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Top Travel Bloggers Share About Their Favorite Places to Visit

Along with other travel bloggers, we have begun a collaboration to create an article about our favorite place.

 

The Traveling Rabbi writes about Jerusalem

Halva for sale at Machaneh Yehudah Maerket in Jerusalem

Halva for sale at Machaneh Yehudah Maerket in Jerusalem

History, Culture and a Melting Pot of Religions

Jerusalem is one of my favorite cities in the world to visit. It fascinates me to no end and every time I am there I discover something new. It is the melting pot of many religions and is revered as a holly city by possibly half the worlds population. But it’s not just about religion, Jerusalem is fascinating from an Archeological perspective, military history, and anyone interested in ancient civilizations. Jerusalem at the same time is a fusion of the old world charm and modern technology.

Fascinating history

Walk underground for 533 meters trough Hezkiah’s Tunnel which are over 1000 years old. If you are Christian, retrace the steps of Jesus and visit the many chapels and churches. Witness thousands of Jews praying at the Western Wall, the remains of a 2000 year old Temple. Visit the Burnt house and see what people lived in during the Roman period. Marvel at the collection in the Israel museum with enough history to boggle anyone’s mind.

Places of Worship

All of the Abrahamic religions are represented here. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Along with this there are the extremes from the secular, to the mildly religious, though the full on fanatics. Stroll through the ancient streets of Jerusalem and you will see Muslims dressed in white robs, Armenian monks in black, and ultra orthodox Jews in gold striped coats.  From the western wall, to the Dome on the rock, to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher Jerusalem has no shortage of fascinating religious sites revered by a few billion people in the world.

Food Galore

There is pizza, doughnuts, ice cream and all the same foods you will find anywhere in the world. But when I’m in Jerusalem I prefer to eat like a local, and that means falafel and shawarma. There are dozens of places around the city but my favorite is King George Falafel on King George street. Go there any time and there is a line of people waiting. It is one of the cheapest places to eat yet remains one of the tastiest. Get a falafel or laffa filled with what you want, then sit outside and watch the people go bye as you enjoy your meal.

Ancient Markets

Get a feel of what it was like to shop hundreds if not thousands of years ago. Machane Yehuda Jerusalem’s most famous outdoor market  where you will find fresh produce, spices, halva, olives and dairy products. The Old City Souk, is the most famous with tourist where you can find tacky souvenirs but also useful bits and pieces. The markets are also a great place to stop for a snack of Baklava and some sugary mint tea or a strong cup of coffee.

 

 

Kendra Thornton writes about Las Vegas

Food, Fun and Far Out Rides

I have visited the city of Las Vegas several times with my family. Each time brings something new that I didn’t discover the previous time I was there. On my last few excursion I have found attractions that I can visit with my family as well as by myself. Some of the activities are outdoors, but many of them are inside for an added convenience.

Wine Tasting

One of my favorite things to do in Las Vegas is to sample wine. I found a fun spot with my husband last year that I continue to visit. Perhaps the best place is the Michael Mina restaurant. While there, I learned about the wine making process and got to mix some drinks of my own. The class on wine making and bartending takes about two hours, but it is worth the time.

Science

While Las Vegas is known for a city of adult fun, there are some new museums that my children enjoy. They can learn about science and some history. The Neon Museum is a favorite because it looks like it is in a junkyard. Another favorite is the Discovery Museum. There are several hands on exhibits for children of all ages.

Sand and Sun

The Pink Jeep Tour is by far one of the best experiences. A jeep picks you up right outside your hotel room. While on the tour, I traveled across some of the deserts in Las Vegas. The ride was a bit bumpy, but it was one of the best ways I have seen the city and surrounding areas. The last time I went I took advantage of the trip that lasted an entire day and was set in the Grand Canyon.

Are You Hungry

I am a fan of the show Man vs. Food. When I saw a competition where I could try to eat for a free meal, I had to try. Several of the hotels have competitions like this. Avoid the ones with steak because the portions are large. However, if you can finish your meal, then you get it free. Your picture is also posted on a wall of fame.

There are places to avoid, but overall, the city is full of fun. It is a place where you can take the family and with so many hotels along the strip, you will be sure to find the right one for you and your family. Sites like Gogobot make it easy to read user reviews. Pay attention to shows that are scheduled so that you can make the most out of your trip by seeing as many attractions as possible.

