חברת ואוו אייר האיסלנדית תפעיל לראשונה במהלך
הקיץ הקרוב טיסות ישירות בין ריקאוויק לוונקובר. חברת הלואו-קוסט תפעיל שש טיסות
עונתיות בשבוע בקו ריקאוויק-ונקובר – בין החודשים יוני עד אוקטובר. ישראלים
שמעוניינים להגיע לוונקובר יכולים לטוס בוואו אייר מתל אביב לריקאוויק ומשם להחליף
מטוס שיטוס עד ונקובר. הטיסות של ואוו אייר מתל אביב יפעלו גם כן בחודשים יוני עד
אוקטובר, ארבע פעמים בשבוע (ראשון, רביעי, חמישי ושישי).
ואוו אייר מפעילה כבר טיסות בקו
ריקאוויק-טורונטו ובקו ריקאוויק-מונטריאול. ישראלים יכולים להגיע עם ואוו אייר
לצפון אמריקה (עם עצירה בבירת איסלנד) בין היתר לערים הבאות: ונקובר, טורונטו,
מונטריאול, ניו ג’רסי, וושינגטון די.סי, בוסטון, דטרויט, שיקגו, סן פרנסיסקו, לוס
אנג’לס, דאלס, פיטסבורג, סנט לואיס, סינסינטי, קליבלנד ובולטימור. הם ישלמו לפי
הערכה כאלף ומאתיים דולר. בין יעדי החברה באירופה: ברלין, קופנהגן, ורשה, בריסל,
פריס, אדינבורו, לונדון, דיסלדורף, קורק, טנריף ודבלין.
ואוו אייר פועלת מזה כשמונה שנים והיא מגיעה
לשלושים ושישה יעדים בצפון אמריקה, אירופה ואסיה. החברה הטיסה בתחילת דרכה כארבע
מאות אלף נוסעים בשנה. ואילו כיום היא מטיסה קרוב לארבעה מיליון נוסעים בשנה. בחברה
מועסקים כיום למעלה מאלף עובדים והיא מפעילה ארבעה עשר מטוסים.
קרן הקיימת בקנדה מגיבה לפרשת העברת התרומות
לפרוייקטים צבאיים בישראל
מנכ”ל קרן קיימת קנדה לאנס דיוויס החליט
להגיב על החלטת הארגון להפסיק להעביר תרומות לפרוייקטים צבאיים בישראל, לאור חקירה
של רשות המיסוי הקנדית (סי.אר.איי).
רשות המיסוי הקנדית בודקת מזה מספר שנים את
פעילותה של קרן קיימת קנדה, לאור מידע שהתקבל לידיה כי הארגון עבר על כללי החוק
הקנדי למתן תרומות מצד קרנות צדקה. קרן קיימת קנדה כך התברר תרמה כספים לפרוייקטים
הקשורים לצה”ל בניגוד לכללי המס בקנדה. במקרה כזה קרן קיימת קנדה לא זכאית
לפטור במס. כן גם התורמים שלה עצמם לא זכאים לפטורים במס.
דיוויס אמר לאתר החדשות בנושאי היהודים בקנדה
(סי.ג’י.אן) את הדברים הבאים: “קרן קיימת קנדה תמשיך לעבוד במשותף עם רשות
המיסוי הקנדית לבדיקת כל הפעילויות שלנו. לכן בשלב זה אנו מוגבלים במה שאנחנו
יכולים להגיד בנושא. השליחות של קרן קיימת קנדה היא להטיב את איכות החיים בישראל.
בעבר היינו מעורבים בפעילויות צדקה הקשורות בעקיפין בצה”ל. רבים מהפרוייקטים
היו לטובת בין היתר איכות חיים של ילדים ובני נוער, כמו תרומות למגרשי משחקים
ופארקים. כל הפרוייקטים האלה נמצאים על שטחים השייכים לצה”ל והכסף לא הועבר
לצבא. בסך הכל היקף התרומות הקשורות בפרוייקטים צבאיים נמוך והגיע לכאחוז מסך כל
התרומות שלנו במשך כעשור. אז האמנו שקרן קיימת קנדה עומדת בדרישות החוק הקנדי,
משום שמדובר בתרומות לצדקה שנועדו לעזור בעיקר לילדים. אנו לא ידענו שהפרוייקטים
שלנו יהיו מטרה לחקירה של רשות המיסוי הקנדית, כיוון שהם נמצאים על אדמה בבעלות
צה”ל. מייד שקיבלנו מידע על כך לפני מספר שנים הפסקנו את התמיכה בפרוייקטים
אלה. כאמור מזה מספר שנים אנו לא תורמים יותר כספים לפרוייקטים על אדמת
לפי פרסומי קרן קיימת קנדה הארגון תמך
בפרוייקטים רבים הקשורים בצה”ל. בהם: פיתוח כיתות לימוד, אולמות אירועים, חדרי
הקרנות, מועדוני חיילים, הקמת מגרשי משחקים עבור ילדים (שמתגוררים עם בני
משפחותיהם בבסיס), שידרוג מרכזי מבקרים, שיפוץ כיכרות מרכזיות, הקמת מתקני נוחות
לחיילים, בניית נקודות מפגש לאפשר לחיילים לראות את בני משפחתם וכן תמיכה פרוייקט הגדנ”ע.
