Students of the Jewish University of Odessa Graduate Despite Pandemic

Next year’s students are going to study programming and the pharmaceutical industry

Students of FJC’s Jewish University “Chabad-Odessa” have completed their studies and received state diplomas despite the difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic. This year 18 students graduated with a Bachelor’s degree, and seven with a Master’s degree, four of them graduated with honors. Three students received additional qualifications, making it possible for them to continue working in informal Jewish educational frameworks in Jewish communities across the former Soviet Union.

“This year, we have celebrated the thirteenth graduation. For every Jew, this is a significant age, because this resembles a Bar Mitzvah”, said University’s Rabbi Fishel Chichelnitsky.

The University, founded in 2007, is an accredited institution that offers tuition and room and board at no charge. It features five-year programs in many fields, including foreign language, early childhood education, law, business, and finance studies. Besides, students study Hebrew, Jewish history, heritage, and traditions.

“This academic year was exceptional,” rabbi Chichelnitsky says. “Until March 2020, everything was going as usual, but after Purim, we had to send students home because of COVID-19 and switch to online education. Prayers and pre-Shabbat meetings were also conducted using Zoom,” he added.

Due to the quarantine, studies ended only in July 2020. Bachelor’s degree examinations were taken online, and Master’s degree examinations at the University. All safety measures were observed: only a teacher and one student could be in the room.

Celebrating graduation took place in the courtyard of the Londonskaya Hotel, a famous attraction in the center of Odessa. The Chief Rabbi of Odessa and South Ukraine, Rabbi Avraham Wolff, gave a speech for the graduate students. One of them was unable to attend the ceremony because he could not leave Israel due to the restrictions.

The move of university students from Odessa to Israel is an established trend. “We have an ex-student who now works at the Embassy of Israel in Kazakhstan. He confirmed his diploma in Israel, served in the Israeli army, and then began to work in the diplomatic field,” said the University’s rabbi. Also, we have a student who works in a top position in Masa Israel. We are pleased that our students are succeeding in the Jewish state.”

Today, the University continues to enroll students for the new academic year, and new majors have appeared in its program: pharmaceuticals, journalism, cybersecurity, programming, graphic design. “We keep up to date and understand the most popular trends in the international labor market,” said Rabbi Chichelnitsky.

The South-Ukrainian Jewish University “Chabad-Odessa” is the youngest educational institution in the Ukrainian town of Odessa that is known for its Jewish history. The University program was created with the assistance of the local Jewish community, which helps students from the countries of the former Soviet Union to graduate. To date, 400 students have already graduated from the University.

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