 

Are you a passionate travel blogger? If so please send me an article similar to the above posted so I may share it with others:  Rabbiben@travelingrabbi.com

 

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Celebrating Purim in Adelaide, Australia 2014

Purim in AdleaidePurim started Saturday night with a party at the Rabbi’s home. The Megillah was read by Rabbi and then everyone sat down for some yummy hamantaschen baked by the Rebbetzin. A couple of visitors from Sydney also joined us.

Purim day we had a nice turnout at the shul for our program fromnoon to 3.00pm. People were having so much fun that it ran overtime and ended closer to 4.00pm.

The program started with hamantaschen baking. Supervised by the Rebbetzin, participants made hamantaschen with fillings of chocolate, marshmallow, peanut butter, jam and sometimes a collection of all four together! The hamantaschen were placed in the oven to bake and then everyone gathered in the shul to listen to the Megillah. Of course Rabbi had to tell a few corny Purim jokes prior to the reading like: “What is the difference between a telephone and Haman”. Answer: “Nothing. When we are finished with both of them we hang them up!”

After the megillah reading we had a collection of short Purim films shown on a big screen in a makeshift cinema on the stage. Special thanks to David Benveniste, for putting it all together. At this point, we should mention that David won first place again for best costume dressed as Ezio from the video game Assassin’s Creed.

By the time the Movie was done, Klee along with some helpers had set up a lovely Israeli lunch of pita, falafel, salad, and tabouli. Dessert was a potpourri of all the fresh hamantaschen out of the oven.

Then came the long awaited Juggling show by the great Benjini, who did some impressive juggling, a couple of magic tricks with plenty of jokes. If you were there, you’d have seen him perform the fastest juggling trick in the world, make a balloon worm, do card tricks, and turn an empty container into a tray of hamantashen!

The day continued with a Purim Seudah at the Rabbi’s home along with a second megillah reading that day for those who had missed the first one, or enjoyed it so much they wanted to hear it again, followed by lots of Rebbetzin’s delicious food, l’chaims and stories.

Thank you to all of you who participated in the great Mitzva of Matanot L’evyonim, giving charity to the poor on Purim. This Purim from the Adelaide Community we gave US$180 to Yad Eliezer (www.yadeliezer.org) and US$61 to Leket Israel (www.leket.org.il) Both organizations do tremendous work in bringing food to those who need it in Israel. The organizations are all well recognized and run mostly by volunteers. Check the links for more information.

Thank you all who participated and made our Purim.

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Happy Purim, Be Happy and Joyful!

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JEWS IN KAZAKHSTAN

The film ‘Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan,’ is a 2006 comedy starring the Jewish actor Sacha Baron Cohen. The plot: Kazakh television personality Borat Sagdiyev leaves Kazakhstan for the “Greatest Country in the World”, the “U, S and A” to make a documentary at the behest of the Kazakh Ministry of Information. He leaves behind his wife Oksana and other inhabitants of his village including his “43-year-old” mother, bringing along his producer Azamat Bagatov and a pet chicken. The film pokes a lot of fun at a country that most foreigners know little to nothing about.

It is rare to meet someone who has travelled to Kazakhstan, but last week Rabbi Ben met a young Australian who had just cycled through Kazakhstan. Naturally he asked the cyclist, ‘Did you meet Borat’s family?’ The cyclist replied, ‘Whatever you do, never mention Borat in Kazakhstan. The people there are not happy about this movie that has portrayed their country as a joke!’
It’s interesting to note, that the villages that Baron Cohen visits in depicting how backwards Kazakhstan is, were not even in Kazakhstan, they were filmed in Romania.

Sacha Baron Cohen may not be welcomed in Kazakhstan but Jews have a history there.

General Secretary Joseph Stalin forcibly moved thousands of Jews from other parts of the Soviet Union to the Kazakh SSR, and during the Holocaust 8,000 Jews fled to Kazakhstan.

A Chabad-Lubavitch synagogue in Almaty is named after Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson, father of the Rebbe, who is buried at the city’s cemetery, close to the synagogue. Levi Yitzchak Schneerson was exiled to Kazakhstan from Ukraine, Dnepropetrovsk, where he was a chief rabbi. Lubavitcher Jews from all over the world come to pray at his grave.

