Twenty-seven years ago, at the age of nine, Renata Magurdumov and her family left their home in Odessa, Ukraine, to come to the United States.
Now, all these years later, the Old Bridge resident is giving back to the Jewish community in the city where she was born.
For the past four years, Magurdumov and Rebbitzen Tova Chazanow of Chabad of Western Monmouth County have sponsored an annual Chabad Jewish Women’s Circle gathering. For this year’s event, they decided to focus on doing mitzvot for Jewish orphans and the needy in Odessa.
Through discussions with Rabbi Shmulik Greenberg, the Chabad rabbi in Odessa, Magurdumov learned that the city now boasts a thriving Jewish community, including yeshivas, shuls, mikvas, kosher restaurants — and the Mishpacha Orphanage that he runs (mishpachaorphanage.org).
On Aug. 15, over 60 women gathered at Magurdumov’s home to help the cause. Magurdumov, Chazanow, and, in a video, Greenberg, described the work of the orphanage and its needs. Singer and guitarist Chaviva Elharrar performed, and participants made hair bows, gift bags, and kipot for the orphans under the direction of Anna Groysman of Bright Zebra Art Studio in Matawan.
Magurdumov’s children also got involved; son Brandon, 12, designed a Rosh Hashana card depicting children from both countries with a Torah scroll connecting them. Ava, her eight-year-old daughter, wearing one of the handmade bows, expressed her hopes that the orphans would feel beautiful and loved when they put on the hair ornaments.
According to Chazanow, the event raised more than $1,300.
Magurdumov said that the program “left people wanting to do more. What started with bows has now snowballed into Facebook donations and people wanting to send clothing and toys.”