Here I go!

I've been told many times over the years that I should write travel guide books, but this is as close as I plan to come to that!

Since getting my first passport at age 43, I have gotten to go places in this world that I never dreamed of seeing, and I'm an inveterate note taker. My travels since 1986 have been as a professional travel agent...which only increased that note taking. I hope to share some of the things I've found interesting for one reason or another -- maybe for cultural or historic reasons, maybe just beautiful, maybe ultra good, maybe just hilarious. And sometimes just because I liked it, related to travel or not.

My speciality in the travel business is Italy, though I handle travel pretty much worldwide..and if I don't keep up with a particular area, one of the great agents in my office does. See www.sallywatkins.com for more about the professional side of my life.

Your comments and shared tips are very welcome! I truly believe "we get by with a little help from our friends."

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Jewish Quarter in Rome

In both 2007 and 2008, I was lucky enough to have time to spend in the main synagogue and Jewish Museum in Rome.

This is a memorable experience for anyone, regardless of faith.
Rome claims the longest continuous Jewish community in the world (23 centuries), and I recommend the museum and synagogue tour (one cannot visit the synagogue unless on a tour or with an approved guide), along with just walking 'round in the Jewish Quarter. English-language tours of the synagogue are offered several times daily. See www.museoebraico.roma.it .

One of the most moving parts of the synagogue tour for me was to see the plaque on the back side wall honoring Charles Aaron Golub, the first American Jewish soldier to worship in the synagogue on June 4, 1944, once the Allies liberated Rome and opened the desecrated house of worship. The Rome synagogue was the first to be liberated in Europe, and on June 9, 1944, Lt. Morris Kertzer, a rabbi and American Jewish Chaplain from Iowa, led 4000 Roman Jews in a prayer there. Rabbi Kertzer was part of the US Fifth Army that had landed at Anzio.

On April 13, 1986, Pope John Paul II, embracing the world's Jews as ''our elder brothers,'' paid the first recorded papal visit to a synagogue - this one - and condemned persecution and displays of anti-Semitism ''at any time and by anyone.''

There are several fine organizations and guides offering Jewish-oriented walking tours in Rome.

An excellent source for more information regarding Jewish history in Rome is www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/vjw/Rome.html .

1 comment:

KatieP said...

Rome's Museo Ebraico is quite a spectacular collection of textiles (almost 1000), and other artifacts from Rome's millenial Jewish history. SInce English tours of the Italian rite temple (on ground level) and the Sephardic rite temple (on museum level) begin every hour on the :15, I suggest showing up at a quarter to the hour to have time to visit the museum, read its placards, and immerse yourself in the very rich and varied history of Jews in Rome. While few actual buildings survive from the Ghetto period (the quarter was destroyed after unification to make way for new, healthier structures, including the community's main synagogue), the museum brims with items from the Ghetto era, particularly objects from the Cinque Scole (5 shuls), the five synagogues where the five Jewish rites practiced in the Ghetto were carried out (Scola Tempio, Scola Nova, Scola Catalana, Scola Siciliana, and Scola Castigliana). After a visit to the Museo Ebraico, stroll through the ghetto and pause for a treat at Via Portica d'Ottavia 1, a kosher bakery that makes what may be the world's best ricotta cake and the world's hardest biscotti, both worth a try.