It seems like Jews historically ended up in Kazakhstan not entirely by choice though today there are estimated 3,300 Jews living there.

Between 2005 and 2006 attendance in religious services and education in Almaty among Jews greatly increased. The Kazakh government registered eight foreign rabbis and “Jewish missionaries” (most likely Chabad!) and has also donated buildings and land for the building of new synagogues.Across the country, there are fourteen Jewish day schools attended by more than 700 students and there is a Jewish kindergarten in Almaty. 

We find it inspiring to learn about Jewish communities and hope you do too. Who knows, maybe some Rabbi in Almaty met a cyclist from Adelaide and this week is writing about the Jewish community of Adelaide!

 

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Adelaide Fringe Review and a Very un-Jewish Show: Come Heckle Christ

(I apologies to my frum readers about this post)

As you may know, the Adelaide Fringe festival is in full swing. There are hundreds of performers and shows to choose from . It truly is a remarkable and fun festival that brings a lot of business and life to Adelaide.

For those who know me, I have a background in circus, magic, and ventriloquism which I practiced throughout my high school years. I did many shows within Jewish communities around the world. Purim, Lag B’omer, Sukkot, and Chanukah you could probably find me juggling some fire torches somewhere entertaining a Jewish crowd.

On my first trip around Europe when I was seventeen years old, I traveled with a magic and juggling kit performing wherever I could.

I’ve often said that, If I were not a Rabbi I’d probably have become a performer traveling the world to places like the Adelaide Fringe festival and doing, some sort of comedy, juggling, magic, martial art performance.

I therefore have a lot of appreciation for the hundreds of performers who have worked hard and put together their  acts now showing in Adelaide. There are so many shows going on that it was hard for me to choose which ones to see. I like comedians but not the ones who use loads of foul language and talk about trash. Danny Bhoy who Rachel and I went to see last year, is my favorite comedian. If he swears in his show, it’s maybe only once or twice, and his comedy is clean.

Last night I went to see a Canadian comedian who did a 60 minute show. He was alright. I liked his presentation. He used foul language moderately, and most of his content was ‘kosher.’ On my way out of the venue I was surprised to see  several police officers, along with half dozen people holding sighs promoting salvation. The picketers were shouting things along the line, of, ‘Jesus loves you,’ ‘you can be saved,’ and ‘damnation will come.’ Along were also plenty of media personal with their big cameras waiting to see what would happen. It was almost as interesting as the show I had just seen except this one was free!

I guess I’ve not been keeping up with the Adelaide news (as not much really happens here) but anyway, a Melbourne comic; Josh Ladgrov, was doingt a show titled: ‘Come Heckle Christ.’ Ladgrove with his long brown hair and trimmed beard looks remarkably like what the West has decided Jesus looked like. He was doing a show, where dressesd as Jesus, he lets people ask him questions.

Not surprisingly this show has created lots of controversy. Some say it should be fine as a form of freedome of speech, while others claim it is poor taste to allow such a show as part of the Adelaide Fringe festival.

The reviews on the show seem to say that it is mostly in good taste and that there is no real negative portrayal, and besides it is the crowd that determines what is asked.

On the flip side, almost every performer at the fringe is jealous  of Ladgrove, because all his shows are sold out….No duh…thanks to all the publicity the people trying to remove the show gave him, everyone now wants to see it. The fringe guide has some 900 shows listed in it, and aside from a few fringe academics most people would not have even known the show to have existed, including myself.

I am happy though that no Christians decided to burn down any buildings or lynch people because of this and that the demonstrations have all been peaceful with mostly people holding picketing signs and or candles.

Though this does give me an idea…Maybe I can do a show next year, ‘Come Heckle Mosses!’

 

 

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Jewish Shows at the Adelaide Fringe Festival 2014

The Adelaide Fringe has grown from its inception in 1960 to now being the largest arts festival in the Southern Hemisphere. It runs for 24 days and night from Usually mid February to mid March. There are often over 900 events attracting more than 4,000 performers from around Australia and the world. It’s no wonder South Australia calls itself the ‘Festival State!’

This year I enjoyed looking through the program seeing what shows were on, and deciding which to see with the family. With my background in Juggling and magic, I like the street performers/buskers more than the organized shows. Last year we spent a few days watching the street performers.

