A few weeks ago I welcomed Shabbat in Iquitos, Peru, one of the most isolated cities in the world. Located four degrees south of the Equator and surrounded by nearly impenetrable jungle, Iquitos is accessible only by air or by river -- that is, the Amazon.
Nobody takes Eilat too seriously -- which is a good thing. Poised on the cusp of the Red Sea, this resort city at the southern tip of Israel is where Israelis and others go to unwind. During the short, cold days of winter, northern Europeans by the planeload come to soak up the guaranteed sunshine.
While the current crisis may have deterred some schools and parents from participating in the exchange programs, Pressman Academy and Milken Community High School of Stephen S. Wise Temple demonstrate that such programs can thrive despite the tense security situation.
It\'s virtually \"genealogy for dummies.\" In a nation of immigrants where more than 35 percent of the population -- or 100 million Americans -- have at least one relative who passed through Ellis Island, officials at that historic entry point to New York have unveiled a new Web site that will enable even the least tech-savvy to mine a mother lode of information on their families\' roots.
Jewish leaders in the United States and in Israel are encouraging an openness to what they describe as a \"new Germany,\" a place they say is truly atoning for its past. At the very least, they argue, it deserves the support of the American Jewish community because of its strong support of Israel and its embrace of Jewish immigrants who are streaming in at the rate of 10,000 per year.
Tourism in Israel is being hammered. The Al-Aqsa uprising that began last fall has prompted a flood of trip postponements and cancellations, particularly by Americans who saw no need to put themselves or their children at risk when stones and bullets were flying in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Years ago I\'d heard from someone or read somewhere that Wyatt Earp is buried in Colma, near San Francisco, a bit of provocative trivia whose truth I\'d never been sure of. One day a while back I decided to check it out. I would have thought that one of the most famous figures in the history of the Old West would have ended up in the landscape of his legend. In the case of Wyatt Earp, this would mean Dodge City, Wichita, or more appropriately, Tombstone.
Every December, my wife and I used to pack up our winter gear, load the snow chains into the trunk of our car, bundle up our two young children and brace for a motor expedition through the desolate suburbs that seem to stretch interminably eastward from Los Angeles.
My father has disowned me. We did not get into a fight about the family business -- there is no family business. I did not marry out of the faith, and I have no children about whose upbringing we can disagree. The source of our irreconcilable differences is that we went skiing together last year, and he is convinced that I cannot be his natural child.
I was more than a little conflicted when Israel\'s Ministry of Tourism invited me to visit the Holy Land for one week in December to judge for myself whether the country was safe enough for tourists. I\'d never traveled to Israel before, and while I knew that life was going on as usual for most Israelis, CNN\'s daily images of conflict and the U.S. State Department\'s warning fed my apprehension.
On Yom Kippur, my wife Sally and I went to shul just around the corner from the Vatican. It was a visit we will not soon forget. The imposing Comunita Ebraica di Roma Synagogue (the Great Synagogue of Rome) sits just off the Piazza del Firori close to the Tiber River and spitting distance from Vatican City across the river in one direction, and Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum in the other.
Ehud Barak has the hardest job in Israel these days, but Itai Eiges\' is no walk in the park, either. As director general of the ministry of tourism, Eiges is in charge of promoting an industry that has been crippled by the recent conflict. Tour operators are reporting a 50 percent cancellation rate, the U.S. State Department has instituted a travel warning on the Middle East, and Britain has levied one against Jerusalem. It is the worst drop-off in travel in decades.
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