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World Jewish Travel
World Jewish Travel Official July 12, 2021

New York’s Hidden Jewish Gems

New York, New York- a city that doesn't sleep, as Frank Sinatra calls it. The opportunities of what to do are far from few, many of which you might not have known existed! New York has many cultural Jewish gems– some obvious, some tasty, and some hidden to only the most observant and curious. Go: explore and discover the city of immigrants, food, and history. We promise you won’t be disappointed.   Lower East Side Conservancy New York’s Lower East Side was once the place to be for new arrivals to America, being both its most famous immigrant neighborhood and the birthplace of the American-Jewish community. It’s a living, breathing historical and cultural Jewish gem, and still boasts an active community today. The Lower East Side Jewish Conservancy is an organization which preserves, shares, and celebrates this heritage across the 32-blocks, designated as a historic district. You’ll be hard pressed not to find what you’re looking for- there are numerous synagogues, restaurants, and museums to keep everyone happy and interested. Hebrew Free Burial Association   What do Mel Brooks’ grandparents and Jewish inmates of Rikers Island have in common? Both have been buried by the Hebrew Free Burial Association (HFBA). As its name suggests, the HFBA bury Jewish New Yorkers for free; it’s the largest free burial society outside of Israel. The organization is cross-denominational, working to ensure that recently deceased Jews of all persuasions are given a full Jewish burial, in line with Jewish law. The HFBA is a reflection of modern 20th-century history, burying mainly locals from the immigrant and current community. They’ve also buried Jewish victims of World War II, and the Spanish American War, shipping bodies back from as far away as Manila and New Guinea. Tenement Museum     While not strictly a ‘hidden’ gem, the Tenement Museum is still a fascinating insight into Jewish new Yorker lifestyles. The action takes place on the Lower East Side (you’re beginning to see a theme here, right?), or 97 Orchard Street, to be precise, which was home to a mind-boggling 7000 working class immigrants. Visitors can go on a guided tour around the building and around the neighborhood, recreating 19th-20th-century immigrant life.  There are also a range of other activities, known as ‘Tenement Talks’: free readings, discussions, performances, and screenings about  New York's history, population, and culture. Congregation Ohab Zeded   Known formally as ‘The First Hungarian Congregation Ohab Zedek’, the synagogue has, like most of its congregants, schlepped to various places across the city: established on the Lower East Side, before moving to Norfolk Street, then Harlem, it has settled (and stayed put) at its current location (118 West 95th Street). Harking back to other areas of Jewish history (and entry of our blog!) it is built in a striking Spanish-Moorish style. On an important side-note, it’s also well-known for attracting large numbers of Orthodox Jewish singles. They say Orthodox Jewish dating in New York is tricky, alas here’s the solution! Yonah Schimmel Knish Bakery   It would be impossible to use ‘Jews’ and ‘New York’ in one breath without coming to the obvious common denominator– food! With the slogan, ‘One world. One taste. One knish. That’s it!’ and the claim to produce ‘The World’s Finest Knishes’, Yonah Schimmel’s knishes are something that you just have to try for yourself. He has perfected his knishes since opening in 1910. What are knishes you ask? They’re a fried