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World Jewish Travel Official January 30, 2020

A Tale of Two Amsterdams

The same spirit that made Amsterdam a center of Jewish life centuries ago makes it a delightful destination today. There is one connection between the Netherlands’ “coffee shops,” where cannabis is sold legally, and the remarkable Jewish community that used to exist in Amsterdam — the relaxed attitude of openness that dominates this beautiful city. The historian Simon Schama portrays Amsterdam, where Jews first settled in the 16th century, as an exceptional case of tolerance in an otherwise-hostile Christian Europe. “There was no Amsterdam Ghetto, no yellow badge, horned-hat or lock-up curfew behind gates,” he wrote. Link to full blog by the Jewish Week: https://jewishweek.timesofisrael.com/a-tale-of-two-amsterdams/  

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World Jewish Travel Official December 20, 2019

Spain's Top 10 Must See Jewish Quarters

Whether you’re out sun-seeking or sightseeing, Spain has more to offer than just good food and good weather. Home to the original ‘Sephardim’ (‘Spanish Jews’ in Hebrew), Spain is rich with stories and evidence of its Jewish population’s history and culture, right up to the community’s 1492 Expulsion. So wherever you find yourself roaming the country or exploring the city, there’s always something new and unexpected to discover: synagogues built like mosques and converted to churches or statues of Jewish celebrities, Spain has it all, with some breathtakingly beautiful views. Cáceres- Barrio de San Antonio A UNESCO World Heritage City since 1986, this isn’t the least of Cáceres’ charms. Fascinatingly, the city is an early example of religious coexistence; Cáceres was populated by Jews, Moors and Christians in the 11th century. Stop by the Old Jewish Call and observe the one-story houses stacked on top of one another in all of their chaotic glory, and the Plaza Mayor, where Jews sold, shopped, kvetched and plutzed. The nearby Cáceres Museum offers a wealth of information, and for the more eagle-eyed tourist, around the corner at number 30 Barrio de San Antonio de la Quedabra Street is a street sign recalling the city’s past Jewish population – two stars of David.   Girona - Catalan Jewish Museum, the Centre Bonastruc ça Porta And now to Spain’s very far East – Girona. Girona’s beauty – the hilly Capuchins to the east of the river Onyar; the modern town on the plains of the west – is breathtaking and varied. Nowadays, Girona is a popular day trip for tourists from Barcelona. It’s Jewish past, dating from the late 9th century, isn’t completely obvious at first glance; for that, you have to dig a little deeper. Take a visit to the Centre Bonastruc ça Porta – the Jewish Museum, within the boundaries of the Jewish ‘Call’ (quarter) and the site of Girona’s last synagogue–details all areas of medieval Spanish-Jewish life, including the most famous Jewish Gironan of all, the celebrated Talmudist Nahmanides.     Barcelona Barcelona – city of Dali, Gaudi and good food. But did you know that Barcelona’s ‘Aljama’, Jewish community, was one of the largest of medieval Spain, comprising 10% of the city’s population? After the 1391 attack on the city and 1492 expulsion, all that’s left of Barcelona’s magnificent Jewish heritage is the layout of its streets. For some light-hearted relief, the Barcelona Jewish film festival and European Day of Jewish Culture celebrations take place in the city on the first Sunday of September.   Besalu The community of Besalu began as an overflowing community (think synagogue on High Holidays)from the nearby Call of Girona, and, like most good Jewish communities, produced some well-known doctors (amongst them notables like Abraham des Castlar, personal doctor to Peter IV of Arragon, and Bendit des Logar, two of the leading physicians of the time). Besalu’s main claim to fame? It has one of the only three medieval mikvehs throughout Europe. If the heat gets too much, take a look around a fancy house of the time: the Cultural Centre Curia Real, a former home of notable Jewish family the Astrucs, has cultural clues and all round interesting items to satisfy your curious urges.   