cut off from their Jewish past. But today, I eat kosher, and my grandchildren go to Jewish schools… all because of Tikva we can live like Jews”.

Facts at a Glance

70%
of all boys who age out of a state orphanage take to a life of crime
60%
of all girls aging out of a state orphanage go into prostitution
15%
of all children who age out of state orphanages commit suicide
Tikva Children's Homes
Tikva saves 100 children annually specifically from neglectful and abusive state orphanages. If it were not for Tikva’s life saving work, these children would be subjected to the cruelest forms of maltreatment.

Future in Israel

Enlightening the educated Jewish youth to all that Israel offers
Tikva

When Tikva’s children have reached at least 16 years of age, and are considered academically prepared and emotionally stable, Tikva assists them in considering the option to prepare for possible Aliya to Israel. Working with Tikva’s professional team of social workers, counselors and psychologists in Israel, Tikva helps coordinate its graduates’ adjustment to their new surroundings and effectively integrate into their new Israeli life.

Once in Israel, Tikva graduates are given access to the Tikva Israel Alumni Center in Jerusalem, a communal hub where former Tikva residents connect with one another and with Tikva staff. Here they can participate in Jewish enrichment courses and a wide range of social and cultural activities. They also receive career guidance and a promising future in Israel. The center offers all the comforts of home away from home - a kitchen, laundry facilities, study space, computer lab, and activity room. The center serves over 200 Tikva alumni weekly from Sunday through Thursday and is open 13 hours each day.

With the support offered by Tikva in Israel, more than 400 alumni from Tikva in Odessa have successfully relocated to make Israel their home. Tikva graduates are enrolled in Israeli high schools, pursuing degrees at Israeli universities, colleges and religious institutions, participating in vocational training programs, and serving in the IDF. Many have already entered the working world, and many have started families of their own.

Tikva Israel’s activities are effectively responding to the most urgent needs of its participants. Programs include:
Tikva’s Vocational Development and Employment Placement Program
Tikva’s Vocational Development and Employment Placement Program

Tikva’s young immigrants arrive with the usual challenges confronting new Olim. Among the most daunting is the inability to find suitable employment in their new surroundings. In response, Tikva established an employment, placement, and vocational development program in 2007 in order to assist Tikva participants in identifying and gaining viable employment. The project offers career counseling, employment related workshops, vocational course subsidies, and most importantly, meaningful job placement.

Jewish Holiday Program and Shabbat Retreats
Jewish Holiday Program and Shabbat Retreats

Jewish holidays can be a reminder to Tikva’s young Olim that they have no family in Israel and nowhere to spend the holidays. It is during these festival periods that they are liable to feel most alone. In response, Tikva’s staff and their families take approximately 150 alumni to spend the festivals together in hostels around the country. In addition, students have the opportunity to participate in shabbat retreats four times a year, leaving energized and inspired about Jewish life.

“Without Tikva, we would be alone for the holidays. My children would be devastated. Tikva is the only family we have and we are so grateful to be able to celebrate the holidays together”
- Julia, Age 26, Tikva Odessa alumna and mother of three

Tikva's University Program

Providing a helping hand into post-secondary education
Tikva

Established in 2003, the Jewish University of Odessa provides graduates of Tikva's homes and schools the opportunity to pursue a higher education that would otherwise be unattainable because of financial limitations and traumatic childhoods. Tikva operates a five-year university-level study program for students ages 17-23. Accredited by Crimea State University and Odessa University, the program offers a diversified secular and religious curriculum with an emphasis on civic leadership opportunities.

Degree paths include psychology, foreign languages, early childhood education, law, business management and Jewish studies (including Hebrew, Jewish history, Jewish literature, Jewish traditions and Jewish music). Classes are small and feature highly personalized attention, increased instructional time, as needed, and especially qualified administrators and instructors. Particularly unique, the program instills a strong sense of civic responsibility, particularly towards the Jewish community in the region.

