The seder was a huge success, setting an all-time record for a Jewish holiday observance in Beijing.
In the company of his friend, fellow world traveler and photographer Maxime du Camp, French novelist Gustave Flaubert visited Jerusalem in 1850. The urbane and sophisticated Flaubert was decidedly unimpressed with this crumbling backwater of the Ottoman Empire: \”Jerusalem stands as a fortress; here the old religions silent rot away. One treads on dung; ruins surround you wherever your eyes wander — a very sad and sorry picture.\”
That same year, a Rev. George Wilson Bridges also made his way tothe Holy City. An English cleric and an amateur photographer, Bridges and his young son traveled through Palestine as part of a seven-year journey around the Mediterranean and the East. Bridges undertook the journey as a form of solace: He had just buried his wife and daughter in Jamaica — victims of a tropical fever they contracted while the reverend was there doing missionary work. Steeped as he was in grief and religious conviction, Bridges found that Jerusalem\’s atmosphere of melancholia and desolation suited him. \”What sight,\” he observed after witnessing Jews praying at the Western Wall, \”even in this wondrous city, so touching, so impressive as this — Jews mourning the ruins of Jerusalem….\”
In every picture, Melissa Kahn is smiling — whether covered with mud at the Dead Sea, riding a donkey up Mount Canaan or hiking from the Mediterranean to Lake Kineret. Kahn, 16, a junior at Harvard-Westlake School, mused recently about the eight weeks shes pent in Israel last summer on the Bureau of Jewish Education\’s Los Angeles Ulpan program.
The Federation had received only four cancellations — a total of seven people who decided not to go because of the twin blasts — according to Evy Lutin, mission co-chair. More than 350 people are signed up for the 10-day mission, which celebrates the kickoff of Israel\’s 50th-anniversary year. About 500 people are expected to make the trip.
A mission to Israel that\’s billed as the largest ever in the history of the Los Angeles Jewish community is scheduled to take place between Nov. 1 and 10 of this year. About 500 Southern Californians are expected to participate in the Golden Anniversary Community Mission, which is being coordinated by the Jewish Federation Council in commemoration of the Jewish state\’s first 50 years.