Text Context

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

Journal Watch

Staff Writer

 Keitzad m’rakdim lifnei ha-kallah? “How does one dance before the bride?”

This question, seemingly simple, is in fact a classic formulation of the array of normative procedures, customs and traditions surrounding the marriage ceremony and its attendant activities. Journal Watcher, in a seemingly counterintuitive way, turns first to Yemen for a look at something old, something new.

Struggling To ‘Get’ Out Of Unhappy Marriages

For agunot, the wedding is the easy part; it’s the divorce that’s a Herculean challenge.

Staff Writer

 When Sharon thinks back to her wedding night, she remembers how the lights of Jerusalem enveloped her, how she adored her groom, and also this: a kiss. After Sharon removed her deck tichel, the opaque cloth that fervently Orthodox brides wear to hide their faces, her new-mother-in-law grabbed her, planted a kiss on her cheek and whispered, “You’re part of the family now.”

Love, Lost and Found

The biblical romance between God and His people, just like all other emotional entanglements, is complicated.


 Love is not just joy and sweetness. “Love hurts” as the song goes and nowhere is the range of emotions that love excites more obvious than in the Bible.


My husband, a convert, is more observant than I am.


It is not because Claude was born Catholic that I consider us intermarried. No, it’s the conversion to Judaism that that did it. Though the smoke has cleared for a while—now that Shavuot is over, we are blissfully holiday-free until September—I know that when the High Holidays come, the differences between our commitment to religious practice will make themselves known once again.

 Melinda Camber Porter, Joe and Melinda Dancing in the Sunlight, 1985, Watercolor on paper 24” x 18”

Post-Wedding Planning

Looking beyond the ceremony to the realities of marriage.


 Weddings are perfect moments in time: celebrations of love, certainly, but also carefully crafted productions that express status, values and religious identity. Saturday-night dinner dance or Sunday afternoon in the backyard? Factory-farmed prime rib or sustainable wild salmon? Seven circles around the groom or none at all? Nothing is too insignificant to help a couple display their identity.

 Elderly couple embraces under the chupah after their wedding at Malben home for the aged. Netanya, Israel, 1959. Courtesy of th
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