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April 16, 2014 / 16 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘hotel’

A Jew on Broadway

Monday, May 7th, 2012

http://notajew-jew.com/?p=240

I am converting to Judaism.  Which means I did not grow up as a Jew.  Which means I have never felt singled out as a Jew, or persecuted for being a Jew – except the one time I was Jew-bashed and almost killed.  But that was an anomaly.  In fact it was a mistake.  And it certainly didn’t give me the feeling of what it’s like to live openly as a Jew.

Right now is one of the best times in history, and America is one of the best places in the world, to live openly as a Jew.  And one of the best places in America to don a Kippah (yarmulke) and walk around without fear is in New York City.

So, I wasn’t being a hero when I wore my Kippah to meetings in the Upper West Side and in the Theater District, or even around my hotel in Harlem.  And I’ve found the same to be true across the country; rather than singling me out, my Kippah tends to bring out the best in people, and even acts as a friendly conversation starter.

Except when I found myself in a darkened Broadway theater, watching Jesus get hoisted on a cross by Judas Iscariot, surrounded by people with tears and/or rage in their eyes.  At that moment, being the only person in the room with a Kippah on his head…made me stand out.

I’m talking about the Broadway musical Godspell, which I went to on a friend’s recommendation.  Look, I’m not much of a theater guy, folks, so what do I know?  I assumed it was about Jesus, but hey: I figured it would be a bunch of lighthearted singing and dancing – jazz-hands at the worst – not some brutal attack on Jews.

And it was fine for a while.  Until the intermission.  Walking around in the lobby, then returning to my seat in an empty row in the half-empty theater, I saw people looking at me…differently.  Not a lot of friendly conversations were started that night.  Not one.  Maybe they knew what was coming in Act 2, just like Jesus did.  Heck, we all knew that it wouldn’t turn out well for him.  What I didn’t know was how the play would radically warp the character and actions of Judas.

Look, I’m not much more of an expert on the New Testament than I am on Broadway musicals but, from my recollection of the Gospels, a spotlighted Judas didn’t personally hoist Jesus onto a cross, pause to hear him scream, then hoist him some more.  Pretty sure it was the Romans hoisting Jesus onto a Roman cross.

But it was the reaction of the crowd, and in particular one cast member, that made me feel like the spotlight was on me.  The crowd was angry.  Not “angry-at-the-rich-people-in-Titanic” angry.  Angry.  And the rage on stage was not “crocodile-tears-from-stage-actors.”  It was real.  The clenched fists were real.  The tears were real.  The rage was real. The room was buzzing with rage.

I could have left the theater.  In fact, I almost did.  When the light-hearted singing and dancing of Act 1 turned into Jesus slamming Rabbis and Jewish laws, I began looking for the exit.

But I forced myself to stay.  Because I had never experienced this as a Jew.  I knew what was coming in Act 2.  I didn’t know it would be that bad or distorted, but I knew that things would not turn out well for the male lead, which would probably not sit well with the audience.

So I stayed.  I took it.  I experienced it.  As a Jew.

It was just a Broadway play.  It was just make-believe.  I can only imagine what it must have been like for Jews in another country, in another time.

But I can imagine it a tiny bit more clearly today.

Roundup: Organ Donation, Abomination, Beer Nation, Cross-Davenation, Plus the Settlers of Tel Aviv

Friday, May 4th, 2012

It’s the 12th of Iyar. On this day in the year 70, Roman General Titus breached the middle wall of Jerusalem (it was June 5 back then). It’s the yahrzeit (in 1778) of Reb Shmuel Shmelke Halevi Horowitz of Nikolsburg. On his first day as the Rabbi of Nikolsburg, he made it rain. It was downhill from there… In 1910 on this day, the tiny settlement of Ahuzat Bayit outside Jaffa, with 66 families of Jewish settlers, changed its name to Tel Aviv. The fledgling settlement was sacked by Arabs, also on the 12th of Iyar, in 1917. The Turkish governor announced it was time to purge Palestine of its Jews. But, lo and behold, on the 12th of Iyar, 1949, Israel was admitted as the 59th member of the UN.