The Jewish University of Odessa not only provides opportunity for those interested in exploring their own Jewish backgrounds, but also establishes a significant precedent in a region where numerous academic Jewish institutions existed and were destroyed. For a Jewish community that has risen from the ashes of Nazism and Communism, Jewish academic learning and the development of communal leadership skills is an integral part of rebuilding the infrastructure of this once vibrant epicenter of Jewish education and culture.

The Jewish University of Odessa has an enrolment rate of 250 students. It is the first university level Jewish institution in southern Ukraine since the Second World War. Fifty two percent of its students are from Tikva's homes and schools while forty eight percent come from the broader community (80% of the latter group come from deprived socio-economic circumstances).

More Programs

Beyond the basic needs of a loving home and education, TIKVA continuously develops and partners on programs to give our children, at every age, the most well-rounded, healthy upbringing possible. Over the years we have developed dozens of programs including those highlighted below:

HELEN DORON - ENGLISH LEARNING PROGRAM

Sponsored by National Debt Relief: Tom Leydiker, Alex Kleyner and Daniel Tilipman

Helen Doron is a world leader in the ESL industry with a network of Helen Doron Kindergartens in over 35 countries for children ages 3 months to 19 years. TIKVA has adopted the Helen Doron Kindergarten program, which has proved extremely effective in starting ESL for the children as early as possible to assure their proficiency in English. Based on this success, this program is being expanded to other grade levels.

TAL AM HEBREW LEARNING PROGRAM

A unique curriculum of Hebrew Language Arts and Jewish Studies geared to students in Grades 1 to 6.

STUDENT VOLUNTEER PROGRAM

An incentive program to encourage students to get involved in the community-at-large and learn about giving back. TIKVA'S Meals on Wheels delivery is a part of this program.

ORT COMPUTER PROGRAM/ROBOTICS

A cutting-edge robotics course is available for students from 5th through 11th grade where they learn the basics of robotics, create a robotics project and prepare for Ukranian and international ORT competitions. Students from 2nd through 4th grade study the fundamentals of technological engineering processes through Lego modeling courses.

SUMMER CAMPS

Summer camp is one of the most popular programs with TIKVA'S children. There are separate sleep- over camps for boys and girls, and a Summer day-camp to fill the days from the end of the school year until the beginning of sleep-away camp.

“NISAYON VIDEO PROGRAM” TEACHERS WITH STUDENTS

Nisayon is TIKVA'S version of "minute to win it." Students meet with teachers and learn interesting challenges, and compete to meet the challenge. This gives children bragging rights, a fun time, and especially builds confidence in children who struggle in other areas of study.

WOMEN'S LEADERSHIP PROGRAM

TIKVA is committed to rebuilding Jewish life within the Odessa community and empowering women. We have embarked on a Jewish leadership training program that gives young, eager and committed Jewish women at TIKVA the skills that will ultimately help them become leaders and influencers in their communities.

PLATINUM CLUB

Platinum club offers access to TIKVA'S services and facilities to the broader Jewish community of those 18-35. It offers evening lectures, clubs, workshops, and access to games and play tables. They also host semi-annual ‘Shabbatons’ to those who join.

JEWNIOR - CLUB FOR JEWISH ACTIVITIES FOR CHILDREN UNDER AGE 12

Jewnior was created by 2 women (TIKVA graduates) in order to give children from the homes and the community the opportunity to spend time together in an informal atmosphere. Jewnior organizes events themed events around Jewish festivals. It also gives parents an opportunity to meet up and catch up in a relaxed environment.

STARS JUDAIC STUDIES PROGRAM

STARS is a Judaic scholarship program dedicated to teaching Jewish history, tradition, culture, values and language. The group meets twice a week for lectures and informal meetings led by community key professionals. This offers a financial bonus to people under 21 and over 45.

HOLOCAUST STUDIES

This program is dedicated to educating the young people of TIKVA on the Holocaust and its impact on the Jewish people.

