Special Sections

Destination: Peace

Using Tefilat Haderech, the traveler’s prayer, as a guide.

Staff Writer

 The beginning of Tefilat Haderech, the Traveler’s Prayer, sets a pretty high bar. No matter where we go — a business conference, a family reunion — peace is the desired destination. It is as if peace were an actual place we could find on a map or type into Hopstop.

 A Jewish family that has just arrived in Israel.  Haifa. Israel. 1950s, PHOTO: AMERICAN JEWISH JOINT DISTRIBUTION COMMITTEE

Without Knowing I Had Ever Been Lost

At a hangar-turned arts space, an American adjusts to her foreign homeland.

Staff Writer

 I wait for the number 60 bus, the Egged line heading south. Through the Beersheva station young women with bleached blonde hair and miniskirts strut the walkway in plastic stilettos, past the shwarma stands and the vendors selling neon-colored toy guns and fake tattoos.

 photo by Heather Hanowitz

The Perfect Cure

In Uman, a pilgrimage to Rebbe Nachman’s grave becomes a lesson in reading and understanding.


 I was coming to the destination. I was going to fetch my portrait of the Rebbe. My fantasy was a personal quiet meditative event. Me and the Rebbe, the Rebbe and me. But it was a seething hive of Jews. Near the entrance is a washstand, as it’s customary to wash hands on returning from a grave. But any sense of actually being at a grave is overwhelmed by the crowd. I’d come at the peak hour, just before Rosh HaShanah. Last chance to have a special conversation with Rebbe Nachman. For me, it would have to be a sort of shouting conversation and at a distance.

  Photo by Ahron D. Weiner. Peace, 2006

Jerusalem Syndromes

From Melville to Twain, visiting Americans are sometimes disappointed by the City of Gold.


 Summertime, and my hometown is filled with tourists from the Old Country. Women in wide-brimmed hats and men in Ralph Lauren shirts clutching bottles of water, poring over maps. They wedge notes into the Western Wall, trudge the Via Dolorosa, browse the Arab shuk, eat long lunches in the German Colony. You can spot them a mile away. God bless them all. 

Mount of Olives, Jerusalem.

The Medieval Jewish Globetrotter

Benjamin of Tudela, the 12th-century Spanish scholar/merchant, journeyed throughout the diaspora,
documenting all he saw.

Staff Writer

 If he were alive today, he would spend most of his time checking plane fares on the Internet. 

Blue Mountain

Up in the Air

The blissful idleness, and useless information dump, of a frequent flyer.

Staff Writer

 A few months ago, I opened my rusty mailbox to find a blue and white envelope containing a gold plastic card embossed with my last name, and, above it, in flowery letters, FREQUENT FLYER CLUB GOLD. I showed the card to my wife in a pathetic gesture, hoping that this sign of appreciation from an objective, outside party would soften her harsh opinion of me, but it didn’t really work.

“I advise you not to show this card to anyone,” she said.

“Why not?” I argued. “This card makes me a member of an exclusive club.”

 Ilustration: Sarah Lazarovic

Editor’s Note

Staff Writer

Deep travel, as Tony Hiss explains in a forthcoming book, “In Motion: The Experience of Travel” (Knopf), is a way of seeing the world, noticing everything, with gratitude. His mindful travel sounds almost like prayer. “It’s a great discovery,” he writes, “finding that we’ve been gifted with senses that are already capable — without any retrofitting — of acting either as a wall or an open door.”

 PHOTO BY MICHAEL DATIKASH, Street Scene at Tbilisoba (Day of  Tbilisi) in the Georgian capital, October 1991

Text Context August 2010: Travel

The travel issue: 'Jerusalem syndromes,' the Jews who tamed the Wild West and more.

Text Context Cover

The Good Life, July, 2010

Linking the younger and older generations, from here to Israel.


Bruce Feiler’s surrogate fathers … Young people connecting with Holocaust survivors … Following the kids to Israel.

The Good Life, July 2010

From Ohio To The Old City

It takes a retirement village
for an Israel bar mitzvah.




It was a bar mitzvah for the ages — or, rather, the aged.

A handful of residents from an Ohio retirement community visited Israel for a 12-day mission culminating in a group bar mitzvah in Jerusalem’s Old City.

For some of the octogenarians at Cedar Village in Mason, near Cincinnati, it was their first bar/bat mitzvah.

“I never dreamed this could happen to me,” said Ethel Regberg, 86, who was among those celebrating their first bar/bat mitzvah. Her husband, Paul, 87, had a bar mitzvah, too.

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