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Getting Serious About Vegas

03/22/2011
Special To The Jewish Week

Las Vegas —This desert oasis was home to pioneering Jews long before “the Strip,” with its lavish entertainment and legalized gambling, became a household word.

Jews began arriving in southern Nevada as early as 1850, lured by a gold strike in Carson City.

Another attraction was the building of the Hoover Dam, which drew some Jews to Las Vegas in the 1930’s.

But it was the appearance of legalized gambling here in 1931 that made massive tourism a possibility and a growing Jewish presence a reality.

The Wynn Las Vegas, top, where “Le Rêve” is playing. Above, the Las Vegas federation building. George Medovoy

Tunneling Through Jewish History

02/22/2011
Israel Correspondent

 Jerusalem — Almost every tourist who comes to Israel pays a visit to the Western Wall, but relatively few take the time to tour the Western Wall Tunnel adjacent to the plaza.

Deep below the Old City’s Muslim Quarter is the remnant of the Western Wall.

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01/10/2011

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Bagels In The Real Mile End

11/23/2010
Special To The Jewish Week

Montreal — When Noah Bernamoff and Rae Cohen, the husband-and-wife team from Montreal, opened the Mile End Deli earlier this year in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, the Jewish food scene smelled an imposter. What’s “smoked meat, anyway,” the foodies said, referring to one of the deli’s specialties. “And what’s a ‘Montreal bagel’ doing in the land of H&H?”

St-Viateur Bagel Shop, top, and the wood-burning oven at Fairmont Bagel.

To Yeshiva or Not, That is the Question

11/02/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

Eleven years ago, when I got married- all heady from wedding gown fittings, arguments with the photographer and the fact my husband, a very secular Jew, agreed to celebrate our union in a most Orthodox, Jewish way -- the word “yeshiva” would not have been a blip on my radar screen.

If you had asked me whether or not I’d be inclined to send my kids to yeshiva, a haughty cackle would have emanated from deep in my throat: “no, are you crazy?”

Melissa Chapman

Of Lazy Bloggers And Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg

Mea culpa, al chet and all that. Among my other shortcomings, I’ve been one lame blogger lately, posting nary a word for a whole week.

Ojai Casts An Enchanting Spell

09/28/2010

 Ojai, Calif. — You’d never know it driving down the 101 along the California coast, but about 85 miles from LAX Airport and 40 minutes south of Santa Barbara, there’s an exit leading to an enchanting paradise — the Ojai valley.

A cottage set in a lush garden at the Emerald Iguana boutique hotel, above. Right, after hours, books are sold on the street on

Family-Friendly, With A Foreign Flair

08/31/2010
Special To The Jewish Week

Looking for a late-summer, drivable getaway? One with a foreign flair that’s perfect for both kids and adults?

In a little over five hours from New York, across the Canadian border, you’ll reach the multicultural city of Montreal, an ideal destination for those who want a European twist to their vacation (you’ll hear plenty of French, of course).

The miniature train ride at Exporail, one of a number of family-centric options in Montreal. Linda Tucker

Blessed Is The Fruit Of Hagafen Cellars

A full-service kosher winery tucked along the Silverado Trail.

08/10/2010
Special To The Jewish Week

Napa, Calif. — Hagafen Cellars sits at the end of a country lane bordered by vineyards and olive trees on the Silverado Trail.

There are many wineries on the trail, but what makes Hagafen Cellars different is its distinction as Napa Valley’s only full-service kosher winery. And the man behind it all is veteran winemaker Ernie Weir. 

Winemaker Ernie Weir, at right, with the fruits of his labor at Napa Valley's only full-service Kosher winery.

Crossing Borders The World Over

07/06/2010

There is nothing that makes me feel as alive as walking the streets of a new city — with a notebook, a map, and a camera — waiting for a portrait to take shape out of color and sound, clamor and empty space, concrete and stone and sky. A city is, first and foremost, a rhythmic organism: It takes a lot of patience and attention, and many miles on foot, to be open enough to hear the particular music of a place, and to feel how a city situates itself uniquely on the earth.

New York City.
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