Deep travel, as Tony Hiss explains in a forthcoming book, “In Motion: The Experience of Travel” (Knopf), is a way of seeing the world, noticing everything, with gratitude. His mindful travel sounds almost like prayer. “It’s a great discovery,” he writes, “finding that we’ve been gifted with senses that are already capable — without any retrofitting — of acting either as a wall or an open door.”
In early times, travel had an element of danger, and one was never certain about returning home. This month, Ted Merwin trails Benjamin of Tudela, the great medieval Jewish traveler. Stuart Schoffman rereads Mark Twain and Herman Melville, following their forays in Jerusalem, and Stephen Fried stakes out the Old West along with some entrepreneurial pioneers. Etgar Keret has no fear of flying; Eva Tuschman tells of dancing in the desert after a Birthright trip to Israel, and Rodger Kamenetz reports on visiting Uman in Ukraine, in an excerpt from “Burnt Books: Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav and Franz Kafka”(Nextbook/Schocken).
In a colorful centerfold, Maira Kalman presents artful impressions of her Tel Aviv wanderings. Jerome Chanes tells of chasidic sea stories, Israeli visas and more. And Lizzie Leiman Kraiem thoughtfully interprets the traditional traveler’s prayer, Tefilat Haderech, suggesting peace as the desired destination in all travel.
I keep a worn-out copy of Tefilat Haderech in my passport, but I’ll be staying close to home this summer. I learned from my father, of blessed memory, who passed away last month, that there’s adventure on every corner, buildings to see anew, people to meet and, everywhere, ever changing skies. He loved, as do I, the way the late night full moon creates a “boulevard of light” across a lake or body of water.
Our talented staff photographer Michael Datikash took the photographs on the cover, above and on the facing page almost 20 years ago in his native Georgia. On assignment for TASS, the Soviet news agency, he documented Tbilisoba, a festival day in the city of Tbilisi on the last Sunday of October, when people from all over flock to the city. On the facing page, he captures the mystical light of mountains near the ancient capital of Georgia, Mtskheta.
Happy and safe travels to all. Please don’t forget to write, firstname.lastname@example.org