OLAMI (STUDENTS TRAVEL ABROAD: BRAZIL, FRANCE, LONDON)

OLAMI is an organization fusing both informal and formal Jewish education modules to create an engaging, inspiring and motivating environment for further Jewish engagement. TIKVA partners with the OLAMI organization on several projects. One of them is educational trips to Europe for active students.

OLAMI JEWISH FILM FESTIVAL

Through this program, students can participate twice a year in a Jewish film festival with film submissions and competitions.

WRESTLING PROGRAM

The wrestling program is sponsored by Neil Ellman, founder of the Wittenberg tournament (US based orthodox wrestling tournament that includes some 20 Yeshivas nationwide.) Through wrestling the children learn discipline, confidence, and respect for their peers.

BRIT MILAH

TIKVA assumes a role, which is usually that of the parent, by organizing the Brit Milah ceremony and celebration for newborn boys.

WINTER CAMP

Every winter a group of 30-40 girls from Ateres school in Monsey, NY come to TIKVA and organize 2 weeks various activities for the girls’ home, girls school, infants home and kindergarten. The Ateres group, headed by Esti Brecher, Ateres director of student life, provides a complete lineup of programs, provides the full programming including supplies, and the TIKVA girls look forward to it every year.

MEALS ON WHEELS

TIKVA'S partnership with the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) provides over 2,000 nutritious kosher meals served to seniors who come to our synagogue, and delivers to homebound seniors in a JDC- operated "Meals on Wheels" program. TIKVA'S Meals on Wheels program connects young students with the underserved elderly Jewish community of Odessa. Meals are prepared in TIKVA'S kitchens and delivered by students who spend time with often-homebound senior citizens and help with household chores.

SABBATH & JEWISH FESTIVAL CELEBRATIONS

TIKVA is at the center of celebration of Jewish Holidays, not only for the children and students, but for the community as a whole. The Great Choral Synagogue hosts weekly Sabbath meals, as well as all festivals, creating a means and a venue for the community to observe Sukkot, Hanukah, Passover, Purim, Rosh Hashanah and all other holidays.

WEDDINGS

Thanks to the generosity of TIKVA Board Members Carla Harman and Warren Steilglitz, young couples who otherwise don’t have the means or support, celebrate their wedding day in a joyous, festive and dignified fashion.

MASA QA

MASA is a program organized by this Jewish agency and TIKVA for Russian speaking students. Students study software analysis (QA) for 8 months and receive a diploma from Tel Ran University. This usually results in immediate job placement within Odessa QA companies.

THE SHABBAT PROJECT

The Shabbat Project is an opportunity for TIKVA'S children to invite the less affiliated community into their world and experience Shabbat together. This student-run program happens a few times a year and and is open to the Jewish community no matter what their level of religious observance.

JEWISH HOLIDAY PROGRAM AND SHABBAT RETREATS IN ISRAEL

Jewish holidays can be a sad reminder to TIKVA'S young Olim that they have no family in Israel and nowhere to spend the holidays. It is during these festival periods that they are liable to feel most alone. In response, Director Bentzi Feist, along with his wife Sara, take approximately 150 alumni to spend the festivals together in hostels around the country. In addition, students have the opportunity to participate in shabbat retreats four times a year, leaving energized and inspired about Jewish life.

TIKVA'S VOCATIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND EMPLOYMENT PLACEMENT PROGRAM

TIKVA'S young immigrants to Israel arrive with the usual challenges confronting new Olim. Among the most daunting is the inability to find suitable employment in their new surroundings. In response, TIKVA established an employment, placement and vocational development program in 2007 in order to assist TIKVA participants in identifying and gaining viable employment. The project offers career counselling, employment-related workshops, vocational course subsidies, and most importantly, meaningful job placement.

Stay in Touch with Tikva

Sign up to receive news about Tikva and ways to get involved.