Friday, May 09, 2008


Dedicated this week to my Mom. We love you, Mom!
(To dedicate a future Table Talk, send an email.)

Last year, I related a dramatic episode in my own Jewish journey called “Once Upon a Time in Paris”. I have been asked for more episodes.

Obviously, I eventually made it to Israel. Getting there, however, was not a straight path. In-between Paris and Jerusalem, the road took me to:

- a Bosnian refugee camp during the war there, to work with children and war-widows
- central Africa, including Rwanda and Zaire before the wars there, to see the fabulous animals
- Eastern Europe, looking for vestiges of pre-Holocaust Jewish communities

...and crazy London. London is great for an American traveler. All the excitement of a foreign country without the language barrier.

London is also the world’s greatest travel hub. With two huge airports, you can find rock-bottom tickets to almost anywhere. “New York return ticket, €99!”

I had written ahead to contacts in both Israel and India to know if it was good timing to show up. Letters from both awaited me at the Piccadilly Am Ex office.
From both Bombay and Jerusalem, the answer was, “Come on, we’ll take care of you!”

I scanned the travel ads. The flights to Israel and India were roughly the same. What should I do?

One thing I had learned in school, breaking all American stereotypes, was geography. I knew that Israel was en route to India. So why not do both?

Listen, I told myself, Judaism is a 3,000 year-old tradition. You’ve at the very least got to find out what it’s all about before you throw it out the window!.”

“Yes,” my self replied, “But I’ve been there before. I’ve seen the country. It’s not exactly high on our list of destinations.”

“Sure, you saw the country, but admit it, you didn’t learn diddley-squat about Judaism” (I was still heavily referencing Vonnegut in those days.)

“That’s true, but I don’t know any spiritual Jews. All the spiritual people I’ve met spent time in India.”

“So that’s it? You’re just going to throw it out without even knowing what it’s all about?”

“How much time do I have to give it?”

We (myself and I) agreed on one month. We figured, if a 3,000-year-old tradition can’t speak to us in a month, it never will.

So I bought a one-month return ticket to Tel Aviv, and wrote to my contact in India that I would be coming a bit later in the year.

When the plane landed in Israel, a funny thing happened. 6,800 miles from my birthplace, I felt that release of tension you feel when you come home after a long journey.

What was that all about?

So it goes?

Shabbat Shalom

(and Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there)

Travel/speaking schedule:

May 14 - Miami
May 19 – Baltimore
May 20 – New York
June 17 – Chicago
June 18-19 - Los Angeles
June 24-25 – Los Angeles

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