roll of dough, stuffed with various fillings – such as meat, kasha, or potato. We recommend you discover them for yourself. Congregation Shearith Israel   Although we usually associate Jewish New York with typically Ashkenazi things, such as bagels and Woody Allen, it turns out that the first Jews in New York were actually Sephardim (yes, we are being serious)! Congregation Shearith Israel (also known as ‘The Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue’) is the oldest in the US, dating back to 1654. Like the Sephardim, the congregation was forced to migrate around New York, before finally settling in its present-day West 70th Street location. It’s also the official birthplace of the Orthodox Union (and the infamous OU logo). For its history and some of its famous members (including three gunsa macher Judges), this synagogue begs a visit. Triangle Fire   The deadliest disaster to strike New York until the 9/11 attacks 90 years later, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory disaster is important for many reasons. The Brown Building stands as a monument to the 146 Jewish and Italian immigrants killed by a massive fire and locked doors, and is both a National Historic Landmark and a New York City Landmark. Most of the Jewish victims were buried in the Hebrew Free Burial Cemetery (another entry on our list) with tombstones referring to the fire. For a modern memorial, time your visit with ‘Chalk’, an annual project by local New York filmmaker Ruth Sergel, where local artists walk across the city, chalking the names and ages of the victims onto their former homes. Guss’ Pickles   Much like his pickles, Guss’ backstory makes for a vibrant, and enticing read. Izzy Guss arrived from Europe over 100 years ago, selling pickles ‘old country’ style from his, now legendary, pickle stand in the Lower East Side. His pickles have become a symbol of New York itself according to the official slogan, ‘Imitated but never duplicated’. They’re one of a kind, and are indeed world famous – they’re now even available in supermarkets. For the real deal and to sample delights such as the Guss Sour, Guss Sour Tomato, or even the Guss Sauerkraut, visit the original site, for a pickle ‘prepared with love like in the good old days’. Spanish Portuguese Cemeteries   Three hidden away Jewish cemeteries, one tucked behind a block of condos in the middle of Manhattan; the other two further downtown, are the legacy of North America’s oldest Jewish congregation, Shearith Israel (also featured on our list). The first, in Chinatown, is the oldest Jewish cemetery in North America and hosts the final resting places of 22 American Revolution veterans and the first American-born rabbi. The second, amongst Greenwich Village townhouses, still has twenty headstones standing. The third cemetery is just off 21st and 6th Avenue, with 250 graves (some still legible), and is perhaps the most picturesque and evocative of a bygone era. Emma Lazarus plaque, Battery Park   Battery Park is synonymous with New York’s immigrant past, but did you know that this impression is largely due to a plaque inscribed on Lady Liberty? Emma Lazarus, a famous American-Jewish poet, wrote her 1883 sonnet ‘The New Colossus’, to celebrate America as the land of freedom and destination for the ‘huddled masses yearning to be free’– amongst them, her fellow Jews. Part of the poem is inscribed and mounted onto the Statue of Liberty, dedicated in 1955 to New York City. As if that wasn’t Jewish enough, the plaque itself is set in a stone gifted from the State of Israel to the Sisterhood of the Spanish and Portuguese synagogues (another entry on our list).

