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December 2, 2015 / 20 Kislev, 5776
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An American Odyssey (Part 10)


San Francisco is a lovely city and we enjoyed its many tourist venues. The famous Lombard Street, known as “The Crookedest Street in the World,” was beautiful, with its floral decorations. We shopped at Pier 39, and we bought matching San Francisco jackets. We really needed them since it was cold in San Francisco. Barbara added to her magnet collection, which contains magnets from dozens of countries around the world that we have toured. She’d never been in a store that sold thousands of magnets and she just loved looking at all the magnets on the walls.

We enjoyed lunch with Barbara’s cousin, Paul Sedway, and his daughter at the Sabra Glatt Kosher Restaurant. After lunch, we drove through the city. We stopped at the Oakland Kosher store and found delicious tongue and other deli meats to replenish our dwindling supply. We played “Jewish geography” with one of the workers, who sent regards to his friend living in our community, Hashmonaim. It’s a small world!

The next morning, we loaded our van and continued north. Our first stop was the Jelly Belly Factory where we watched how they manufactured the delicious jellybeans. Jelly Belly is certified kosher by the OU and we enjoyed the free samples. My brother, Avi, purchased several pounds of the jellybeans to bring to his friends in Boca Raton’s Century Village. We also stopped at the Budweiser Brewery where we enjoyed the tour and the video, along with the beer (or Pepsi) and pretzels (also kosher certified). It was interesting to note that so many of the products that we found on our way were kosher.

We arrived in Sacramento towards noon and drove to Barbara’s brother’s home. Gary and Jody Cohen have a business marketing “Natural Value” line organic products all over America. While Barbara spent time with her brother, Gary, and visited stores that sold his products, Avi, Martha and I toured the California Railroad Museum, the local Imax Theater, Old Town, the Wells Fargo exhibit and the Aerospace Museum. There was a lot to see and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

Dov at the California Railroad Museum.

After touring, we returned to Gary’s to relax and socialize. Gary had arranged rooms for us at the local Marriott Residence Inn. We drove to our first class accommodations and used the pool to cool off. The next morning, we were delighted to find many OU-certified packaged products at the hotel breakfast, including yogurts, granola, waffles and individually wrapped danishes.

Thursday morning was laundry day so we drove to a local Laundromat, loaded the machines, left the women to watch the clothes and headed to a JiffyLube to service the van. When we returned to Gary and Jody’s house, we found a delicious ice cream and whipped cream lunch, along with bagels and lox, waiting for us. We toured “The World Headquarters of Natural Value Foods” (Gary’s work rooms) and then returned to the motel to relax.

The next morning we loaded the van, enjoyed a delicious breakfast again and headed for Lake Tahoe. We passed the rushing waters of the Truckee River and stopped to view the snow-capped mountains of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. We drove around the very beautiful Lake Tahoe, stopped at one or two of the waterfalls, and crossed back into Nevada. At Carson City we stopped to take pictures of the State Legislature building named after Barbara’s late cousin, Marvin Sedway, who was a well-loved State Assemblyman.

Reno, Nevada was a bit disappointing. The streets were mostly empty and the gambling halls we looked into were pretty deserted. The economic downturn in the U.S. has had a serious impact on Reno. We toured the Fleishman Planetarium and Science Center and watched a “sky-dome” movie.

As I have noted several times, wherever we travel in the world, the most gracious hosts are usually the local Chabad families. Our hosts for Shabbat were Reno’s Chabad family, Rabbi Mendy and Sara Cumin and three of their eight children. We slept in their home and davened in the beautiful and newly-refurbished Chabad shul/school. Next door to the shul was the new mikveh building. The family views their task as convincing anyone becoming religious to leave and go to live in Israel. They have had some success in the past 16 years but seem to be the only religious family living in the area today. We had a minyan for Friday night and Shabbat morning, but for Shabbat Minchah there were just four of us. The fourth person was an Israeli I noticed walking around the shul. He was not personally religious, but every Shabbat in Israel he attended at least one service. We invited him in for Minchah and the rabbi invited him to a seuda shlishis in his home. It is always a pleasure to spend Shabbat with a Chabad family. Before we left, we gave the family some of the extra kosher packaged foods that we had in the car along with a donation for our aliyas on Shabbat.

We had only two weeks to go on the return leg of our journey to Florida. We traveled via “the scenic route” to our next destination: Salt Lake City.

Comments may be sent to dov@gilor.com.

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