Toledo Toledo, close to Madrid, is the city of walls, silk and swords and one of the most important Jewish cities of medieval Europe. Other than the famous ‘Escuela de Traductores’ (School of Translators), the Jewish quarter (‘Juderia’)’s two remaining synagogues (out of Toldeo’s original ten) are unmissable. The Sinagoga del Transito is a two-in-one attraction - built in 1366, nowadays it contains the Museo Sefardi, detailing medieval Jewish life in Toledo. The Sinagoga of Santa María la Blanca also has an interesting story – permission to build it was granted when the King was in love with a Jewish woman. It was later converted into a church. The path of true love never did run smooth…   Oviedo- Asturias. Known as the ‘Capital of Paradise’, unfortunately, nothing original of Oviedo’s Jewish heritage remains in the old Jewish quarter.  The city is, however, skilled at commemorating what used to be there. There are many things to ‘not’ see in Oviedo: wander over to the Campoamor Theatre and look for ghosts –below your feet is what used to be the Jewish cemetery, memorialized by a plaque on the side of the theatre. In Juan XXIII Square, a lonely plaque on a pharmacy tells readers that they are in the historic Jewish quarter. Most excitingly, perhaps, just east of the theatre, is the commemorative statue of Woody Allen. Yes, you’ve read that correctly. And no, we don’t see the connection either.   Estella The only quarter on our list which was built between a castle and a former prison’s bridge, Estella’s community was the third richest and most powerful in the region. Walled in on its remaining three sides, it is this which hopeful tourists come to see. Perhaps the second most famous Jewish wall in history, it’s 300 meters of white limestone, topped with part of a remaining tower. Unfortunately, no actual remains of any other Jewish community buildings are present. Two churches within the quarter – San Pedro de la Rua and the Santa Maria jus del Castillo – are former synagogues. Climb up Zalatambor Castle for some spectacular views.   Segovia The undulated shape and seven gates of the Segovian Jewish quarter sets it apart from the rest of the city. Segovia’s Jewish history is what might best be termed ‘hidden’. There’s a hotel on the site of a famed converso rabbi’s house. Large arches stand, without their gates. Where there was once three synagogues, two dedicated Talmud schools, a Jewish hospital, cemetery, butcher, ovens and baths, there are now a collection of generic buildings with some lovely scenery and views – the community was forced to liquidate their assets at the time of the expulsion.   Happily, within the quarter is the Jewish Quarter Educational center, which is also the former home of an illustrious descendant of converted Jews.   Tudela The Jews of Tudela were a bit different from most other communities on our list. They were the last Jews to leave Spain, holding out against the expulsion edict until 1498. They are also responsible for bringing to the world-famed Jewish scholar, Judah Ha-Levi and famed 12th-century traveler Benjamin of Tudela. The Jewish quarter is divided into the old, ‘Vetula’, and linked to the new quarter by two parallel streets. Vetula’s top attraction is the Old Synagogue, and the ‘Manta’ – roll – of Tudela, a list of conversos (forced converts) from the 17th century. The new quarter is just a stroll away, the place where the Jews took in other Spanish-Jewish refugees and clustered together during their last 6 years in the country.   Monforte de Lemos  To the North, and to a very distinct community in Galicia. The Jewish community of Monforte de Lemos was known for their silk and silverware trades. Unusually, the community here were permitted to come and go as they pleased, unlike other Jewish Calls throughout medieval Spain. Pescaderías street offers some of the best views of the city, including 700-year-old walls and watchtowers. The house of the most important family, the Gaibores, still stands in the quarter, and is definitely worth a visit. Carry on walking a little further and you’ll encounter the ritual baths, the site of the old synagogue and the city’s old prison.            

