fbpx
Thursday, May 28, 2020

One Man’s Long, Inspiring Walk to Jerusalem for Sukkot

Enjoying this article?

You'll love our roundtable.


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Jewish Journal, 3250 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90010, http://www.jewishjournal.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

There’s an ancient Chinese proverb that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. For Elan Margulies, a six-month trek from Portugal to Jerusalem, where he hopes to arrive on Sukkot, started that way. By the time he enters Israel’s capital, he will have walked more than 3,200 miles. 

Margulies, 34, is an environmentalist who most recently worked as Hazon’s director of education. His family owns Pushing the Envelope Farm, a Jewish farm west of Chicago on the site of what was once an envelope manufacturing plant.

We spoke while he walked — of course. It was his 5,000th kilometer, he said, as he trekked just north of Antalya, a town on Turkey’s southern coast, heading to where he would spend the Day of Atonement.

He plans to dip in the Mediterranean as a mikvah and spend the fast day in Antalya. Early the next morning, he intends to board a flight to Ben Gurion Airport. When he lands, he hopes to immediately start walking, all the way to Jerusalem, where he plans to stay. That last segment should take about a day and a half, he said.

“I started this trip wanting to be alone, to do my own thing and be immersed in nature. But now I see that people are generally good and doing what they can. For me, what’s changed most is my outlook toward humanity.” — Elan Margulies

Margulies started in April and will have walked through a dozen countries: Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Bulgaria, Turkey and Israel. He encountered some trouble along the way, including a visa issue, which blocked him from walking through part of Italy and Slovenia within the E.U.’s Schengen Area. He circumvented the issue by going to Croatia. 

In Macedonia, he learned that his grandmother had died. “I wasn’t sure if I should stay on the trip or go home. Last time she and I spoke, she said it was the trip of a lifetime and I would meet her in Jerusalem,” he recalled. After talking it through with family, “I decided to hike faster and interpret it as God pushing me forward on the trip to get me to Jerusalem for Sukkot.”

There have been a few other hiccups — a scorpion crawled into his tent one night. Wild and shepherd dogs didn’t like him on their turf. There was a heat wave in France, with temperatures above 95 degrees, leaving him dangerously dehydrated.

Then there has been being Jewish in places not known to be hospitable. “A few times when I’ve mentioned I’m Jewish, there’s a political pause, mostly in Turkey, but on a personal level there has been no tension,” Margulies said.

Positive encounters have far outweighed the negative, he said, like while he walked through Kosovo.

“I had a home hospitality stay that was one of the most profound acts of charity I’ve experienced,” he said. “When I was passing this town at night, some guys invited me to sit. When they learned that I camped every night, one volunteered to bring me home to his rural family. His cousin could speak English. They drew a bath for me with buckets of water. When I said I was hungry, they brought me plates of food, apples from their orchard, clean clothes to change into. They insisted I take a crocheted blue evil eye, which is on the back of my backpack now. The next day, the guy filled my backpack with apples and took me out for coffee. They aren’t a wealthy family, but it was one of the most generous evenings I’ve ever had.” 

After several years of working in environmental education — first at Eden Village Farm, the National Park Service, then running Teva and ultimately as Hazon’s director of education — he was ready for something different. It has been a journey of personal growth, as well as physical endurance. Margulies is now walking 35 miles a day, he said, significantly faster than when he began.

“I started this trip wanting to be alone, to do my own thing and be immersed in nature,” he said. “[But now] I see that people are generally good and doing what they can. For me, what’s changed most is my outlook toward humanity. I’ve tried to take the lesson of Hillel the Elder to heart. He greeted people even before learning anything about them. I’m trying to do the same.”


Debra Nussbaum Cohen is the Jewish giving maven at Inside Philanthropy and is a freelance journalist in New York City.

Enjoyed this article?

You'll love our roundtable.


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Jewish Journal, 3250 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90010, http://www.jewishjournal.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

Latest Articles

Israeli Torah Study Zoombombed With Nazi Imagery, Chants of ‘Free Palestine’

An Israeli organization’s online Torah study was Zoombombed on the evening of May 27 with Nazi imagery and chants of “free Palestine.” The Jerusalem Post...

Jewish Schools Have Reopened in the Netherlands, but Some Worry That Their Security Is Compromised

AMSTERDAM (JTA) — The Dutch government’s decision to reopen the country’s schools came none too soon for Channa Feige, a mother of nine who...

I Was at Sinai – A Shavuot Poem

I was at Sinai I remember what I was wearing what the ground felt like who was standing next to me the looks on everyone’s face when Moses came...