Let’s blog!

Craving: I’m going to have to make it Ever have a craving for something you just can’t get? I’ve got a craving for something that can’t be shipped. It can’t be bought. It can’t be found here, there, or anywhere any longer (the place that sold it closed after the owner died). I’ve got a craving for the best damn pizza I’ve ever had in my life and it didn’t even have any tomato sauce. It was a “twice-baked potato pizza pie” sold at a little pizza place in Athens, Ohio. It. Was. To. Die. For. Pizza. Yael K, Life in Israel

Mumbai Wedding As the afternoon sun hit its peak, Haran and I pulled up to his small one-and-a-half-bedroom flat on the outskirts of East Mumbai, India, some 20 minutes from the airport. The building’s shiny tin roof showed that money was in short supply. But inside the apartment, with Indian hospitality, Haran’s wife Geeta (a surprisingly non-Jewish name) served me perfectly spiced hot tea. She sat down next to her husband, and they began telling their story. Joseph Mayton, Jewish Ideas Daily

Own a Mossad Director’s Watch! Yes! Always wanted one! And not just any Mossad Director’s watch but the one worn by none other than Isser Harel who was the director of both the Shin Bet and the Mossad. The watch is coming up for auction on Sunday… CK, Jewlicious

Facebook and the End of Organ Donation Facebook’s recent introduction of an organ donor status, to boost donor participation, affords a welcome opportunity to discuss a recent comprehensive work on Judaism and the definition of death. Gil Student, Hirhurim

Long Hot Summer, Election Mode I guess it’s pretty official by now. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will end shiva (the Jewish week of mourning) for his father and announce that there will be new elections, a bit early, in Israel. Ever since Bibi put together his coalition the media and opposition have been predicting that his government wouldn’t last. Batya, Shiloh Musings

Brother, Can You Buy Me a Beer? When it comes to the nonviolent tactic of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, or BDS, the United Methodist Church now has B and S covered. But without the D, is it just BS? No, not entirely. Jewschool

I Am a Cross-Davener Week after week and year after year of meaningless socializing and feeling lack of meaning in my prayers. I decided to try out Kehillat Hadar. An open orthodox style minyan with mixed seating. DovBear

Anti-Semitism in America I am absolutely convinced that in all of Jewish history, there has never been a country like the United States – that is built entirely on religious tolerance and – in the 21st century is living up to that principle. There is so much evidence of it – that I reject the notion that America is no different than any other country both past and present – countries that have made life very difficult for a Jew. To say the least. Harry Maryles, Emes Ve-Emunah

United Church Report Shows How Israel-Haters Have Lost the Argument According to a new report from the United Church of Canada, “the deepest meaning of the Holocaust was the denial of human dignity to Jews.”

Oh, really? Actually, I’d say that the “deepest meaning of the Holocaust” was the slaughter of six-million human beings. Being strip-searched by police for no good reason is an infringement of one’s “dignity.” Getting thrown into a gas chamber is a little bit more serious. I’m guessing the last thoughts of the victims at Auschwitz, as their silent shrieks left their throats, wasn’t “Oh my, but this is undignified.” Steve Lieblich, Jewish Issues Watchdog

The Life of Julia The entire paragraph seemed like a horrible parody made by Republicans to poke fun at Obama’s policies by showing that a woman could basically live her whole life off the backs of taxpayers …and then I realized that I’d skimmed too quickly and missed a few key words. Ezzie Goldish, SerandEz and Friends

Ten Years Later, Emotional Reunion For Families: Victimized By Park Hotel Terror Attack

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

NETANYA – “The expression ‘time heals all wounds’ is simply not true, even a decade after the Pesach terror attack at the Park Hotel,” Batya Weinberg, a caseworker for the OneFamily organization said on the eve of last week’s 10th anniversary memorial gathering of victims and families who were directly affected by the atrocity.

The attack, which killed 30 and wounded 140, galvanized the Jewish state at the height of the Second Intifada. The day after the massacre, the IDF launched Operation Defensive Shield, a full-scale anti-terrorism operation in the Palestinian-controlled areas of Judea and Samaria.