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Jack Gottlieb
Jack Gottlieb February 13, 2020

Remembering the World's First Jewish Ghetto

Not a year goes by without a tourist walking into the Venice Ghetto asking where the concentration camps are or were. This question, unfortunately, reflects a lack of understanding as to why the Venice Ghetto was founded on March  29, 1516 and maintained for centuries–all of which had nothing to do with the Holocaust. That is not to say that the Venice Ghetto was not involved in the Holocaust. It was decimated by the Nazis in 1943 when most of its inhabitants perished in the Auschwitz concentration camp. It never recovered until this very day when only 20 Jews now live in the Ghetto itself. Two memorials, The Last Train and The Holocaust Memorial Wall, situated in the Ghetto Square bear witness to this tragedy. The distinction between the two types of ghettos is important. The Nazi Ghetto was set up as an interim solution to the ”final solution’, the other as a means of segregating a group whose values were deemed harmful or dangerous to the common good. Main square at the Venice Ghetto (photo credit: Wikimedia) Members of my family who managed to survive the first kind of Ghetto reported a litany of horror stories about their experiences. My mother watched from the woods as the Kovno Ghetto in Lithuania was liquidated. My uncle was lucky enough to escape the Lida Ghetto in Belarus before it too suffered the same fate. Obviously, no redeeming features will ever be reported from this type of ghetto. The Venice type of ghetto, for all it’s negatives, those of density, segregation and restrictions, did have a positive side to it. It provided protection, business opportunities and amazingly enough, a sense of community. In an effort to close the gap between the misconception and reality of what the Venice Ghetto is and what it represents, the city of Venice has embarked on a year long program of events to mark the quincentennial of its founding.  It was kicked off nearly a month ago by an opening ceremony at the Fenice Opera House attended by local, national, and international dignitaries. I was fortunate enough to wrangle an invitation to this event as well as the launch earlier that day  of an important book called The Venice Synagogues. It was written by Umberto Fortis, professor of Italian literature, coordinated by Toto Bergamo Rossi, Head of the Venetian Heritage Council, and published by Assouline Books, a prestigious book publisher. The book describes in rich and glorious detail five important synagogues of the Venetian Ghetto and stands as a symbol of the rich Jewish culture which blossomed regardless of, or despite the hardships imposed on the Ghetto Jews. Left to right: Jack Gottlieb, Toto Bergamo Rossi, Valentina Nasi Marini Clarelli, Sebastien Ratto-Viviani When I leafed through this book I definitely had the sense that Jews in the Venice Ghetto were thriving, and that Jewish culture was flourishing, unlike the Nazi Ghetto where Jews were being killed and their cultural heritage was being erased. Rossi was quite right in describing this hand-bound book ‘as not just another high end collectible but as a work of art’. Kudos to Assoulin Publishing who is contributing half of the proceeds to the Venice’s synagogue restoration project which, unfortunately, is still short of the 8 million dollars it needs to begin. In stark contrast to the joyous air at the book launch was the air of solemnity later that evening of the opening ceremony at the Fenice Opera House. The former was a celebration of life, the latter a commemoration of evil. Before giving way to Mahler Symphony No.1 (by the way, banned by the Nazis as degenerate), the keynote speaker of the event, Simon Schama, the noted author of the Story of the Jews and subsequent TV series, delivered a riveting commentary on the evolution of the ghetto. He explained that “history is not always a trip down memory lane”. And  events like the Venice Ghetto, the Holocaust and the recent bombings in Brussels are a stark reminder against complacency-that just when we think that things could not get worse, they unfortunately do! Specifically, he commented, “an event we think that we had left behind in a particular period or in a particular moment crashes into our present lives and leaves us at great risk!” Playing the Mahler Symphony at the Fenice Opera House (Photo: Jack Gottlieb) Thus, the central existential issue for Jews through the centuries, whether we are discussing medieval Venice, Nazi Germany or modern-day Islamic countries is simply an issue of cohabitation, the problem of living together with Jews in the same neighborhood, city, or country. What we see in common between the Venetians, Nazis, and Islamists is enmity and intolerance; there are individuals, groups, and, sometimes, nations who react, sometimes violently, to the idea of sharing the same urban space with Jews. It is inconsistent with their worldview to tolerate the presence of a group with a belief system somewhat different than their  own. The answer to discrimination and hatred is to educate. And what better place to start this education than the place where it all started-The Venice Ghetto. That is why today my organization, the World Jewish Heritage Fund, is releasing for free an ebook about the year long commemoration of the Venice Ghetto. To do this, we have created the first ever interactive digital travel book about the ghetto, which gives you access to key sites, events, trails, guides, and tours – all at the click of a button. A Journey Through the Venetian Ghetto eBook (Photo: WJH) We hope that giving people access to the story of the Venice Ghetto, we can prevent other Ghettos from being created-for Jews and non Jews alike. Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, said it best at the commemoration when he stated, “when you face the past with complete honesty, you actually create a much better future – for your children, for your country, and for all people.” Amen!