In Lakia, Israel, there are 160 women throughout the village who are responsible for designing and developing embroidery materials. (photo from Michelle Sitbon)
Our trip took us to the southern part of Israel, where we traveled to Beersheva. There is a small sign along the way, that you can miss quite easily, and it says Lakia. Lakia is one of the many Bedouin villages in this part of the country.
The Bedouins are a group of nomadic tribes who have lived in the Negev Desert for hundreds of years. Their heritage can be traced back to the traders along the ancient Spice Route, which happened to cross this region. Most traditional Bedouin hospitality experiences include camel riding, Bedouin food and staying inside a Bedouin tent overnight. However, in the village of Lakia, you are probably not going to find any of those things.
When you stop there, you are in for quite a different and unexpected experience. We arrived in Lakia in the middle of a hot summer day at the end of July and our main goal was to visit the Desert Embroidery. As we drove along the unpaved roads of the village, we quickly realized that Lakia might be small, but the Embroidery was extremely difficult to find. There was no sign telling us which direction to go, even though it is a tourist attraction.
When we finally found our destination, we got out of our vehicle and were warmly welcomed by Naama Al-Sana. She is the Bedouin woman who today runs the Desert Embroidery, and also founded the place together with other women from the community in 1996.
As we entered the visitor centre, we saw a display of beautiful art that was recently made by the local women. These women create the art in their homes in between their chores, and they use the money they earn from it to help support their families.
We were invited to sit inside a beautiful and colourful hand-woven tent, while Al-Sana offered us traditional Bedouin coffee that was scented with local spices. She was excited to hear that we had come all the way from Vancouver, as she has a sister who is currently in Canada, studying at the University of Toronto. Her sister often gives lectures about women in the Bedouin society, as a way to keep the history of this region alive.
The Desert Embroidery doesn’t offer the typical Bedouin tent experience, which includes being served a traditional meal. Instead, you will have the chance to contribute to the empowerment of Bedouin women in your own way. When you participate in one of the workshops or purchase any of their artwork, you will be actively improving the life, health and education of Bedouin women.
The Desert Embroidery was known as the Association for the Improvement of the Status of Women when it first began. The business has grown tremendously over the years and there are now 160 women throughout the village who are responsible for designing and developing embroidery materials. They also provide worker training and product marketing, and there is another group of women who work part-time to provide quality control checks on the products.
The system is very well organized. The women visit the Desert Embroidery twice a week to collect embroidery materials, drop off their finished items, learn about new patterns and designs, and participate in educational workshops and lectures. All of the women are allowed to choose how many hours they work, and they are paid by what they are able to produce within that time. A few of the women have chosen to preserve the traditional jewelry-making that was done by previous generations. They spent time learning how their mothers and grandmothers made jewelry and are now creating their own jewelry to include in the Desert Embroidery collection.
The Desert Embroidery is continuing to achieve its goal of providing employment and income for Bedouin women while empowering them and improving their self-confidence. More than 40 different artistic products can be found on display in the visitor centre, as well as other collaborations that help generate revenues for their work. An example of one of those collaborations is with Kibbutz Gan Masarik, which assists with strengthening the coexistence of Bedouin and Israelis.
The Desert Embroidery is also currently involved in improving the education and health of Bedouin children. And they want to expand to other Bedouin communities within the Negev, so that all Bedouin women can achieve economic independence. There are still so many challenges that women face in Bedouin society and this group is trying to help every woman overcome them.
The main reason I chose to visit Lakia was that I wanted to learn about this destination and the work that the Desert Embroidery is doing. My goal is to share what I have learned and to take other travelers to Lakia, so that they can see it firsthand. Of course, such activities aren’t only being done in the Negev region. In the northern part of the country, in the Galilee region, Israeli and Arab women also create traditional artwork to create a change in the lives of women.
