My friend Kathy recently returned from a trip to France. It was her second trip to the country, after perhaps a 20-year interval; for her husband, who was there to collect a journalism prize, it was the first time in France. They spent a few days in Paris, and then traveled up the Norman coast.
I was driving through the faded-brick center of Morgantown, W.Va., when I spotted something incongruous: Hebrew lettering. On closer inspection, it turned out to be the West Virginia University Hillel building — hardly a surprising sight in a college town.
I strolled along South Street to the dissonance of two competing hip-hop beats, one blaring from each side of the block. On a warm fall day, the rhythm seemed an agreeable accompaniment to a leisurely stroll through Queen Village, Philadelphia’s oldest residential neighborhood.