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World Jewish Travel Official December 25, 2019

City Story: Palma

Palma, a city with two distinct flairs, separated by the river which cuts through its middle, is a city filled with unique art. From its Modern Art museum which houses Picasso to its Museum Majorca which houses medieval Roman and Muslim artifacts. Walk just 2km from the city center to see the Castle of Bellber, the first circle castle in Europe. Famous personalities: Jehudà Cresques (1360-1410)

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Upcoming events & days


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This is a fig dish from the relatively new vegetarian restaurant, Plant (Tzemach) in the Machane Yehuda , in Jerusalem.

It sometimes takes a while to get a table, but the food is delicious and the service is great!
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Rice and Okra Kubeh at the excellent Mama Soham restaurant in Petah Tikva. Address: 7 Slor Street ...

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Perfect lunch at the @pastel_tlv restaurant in the @telavivmuseumofart! Chef Kobi Bachar has some amazing food! ...

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We're here to help you find the best spots in the Holy Land with our new account @world_jewish_travel_israel 🇮🇱

This account is dedicated entirely to Israel travel from the top of the Hermon to the Dead Sea
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From falafel and shakshuka to hummus and fresh pita, the Middle East sure knows how to cook!! 🥙 What's your favorite Middle Eastern dish? ...

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Such beautiful challot! Wishing everyone around the world a Shabbat Shalom as we celebrate the first Sabbath of the new year ✡️🙏🏼



#shabbatshalom #newyear #challah #jewishfood #weekend #baking #jewishculture #challahbread #jewishbaking #shabbat
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What was the best dish you ate this Rosh Hashana?? This apple cake looks pretty hard to beat. Thanks @organicstl for sharing 🍎🍯w ...

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So many options at Afloka in Tel Aviv! 😱😍🥙 #repost from @falafulltlv
Want to be featured on @world.jewish.travel ? Tag #wjteats @world.jewish.travel for a chance to be shared on our page!
#tlv #tlvfood #eeeeeats #israelifood #falafulltlv #telaviv #vegantlv #vegan
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If you've never been to Benedict's, you're definitely missing out. 🥞🍳 This restaurant serves the most incredible breakfast, all day everyday. With several locations all over Tel Aviv, there's no reason to miss out!
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We‘re here to help you find the best spots in the Holy Land with our new account @world_jewish_travel_israel 🇮🇱

This account is dedicated entirely to Israel travel from the top of the Hermon to the Dead Sea!
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European Days of Jewish Culture, September 6th-30th

Find online concerts and virtual tours from across Europe.

Link in Bio.