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World Jewish Travel
World Jewish Travel Official June 7, 2021


  Looking to tantalize your taste buds? Look no further! Israel’s Top 10 Ethnic Restaurants are sure to get your appetite going, whether you are looking for meal suggestions or just want to try something new this blog has something in it for everyone. From Persian delicacies in Tel Aviv, via eastern European feasts in Haifa to Moroccan meals in Beer Sheva, we recommend you try them all!   Ha’Sabich Shel Ovad, Givatayim At number 2 is Ha’Sabich Shel Ovad – or translated, THE Ovad’s Sabich. Whether the ‘The’ refers to owner Ovad or the sabich sandwich (pitta with aubergine, hard-boiled eggs, salads and tahnini), both are infamous and classically Israeli with a fresh, modern twist. Make the schlep to Givatayim and you won’t regret it; we’ll bet that this is the best sabich you’ll find across not only Israel but the middle east and the world. Kebab Emuna, Beer Sheva Since 1958, hidden away in Israel’s desert south, lies the legendary True Kebab. No, really – Kebab Emuna translated is ‘True Kebab’. Go for the Iraqi kebab; stay for the colorful and plentiful salads served alongside. And to tell people you’ve discovered the one, the only, the ‘True Kebab’. Azura, Jerusalem As the sun rises over Jerusalem, the smell of traditional Iraqi and Kurdish food escapes onto the street. If you’re craving homemade sofrita or kubbeh soup, both Iraqi-Kurdish delicacies, or just curious, this is your stop. Much like the other attractions in central Jerusalem, the food is unmissable and it’s best to arrive early to get a seat.   Maayan Ha'Bira, Haifa Haifa is famous for the Baha’i gardens, Elijah’s Cave and Maayan Habira. Whether you’re after a beer and a buzzing atmosphere or some of its famous chopped liver (so what if it’s better than your mom’s? We won’t tell), it’s the place to be. Make it a Tuesday night to hear some legendary live jazz. Café Glida Yonek, Haifa Or, if you’re after rival Eastern European Haifa-based cuisine, Café Glida Yonek’s Romanian kebabs (made with a closely guarded top secret recipe) are to die for, as are their various, carefully prepared steaks. Its authentic atmosphere will be a certain trip highlight. Salimi, Tel Aviv Take a break from the Tel Aviv market at Salimi, the Persian restaurant around the corner. Off the tourist track (no flashing cameras and Hawaiian shirts here, please) you’ll eat some of the most appetizing and carefully selected gourmet grilled food. Your best bet is the Sabzi, a rich, herb-based soup, or their famous gondi dish, also known as the Iranian matzoh ball. It’s just what you need to prepare for a second round of hard bargaining. Ha'Kosem, Tel Aviv Ah, falafel – similar to other items on our list, a trigger for heated debate amongst Israelis. Tel Aviv’s Eric Rosenthal – nicknamed ‘The Magician’, he’s just that good – has made traditional Israeli fare into a highly-regarded art form, starting with his infamous gourmet falafel. Not up for it? There’s also shawarma, sabich, and shakshuka to tempt you. Chacho, Netanya In a city well-known for its large French and Russian populations, it’s strange to think that at the top of our list is Netanya’s very own, erm, Libyan restaurant. Yes, you read that correctly – for over 40 years, the Vatori family have fed the European hordes their epic North African offerings, with sumptuous stews overnight on a kerosene stove, or freshly grilled meat with a side of couscous. Don’t like what’s on offer? Come back tomorrow – the menu changes frequently, keeping wannabe patrons on their toes. Yakuta, Beer Sheva Picky eaters – here’s one for you! Well, if you like North African food, that is. If you do, then Yakuta, in Beer Sheva, will personalize your dish to just the way you want it. Our pick is the delicious, authentically-Morrocan tagine, served in an earthenware pot. There’s also a huge menu, so there’s something for even the fussiest. Morris, Jerusalem Greek and Persian food is alive and well in the heart of Jerusalem at Morris, named after the owner who personally supervises the food being offered to his customers. There’s only the best on offer here – from a quick arak with friends, to classic, family-feeding Persian charcoaled grills. Whether it’s an entrecote steak, duck liver or skewered sweetbreads you’re craving, this is fusion cuisine at its finest.  

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World Jewish Travel
World Jewish Travel Official July 26, 2021