More than a hundred victims and their families returned to the Netanya hotel for a memorial gathering and therapy session within the framework of the ongoing treatment and care provided by OneFamily.

“The trauma and the yearning for lost family members remains,” Weinberg told The Jewish Press. “At the annual yahrzeits some people cry as if the tragedy occurred yesterday. It’s hard for some of them to deal with their losses, especially in the case of a child. A widow or widower can remarry and repair part of the pain but there is no replacement for a dead child.”

During last week’s memorial service, which was attended by Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, the OneFamily Bereaved Fathers Choir sang verses from Tehillim, while relatives of the victims lit memorial candles for their loved ones.

Corrine Hamami, the widow of Amiram Hamami, the manager of the hotel who was killed in the attack, spoke about her determination to keep the hotel open despite the serious physical and psychological hurdles.

“Overnight I found myself alone with six children. I didn’t want to get out of bed, but I found strength in my family and decided then that the terrorists would not defeat us,” she said.

“Returning to the Park Hotel is an integral part of the healing and rehabilitation of the victims, offering them the opportunity to remember and display their resilience in the face of such tragedy,” noted OneFamily founder and chairman Marc Belzberg. “We will continue to support the victims into the next decade, for as long as they need us.”

Several Park Hotel families have provided comfort to the families victimized in the recent terror attack in Toulouse, France.

“Even though every tragedy returns people to the same moment, it’s also important for them to provide strength to one another,” said Weinberg. “OneFamily provides the moral, social and economic framework for the victims to piece their lives back together again, no matter how long it might take.”

Visiting Disney World with a Special Needs Child

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

Traveling to Disney World with your kids? If you are a typical Jewish family, there are concerns about the availability of kosher food, events that take place on Shabbos that you may have to schedule around, and the availability of a minyan.

Traveling with a special needs child creates an added level of complexity. However, with careful advance planning and organization, many of these concerns can be addressed resulting in a trip in which everything can go smoothly and be enjoyed by all.

Here are some of the key issues to consider-

The length of time you’ll be traveling:

Do some research into the Disney World parks. Determine which attractions you want to see and approximately how long it will take, given your child’s abilities. If your child has behavior issues, how will he or she handle the large crowds? What type of activities will they enjoy the most? Shows, rides, shopping, parades and nighttime activities like fireworks are some of the choices. Consider getting a disability pass from the park to shorten the waiting time in lines.

Make up a daily schedule:

Make a schedule for each day that you will be visiting the park with estimates for the amount of time that you will be spending for each activity, including preparation time in the hotel and travel time.If your child has medical needs, estimate how long it will take to get him ready for each day’s outing, and include that time in your daily schedule.

Plan for the number of stops for their care you will need throughout the day, and consult the maps of the park to plan the best places to make those stops. Again, which activities would they enjoy the most and which are they able to do? How long do you need to allocate for each Park? There are four Disney parks, Downtown Disney (shopping), and various water parks.

Does your child need some down-time in between days at the Parks? Consider some of the many other, less demanding tourist attractions in the Orlando area which would be enjoyable for the whole family but much less stressful and intense than the environment in the Disney parks. Do some research into the available arrangements in the area for Shabbos, and schedule it as one of your planned “down-time” days. There is a lot to see and do in the Orlando area. You might want to stay for at least a week, and use your first visit as a scouting trip for a second vacation at a later time to see some of the things you will not have enough time for in the first visit.

Lodging:

If you will be staying at a Disney property, they have buses from the airport to their hotels and from the hotels to the parks. However, not all of the buses accommodate wheelchairs and often it’s a long wait. Consider renting a car/van even if you’re staying at a Disney property.

For off-property lodging, if you need a place to stay that’s handicapped accessible, you should look into it ahead of time. Many of the hotels in the Orlando area are two floor walk ups, without elevators.

Do your research. There are a number of travel sites on line with detailed listings of the hotels and motels in the area, along with reviews by travelers who have used them. Another good research tool is the Florida AAA Travel Guide, which is available free upon request to AAA members. It will give you an idea of where the better hotels and motels are, and what facilities they offer. If your child loves the water, it’s important to note that there are no indoor pools in Orlando, even at luxury hotels.

