Travel can be many things — a momentary stay against a humdrum life; a journey into the past (remembering Faulkner’s telling line, “The past isn’t dead; it isn’t even past”); an experiment in cross-cultural exploration, food and wine included. We offer a little of each in the pages that follow. Grab a suitcase and come along.
From Kazakhstan to Costa Rica, L.A. to Eilat, our inagurual Jewish Journeys special section roams the globe for travel stories of Jewish interest. Some are traditional if-you-go, tourist-centered travel stories. Israel correspondent Michele Chabin and her family leave the cushy confines of their Eilat resort hotel and light out for the surrounding territory, so to speak; they take in the Dolphin Reef, the International Birding Center and the Eilat Botanical Gardens. And our regular travel writer, Hilary Larson, reports on a new travel business that offers full-service, family-oriented kosher getaways in Costa Rica, complete with private chef.
Other stories, though, are cultural journeys that reveal new layers of the Jewish travel experience. Staff writer Steve Lipman looks back on a visit to Kazakhstan, where he conducted several Passover seders; the Central Asian country, it turns out, is far more sophisticated than it has been portrayed in popular culture. On a trip to southern France, Freema Gottlieb, quite unexpectedly, travels to a Pyrenees spa town to find the ghosts of French Jews caught in the grip of the Nazis. And Hilary Larson chronicles a rich cultural story playing out in Berlin — the outsize influence being crafted by a small but growing number of Israelis; from hummus joints to magazines to nightlife, these days it’s Tel Aviv in the Kreutzberg neighborhood of Germany’s cultural capital.
It’s travel — but with the power to surprise and inspire. Happy trails.