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Posts Tagged ‘Canadian Rockies’

Six Thousand Miles (Part II)

Wednesday, August 1st, 2007

         Part I of this series introduced the 6,000-mile driving tour that my wife, Barbara, and I took in the van driven by my brother, Avi, and our sister-in-law, Martha, to the Canadian Rockies. It detailed the challenge of obtaining kosher food on a driving tour. A month-long trip of this type can be very interesting and exciting. In the many different towns and cities we visited, we sought and found Jews with an affinity for other Jews.

 

         The second challenge for Orthodox Jews is how and where to spend Shabbat while traveling. Thanks to both the Internet and Chabad, our four Shabbatot were the most interesting parts of the trip. We planned our trip so that each Friday, we would be in a different city with an Orthodox neighborhood. We found warm and friendly home hospitality in each community.

 

         Our first Shabbat was observed in Minneapolis. We enjoyed the hospitality of Corrine and Dr. Marty Kletzko and of Dr. and Mrs. Thorne. We were invited on Erev Shabbat to eat with the Kletzko family and on Shabbat we joined other guests at the home of Rabbi and Mrs. Goldberger. We were impressed by the Divrei Torah discussed by the rabbi’s children during the meal, and we enjoyed our visit with our host families.

 

         In the process of organizing the visits to the various communities, I offered to discuss our life in Israel with any interested group. In Minneapolis Rabbi Goldberger asked me to speak during Seudah HaShlishit, and there was a very lively discussion.

 

         We had read at Minchah the story of the spies sent by Moshe to visit Israel. The word used in the Torah is “La Tour,” to tour the land. I mentioned that Moshe sent tribe leaders, similar to tours made by influential shul officers and community leaders. The Torah taught us a lesson of how careful community leaders must be to not misinterpret what they see in Israel. They should not bring back reports about Israel that begin with, “It is a great and wonderful country, but…! You can fill in the “but” that often implies that Israel is not a place where we can or need to live. When the Biblical “tourists” returned with a “but” report, the punishment was 40 years of wandering in the desert. The punishment today seems to be intermarriage, drugs and other dangers in the Diaspora.

 

         Our second Shabbat was in Calgary, Canada. Here the Shabbat home hospitality was organized as a shul fund-raiser, and was easily requested via the Internet from the hospitality coordinator, Marina Segal. We enjoyed the hospitality of Debbie and Nelson Halpern, where we slept and ate Friday night, and Samantha and Josh Margo, who hosted us for Shabbat lunch.

 

         An interesting comment was made by Debbie Halpern. She said that before we arrived she Googled me and, thanks to my Jewish Press articles, I was “famous.” The conversation all weekend, of course, centered around living in Israel, and the fact that having lived there for 34 years, we are living proof that it is possible for an American family to live, raise a family and prosper there. Shabbat ended after 11:00 p.m. in northern communities, which gave us lots of time to shmooze.

 

         After spending a week in the Canadian Rockies, our third Shabbat was in Edmonton, Canada. We were warmly hosted by Rabbi Avi Dreilich and his family. Rabbi Dreilich is the rabbi of the Chabad Shul, and we were impressed by the number of former Russian Jews that attended the shul. They came, davened, listened to some Torah, and were influenced by the rabbi. His natural acceptance of Russian Jews made them feel welcome, which was impressive.

 

         The week we attended, an elderly Jew who had never had a bar mitzvah was smiling from ear to ear as he was called up to the Torah for the first time. He was helped with the brachot,and he enjoyed the Kiddush held after davening. The Kiddush gave Rabbi Dreilich another opportunity to remind the community that an experienced mohel for adults had been invited for the following week to circumcise those who never had a bris. Several men had already signed up.

 

         Our lunch with the Dreilich family and their other guests lasted until 6:00 p.m. and was filled with Torah, discussions about Israel and their community, and about Rabbi Dreilich’s work. After Shabbat, at 11:35 p.m., Rabbi Dreilich and his sons quickly went to work putting the finishing touches on the equipment for Sunday’s golf tournament fund-raiser.


 

         PART III: The Fourth Shabbat In Toronto.

 

         Comments may be sent to dov@gilor.com.

Six Thousand Miles (Part I)

Wednesday, July 18th, 2007

         Like many other New Yorkers, during my 35 years of living in Brooklyn, I had rarely traveled outside the tri-state region and had never been to Florida, California, the National Parks or to most states outside the East Coast. After eight years of being Israeli, my wife, Barbara, and I took our three boys and flew coast to coast (Florida, California, some of the parks, etc.). As Americans we had only visited Israel, but as Israelis we have traveled to England, Europe, China, Alaska, Australia, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, Russia and the Caribbean.