#EDJC2020, #JewishCulture #EuropeanJewishCulture, #Europe
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There’s no place like Jerusalem!
Come travel.discover.connect. Link to find out more in our bio.
#wjtjerusalem
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The “Slat al-Azama” (deportees synagogue) in the Mellah of Marrakech was originally built by Jews who were deported from Spain in 1492. It’s one of more than 30 synagogues in Marrakech, but sadly it’s the only one still in use by the dwindling Jewish community. Today it holds a small exhibit on local Jewish history, which is popular with both Jewish and non-Jewish tourists. Posted by: @shabbatshalomfrom .
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#jewishmorocco #jewishtravel #jewsofmorocco #synagogue #shul #jewish #jews #morocco #marrakech #medina #mellah #moroccanjews #moroccan #sefardi #sephardi #inquisition #spanishinquisition #slatalazama #alazama #lazama #prayer #judaism #architecture #travel #jewishheritage #worldjewishtravel #wjtmarrakech
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The Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem ✡️ a quiet moment during this past Tisha Bav. We hope you all had a meaningful 9th of Av
#jewishquarter #oldcity #jerusalemoftheday #jerusalem #tishabav #jewishlife #jewishtravel #WJTJerusalem
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Las Casas de La Juderia is a unique hotel located in the #jewishquarter of #Seville 🇪🇸 check out more photos of this stunning hotel on their Instagram page @lascasasdelajuderia
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#JewishSpain #JewishSeville #juderia #barriojudio #lascasasdelajuderia #hotellife #wjtseville
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"Scola Italia" is one of the 5 synagogues in Venice, Italy🇮🇹 che bello!? 😍
Headed to Italy? Discover the Jewish gems of Venice with our ebook "Journey Through the Venetian Ghetto", free in our digital library! Link in the bio. -
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Photo by @bestveniceguides
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Venice, Italy 🇮🇹 Check out our free e-book "A Journey Through the Venetian Ghetto" for all the best tips for exploring Jewish heritage in Venice! Link in our bio.
#jewishheritage #jewishvenice #jewishghetto #venice #jewishitaly #jewishlife #jewishtravel #wjtvenice #jewishvenice
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Statue of Benjamín de Tudela, famous Jewish traveler and writer, in the Plaza of the Judería in Tudela, Spain 🇪🇸✡️
To read more about Jewish heritage in Tudela, check out our WJHpedia page. Link in our bio!
Photo by @redjuderias
#tudela #spain #jewishtudela #jewishquarter #jewishtravel #jewishlife #juderia #barriojudio #worldjewishtravel #WJTSpain #jewishheritage #wjttudela
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We're here to help you find the best spots in the Holy Land with our new account @world_jewish_travel_israel 🇮🇱

This account is dedicated entirely to Israel travel from the top of the Hermon to the Dead Sea
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December 19-23: the 8th annual Louis Lewandowski Festival in honor of choir director and professor of music, Louis Lewandowski. The event will include beautiful music sung by several choral groups. 🎵


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Februrary 20-23: International Bellydance Festival in Eilat, ISRAEL! 3 days of non-stop movement with performances, lessons, competitions, and parties 💃


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December 2-9 : Menorah Lighting in London! If you’re in London or traveling there during Hanukkah, make sure to get out to the candle lighting and celebrate the Festival of Lights with the local London Jewish community. 🕎


#worldjewishtravel #jewishlondon #hanukkah #menorah #menorahlighting #celebrate #jewishholiday #festivaloflights
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January 13th: the Atlanta Jewish Life Festival is a great way to bring together the local Jewish community through Jewish and Israeli arts, food, music, and cultural experiences! ✡️🥙🎵


#worldjewishtravel #Jewishfestival #jewishatlanta #festival #jewishlifefestival
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December is almost here and you know what that means. The Holiday of Holidays is back for their annual, month long celebration of the diverse cultures found in Haifa. Music performances, art galleries, and special events will take place all month in the city of Haifa to show tolerance and mutual respect for all cultures! ✡️✝️☪️


#worldjewishtravel #holidayofholidays #culturaldiversity #hanukkah #christmas #celebration #festival #haifa
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It’s that time of year again and NYC will be having their annual menorah lighting to celebrate the first night of Hanukkah! 🕎


#worldjewishtravel #hanukkah #chanuka #candlelighting #happyhanukkah #jewishholidays #jewishNYC #NYC #NewYork
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The Jerusalem Jewish Film Festival is back, starting this weekend! From December 1-6 Jerusalem theaters will be showing a variety of Jewish themed films. Check out the schedule on their website!🎬


#worldjewishtravel #jewishfilmfestival #jerusalem #jewish #filmfestival #holyland #israel #jewishjerusalem #jerusalemfilmfestival
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January 19-20th: Limmud is hitting the West cost this Winter in Seattle! The 2018 festival sold out so it’s get your tickets while you still can 🎟


#worldjewishtravel #limmud #seattle #jewishlearning #jewishseatle
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