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Mallorca. Fresh air and a secret Jewish history.

So you thought this post would be all about rest and relaxation. Yes, I had a little of that, but there is more to Mallorca than meets the eye, and I had a chance to see a few sides of the island, and learn about some fascinating Jewish(!) history. I also had views like this one. Catching up. Travel is always an adventure, so arriving in Mallorca I discovered that my luggage hadn’t made it. I was a bit flustered and frustrated upon arrival to my hotel, but appreciated my decision to rent a car and be in a place where finding last minute items was easy (thank you to the equivalent of Meijer/Walmart where I found $6 green shoes - it's the little things.) Anywho, I spent the first few days on

Istanbul.

What an experience. I think I like Istanbul. It’s a very busy city. For me, Istanbul is a bit of a transition point. Not only is it physically a city that spans two continents (Asia and Europe), literally two sides of a river, it also somewhat represents my shift from doing more individual exploration trips to the next stage of my fellowship. Up until this point, I’ve visited places on my own to learn, research, and experience the Jewish communities. I’ve also visited places where JDC actually has physical offices and staff. Istanbul, along with some other upcoming trips is a bit different. So, as my mom and I like to say about many moments in my life (like all those years I moved every sin

Ukraine: Odessa

More adventures in Ukraine. Leaving Kharkov, I was skeptical about the time the cab was called for me as it was just about an hour before my flight took off. Who knew that there was literally no one at the airport and everything was super fast. So with another quick flight to Kiev, layover and then a flight to Odessa here I was. Out of the three cities I was in Odessa felt the least Soviet, and much more European. It’s on the water, and has a beachy vibe – despite there not being beaches actually in the city. Once again I was greeted by the local missions and PR coordinator, Inna. Super professional, organized and really great she helped me navigate my time in Odessa. Hitting the ground runn

Ukraine: Kharkov (or Kharkiv)

From Kiev I flew to Kharkov, which was one of my rougher travel days to this point. It was a very early flight and I had to pay extra because my carry-on was too heavy, and was just in a grumpy mood upon arrival. But I was met by Anna who works in Missions for JDC and she was amazing and full of energy. A shout out also to Andrew the JSC Fellow (Jewish Service Corp), they both made sure I wasn’t walking alone, had everything I needed, and basically took care of me the entire time! Kharkov is somewhat of a university town. In the first few days, I had the pleasure of joining four Hebrew Union College first year Rabbinical students. They had spent a few days in different parts of the country l

Ukraine: Kiev

In sitting down to write this I’m still in Ukraine. Posting it, I'm not. Reflections here will mostly be about Kiev, recognizing that there are similarities between the communities I’m visiting (and differences), but some might be more generalizations. In Ukraine I’m visiting, Kiev, Kharkov, and Odessa. Upon landing late at night, I had the realization that I really don’t have a great handle on the history of this part of the world. I was also a little spooked in getting into the car that picked me up (I had a driver), when we took a shortcut through an off road unlit forest. Thank you google maps for allowing me to see that we were taking a shortcut and not going to the back roads. And no m

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