I have made a visit to Lakia part of my itinerary in an upcoming small group tour to Israel, because I believe that travel can support and strengthen local communities. Since I am a travel agent who creates itineraries that are art-oriented, this is a perfect way to show everyone that they can appreciate art while making a difference in both children’s and women’s lives.
In the Mishnah Torah, Rambam organized the different levels of tzedakah, or charity, into a list from the least to the most honourable. Sometimes it is known as the “Ladder of Tzedakah.” The highest form of charity is to help sustain a person before they become impoverished, by offering a substantial gift in a dignified manner, by extending a suitable loan or by helping them find employment or establish themselves in business. These forms of giving allow the individual to not have to rely on others.
Projects such as those led by the Desert Embroidery can be found around the globe in places like Jordan, Mexico and Canada. When we travel, we know the many ways in which we benefit. However, I believe we should also try to find ways to benefit others as we travel, even in small ways. We should become more involved with local communities and support them in respectful ways that will, among other things, help them preserve their tradition and art.
Michelle Sitbon is an art travel adviser who organizes small group tours to Israel among other art-related destinations around world. For more information, visit yourartvoyage.com.
Courage in Motion 2018. (photo from Beit Halochem Canada)
More than 100 Canadian cyclists participated in the recent Courage in Motion (CIM). The fundraising ride, now in its 11th year, has grown steadily in popularity over its first decade and, this year, like many before, was sold out.
The CIM initiative of Beit Halochem Canada, Aid to Disabled Veterans of Israel, welcomed cyclists from across Canada, joined by some Americans and Israelis. From Oct. 22-26, the visiting cyclists rode alongside Israeli veterans with disabilities on four fully supported routes, taking them through southern Israel’s archeological landmarks and its landscapes.
With the fundraising drive open until Dec. 31, it is expected that Courage in Motion 2018 will raise approximately $850,000. Cyclists’ efforts enabled members of Zahal Disabled Veterans Organization/Beit Halochem to participate in the ride and will also fund programming at Beit Halochem Centres in Beer Sheva, Haifa, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, which provide individualized therapies, specialized sports rehabilitation training and cultural arts and family-oriented programming.
Lisa Levy, an avid cyclist and national executive director of Beit Halochem Canada, is the founder of Courage in Motion. “I’m pleased that the ride was, once again, sold out,” she said. “It’s evident that our cyclists embrace the aspect of riding alongside those who are directly helped by their efforts. This year, we’re incredibly proud that more than 120 wounded Israeli veterans participated due to the fundraising by our 110 Canadian riders. We are also gratified that many of our Canadian participants feel that they get more out of the experience than the disabled veterans.”
While many cyclists return year after year, several others were new to Courage in Motion 2018. Two of these first-time participants are internationally renowned sports figures.
Toronto-born Keith Primeau was a National Hockey League centre, playing 15 seasons (1990–2005) with various teams. He co-wrote Concussed! Sports-Related Head Injuries: Prevention, Coping and Real Stories (2012) and is now based in New Jersey.
CIM also welcomed cycling champion Eon D’Ornellas. Born in Guyana and having immigrated to Canada, D’Ornellas represented both countries during his career, winning numerous medals. He has owned D’Ornellas Bike Shop in Scarborough, Ont., for 30 years and, in 2011, he suffered a stroke during a club training ride. Like Beit Halochem members, he knows the challenges in reclaiming his life after serious medical trauma.
All Courage in Motion participants enjoyed group activities following each day’s ride, including a night walking tour of Jerusalem and an evening with members of Beit Halochem, who shared their personal stories of tragedy and triumph. Next year’s CIM takes place in Israel Oct. 27–31. Registration is expected to open in March.
The lineups at local border crossings to the United States over the Canada Day long weekend suggest rhetoric about Canadians avoiding visits to our neighbour have been largely overblown. We may be repulsed by the Trump administration’s treatment of would-be refugees, especially children, but cheap gas, cheese and milk – as well as the plethora of delights at Trader Joe’s – mean many of us just can’t stay away.
Ironically, it is partly because our dairy products are so expensive – because of our supply management system – that the U.S. president is raging at Canada in the first place and why we amped up our tariffs July 1 in a trade war Trump launched.
At the same time, most of us know that our immediate neighbours are much like ourselves. The places we are most likely to drive to – Bellingham, Seattle and smaller centres dotting the American Pacific coast – are inhabited by some of the most liberal voters in that country. These are not places where Trump bumper stickers or MAGA caps are widely prevalent.
Likewise, if we jump on a plane, the destinations we choose tend to be similar in attitudes: the beaches, amusement parks or golf resorts of Southern California, the wine country of Northern California, oases in Arizona that are likely to have as many Albertans as native-born Arizonans. Punishing businesses in these locations because their president has xenophobic views doesn’t seem particularly sensible.