 

         Now that my wife and I are retired Israelis, it was time to see more of America. We chose the Northern U.S. and the Canadian Rockies as our main destinations. Many tourists would have hopped a plane to the Canadian Rockies, but my brother, Avi, and his wife, Martha, chose to drive us on this tour. They began their 9,000-mile trek from Boca Raton, Florida before they picked us up from O’Hare Airport in Chicago, where our 6,000-mile motor adventure began. Avi and Martha own a comfortable van, and Avi likes driving.

 

         I hope this Jewish travelogue will be both interesting and helpful. This first installment will discuss kosher food on the road, while future parts will discuss Shabbat home hospitality, some attractions, saving money, and interesting tidbits from along the way.

 

         Our secondary goal was to find and visit new (to us) Jewish communities. While still in Israel, I used the Internet to find and contact Jewish communities, and I used the AAA Internet site to plan our route, make a list of attractions that might interest us, and print maps and directions. This AAA free service proved very helpful, as I could easily modify routes, check mileage from stop to stop, and read about recommended attractions. After this month-long exercise in planning, I have a better understanding of the work done by tour operators and their value to travelers.

 

         Most attractions, for example, were open from 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. Time must be allocated to driving the often hundreds of miles between points, while still arriving at an attraction still open. Often we had to choose which of several attractions to see because we could only visit two or three attractions during any travel day. It was not easy to coordinate and plan.

 

         While we did not always choose famous attractions, almost every place we chose to stop was listed as a starred (recommended) attraction in the AAA book and on the Internet site. We usually did not travel on major highways (which can be monotonous) but often chose scenic secondary roads, where we often saw and stopped in Middle-American small towns.

 

         One of our first challenges as Orthodox Jews was to find kosher food during this month-long tour. Prior to starting out from Brooklyn and Boca, each couple purchased several La Briute and Meal Mart meals. Both meals can be stored without refrigeration, and La Briute meals do not require a microwave. Each La Briute meal has a heating element triggered by a saltwater solution, which is included in the package. Pareve and meat meals are sold, but after a taste-test prior to the trip we only purchased meat meals.

 

         Meal Mart meals usually required a microwave but are double-wrapped, permitting us to use any microwave in a motel. Here, too, we only purchased the meat meals. We rarely found any of these meals in a supermarket on the road. And if we did, there was no selection. We were happy that we purchased the meals in Brooklyn and Boca before the trip.

 

         Some of the meals on our trip consisted of tuna or salmon, while some were nosh. We were pleased to find in the 7-Eleven or in local supermarkets many products with an OU, or Canadian or Chicago kosher certification. In Minneapolis, Calgary, Edmonton and Toronto we also found kosher stores or non-kosher supermarkets with large kosher sections run by Orthodox Jews. In some, we were able to purchase cold cuts, franks and barbequed chickens. In the van we were able to carry canned vegetables, fruits and lots of nosh. Every motel had ice for our cooler, which stored our milk, cheese, drinks, meat and other items requiring refrigeration.

 

         We found a kosher supermarket owned by Gitle Ort in Milwaukee, a Berel’s Bakery in Calgary, and the kosher sections of Byerly’s in Minneapolis and Sobeys in Edmonton. Berel spoke of the need for more community support because many of the younger families were purchasing their kosher-baked goods in Costco or supermarkets, and this cut seriously into his business. In Edmonton, Gary Segal gave us great service at the Sobeys supermarket, telling us about the meat products and Cholov Yisroel items the store brings in from Toronto.

 

         The Mall of Edmonton, Canada, owned by an Orthodox Jew, had an excellent fast-food fish and pizza restaurant and a kosher caterer. The owner subsidized both, since they did not have enough clientele. It was interesting that just as we found the kosher restaurant, our Chabad host for Shabbat was standing there, and we were able to confirm our Shabbat arrangements – along with getting directions. He is the caterer’s mashgiach, and we sat with him in the kitchen discussing the community while the women shopped at the mall.

 

         Another “food” incident occurred in Binghamton, NY, our last stop. My wife’s job each morning was to check the kashrut of the breakfast available. In each motel she requested to see the ingredients (usually printed only on the bulk packaging), and I guess the motel staff assumed that someone had an allergy. In our last motel, the obviously non-Jewish woman Barbara approached asked, “Why, are you Jewish?” Surprised, Barbara responded, “Yes.” The woman replied, “I am sorry but I do not think that you will be able to eat most of the products.” After a short discussion Barbara found out that the woman’s daughter had converted to Judaism, lives in Beitar Elite, Israel, and her grandchildren “have those little curly sideburns.”

 

         PART II: Shabbat In Wonderful Jewish Communities

 

         Comments may be sent to dov@gilor.com.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/six-thousand-miles-part-i/2007/07/18/

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