The location of your hotel makes a difference as well. It can take almost 40 minutes from some hotels to actually reach the Parks, especially during peak travel times during the day. Many special needs children cannot handle a long car trip on top of a full day at an amusement park. Try to determine the actual traveling time from the hotel to the park before making your reservation.

Look for a place with a kitchen, efficiency, or at least a fridge. Remember that you will need a place for medication storage, as well as a preparation area and place to store kosher food. Think about what you will need to bring with you from home, such as a couple of sharp knives, a frying pan, a hot water device, and harder to find items like kosher cheese and meat, and what you can expect to buy at a typical Orlando-area supermarket, like disposable utensils and basic packaged foods bearing a national hashgocho.

Glatt Kosher airline style frozen meals can be ordered at some of the Disney facilities, and the web site of the Chabad of South Orlando lists various establishments in the area offering kosher food, as well as supermarkets with kosher food sections. The majority of Publix supermarkets have a variety of kosher food. Since this information may change without notice, it is strongly recommended to check with a phone call to confirm accuracy and availability.

The Amazing Race (Part III)

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

As some of you may know, either through my previous articles, numerous online posts, or non-stop chatter about the topic, I recently had the pleasure of attending Yachad’s marathon weekend event in Miami Beach, Florida. I was invited to participate in this incredible experience, both as a writer and as a runner, and to feel firsthand what the words unity, commitment, dedication, and inspiration truly mean.

It all started three years ago when Yachad, the National Jewish Council for Disabilities, put together a team of 29 runners to participate in the ING Miami Marathon and Half Marathon, with the goal of raising much-needed funds for this incredible organization. The following year, that number doubled, with 77 runners committing to and running the marathon. This year was their most successful one yet, with 135 runners fundraising, training for, and running 13.1 or 26.2 miles, all with the same goal: to help Yachad continue their dedicated work of enhancing the life opportunities of individuals with disabilities, and ensuring their participation in the full spectrum of Jewish life.

My experience with Yachad began well before the actual marathon, dating back about six months or so when I first signed up to join the team. After my initial meeting with some of the dedicated staff members and runners in a New Jersey high school, I attended a couple of training sessions with Coach Jasmine (“Jaz”) Graham, who patiently answered every question I threw at her, and who provided me with my very own training regimen to fit my schedule.

Team Yachad 2012

After months of training and hard work, I hopped on a plane from rainy New York City to beautiful, sunny Miami Beach. The weekend began with the entire group meeting on Friday and registering for the race at the Miami Beach Convention Center, which was packed with booths, vendors, visitors and excited runners who were gearing up for Sunday’s race. After that, it was off to the beautiful Newport Beachside Resort in Sunny Isles, Florida on a chartered bus, followed by a lovely Friday afternoon lunch.

Then it was off to our hotel rooms to get ready for Shabbos. Walking into the beautiful room that the staff at Yachad had prepared, I was pleasantly surprised to discover a travel bag waiting for me, filled with goodies like snacks, drinks, health items, orange Team Yachad T-shirts, headbands, and several other surprises. On the bag were two tags; one had my name with the title “runner,” the other had my three-year-old daughter’s name with “fan club” underneath. It seemed like Yachad had taken care of every detail – from the couch-bed pulled out and made up for my daughter, to the many bottles of Gatorade that were provided for us even before the actual race.

It has been quite a number of years since I’ve attended summer camp, but that’s exactly what Shabbos with Yachad felt like. From the beautiful Friday night davening, to the heartfelt singing at the Shabbos table, to the warm feeling of unity that was felt throughout the entire Shabbos, from beginning to end. Many of the runners were high school students who are connected to or involvedwith Yachad and are tremendous supporters of its work. Other runners included college students, grad students, and professionals who took time off of work to support Team Yachad. Others were staff members from different branches of the Orthodox Union throughout the country, and came with their families, some even recruiting their spouse to run right along with them. However they got there or whatever their motivation, every member of Team Yachad contributed to the Shabbaton and to the entire weekend in their own unique way – helping make it as special as it was.