On the other hand, we might have more reticence about stepping out of these familiar spots. We might rethink road-tripping across the country; that generations-tested means of memorable family bonding, backseat battles and boredom. Almost anyone who has traveled through rural America returns with stories of salt-of-the-earth kindness and folksy friendliness. Yet, knowing that some counties in the most picturesque parts of the United States voted for Trump – and still support him by huge margins – one might be forgiven for looking askance at the family in the next booth at the roadside diner. What is behind the smiles and extroverted affability that can turn so mean in the ballot box and when responding to public opinion polls about immigrants and minorities?
Leaving aside whether we would feel personally comfortable in some locations, there is the larger issue of whether Canadians should boycott American products. On social media this week, you can find suggested product choices that make it easier to buy Canadian instead. It’s a matter of individual choice whether this is a productive use of energy, but, if it makes people feel better and helps the Canadian economy in a time of challenge, it seems like a fine enough gesture.
It is notable, though, to compare the nascent cross-border boycott to the BDS movement against Israel. Admittedly, the U.S.-Canada clash is mere weeks old, while the Israeli-Arab conflict has been in high gear for seven decades, giving sides more time to organize. But, while a significant number of Canadians seem to think that a boycott of Israeli products, ideas and people is a legitimate tactic, it is doubtful that a similarly organized movement will coalesce around the idea of boycotting Americans.
Some BDS supporters have maintained that their boycott targets Israeli “policies,” although the founder of the movement, Omar Barghouti, has no qualms about his position that Israel should cease to exist as a Jewish state. In any event, how bad would American “policies” need to become before BDS advocates devoted their substantial energies to boycotting U.S. products? Certainly we are unlikely to see a Canadian consensus that suggests a total economic, cultural, academic and social boycott of America, as the BDS movement promotes with Israel. It would be impossible, of course, given the interconnectedness of our countries, but the question remains: Why do some take the hard line with Israel but not with other countries?
Indeed, consider the approach held by most people, even those who are likely to support BDS: with North Korea, Iran and anyone else with whom we have not insubstantial differences, the consensus approach is engage, mediate, negotiate. It’s the approach we are pursuing with the United States on one hand, while retaliating with tariffs on the other. Yet, when it comes to Israel, in economic matters, academic interactions, sporting competitions and every level of human interface, a sizeable group demands that we make Israel an international pariah, isolate it in every way, exclude it from the global community. What can that possibly be about?
Naomi Steinberg has toured the world with Goosefeather and is now working on a book of her travels. (photo from Naomi Steinberg)
Naomi Steinberg’s Goosefeather started in 2011. “It began with interviewing my French maternal grandfather in Paris before he died,” she said. “I wanted to know how he had helped my Jewish grandmother survive the Second World War and why he was a collector of maps, weights and scales. Given his work with the metric system, I also thought it would be interesting for us to talk about measurements in general.”
Fascinated by her grandfather’s story, the kernel of Goosefeather was born. “I made him a promise that he would see the final result,” she said.
She immersed herself in research. “Measurements are extremely important to humans,” she said. “We measure everything, but we have to realize that no measurement is 100% accurate; we have to accept that…. As I went deeper into it, I wanted to know how we measure the truth. What is the truth? What is reality? Same as when measuring length and weight, measuring reality can’t be 100% accurate. We have to accept this area of the unknown. We have to let ourselves ‘not know.’ We have to let everyone just be.”
The show that emerged out of her research is a multifaceted tale involving maps of places and relationships, measurements of physical elements and of abstract concepts. “How should we measure the space between me and another person? Between me and the planet?” she asked herself. “It soon became clear not only that I had a complicated story to tell, I also had an entertaining show that wanted to be on the road…. Goosefeather was going adventuring and I would be going around the planet, by land and sea, carrying a performance with me. As I journeyed, I would be carrying my own prime meridian in the form of presence. I had hypothesized that if, with this, I charted the space-time between myself and others, I might be guided in a good way.”
As the show was still coming into form, Steinberg’s grandfather was dying in a hospice in France. In 2013, she visited him in the hospice one last time and showed him the first draft of Goosefeather. “I shared with him all my ideas, and he said I got it ‘correctly.’ For a man obsessed with measurements, that was a high praise.”
The first performance of Goosefeather occurred in 2014 in Vancouver. (For a short review, see jewishindependent.ca/storytellers-excel-at-fringe.) But Steinberg needed to take it on the road. “I knew the show should travel like a Canada goose, all around the world,” she said. “I love traveling. I have a nomad soul, and I value my experience as a traveler, but I care very much about the environment. I didn’t want to just take a plane. You don’t experience your travels fully when you fly. It should be closer to the ground, slower, so I could stop and perform.”
