Display showcases how 'The Ruslan' ship took six hundred refugees fleeing persecution in Odessa. An exhibition showcasing the ship that took hundreds of Russian-speaking Jews to Israel has been opened 100 years after it docked in the port of Jaffa.

 The Ruslan, which carried 600 Jewish refugees from Odessa fleeing persecution, has been dubbed the Israeli ‘Mayflower’ after the ship that took English Puritans from Plymouth to the New World across the Atlantic in 1620. A new exhibition commemorating the story of the ship that became a symbol of the Third Aliyah opened late last month at the Israel Museum, marking 100 years since her voyage and the establishment of the Central Zionist Archives.The exhibition, called And the Ship Sails On: Cultural Pioneers aboard the Ruslan was established with support from the Genesis Philanthropy Group (GPG) and includes details of its notable passengers’ later achievements in art, film, photography and literature.

Among those disembarking at Jaffa on 19 December 1919 were Zionist ideologues, intellectuals, artists, poets, leaders and activists who went on to influence the early development of Israeli society, culture and art.“The unique combination of an art exhibition alongside historical documents allows a rare glimpse into the formative processes of a significant part of Israeli art and culture in pre-state times,” said the museum’s Professor Ido Bruno.

GPG president and chief executive Ilia Salita said the journey of the Ruslan “signifies the renewal of the Jewish nation on the path to independence and the transfer of the cultural and intellectual treasure of the Jews of the decaying Russian Empire, from Odessa to Israel”.