‘Fiddler on the Roof’ to Get Movie Remake

A new version of “Fiddler on the Roof” is in the works from “Hamilton” director Thomas Kail and MGM. The remake comes 56 years...

Pandemic Times Episode 48: Interviewing David Suissa

New David Suissa Podcast Every Morning. In honor of David's Hebrew birthday on the first morning of Shavuot, his daughter Shanni flips the script and...

ADL Backs Harvard in Lawsuit Challenging Race-Based Admissions Policies

BOSTON (JTA) – The Anti-Defamation League is supporting Harvard University in its effort to beat back a high-profile legal challenge to the school’s race-conscious...

‘Zionist Police State’ Banner Hung Next to U.K. Jewish Cemetery

A banner stating “Welcome to the Zionist police state” was hung next to the Bancroft Road Jewish Cemetery on May 24 and was taken...

Days of Our [Pandemic] Lives

The following is a work of satire. None of the people or incidents is real. Late January Cindy Upton, a 37-year-old mother of three from Calabasas,...

Thoughts from the Bakery: Quarantine Ignites Creativity for Small Businesses

First of all, a quick update on the loan process that I described in the past couple of entries. When I last wrote, we...

Giving in Times of the Coronavirus

For many, during these times, it’s all too easy to slip into hibernation after a steady diet of Netflix, while suffering existential angst, anxiety...

Culture

‘Fiddler on the Roof’ to Get Movie Remake

A new version of “Fiddler on the Roof” is in the works from “Hamilton” director Thomas Kail and MGM. The remake comes 56 years...

LAJFF Hosts ‘Unorthodox’ Director Maria Schrader for Webinar About Hit Series

Inspired by Deborah Feldman’s best-selling memoir about leaving her Chasidic community, miniseries “Unorthodox” has been a hit for Netflix since its March premiere—but has...

Corona-Quarantined and Hungry? Travel and Eat Vicariously With Phil Rosenthal

During these times of isolation and not going to restaurants, Phil Rosenthal’s globe-hopping Netflix series “Somebody Feed Phil” is a tasty treat for those...

6 Inexpensive Ways to Upgrade Your Patio

With most of us spending so much more time at home lately, it’s no wonder that the sales of home furniture and accessories has been...

WWII Is Told Through An Egyptian Jew’s Letters to Her Beloved In New Nonfiction Book

The premise of “Love in the Blitz: The Long-Lost Letters of a Brilliant Young Woman to Her Beloved on the Front” (Harper) may strike...

Latest Articles
Latest

Israeli Torah Study Zoombombed With Nazi Imagery, Chants of ‘Free Palestine’

An Israeli organization’s online Torah study was Zoombombed on the evening of May 27 with Nazi imagery and chants of “free Palestine.” The Jerusalem Post...

Jewish Schools Have Reopened in the Netherlands, but Some Worry That Their Security Is Compromised

AMSTERDAM (JTA) — The Dutch government’s decision to reopen the country’s schools came none too soon for Channa Feige, a mother of nine who...

I Was at Sinai – A Shavuot Poem

I was at Sinai I remember what I was wearing what the ground felt like who was standing next to me the looks on everyone’s face when Moses came...

‘Fiddler on the Roof’ to Get Movie Remake

A new version of “Fiddler on the Roof” is in the works from “Hamilton” director Thomas Kail and MGM. The remake comes 56 years...

Pandemic Times Episode 48: Interviewing David Suissa

New David Suissa Podcast Every Morning. In honor of David's Hebrew birthday on the first morning of Shavuot, his daughter Shanni flips the script and...

Hollywood


‘Love & Stuff’ Sees Life, Death and Motherhood Through a Jewish Lens

How do you cope with both the death of a parent and the artifacts she left behind, while preparing to become a mother yourself...

‘Arrowverse’ Showrunner Greg Berlanti on Whether He’s Jewish or Not

Greg Berlanti is the executive producer of “Arrow,” “Supergirl,” “Titans,” “Riverdale” and “The Flash.” Between keeping his die-hard DC fans satisfied, the mega-producer also...

Jewish Grandpa Seeks Out The Family Who Hid Him From Nazis in Documentary “The Starfish”

New York director and producer, Tyler Gildin, through his media company Gildin Media, released a documentary titled The Starfish, exploring the life story of his grandfather,...

Podcasts

Pandemic Times Episode 48: Interviewing David Suissa

New David Suissa Podcast Every Morning. In honor of David's Hebrew birthday on the first morning of Shavuot, his daughter Shanni flips the script and...

Giving in Times of the Coronavirus

For many, during these times, it’s all too easy to slip into hibernation after a steady diet of Netflix, while suffering existential angst, anxiety...

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Jewish Journal, 3250 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90010, http://www.jewishjournal.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

x