In November 2014, she left Vancouver for California, where she boarded a cargo ship heading to Australia, which started her journey around the world. “It was easy,” she said. “The cargo companies sell tickets. They often have a couple cabins vacant – an owner’s cabin and a pilot’s cabin. That’s where I stayed on the cargo ships.”
She also performed Goosefeather on the first ship, as a Christmas gift for the sailors. When the captain asked her for a repeat performance, she bartered: a show for a phone call to her father, who celebrated his birthday while she was on the water.
It took her 21 days to reach Australia. From there, she took another cargo ship to China. Her further travels – by boat, bus and train – included Japan, Russia, Belgium, France, Switzerland, the United States and, finally, back to Canada. The entire trip took 386 days.
In every country, she performed Goosefeather, facilitated workshops and participated in creative collaborations. In every country, she stayed with friends. “I came back with $100. I lived in a cash economy for over a year and I fully supported my journey with my shows and workshops,” she said. “In the entire time I was away from home, I only paid for a hotel for seven nights.”
Despite the crazy itinerary, she didn’t prepare all her stops beforehand. “Sometimes, I didn’t even know where I would spend the night when I arrived in a city or a country, but I always found friends,” she said. “I researched storytelling organizations on the internet. I put my scheduled countries on my Facebook page and asked my friends for help. They asked their friends, and the word spread around the world like a goose feather. Everywhere, people wanted to see my show. I got contacts in every city and country. Everywhere, people wanted to help.”
Even the language barrier in countries like Japan and Russia didn’t deter Steinberg. She can perform Goosefeather in either English or French, and she always found a translator when she needed one.
“In Japan, they asked me to perform for children, and I created a special show for them: a Kamishibai show.”
For Steinberg, a professional storyteller, a storytelling tradition like Kamishibai is extremely compelling. According to Wikipedia, “Kamishibai is a form of Japanese street theatre and storytelling popular during the Depression years and the postwar period … until the advent of television.” Storytellers would travel from town to town, performing on “street corners with sets of illustrated boards … narrat[ing] the story by changing each image.” Some consider Kamishibai to have influenced manga and anime.
“For my first Kamishibai show, the adventures of a little goose feather, a talented 8-year-old drew the illustrations,” said Steinberg. “It was a big success. Now, I perform it with the pictures created by a wonderful Japanese artist, Shiho Oshita Beday.”
Currently, Steinberg is busy writing a book, a travelogue of her journey around the world with Goosefeather. She aims to publish it next year. To learn more, visit goosefeather.ca.
The decision to travel with your family to Israel is a big one. It’s so expensive and the long distance requires going for at least two weeks to make it worthwhile. My husband and I debated for years on the merits of taking our children on such a trip. Finally, our daughter’s bat mitzvah convinced us it was time. At nearly 13, she would get a lot out of it, and our 11-and-a-half-year-old son seemed ready as well. To mitigate jet lag, I traveled a week early with the kids to London, England, where we laid low, staying with friends and taking in a few sights. We then met my husband in Jerusalem.
The morning after we arrived, we went on a walking tour. Our guide, Dvir, specializes in tours of the Old City, which must be done on foot. Not only did he take us to all of the highlights, find us the best food in the Old City and explain the geopolitics of Jerusalem but, also, he knew where to find all of the clean toilets. And our children surprised us with the knowledge they had gleaned from their years of Jewish education, enriching our experience, as well. That day, we walked more than 13 kilometres, helping us sleep well and rid us of any jet lag that might have been lingering.
The next day, we returned to the Old City to buy special gifts of Judaica, and managed to pick up plenty of beautiful treasures for ourselves. We finally found use for our son’s bargaining skills, which had previously only been used to negotiate things like screen-time and treat consumption.
One of the best decisions we made was to stay in apartments. With two preteens, the need for food sometimes comes fast and furious. Knowing breakfast was in the fridge and we could make nutritious snacks to take along with us every day contributed enormously to the success of our trip. The other element that made it the best vacation we’ve ever had with our children was the planning my husband did, combining some days with a tour guide and other days with age-appropriate activities. Since neither of us is interested in driving in Israel, he also worked our plans around all the different kinds of transit. Our centrally located lodging enabled us to walk many of the places we wanted to go.