Your Ultimate Israeli Festival Guide for August 2021

For those of you located in Israel August is the month of the festival.  There are several large events being held around the country dedicated to Israeli and international Jewish culture including music, beer, films, art, and more. If you are looking for an Israeli summer of fun and variety look no further than World Jewish Travel’s guide below, personally curated by a Jerusalem local. The good times start in Tel Aviv at the Felicja Blumental International Music Festival. This festival has been taking place at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art since 1999 and features a 5-day long musical program of classical, jazz, and ethnic music from around the world. This year, the event will take place from August 3rd to August 7th so you have plenty of time to fit it into your plan while exploring the rest of the city. [caption id="attachment_27638" align="alignnone" width="640"] Let There Be Laughter exhibition at the Museum of the Jewish People in Tel Aviv[/caption] While Tel Aviv is known for its beautiful beaches and vibrant culture, the city has some of the most highly-reviewed museums in the country with temporary exhibitions that you don’t want to miss. The newly renovated Museum of the Jewish People has a new exhibit, Let There Be Laughter, looking at the origins of Jewish humor and the major contributions of Jewish comedians to the history of comedy around the world. The Eretz Israel Museum is another highly rated museum with several exhibitions of local nature, glass artifacts, and pottery-making. If you find yourself needing a break from the August heat, these museums are definitely worth a visit. [caption id="attachment_27639" align="alignnone" width="1000"] Hutzot Fair in the Old City of Jerusalem - Credit: https://www.itraveljerusalem.com/evt/hutzot-hayotzer-intl-arts-and-crafts-fair/[/caption] From Tel Aviv, head over to the Holy City of Jerusalem just in time for Shabbat. You’ll want to make sure to stop at the famous Machane Yehuda market to see the pre-Shabbat hustle and bustle, and taste the fresh halva, nuts and tahini from the local shops. There are also several restaurants located in or nearby the market where you can grab a bite to eat. Once Shabbat has started and the sun has gone down, take a walk to the Old City’s Jewish Quarter and Kotel; you’ll find a very peaceful atmosphere that you don’t usually get with all of the tourists who visit during the week. Don’t forget that public transportation doesn’t run on Shabbat, so you may want to find a hotel near the old city.    After a relaxing weekend, you will be ready for the annual international arts and crafts festival, known locally as the Hutzot Hayotzer Fair.  The festivities begin on August 9th in one of Jerusalem’s most iconic locations, the Sultan’s Pool, an ancient water basin located in the valley of Hinnom on the west side of Mount Zion.  Wrapped in the pines of Jerusalem underneath a sky of stars, visitors can peruse an eclectic variety of handmade goods and art from hammocks to paintings. This is also a spot to catch some of the hottest rock and pop stars in the Israeli music industry. You can also catch dance performances and scheduled workshops.     [caption id="attachment_27640" align="alignnone" width="600"] Band playing at the annual Safed Klezmier Festival - Credit: https://www.secrettelaviv.com/tickets/safed-klezmer-festival-2016[/caption] From the Jerusalem Central Bus Station you can hop on a bus to the mystical birthplace of Kabbalah, Safed, where the 34th annual Safed Klezmer Festival invites patrons to experience three nights of Klezmer performances starting on August 17th featuring dozens of Israeli and international bands.  During the festival, performances are held throughout the alleyways and roads of the Jewish Quarter and Artist’s Quarter beginning at 9:00 and going until midnight. During the day we recommend attending the festival's numerous workshops and activities that include glass blowing, ceramics, tours of the city, or visit the artisans selling their art in the crisp summer air.  If you need a bite to eat during the festival, be sure to check out our recommended restaurants, and make sure you visit Safed’s other must-see sites.  [caption id="attachment_27641" align="alignnone" width="770"] Jerusalem International Film Festival - Credit: https://www.itraveljerusalem.com/evt/international-film-festival/[/caption] After you’ve had your fill of Klezmer and Kabbalah, make your way back to the Holy City just in time for the 38th Jerusalem Film Festival on August 24th.  This festival screens a number of Israeli cinematic masterpieces as well as films by internationally acclaimed directors and actors with past contributors including Wong Kar Wai, Tsai Ming-Liang, John Sayles, Jim Jarmusch, Stephen Frears, Spike Lee, Quentin Tarantino, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Jane Fonda, and Robert Dinero; the star-studded list is endless. The opening event will also be held in the Sultan’s Pool with the remaining screenings to take place around the city in the presence of 5000 viewers with 200 films from 50 different countries. [caption id="attachment_27642" align="alignnone" width="640"] The Old City of Jerusalem[/caption] In case you missed taking a guided tour of Jerusalem or visiting one of the city’s many unique museums, archeological sites, historic cemeteries, and synagogues, now that it’s not Shabbat you will have the opportunity to do that. You will find that you could spend weeks in Jerusalem alone so you may have to save some of the sites for your next trip to Israel.   There is no better way to end your summer than with a trip around Israel exploring some of the country's top cultural events and sites.  Whether you’re a local or thinking of making Israel your post-pandemic vacation destination, don’t hesitate to attend any one of these festivals to experience Israeli culture, creativity, and love of life.  

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World Jewish Travel
World Jewish Travel Official June 29, 2021

