Jewish travelers find that visiting synagogues/communities adds an interesting dimension to trips. For all travelers, discovering Jewish historical "footprints" leads to greater understanding of cultural forces which have shaped our world. דֶרֶך צְלֵחָה!

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Austria's Mauthausen concentration camp: because turning away shouldn't be an option

Yes, of course, the four capitals of Central Europe we visited on our Danube River cruise with Grand Circle Tours – Prague, Vienna, Bratislava, and Budapest – were all wrapped in wonder, overwhelmed with their impressive history, expansive promenades and architectural grandeur. But it was an experience near Linz in upper Austria that most impacted me – a visit to the Mauthausen Concentration Camp, one of the first to be built by the Nazis, in 1938, and in 1945 the last to be liberated (below).…

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  • Jewish history going back centuries is a highlight of a visit to the inviting Mediterranean destination of Malta:

    Experiencing Malta – the sun-drenched crossroads of the Mediterranean
    History, gastronomy and Jewish heritage highlight a visit to this island fortress.
  • Rare Jewish Coins from 1st Century Discovered

    An archaeological excavation along the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv Highway revealed a previously unknown settlement from the Late Second Temple period -- including a rare hoard of coins that was found in one of its houses. The hoard, which was kept in a ceramic money box, included 114 bronze coins dating to the Year Four of the Great Revolt against the Romans. This revolt led to the destruction of the Temple on Tisha B’Av (the ninth day of the month of Av) c. 2,000 years ago. 

    According to excavation directors, “The hoard, which appears to have been buried several months prior to the fall of Jerusalem, provides us with a glimpse into the lives of Jews living on the outskirts of Jerusalem at the end of the rebellion. Evidently someone here feared the end was approaching and hid his property, perhaps in the hope of collecting it later when calm was restored to the region”. All of the coins are stamped on one side with a chalice and the Hebrew inscription “To the Redemption of Zion” and on the other side with a motif that includes a bundle of lulav between two etrogs. Around this is the Hebrew inscription “Year Four”, that is, the fourth year of the Great Revolt of the Jews against the Romans (69/70 CE). 

  • Temple Sinai in Lake Charles, LA, is one of the notable landmarks on the local Preservation Society's horse-drawn carriage tour through the city's historic district. Built in 1904, the impressive building lost its distinctive twin onion-domed spires in a devastating hurricane, but it retains a unique indoor feature: a set of interior doors positioned at the rear of the sanctuary that are opened when welcoming the Shabbat queen during services on Friday nights. 

    See photos at:

  • Ha! I'd forgotten the ACLU's role in that, but of course, it makes sense. It was First Amendment rights, no exceptions.

    A tricky business, this democracy experiment. 

  • Many do remember the Nazi march, and the ACLU's role in defending their right to do it. In fact, the museum itself commemorates it, under the headline Skokie Invaded, but not Conquered.

    I do hope to get a chance to write about it. 

  • Buzzy, it's so interesting to me that it's in Skokie. Does anyone else besides me remember that Skokie was where the big Nazi/White People's Christian Party (something like that) rally took place c. 1970?  That was a riveting moment for the nation; everyone was shocked to see that happening up north. Anyway, will you be writing about the museum? 

  • I recently visited the Illinois Museum of the Holocaust, in the Chicago suburb of Skokie. In my opinion, it is one of the best of its kind in the world. Its original content curator was Michael Berenbaum, who served as director of Steven Spielberg's Shoah Foundation.  

  • Check out this new site, and sign up for their newsletter; WJH which is about to launch an exciting new travel app.

  • Belatedly posting this article that appeared in Jax Fax Magazine:

    Spain’s Sephardic Trail

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