We were invited by a friend, who was also visiting Israel with her family, to join their tour one morning of an agriculture reserve called Neot Kedumim. Near Modi’in, the site is of archeological significance and takes visitors back to biblical times through the landscape, agriculture and activities. Our experience included tree-planting, za’atar-grinding, pita-making, cooking and pulling water up from a cistern. My husband’s dream now is to spend his birthday working as a shepherd there. Another morning, with the same friends, was spent in fierce competition at the Tower of David doing something called the Amazing Race. It was good fun and educational, too.
We ventured one windy day to Ein Gedi and did a hike. Luckily, before driving to Masada, we discovered that, when it’s too windy for the cable car to run, Masada is closed. However, the Dead Sea was open for business as usual and, while we took in the experience of the mud and the floating, we also loved the variety of people from around the world visiting the waters.
In Jerusalem, we loved the green spaces like Station One. Formerly a train station and tracks, it is beautifully landscaped and is perfect for cycling, so we rented bikes. The public art in Israel makes the parks and streets even more interesting. Markets are favourites when we travel and Machane Yehuda did not disappoint. We returned there a number of times to buy Israeli essentials like halva, rugelach and dates, as well as more mundane food like fruit, vegetables and bread. The dinner scene is like the best food court in the world.
We all enjoyed the food in Israel. Gone are the days when every corner had falafel, fly-covered shawarma and pizza with corn and tuna. You can still find those delights in a few places but, these days, no matter what you like to eat, you can find it in Israel (except on Shabbat or holidays in Jerusalem). Keeping kosher for Passover, once the holiday began, was certainly easier than we find it in Vancouver.
Two days before Passover started, we took the bus from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv. Comfortable, cost-effective and an experience in Israeli culture, the bus took only 45 minutes. Our lovely apartment in Tel Aviv was in an area in transition. Just over a block from the beach and a short walk from Shuk HaCarmel (where we went almost daily), the location was excellent. We were able to walk to many places, including Sarona (the market is like an upscale Granville Island), Shenkin (shopping), the Tachana (eclectic Israeli items) and Neve Tzedeck (artists and fancy touristy stores). We ended every day relaxing at the beach on the powdery sand.
The seder was delightful at my cousin’s house in Ramat Hasharon. Seeing my secular Israeli cousins argue over the tunes and forget the words occasionally showed us that they observe Passover similarly to how we celebrate it. The only difference was that they served twice as much food as I do, including seven types of meat. The food was almost as unreal as the traffic jam at 12:30 a.m., as people left their respective seders.
Other excellent parts of our trip included a fun and informative walking tour of Jaffa. Our guide, Noam, dressed in Turkish garb of 1905 – and, for awhile, our son dressed up as well, beard and all. We spent a day in Ramat Aviv, between the Museum of the Diaspora (Beit Hatfutsot) at Tel Aviv University and the Palmach Museum, just down the road. All of us took full advantage of the many types of exercise equipment in the public parks all around Tel Aviv and rode bikes along the Yarkon River, in addition to enjoying the lively promenade (Tayelet) along the ocean. One day, we took a fabulous full-day private tour up north to Akko, Haifa and Caesarea. The guide enabled us to get the most out of the day.
When we saw the family dynamic start to go sideways, we split up. Our ability to keep good snacks handy and to make sure everyone got enough outdoors time each day made everything we were able to see and do a wonderful experience for all of us. I would recommend a trip to Israel to anyone.
Michelle Dodekis a freelance writer living in Vancouver who spent enough time in Israel in her youth to speak sufficient Hebrew to communicate with taxi drivers and vendors in the shuk.
Taking a red-eye flight was no way to end a glorious Hawaii vacation with my nine-month-old, but it was the only nonstop and I figured everyone would go to sleep. Ah, how wrong I was! My little guy, who just had started walking, was so excited that we were not only awake the entire flight, but we spent it walking up and down the aisle.
Having little ones is a game-changer. After having traveled solo for months at a time, where I could follow any whim and not plan if I didn’t want to, my travel style has been turned completely upside down, but for all the right reasons.
So, while I always pack lots of extra food and supplies for my little guy, who’s now a toddler, I’ve learned to pack light for myself. Everything needs to be multipurpose. For example, my go-to travel uniform consists of a wrap-sweater because I use it as a baby blanket, and many friends use it as a nursing cover-up. Also, because it’s attractive, it can dress up a simple outfit.
Part of the travel experience is keeping your kids entertained. The best compliment I got recently was when a woman two rows behind me exclaimed, “What, you have a toddler with you? I had no idea. Thank you for making this a pleasant flight for all of us.”
