Posted on 07 July 2012 by brett
The Children of Auschwitz, Birkenau Camp
I had the chance to visit Krakow, Poland and the “Auschwitz” concentration/extermination camps in 2004. My visit to Poland was for business and I was petrified to see what happened there between 1940 and 1945 (the Soviet liberation). Our last minute trip to Berlin, Germany made it possible to reverse a past regret. On the way to Zdiar, Slovakia we spent a few days around Krakow and Auschwitz.
To summarize our experience, Auschwitz is a place everyone should see. Yes, it is unimaginably sad and gruesome….. but, at the same time a valuable reminder of how dangerous the world can be. Believe it or not, these Nazi Germany crimes happened less than 70 years ago. Operated by the Third Reich during WWII, Auschwitz was the largest death camp where 1.1 million of the 6 million European Jews were killed. Continue Reading
Posted on 04 June 2012 by christie
Beautiful sunset views of Tzfat
Tzfat (Safed in Arabic), is a charming ancient city where spirituality, mysticism and artistry come together to create a harmonious and enchanting atmosphere. As Israel’s most elevated city (900m), it’s perched high in the Upper Galilee mountains about two hours northeast of Tel Aviv. We rented a car in Tel Aviv to make our way into the countryside. It was surprisingly hassle-free navigating around Israel with signs in English and no check points (unlike our experience in Jordan). Little is known about Tzfat’s early history, but archeologists have found evidence that the city was inhabited since 1500 BC. The city flourished during the 15th and 16th centuries with the settlement of Sephardic Jews who fled from the Spanish Inquisition. Many were practicing Jewish Mysticism (Kabbalah). Shortly thereafter the city was declared one of the four holy cities of Israel.
Alleyways meet Judaism in Tzfat
There is warm and almost magical feeling in the air as you wander through Tzfat’s labyrinth of narrow cobbled stone alleyways. It’s easy to find hidden beauty as you turn each corner, encountering centuries old synagogues, antiquated stone houses, stunning turquoise doors, and decorated iron gates. The spiritual city is home to a mix of traditional Hasidic Jews and modern Supernaturalists practicing Kabbalah through mystical teachings of Judaism. There are a number of bohemian travelers as well as student groups that come to Tzfat from around the world to study Judaism and connect with their inner soul. Continue Reading
Posted on 30 May 2012 by brett
Old City, Jerusalem (Israel)
If you haven’t visited Jerusalem, go! I am still hitting myself for not going until 36 years of age. There is a special feeling in Jerusalem hard to describe…. and I’m not saying that because I was raised Jewish. One super interesting discovery (of many) is that Old City is one square kilometer and consists of only 36,000 residents. An astonishing 72% are Muslim (26,000), 6,000 Christians (17%), and 4,000 Jews. Of the Christians, 2,000 are Armenian. The city is divided into four quarters: 1) Muslim 2) Christian 3) Jewish 4) Armenian. We wondered why a country “Armenia” has its own quarter? The answer is that Armenia was granted its space because it’s the only country 100% of one religion, Christianity.
Wailing at the Western Wall
With so many religious types, it’s truly amazing that Jerusalem chugs along in harmony. All we hear on the news is about Israel’s struggles to keep peace with the Islamic world. Our experience in Jerusalem (and Israel) has been nothing but friendly and peaceful. Of course, religious fanatics are there and very serious. The funny thing is that they typically ignore you as a tourist because they are so focused on their religious task at hand. Continue Reading