Shabbos afternoon consisted of a beautiful Shabbos lunch, followed by a chance for everyone to enjoy the boardwalk, the beach, or to simply rest. Right after shalosh seudos, everyone gathered in a circle to sing Shabbos zemiros as a group. This was followed by one of my personal highlights of the weekend: a question-and-answer session with Richard Bernstein. Bernstein, 37, is blind since birth, and ran with Team Yachad for the first time in this year’s ING Miami Marathon. He has completed 15 marathons – including seven NYC Marathons, the Ironman Triathlon and the Israman Triathlon. An attorney, he is a tireless advocate for disabled rights and was so excited to run as part of Yachad, an organization that works hard at enhancing the life opportunities of individuals with disabilities, the very same mission to which he has devoted his life. It was a privilege to hear him speak and to have him share inspiration with the entire team.

Another inspirational moment for me came at the end of Shabbos, during Havdalah. As many of the team members were teenagers, I expected them all to race out of the shul the minute Shabbos was over and head straight toward their cell phones/laptops/iPods/cameras/iPads, etc. Much to my surprise, Havdalah was a lengthy and very beautiful ritual that I don’t normally have the pleasure to witness. When it was over, the kids started singing, “Six more days ‘till Shabbos…” and formed a circle, singing and dancing as if they didn’t want Shabbos to end. It was incredibly inspiring.

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities

Friday, February 10th, 2012

Dear Rachel,

My friend reads your article the minute The Jewish Press is delivered to her house. Maybe you can knock some sense into her.

She is the one who lost a ton of weight, looks great and is seeing this loser psychopath for nearly three years already. Rachel, he is a married man! When will she realize that he is just taking her for a ride? This conniving two-timing individual has no intention of marrying her. If he would, he would have divorced his wife years ago!

I’ve heard all about him from my friend who tells me constantly that his “crazy wife” doesn’t want a divorce. Rachel, it’s a man world. If he would really want a divorce he could simply give his wife a “get” or get a legal divorce. But he doesn’t want one. He hasn’t even been employed for over ten years; why would my friend believe he will start working at the ripe age of fifty?

My friend once confided in me that her parents would kill her if they found out she is dating a married man – and one who is jobless yet. She gets nothing from him. She is wasting her precious time. He’s never even given her a piece of jewelry to intimate in the slightest that he is interested in marrying her. She allows herself to be used by him financially and in every other way. She even cooks suppers for him.

He is a cheap, disgusting, lowlife of a man. She realized initially that he lied when he was seeing a different woman while he was dating her! Another lie that she caught him in is that he didn’t tell her he is married. If I would be her I would call up the lawyer that he claims to have retained and see if he really did retain him.

He told her he went away to a hotel for Pesach. Did she confirm that by calling up the hotel? Did she confirm that he went by himself? He tells her he lives in a basement — really? A 50-year old man all alone in the basement? A man who has a history of lying and cheating? I would have run the other way, but my friend obviously has no self-respect; otherwise she wouldn’t have allowed him to sleep over at her house every night.

She keeps on hoping that he will marry her. Why doesn’t she give him an ultimatum? Either get divorced tomorrow or you are out of my life for good! You know why? Because deep down she knows that he will run out of her life and disappear. Even her daughter saw through this man and warned her mother about him way back at the beginning, but she wouldn’t listen.

A frustrated friend

Dear Frustrated,

Your friend may be a reader of this column but chooses to close her eyes and ears where she is concerned. You wrote two years ago in a similar vein (your letter appeared in the first column of the year 2010), but apparently the subject of your frustration chose to ignore the counsel offered then. It is very difficult to help someone who refuses to be helped, but let’s take another shot at it.

My dear woman: Understandably, it is immensely difficult to tear yourself away from the attention and the company that you’ve grown so accustomed to. It’s almost like getting hooked on a drug. Whenever he is with you at your side, you feel like you’re on a high.

Deep down you know he is using you, but you simply don’t allow yourself to face reality. You dread the pain of letting go and of confronting the emptiness that would follow. But in actuality, my dear, your life is empty now. In reality, your relationship is void of any real fulfillment and is a sham. Here’s the proof: Had it been real love and genuine caring, you’d have had a ring on your finger by now.