Truth is it helps to be extremely prepared with planned activities, as well as making sure your little one is excited about the journey. A happy kid makes for a pleasant flight for all. Prior to our trip, I gave my son his own luggage, a super-cute airplane-themed rolling suitcase that also turns into a backpack. He loves it and constantly drags it around with him. I find it helpful for him to feel as if he is one of us, and part of the adventure.
I always pack a number of toys – they all must be useful both on the long flights and at the destination. I never leave home without our Bubzi, a stuffed owl that plays lullabies and projects stars on the ceiling, as it helps with sleep. Another lightweight item to bring is the Cinemood, an ultra-light three-inch portable projector that can be used just about anywhere with a flat surface, as its preloaded with lullabies, books and kid-friendly content. Be sure to pick up kid-safe headsets that protect little ears; Buddyphones are especially good on planes to help drown out the noise, too.
Traveling with a toddler has its ups and downs. On a recent trip, my son, who has always disliked cribs, was sleeping in a bed. Even though he was right next to me, he still flew off of it in the middle of the night, leading to a bruised up nose and an upset mom. There seem to be a million tiny situations that need to be thought through, some as simple as piling pillows all over the floor around a bed.
I’ve also learned that the details matter, such as keeping my little one out of the sun. While I tan easily, my son is blond and fair, leading me to explore a million different sunscreens, many sticky, which led to complaints. While we do use sunscreen, I’ve heard conflicting reports of how useful they are and how bad some of the chemicals are, so I finally changed my travel stroller to one that has on oversized canopy, as extra protection.
A sturdy stroller is also important because you can place your bags in it and my son can walk alongside me or even push the stroller. I’ve realized, the more active he is in the airport, the more tired he will be on the airplane. I always research the airport we are flying into, to see if there is anything to see, such as an aquarium, museum or viewing deck, so as to keep everyone entertained.
However, being organized takes a lot of effort and, while I try my best to keep everything in its place in my diaper bag, sometimes I don’t. I’ve had to dig around for my wallet, plane tickets and all sorts of odds and ends. Usually, a box of milk or other liquid slips my mind and then security zeroes in on me.
Even with a baby in tow, I have been patted down on every single flight I have taken with my son. Security is in no rush and generally don’t care if you miss your plane. On my last flight, I had to run through the airport holding my son to make it in time.
Traveling with a toddler certainly keeps you on your toes, but isn’t that why we travel in the first place, because we want to have new experiences? So, while the getting to the destination is part of the journey, my best advice is to try to enjoy the ride.
Masada Siegelis an award-winning journalist and photographer. Follow her at @masadasiegel and visit her website, masadasiegel.com.
New York Rabbi Aaron Laine first arrived at Beth El, an Ashkenazi congregation in the Panama subdivision of Paitilla, 23 years ago. (photo by Lauren Kramer)
Imagine being a rabbi at the helm of a community where Judaism is actively embraced. A city where Jews enthusiastically attend synagogue and classes, keep Shabbat, send their kids to Jewish day school and honour the laws of kashrut. A rabbi’s dream, right? Then Panama City is that dream come true.
New York Rabbi Aaron Laine first arrived at Beth El, an Ashkenazi congregation in the Panama subdivision of Paitilla, 23 years ago. “Ninety-five percent of the community keeps kosher,” said the rabbi with pride. “On Sukkot, there used to be 10 sukkot built in the whole city but today everyone has a sukkah. And, where we once brought just 185 sets of lulav and etrog, we now bring in 1,700!”
Panama City’s 15,000 Jews can choose from six synagogues, three Jewish day schools, two large kosher grocers and 25 kosher restaurants. Laine’s congregation of 400 families boasts two sanctuaries, a massive social hall, two mikvahs, classrooms and a football court on the roof. On Shabbat in Paitilla, Jews are so conspicuous you have to look hard to find anyone non-Jewish.
I attended services in July with my family, watching from the women’s section as male congregants embraced their rabbi, joining hands as they sang and danced their way around the bimah in a spontaneous, joyful celebration of Shabbat. Accustomed to a very different tradition in Vancouver, I asked Laine how the community had become so religious.
“It’s a predominantly Sephardi community here and there’s much less assimilation than there is in North America,” he reflected. “Adults are engaged in Jewish learning and their kids are raised in a very traditional environment in Panama. Almost all go to Jewish day schools, where they get a traditional outlook on life that automatically brings less intermarriage. And the community also uses the old system of pressure to make sure kids marry Jewish.”
In a country of 4.1 million, Jews are very influential in Panama. The past 60 years have seen two Jewish presidents: Max Delvalle, who served for just under a month in 1968, and, later, from 1985 to 1988, his nephew, Eric Arturo Delvalle. Jews play a heavy role in tourism, retail and construction, and have financed many of the gleaming high-rise buildings and condominium towers in Paitilla.
