On Summer Travels, Jewish Tourists Pack Chabad Directory


On Summer Travels, Jewish Tourists Pack Chabad Directory

Twilight in the holy city of Safed.

by Dora Chernock - S. Petersburg, Russia

July 9, 2008

(lubavitch.com) Eco-tourism, adventure travel, leisure cruise—for every kind of tourist there’s a travel plan. With the ubiquity of Chabad centers, travelers can just about choose any location on the globe for their summer travels and find a link to Jewish life that adds interest to their visit.

From Cape Cod, MA to Table Mountain, South Africa, from Sochi, Russia to Porto Alegre, Brazil, Chabad centers field calls from travelers who want to know where they can obtain kosher food, join Shabbat services, or just meet up with members of the local Jewish community.

In this feature, Lubavitch.com looked at three well traveled destinations where our Chabad representatives are leaving the light on to welcome this year’s crop of history buffs, spiritual tourists and nature lovers.

S. Petersburg, Russia

Visitors tend to arrive in this city of haunting beauty, family trees in hand, eager for directions to the centuries old Jewish cemetery. Because of the resurgence of Jewish life in Russia’s cultural capital, Rabbi Chaim Shaul Brook, a Chabad representative who serves as the community’s program director, has developed a repertoire of must-see sites that give a holistic picture of the city’s past and present.

A spin through the Grand Choral Synagogue offers a snapshot of the tides of Jewish fortune in the city. Built in the 1880s, the domed synagogue with soaring interior spaces, became a medical clinic during communist rule.

Returned to the Jewish community and restored in the past ten years, the synagogue has sprung back to life, with services and bar mitzvahs, classes and baby namings, and a kosher restaurant, Le Chaim on premises. Nearby, some 500 children attend Chabad-run schools from kindergarten through twelfth grade, and a new Jewish Community Center is in the works.

However, it is the Machon Chana Girls Home and Boys Home that takes visitors’ breaths away. With seed money from the Israel based L. A. Pinchus foundation fund, Chabad runs a home for children who could not continue living with their families. Many of the fifty children, from ages 6-17, in the girls home and the 35 boys, ages 8-17, in the boys’ home, are physically challenged, developmentally disabled or from abusive homes.

“People see how the children thrive in this environment, and they cannot believe it,” Rabbi Brook said.

For more info: Rabbi Chaim Shaul Brook 7-812-713-62-09 shaulbrook@hotmail.com

Safed, Israel

The ancient, holy city of Safed inspires visitors in a different way. Home of the Renaissance kabbalah masters, the city, sitting 800 meters above seal level with breathtaking views of the Kinneret, has attracted spiritual seekers for centuries. Many are drawn to pray in the city’s old cemetery where Isaac Luria, the 16th century kabbalist is buried, among other notable kabbalists.

A walk along the small, cobblestone streets of Safed’s artist colony, lined with studios and galleries connects past and present.

Lofty in altitude and attitude, the city’s true presence can remain an enigma for the casual tourist. But by mid-summer, its holy side will become more visitor-friendly with the opening of Kiryat Hasofrim, the Palace of Scribes.

Visitors will be introduced to mystical meaning of the Jewish alphabet, the gateway to kabbalistic study, and the inside story on the spiritual, practical Jewish scribal arts in a hi-tech Palace of Scribes.

Because this is Safed, the mystical traditions behind the very letters of the Hebrew alphabet get prominent attention. A garden of letters, still being readied, features walk-through meditation space with guides to the spiritual meaning behind each letter.

“People come to Safed with high expectations, hoping for the spiritual experience that the city has given Jewish people for centuries, but it can be hard to achieve on a short tour,” said Rivky Kaplan, a Chabad representative in Safed. “This center will go a long way to help people get a deeper sense of Safed and a deeper understanding of the mystical side of Jewish life.”

For more info: Rabbi Chaim and Rivky Kaplan 972-4-692-1860 rabbikaplan@chabadtzfat.org 

Malibu, CA

From the Palace of Scribes to the temple of awesome surf, visitors come to Malibu, CA, to catch some waves, hike up seashell-encrusted mountains to waterfalls and see stars. They also spend a goodly amount of time stuck in traffic jams alongside the Pacific Coast Highway, where they are bound to see a traffic sign warning of dancing rabbis up ahead.

“People pull over to take pictures by the sign,” said Rabbi Levi Cunin, director of Chabad of Malibu. The unusual sign has whet the spiritual appetites of passersby for several years now. By mid summer they will have a brand new kosher fish restaurant on Chabad premises right off the highway to satisfy their physical hunger, too.

After a meal at the Fish Grill, diners are welcomed to stay for a spell and get a perspective on spirit and the sea at the Chabad center.

Sea World, Universal Studios, Disneyland, the beach cities, up north to San Francisco, or even to Las Vegas, travelers can  call upon any of 220 Chabad centers in the state of California and Nevada.

For more info: Rabbi Levi Cunin 22933 Pacific Coast Highway Malibu, CA 90265 Tel. 310-456-6588 email: rabbi@jewishmalibu.com www.Jewishmalibu.com

Getting in touch with nature is a spiritual experience, traveling with Chabad is one too.

For a listing of worldwide Chabad centers, click here or go to http://lubavitch.com/centers/

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