Tag: travel

Incident in Opatow (Poland)

August 2018 We arrived in Opatow in early evening and I took my bags upstairs to my hotel room, which directly overlooked the city gate. The next day as we looked around, I thought of the many Torontonians whose parents and grandparents had left the town before the war, and the many more Jews from “Apt” (at least 7,000) who perished…

My return to Konin (Poland)

August 2018 The moment I stepped out of the car, I realized that this was the first time a member of my family had been back in our ancestral town in more than 130 years. I was in Konin, in the Lodz district of Poland, the town where my paternal ancestors had lived for generations…

Visiting my ancestral towns in Belarus

From the Canadian Jewish News, 2018 Zhlobin, in the Minsk province of Belarus, was the birthplace of my maternal grandmother, Esther Arnoff Naftolin, who was born there about 1895. Her grandfather, Binyamin Rubinowicz, had been a blacksmith in Zhlobin, and she had had many uncles, aunts and cousins there as well. She left as a…

A visit to Jerusalem Archaeological Park

From Canadian Jewish News, 2002 Below the southwestern corner of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, near the archaeological feature known as Robinson’s Arch, lies a random assortment of massive stone building blocks. Though you might not realize it at first, these blocks help bring history to life. They were once part of a parapet wall along the…

An 1839 travelogue through the Jewish world

In the year 1839, had you been a traveller along the road from Rzeszov to Cracow, you would have been obliged to show a passport in Podgorze, the suburb of Cracow on the Austrian side of the Vistula (“Weichsel”) River. After submitting to a cursory inspection from Austrian officials, your vehicle would have crossed the…

Meeting Nehemiah Persoff at David’s Deli, San Francisco

The rumbling is sudden and loud and the floor vibrates intensely. Yet patrons in this darkened theatre on Pier 39 in the Fisherman’s Wharf district remain calm. And why not? They have paid $7 to attend the San Francisco Experience, a 28-minute multi-media show that promises that “you will feel the earth shake.” Utilizing a…

How not to cross the Allenby Bridge

From the Canadian Jewish News, 1989 Since the recent declaration of peace between Jordan and Israel, and the opening of the Arava border-crossing point between Eilat and Aqaba, it is now a simple matter for visitors to cross freely between these two spectacular Middle Eastern countries. Until these most welcome innovations, tourists frequently faced considerable…

Swept away at Niagara Falls: a cautionary tale

The Niagara Falls Visitor and Convention Bureau recently gave me an envelope filled with complimentary admission tickets to local museums and fun houses, and for a couple of hours I was like a kid again as I visited them all in succession. The Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! Museum, the Guinness Book of World Records…

Capernaum is rich in Christian history

In the ancient fishing village of Capernaum, above the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee, visitors may examine a partially reconstructed 2nd- or 3rd-century synagogue and glimpse portions of the underlying remains of an earlier synagogue in which Jesus is said to have preached. The town’s name derives from the Hebrew name K’far Nachum,…

The Road to Timbuktu: Adventures of a Jewish Traveller

Seeking to extend their colonial holdings in the early 1800s, the major European powers considered the notion of dispatching expeditions through the forbidden Sahara Desert to Timbuktu, the legendary lost city of gold in the heart of Africa. Rumors of the vast wealth of Timbuktu had been circulating ever since 1324, when Mansa Musa (“Emperor…