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November 1, 2014 / 8 Heshvan, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Santa Fe’

An American Odyssey (Part 6)

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Were the “Hamish” Indians Jewish? On our way to Santa Fe, we stopped to visit the Jemez Pueblo and learn about the local Indian tribes. We mentioned to the squaw at the museum entrance that “Hamish” is a Yiddish word and that it had a meaning similar to the Indian word. She had never heard of that before (and she really did not look Jewish). As we left the Pueblo we viewed the magnificent red rocks and the nearby mountains and drove through an immense forest more than 8,000 feet above sea level.

We entered the town of Los Alamos. Forest fires in the area we had just left had threatened to cause the evacuation of the town, and we wanted to visit the Bradbury Science Museum before they closed the town. I, as an avid science fiction reader, had thought that the museum was named for the famous science fiction author, Ray Bradbury, and was a bit disappointed to learn that it was named for Morris E. Bradbury, the scientist head of the Manhattan Project. The disappointment dissipated when we saw the very interesting exhibits depicting the period of the development of the bomb during World War II. We enjoyed the many exhibits and the film about the super-secret town, “The Town that Never Was,” and the secret lives of the scientists, including Albert Einstein. It told of the cooperation between Roosevelt and Churchill to beat the Germans in developing an atomic weapon. The museum had replicas of “Little Boy” and “Fat Man,” the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to end the war in August of 1945.

Barbara and Dov Gilor with Rabbi Levertov in front of the Santa Fe mikvah.

After leaving the museum, we visited the beautiful Capitol Building in Santa Fe and enjoyed a guided tour of the chambers and the lovely artwork displayed outside many of the offices. As Shabbat was approaching, we drove to the home of Rabbi Levertov, the local Chabad rabbi. When we arrived, we learned that his wife and children had left for Crown Heights for the Lubavitcher Rebbi’s yahrzeit commemoration and that Rabbi Levertov was scheduled to leave on Sunday. He told us not to worry, however, because one of the local women was in charge of cooking Shabbat meals at the Chabad Center and that we were eating all of our meals with the community.

On Friday night, more than 50 people came for tefillah, the Shabbat meal and the special Chabad Jewish companionship. Similar to what we experienced in many other Chabad locations, almost all of those attending were not (yet) personally religious, but they craved, at least once a week, to be in a Jewish surrounding. At the first Shabbat meal, I spoke about Israeli scientific and industrial innovations and enjoyed the questions of the many college-age participants. On Shabbat, I spoke about life in our settlement community and fielded many questions about the importance and legality of our community.

Words are never enough to portray the fantastic kiddush Hashem of the work done by the Chabad emissaries. Each time we visit a Chabad community, we are again impressed by the warm and wonderful Chabad families who willingly suffer their personal isolation from the centers of religious Jews in order to bring a little Yiddishkeit into the lives of their fellow Jews. We have travelled all over the United States and to many other countries, including China, Russia, Canada, Scotland, Australia, and Alaska, where we have enjoyed Chabad hospitality from the Rebbi’s shluchim and we are continually impressed by their mesirat nefesh.

By Minchah time, only one fellow religious traveler and a young man studying Hebrew with the rabbi showed up, yet we concluded the Shabbat in a warm and peaceful atmosphere. On Sunday morning, before Rabbi Levertov left for Crown Heights, he took us on a tour of the beautiful adobe-style mikvah that he had built adjacent to his home, with beautiful mosaic tiles and piped in music.

We had traveled more than 3,370 miles in the first two weeks of our trip, and were on our way to the Grand Canyon.

Comments may be sent to dov@gilor.com.

An American Odyssey (Part 5)

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Is it true that creatures from outer space visited New Mexico and that the U.S. government suppressed the story to avoid worldwide panic? At the UFO Museum in Roswell, New Mexico, we saw many pieces of evidence and read many news stories about the landing of UFOs and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. After spending part of a day visiting the museum, we are no longer so sure that the stories were a hoax, but, sorry Roswell, we are still skeptical.

Dov and Barbara and a visitor from outer space.

The entire New Mexico experience was very exciting. Our next stop, the White Sands National Monument, heightened the science theme of this part of our tour. Visitors to the area often assume that the sand dunes would be too hot in the heat of the summer to walk on barefoot, but the “sand” is actually crystals and when we removed our shoes the crystals were comfortable to walk on. My brother, Avi, and I had fun climbing a sand dune and sliding down, while my sister-in-law, Martha, and my wife Barbara remained with the car and took pictures.

That evening in Las Crucas, we enjoyed the hospitality of Philip and Sally Alkon, thanks to the help of the local Chabad rabbi, and spent time learning about the Jewish community in the area. The community is not an Orthodox one and I had arranged to speak at the Temple Beth El. Twenty-four members came for a Wednesday morning breakfast to hear my talk about “Life in a Religious Settlement.” The participants asked interesting questions and seemed to enjoy the session.

After the session, we continued our trip via Truth or Consequences, New Mexico on our way to the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. We enjoyed a film on preserving the local wildlife and drove the Marsh Trail to see if we could spot the local residents. We didn’t have much luck.

Dov and Barbara in a hot air balloon.

After the refuge we made our almost daily Walmart stop to replenish our bottled water supply and to shop. It is great that we can find so many products with the OU certification and other kosher symbols all across America. In Albuquerque we found an excellent Econo Lodge Motel that was so nice that we decided to spend Wednesday and Thursday nights there. Our next Shabbat stop would be in nearby Santa Fe and we used the time to tour the area. We visited the historic Old Town of Albuquerque and were impressed with the wooden balconies and adobe brown color and style of the houses. Everywhere we stopped, of course, there were tourist shops and art galleries and Barbara and Martha enjoyed the shops. We were fortunate that they could not buy too much because there was no available space in our packed van.

We drove to the Sandia Mountains to take the tramway ride to the top. It was an awesome sight (and a bit scary) as the tram made the steep, three-mile climb to the top. When we arrived at the top, one of the rangers mentioned that we could also drive to the top of a nearby peak. After we descended, we drove through the Cibola National Forest to Sandia Crest, some 10,673 feet above sea level.

Our next stop was the Hot Air Balloon Museum where we enjoyed piloting a simulated flight. Fortunately, it was only simulated because we crashed several times. The area is famous for the many companies that offer hot air balloon flights, but at $160 per person for a short balloon flight we decided to pass up the opportunity. We did watch some balloons take off during our next morning’s exercise walk.

Back at the motel, we used the free internet connection to Skype our great-grandchildren in Israel and enjoyed seeing and talking to them. Next stop: Friday and Shabbat in Santa Fe.

Comments may be sent to dov@gilor.com.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/focus-israel/an-american-odyssey-part-v/2012/02/08/

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