Israeli Baseball Team Prepares for Tokyo Olympics with US Exhibitions Games

An official Israeli baseball team is going to the Olympics! For the first time since 1976, when Israel's soccer team qualified, the Israeli baseball team will be participating in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. After a strenuous year of dealing with the pandemic, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics have been deferred until July 2021. However, if you're craving your Israeli baseball fix right now and can't wait until the start of the Olympics, then you're in luck. Israel's team will be participating in a training camp in the Northeast USA, where they will be playing exhibition games against local American teams until the Olympics at venues in Brooklyn, Hartford, Bethesda and Harrisburg. That being said, the journey to qualify for the Olympics wasn't an easy one; just back in 2016, Israel's team was ranked 41-st in the world, but their luck started to improve at the start of 2019. After winning a series of qualifying competitions in Europe, Israel was given the opportunity to compete in the Africa/Europe 2020 Olympic Qualification Tournament. The team’s hard work paid off when they won the tournament, thus propelling them to partake in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. After this win, the team is now ranked 18th in the world.  The 24-member team itself is pretty remarkable; the majority of players have made Aliyah, immigrating to Israel through the Law of Return. Only four of the players were actually born in Israel. Although they do not all currently live in Israel, they are members of the Jewish community and travel with the team to train and play. Not only do the players of the Israeli team share citizenship,like most Olympic teams, but they are joined by their common heritage as well. The team is a true representation of the State of Israel and the growth it has gone through, bringing together Jews from all over the globe, uniting them under one flag and one nation.  For more information on Israel's National Baseball team, check out the official website, and be sure to cheer on our team at this summer's Olympic games!  The team is also fundraising to pay their expenses to reach the Olympics, via the “25 Campaign” – you can join the 24 players as the 25th player, supporting them spiritually, emotionally, and financially.  See the JNF Project Baseball platform for more information.  

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Upcoming events & days


Looking for good meat in Mahane Yehuda market? 🧆

Hazot is a second-generation family owned restaurant of quality meats and other home-made dishes with Jerusalem Mix flavor. The fresh, seasonal produce used in the salads and as other ingredients adds to the ambiance of the Jerusalem market.

See the link in our bio for more places to eat in Jerusalem.

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Looking to experience a traditional South American roast in Israel? 🍖

The Asado Bar, located near Kiryat Tivon, is a family restaurant which roasts fine meats on coal.

See the link in our bio for more details on this restaurant.

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Who doesn't love a family run restaurant? 🍝

Tanti Baci is a family-owned, vegan Italian restaurant in Kiryat Tivon. Every unique dish is handmade in the restaurant or Italy.

See the link in our bio for more places to eat in Kiryat Tivon.

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Got cheese? 🧀

HaMeiri Cheese Shop is the perfect place for any dairy lover to stop while visiting Safed. The shop has been supplying gourmet sheep cheese for the past 170 years.

See the link in bio for more cool places to shop, eat, and explore in Safed.

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There's much more to experience in the Dead Sea Region besides the beautiful nature!

Taj Mahal's Bedouin tent treats its visitors with excellent hospitality, Moroccan décor, Middle Eastern music and dancing, and of course, great food.

See the link in our bio for more details on this experience.

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Today, on the 9th of the Av, Jews mourn the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem.

You can learn more about Jerusalem and the times the temple stood through archeological virtual tours on our site. You can also experience what the culture, food, and buildings of this city are like today.

See the link in our bio for virtual tours of Jerusalem!

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Have you ever seen Israel from an off-road jeep? 🚙

Avi Levy is a certified jeep tour guide located in Kiryat Tivon. His tours are perfect for families and are offered throughout the country.

See the link in our bio to book your jeep tour.

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Have you seen some of this year's greatest films? 🍿

If not, you can see them at the Jerusalem Film Festival this August, along with work from local film-makers.

See the link in our bio for more events happening in Israel this August.

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Have you ever experienced Tisha B'Av in Jerusalem?

The annual Tisha B'av walk begins with the reading of Megillat Eicha which is commonly read on this day and ends with singing of Hatikvah. The path follows the historical Jerusalem sites and the participants have the opportunity to pray at the Western Wall.

See the link in our bio for more details on this event.

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Have you ever experienced the Klezmer Festival? 🎺

Once a year, free performances take over the streets of ancient Safed. It is a perfect way to experience the culture, architecture, artists quarter of Safed

See the link in our bio for details on this year's festival.

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Are you someone fascinated by documentaries and storytelling? 🎥

The DocAviv Festival in Tel Aviv showcases brilliant and creative documentaries both locally and internationally made.

See the link in our bio for more details on this event.

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How many different beers have you tried? 🍺

At the Jerusalem Beer Festival, you will find over 150 brands and flavors of beer from Israel and around the world. The beer is also accompanied by good music, food, and people.

See the link in our bio for more details on this July event.

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