This year I was trying to find if there were any Jewish Performers. There is one show ‘Bekitzur,’ which is a 25 minute dance. A collaboration of contemporary dancers from Luxembourg, Israel and Australia accompanied by live music from members of local Adelaide band ‘Swimming’. ‘Bekitzur,’ in Hebrew means ‘in short,’ which it is short for a show. However, they sold out all six shows and have had fantastic reviews. The girl behind it, Liat Kedem is from Adelaide and has spent the last year in Israel studying contemporary dance. Their last show was last night.

A Jewish comedian Sandy Gutman is here doing a bunch of shows. He will do a ONE-NIGHT-ONLY SPECIAL JEWISH ‘AUSTEN TAYSHUS’ SHOW as ‘AUSTEN TAYSHUS’ for JEWISH fans on SUNDAY 2ND MARCH AT 8PM. In the Wakefield Room QUALITY HOTEL – OLD ADELAIDE160 O’CONNELL STREET, NORTH ADELAIDE. Cost $43.   Adult show. 1 hour. Book and pay DIRECTLY TO THE HOTEL on 8267 5066 for this show.

Sandy is a vegetarian intellectual who grew up in an orthodox Jewish home in Sydney, the son of a Hasidic Holocaust survivor. At 14 he won the Australian Bible competition and competed at the finals in Israel, placing in the top 5. He later spent a few months studying at a Jerusalem yeshiva and went back to Israel to volunteer during the Yom Kippur War.

His Jewish show is a philosophical take on being Jewish, living in the diaspora in a gentile world, on Jewish pride, on maintaining a secure Israel and the Holocaust and its effect on his generation. The Jewish show toured Israel in 2010.

There are a number of other Jewish performers at the Fringe though not necessarily associated with any type of Jewish show like Jonathon Nosan, a contortionist who is in a cabaret.

Anyway, if anyone knows of any Jews either performing or have come to Adelaide to experience the Fringe, please send them our way so we can invite them for a meal.

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The Australian Association for Jewish Studies Conference in Adelaide Partial Review

The Australian Association for Jewish Studies conference took place in Adelaide this past Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. Academics from around Australia and the world gathered to listen to, and share ideas on the subject of ‘Jews, Judaism and Hybridity.’

Some of the topics included were, ‘The Hebrew Bible and Hybridity,’ ‘Yiddish and Hybridity,’ and ‘Hybridity in the Diaspora.’ The session I enjoyed most was ‘Jews and China,’ with Mobo Gao as convener. Felix Patrikeeff, spoke on ‘The Jewish Communities, China and Australia, 1924-1969.’ Deborah Cao, presented on, ‘Popular Perceptions of Jews and Jewish Culture in Contemporary China.’

Many things about China have always fascinated me, and more recently is the Chinese attitude and understanding of the Jews. As Deborah Cao illustrated, how many Chinese believe that the Jews are smart and good at business. She drew many parallels between Jews and Chinese emphasizing similarities like, the importance of family, preserving culture, and respect for elders. Cao showed images of some of the books circulating the Chinese market, with titles like, ‘Talmudic Wisdom,’ ‘How to Raise your Children the Jewish way,’ and ‘Jewish Business Secrets.’

The most recent book Cao has written is about animal rights and the attitude and treatment of animals in China. This is one of the strong differences between Chinese and Jews. Any form of cruelty to animals is strictly prohibited in Judaism, where as in China it is often a non-issue. She hopes through her book and blog to educate Chinese people more in this area.

Another session I found interesting was, a session on Hybridity Among German Jews chaired by Lynn Arnold. Michael Abrahams-Sprod, presented ‘From Symbiosis to Racial Pollution: the Cases of Rassenschande (Racial Defilement) in Nazi Magdeburg.’ One thing I learned was how well organized the Germans were in their anti Semitism. Every step was calculated. On a few occasions in Rassenschande the people there thought to take their anti Semitism a few steps further than had been mandated by the central government office. They were reprimanded and ordered to fix the situations.

There were many more wonderful talks and some I’m still trying to figure out what the speaker was talking about. I find that when politicians speak, I realize they have said nothing, and when academics speak, I realize they have said a lot but I’m not sure what?

Overall it was a nice three days and I enjoyed the opportunity to meet other Jews and non Jews who are involved in, and or interested in Jewish education.

 

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