“We feel greater in number than 15,000,” noted Allan Schachtel, whose family-owned companies include a major tourism firm, the cruise ship port and the ferry boats that deliver tours of the Panama Canal. Laine summed it up succinctly. “Take away the Jewish investment in construction in Panama and the country would still look like a shtetl,” he observed.
In some places, it does. There’s a stark transition between the new, well-heeled Panama, with its tall, contemporary hotels, casinos and expansive malls, and the old. In Casco Viejo, the old city, we peeked inside Iglesia de San Jose to marvel at a massive altar flaked with gold that stretches 25 feet high. It’s the only thing that was saved in 1671 when the English pirate Henry Morgan ransacked and destroyed the city, burning it to the ground and making off with the loot. Local legend has it that a Jesuit priest painted the altar black to disguise it, and then told Morgan the original altar had been stolen by a different pirate. Today, supplicants still pray at the altar, four centuries after it was built.
Casco Viejo is full of charming passageways and ancient buildings that have only recently been gentrified. These days, they’re being transformed to house boutiques, gelato shops, galleries and restaurants, and the area buzzes with youthful energy and a vibrant night life. But there’s sadness here, too.
At the southern point of the quarter, the Plaza de Francia pays tribute to the French role in the construction of the Panama Canal. The French were the first to try and build the 80-kilometre canal in 1881, but their efforts were confounded by engineering troubles, bad planning and mosquito-born illness. Malaria and yellow fever felled 22,000 before the French gave up on the job. The Panama Canal Museum tells more of this story in a beautifully restored old-quarter building once home to the French Canal Company.
Back in Paitilla, life is good for the Jews of Panama City. Laine’s Spanish has grown fluent as he’s watched the community grow – not just in observance, but also in number. It’s swelled by Jews immigrating from Venezuela, Argentina, Uruguay and Peru. At a Chabad Friday night table, we met Israelis and Canadians who have chosen the city as their home and love its Jewish opportunity and spiritual warmth. This is a sweet life for a rabbi, Laine affirmed. “The Jews in Panama are good Yiddishe Neshamas,” he said, “they’re warm, traditional and deeply committed to family life.”
Lauren Kramer, an award-winning writer and editor, lives in Richmond. To read her work online, visit laurenkramer.net. This article was originally published by CJN.
Until recently, Israeli families with children in British Columbia were required to travel to Toronto to renew or extend their children’s Israeli passports. The Israeli Consulate in Toronto is now collaborating with three local notaries public – one each in Vancouver, Calgary and Winnipeg. In Vancouver, Adam Brosgall, owner and principal lawyer at Brosgall Legal, has been approved by the Israeli Consulate General in Toronto to be the notary public in British Columbia to assist Israeli citizens who wish to renew or extend their under-18 children’s travel documents.
Brosgall will notarize the parents’ signatures on their children’s passport renewal or extension forms and identify the minors appearing before him, with their updated passport photos, and sign the back of the photos.
Parents wishing to use the notary public’s services must arrange a meeting and come together with their child and the following documents: forms for renewal/extension of a passport, filled in but unsigned (the parents will both sign in front of the notary public); birth certificate of the minor with the names of both parents; photocopies of the parents’ passports; and two recent five-by-five-centimetre passport photos of the child.
Both parents must come to the meeting with the notary public, along with the child, and the notary public’s service comes at a fee. After the notarization, the signed forms and the children’s photographs must be sent by mail to the Consulate General in Toronto. Only requests signed by Brosgall (in Vancouver) will be approved by the consulate.
Those who choose not to appear before the notary public may continue to travel to the consulate in person to renew/extend their children’s passports.
For more information and to book an appointment, email to [email protected] or call 604-685-ADAM (2326).
Robin Esrock speaks at the Jewish Family Service Agency’s Seniors Lunch program. (photo from JFSA)
Well-known travel writer Robin Esrock gave an inspirational talk to the Jewish Family Service Agency’s Seniors Lunch program, which took place at Congregation Beth Israel on July 11.
Esrock has written for several publications, has been a TV host and his book The Great Canadian Bucket List was on the bestseller list in Canada and Australia. He told the approximately 40 guests the story of how his adventure-focused career began and how he has been very fortunate in the unorthodox path he has chosen. He also shared his philosophy, which is “you are just where you are supposed to be.”
JFSA’s Seniors Lunch program comprises a kosher meal once a month at Beth Israel and twice a month at Temple Sholom on Tuesdays at noon. All Jewish seniors are welcome. For more information and reservations, call Queenie Hamovich at 604-558-5709.