ROUND-UP: European Day of Jewish Culture

Jews in Europe haven’t had a particularly easy time of it over the past few years. French Jewry has suffered perhaps more than most, leading to an unprecedented wave of aliya [migration to Israel] in recent years amid real concerns within the community. France, however, is also the source of one of the most positive initiatives to deal with the place of Jews in modern-day Europe. The European Day of Jewish Culture began life in Alsace-Lorraine, and this year marks the milestone 20th edition.

In a typically European way, whilst everyone agrees on the general need for such a day, nobody can agree on the exact details. That’s why, despite the official date in the calendar being set for today, September 4th, in actual fact events are spread out over the next few weeks (and in some cases, exhibitions that are set to last for months). I had a look round the internet, and have compiled some background to Jewish communities, and a few events that are worth checking out if you find yourself in any of these areas in the next few weeks:
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Whistle-Stop Copenhagen

I have a theory. In every city, there are four overarching categories of tourist sites (although obviously there will always be some crossover), and for a successful city break, you need to visit at least one of each. I put this theory to the test when I visited Copenhagen recently, and had less than five hours to see all of it. So here it is; the single most whittled-down, focused tour of a city imaginable, based on the four types of places you need to see (plus one extra, which will become apparent later on).

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The Nation’s Pastime

“Baseball. Like cricket, but round and round instead of up and down.”

For context, I should state that cricket is one of very few sports I just can’t bring myself to watch, and my problems with it would not be resolved by simply changing the direction of travel. What baseball does remove however, is the FIVE DAYS a single game of cricket takes. That’s over four and a half days longer than any decent sport should require. Other than that, it’s similarly slow-paced and technical, so all the indications were that I would hate it. Nonetheless, I was looking forward to an evening at Fenway Park, legendary home of the Boston Red Sox. This was the American Cultural Experience that I had come to the US to seek, after all.

So how did I get on?
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Italian Classics and Italian Audiences – Perfect Strangers

Five minutes before Perfetti Sconosciuti [Perfect Strangers] was due to start, I looked it up on Wikipedia. I’d seen the trailer, but couldn’t work out whether this was a comedy, a drama, or something else entirely.

As it turns out, I needn’t have bothered, Wikipedia was no help at all. It told me I was about to watch a comedy, but no comedy I’ve ever seen has left me feeling so traumatised and disheartened (except for possibly an Adam Sandler one I watched some years back, but that’s for different reasons entirely).
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ROUND-UP: Seven Jewish Stories You Might Have Missed

This is the first of a new regular feature, rounding up some of the more interesting and left-field Jewish travel and culture stories from around the world. Click on the hyperlink in each paragraph for the full story. Enjoy!
-The Wandering Jew-

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In Italy’s Farthest Corner – Its Darkest Place

EDITORS NOTE: I wrote this a few months back and then put it to one side. I’ve kept it in the same voice I wrote it in originally, when I was just back from the Risiera di San Sabba concentration camp in Trieste. It is not a pleasant topic and may well be upsetting, so please do bear that in mind if you’d rather not read on.

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Points of View: 7 Stunning Panoramas in Israel

From the (occasionally) snow-capped mountains and green hills of the north, to the Red Sea coastal resort of Eilat in the south, with any number of landscapes in between, including forests, beaches, desert landscapes and black basalt rock, Israel is blessed with a biodiversity that outdoes many countries ten times its size. Israel is also stuffed full of vantage points to enjoy the aforementioned biodiversity, and so I thought I’d share some of my favourites with you. On each one I’ve provided a few things to look out for on the map. Enjoy:

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