Travel

Musings from Morocco: Shabbat in Marrakech

The city of Marrakech was, for many years, home to the largest Jewish population in Morocco. Today it has two functioning shuls: one in the mella, the old Jewish quarter, which at one time housed some 40,000 Jews; and the other some four miles away in the “new city”, where most of the Jews moved after 1956 when Morocco gained its independence from France[1].

Musings from Morocco: Berber Blessings

Eizo asheer? Hasameach bechelko, Who is wealthy? One who is happy with his lot”. It is often hard for many of us raised in the affluence of the West to appreciate the beauty of a simple way of life, devoid of all the modern conveniences we take for granted—and can't live without. A visit to a Berber village can help with some perspective.

Goodbye Greece

As I sit on the plane, having just spent ten glorious days in Greece, let me share some final thoughts of our wonderful trip. Greece is a country rooted in history, it is the cradle of Western civilization and, not at all coincidentally, it is one of the first places the Jews settled after the destruction of the first Temple. 

Salutations from Salonica

As one enters the beautiful Yad Lezikaron shul in Salonica, one notices plaques on the wall. But unlike in most shuls, these are not yahrzeit plaques—or, as we have seen elsewhere in Greece, names of victims of the Holocaust. These plaques list names and dates of the shuls established in Salonika over the last 2,000 years. The first name on the list is Ets haChaim, established in the first century. 

Impressions from Ioannina

One of the beautiful experiences in travelling around the Jewish world is seeing the richness and diversity of Jewish life. I imagine not many on this list have ever heard laining in the Romaniote (Greek) tradition. Its beautiful tune is similar to, but also distinct from, other Sephardic traditions. The sefer Torah we used was borrowed from the Kahal Kadosh Yashan of Ioannina, the largest shul in Greece.

Commentary from Corfu

Ma rabu ma’asecha Hashem, how beautiful are Your creations, G-d!” After travelling in Greece for a couple of days, one understands that the Greek emphasis on beauty is not coincidental; the land itself is one of great natural beauty. Mountains, rivers, lush greenery and more entice the eye. There is much to attract one to Greece, and with our trip focused on Jewish history, we will not even be including the famously lovely Greek islands on our itinerary.

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