The truth may hurt, but the fact remains that you are simply his mistress, his pastime and one he uses at his whim. Besides, considering his track record, he is not likely to make you a very good husband. Not very solid husband material – considering how perfectly comfortable he is leading a double life and cheating on his wife. Ask yourself if this is really the type of man you would want as a husband.

Your friend is right. Had he wanted to divorce his wife, he’d have done so by now. Yours is a relationship that is headed nowhere, and for as long as you continue to serve his needs he has no reason or motivation to change a thing.

The best thing you could do for yourself is to free yourself of him. In the least, you should be giving him a chance to prove us wrong. Consider packing your bags and treating yourself to a vacation away from him, someplace where you would be putting a substantial physical distance between you.

Two Israeli Hotels Make Conde Nast Top 10

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

Two Jerusalem hotels have been ranked among travel magazine Conde Nast Traveler as among the best 10 in the Middle East.

The David Citadel and the Inbal hotels were ranked by readers as the best places to stay, below the Park Hyatt in Dubai, the Al Faisaliah Hotel in Riyadh, and the Four Seasons Hotel in Doha.  The Inbal Hotel was ranked 4th among readers, with the Four Seasons Hotel in Amman coming in just above the David Citadel.

“We are grateful and proud to have been chosen,” a representative of the Inbal told reporters.  ‘There is no doubt that the rating we received is very respectable. Recently we have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in upgrading the systems, design and service at the hotel to ensure that we continue to stand at the forefront of the hotel industry worldwide. We are excited about being a source of pride to Jerusalem and Israel.”

Conde Nast Traveler Readers called the David Citadel  “comfortable and effortlessly classy” and said the rooms are “spacious and attractive,” while the hotel lobby is “grand without being opulent”.

King David Hotel Named One of World’s Top 100

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

Jerusalem’s historic King David Hotel is being called one of the top 12 “iconic hotels” and one of the world’s best 100 by Fodor’s.

 

Fodor’s is one of the world’s foremost publishers of English-language tour and travel guide books.

 

This is Fodor’s first Top 100 Hotel Awards, which placed the hotels in one of eight categories: New and Noteworthy, Grande Dame, Casual Chic, Design, Local Flavor, Clubby Atmosphere, Luxurious Retreat, and Trusted Brand.

 

Israel was listed in the “Grande Dame” category, “legendary hotels with superlative history and service.”

 

“The grande dame of Israeli luxury hotels opened in 1931 and has successfully (and self-importantly) defended its title ever since,” Fodor’s said.  “There are other luxury hotels in Jerusalem, but none possess the historical significance and elegant surroundings of the landmarked King David. From the dignified lobby filled with travel guide-toting visitors and diplomats making notes for their next meeting, one can feel the energy of the momentous events that have taken place here. Sit on the flower-filled terrace overlooking the city’s loveliest pool and sip a glass of mint tea while gazing at the stately walls of Jerusalem’s Old City… And when you’re eating the famously excellent breakfast, don’t be surprised if you bump into royalty, world leaders, or rock stars.”

 

The King David hotel was built with the funding of Egyptian Jews in 1931, and was famously attacked by the Jewish liberation fighters of the Irgun in the summer of 1946, when the King David was used by the occupying British as an administrative and military headquarters.  Famous guests at the King David include King George V, former US Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Richard Nixon, British Prime Ministers Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher, and celebrities Richard Gere, Elizabeth Taylor, and Madonna, as well as then-presidential candidate Barack Obama.   It features 233 rooms, 42 luxury suites, a presidential suite and a royal suite.

 

Other “Grande Dame” hotels awarded by Fodor’s are  Baur au Lac Zurich, Switzerland; Breakers Palm Beach, Florida; Carlyle, New York City; Hotel de Russie, Rome; Hay-Adams Washington, DC; Villa D’Este, Lake Como; La Mamounia, Marrakesh; and The Savoy London, England.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/king-david-hotel-named-one-of-worlds-top-100/2011/12/06/

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