I was discussing with a neighbor’s son who does a great deal of travel some interesting places where I could find culture combined with relaxation and, hopefully, kosher food on a short vacation.
He had spent several months in Thailand, three months traversing most of the countries in South America, an enjoyable visit in China, and was now preparing for a lengthy visit in Italy and Germany.
Italy I can understand. It is one of Europe’s most beautiful places and lacks absolutely nothing in culture… great museums, statues and monuments, architecture, art, concert and opera halls, lakes and mountains, and is renowned for its cuisine.
Italy surpasses France as the culinary paradise. France has no pizza !! Malheureusement.
There are kosher restaurants in Rome and in Milan. So a religious Jewish traveler will not go hungry.
I had been in Italy, Hungary, Austria, Bulgaria, Rumania, France, Belgium, Holland, Greece, Cyprus, Egypt, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Russia, Mexico, Canada and briefly in England and Ireland. Looking at my collection of used passports since 1951, I am amazed by the numbers of visas and entry-exit stamps cover the pages.
They bring back pleasant memories when I travelled as a single young man, then with my wife and children, and now as a single old man. Quo vadis? Where to go now?
The son recommended Germany. It is one country that I have purposely never visited. I made a vow to myself long ago that my feet will never touch German soil. I will not walk where Hitler and his Nazis made indentations with their boots sinking in German earth.
So we spread out the maps and we looked and looked. I have no interest in visiting Thailand (I don’t need a massage) and China is too big. Though I can speak Spanish, South America does not appeal to me although my late wife has family in Portugese-speaking Brazil who have often invited me to visit with them.
Only a few days ago, my daughter-in-law and two grand-daughters returned from a visit to Morocco where her wonderful father lives. He graciously offered to buy me a ticket to fly to Morocco and be his guest in Casablanca. First of all, I cannot accept allowing him to buy my flight ticket. I am too independent and stubborn. He is active in the local Jewish community in Casablanca, speaks fluent Hebrew, Arabic and French, and served as a volunteer in our 1948 War of Independence.
Secondly, I am uncomfortable traveling in a Muslim country with my Israeli passport even though I understand that Israelis are welcome and well-treated in Morocco. Lo bishvili. Not for me.
So I folded up the maps and returned them to my neighbor’s helpful son. But it still did not answer my question….where to go on a vacation?
So I did what most Israelis don’t do but should do. I opened my desk drawer and retrieved a map and road-map of the State of Israel !
Most Israeli travelers frequently say “been there, done that, want someplace new” but there are so many new towns and neighborhoods throughout Israel which don’t yet appear on the maps.
So finally I made my decision. I will spend my shekels in the land where shekels were born. I will speak the language of my land. I will breathe the clean and pure air of the Galilee. And I will make visits to several of the Druze towns and villages where I always feel comfortable surrounded by my loyal and caring “brothers”.
The Nation-State law is behind me. Why the double identity? We are a Nation and we are a State. And above all, we are a people yearning to live free in peace and in harmony.
I look forward to vacationing in the peace and harmony in places of tranquility on the shores of Rahel’s beautiful Kinneret, the historic Sea of Galilee. But I promise not to walk upon the waters. Enough miracles !
“He hayit o chalamti chalom”? Was I there or was it only my dream?