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Mardi Gras and Jewish New Orleans

New Orleans, Louisiana (NOLA) is a city steeped in history and influenced by Europe, the Caribbean, Africa and beyond.  It is known for gumbo, late night Jazz, historic neighborhoods and amazing festivals throughout the year.  Mardi Gras is one of the most well known celebrations in New Orleans that will be celebrated on February 21 this year.  It is just a few weeks before the Jewish holiday of Purim, often referred to as the Jewish Mardi Gras, and can be a great theme for your Purim seudah.…

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Hummus: Israel’s Hidden Treasure?

Before I moved to Israel five years ago, I thought I had a pretty good idea of what was considered to be the “national food” of Israel.  Even though I grew up in the United States, far from the hustle and bustle of Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, I remember my mother telling me that falafel was sold on almost every street corner in Israel.…

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A Taste of Arthur Avenue – Bronx’s Little Italy

A couple of months ago after my trip to Italy I met up with friend and kosher Italian food blogger Alessandra Rovati for a tour of Arthur Avenue.  Arthur Avenue is known as the “real” Little Italy in New York.  Since it is only ten minutes from home, I had to see what all the fuss was about. Alessandra was happy to be my tour guide and since we can’t eat at the restaurants, the main focus of our trip was the Arthur Avenue Retail market.   …

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London 2012 Kosher Food Guide

If I say “British Food” you’re either thinking bland pub food with room-temperature Newcastle Brown, or your mouth is watering at the thought of melt-in-the-mouth fish and chips enjoyed with the smell of salt sea air.  If you’re going to London for the 2012 Olympics and keep a kosher diet, I can all but promise you that neither of these images will come alive for you.  …

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Traditional British Recipe – Bubble and Squeak

Bubble and squeak is a traditional English recipe made with the shallow-fried leftover vegetables from a roast dinner. The main ingredients are potato and cabbage, but carrots, peas, Brussels sprouts, and other vegetables are often added. The dish got its name from the bubbling and squeaking sounds during the cooking process.  Cold chopped vegetables mixed with meat and mashed potatoes are all fried together in a pan and it is often made with leftover meat and veggies, served alongside and pickles or brown sauce, another infamous British condiment.  …

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A Taste of Israel – Changing For The Better

I was fortunate enough to spend three weeks in Israel on a trip with the organization Aish Hatorah. Any time I had been to Israel before, it was a toss up between pizza, falafel, shwarma, or a salad from Sambooki. On this trip, however, I consumed fewer than three dairy meals, and my meat (fleishig) meals could only be described as “abundant.” We ate in a meat restaurant in Metula in the north, where waiters served us endless tabletop grills with chicken, beef kabobs, grilled vegetables, and steak.…

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Winecation

This winter, enjoy wine country and the wonder of California’s coastline—kosher style

Sunday: Fly into Oakland, Sacramento, or San Francisco. All three cities are located within an hour of Napa Valley.

Monday morning: You’re finally in wine country. If you want to swallow that wine—and not spit—it’s best to leave the rental car at the hotel and take a tour bus or limousine to Napa Valley’s kosher wineries.…

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A Venetian Hanukka

Venice is generally considered to be the most romantic city on earth. It is where people fly to declare love, propose marriage, or spend their honeymoon.  But if you arrive in the height of the tourist season, the crowds can turn your dream into a nightmare and make you wish you had stayed home.

However, away from the main drag you can still find plenty of quiet alleys to wander, where you can lose track of time. …

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Keep Kosher In Salvador, Brazil

Have you ever heard of Bahia? How about Salvador? Not El Salvador, or San Salvador, but Salvador, the capital of Bahia, the largest of Brazil’s twenty-six states.

Well, neither had I, until about five years ago, when my husband and I established a Chabad House and Jewish center in Salvador serving the Jewish residents as well as thousands of Jewish tourists who come to visit the region’s idyllic beaches and fishing villages, Salvador’s Pelourinho Old Town and enjoy practicing Capoeira martial arts.…

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Tips for Traveling with Children (and Keeping Your Sanity)

Travel is an exciting opportunity to get away from the humdrum of everyday life and show your children the great big world around them. Whether you’re going with Bubby and Zeidy or just the immediate family, there are so many exciting discoveries and treasured memories your children will keep for the rest of their lives. Make your trip smooth and fun with these helpful tips for traveling with little ones:

New clothing?…

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The Smart Kosher Traveler’s Gadgets (+ Handy Jewish Apps)

With all the gadgets and gear available nowadays, kosher travel is becoming easier and easier. There are so many ways to make your vacation more entertaining, more comfortable and stress-free…and we’ve been noticing the difference over the years we’ve been involved with Eddie’s Kosher Travel. Here are a few things we reach for when we pack up the family for a trip:

Luggage scale – This is a must, because it takes all the guesswork out of making sure your suitcases are not overweight and you don’t pay hefty airline fees.…

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Five Sizzling Destinations for Summer

As the winds howl and temperatures drop, our minds begin to fantasize about sunny days and lazy weather.

Here are five destinations to look for when planning your summer getaway this year:

1. Morocco Morocco is an initiation into the magic of the Islamic, African world of medinas, minarets, desert and mountain, and yet retains a European patina. While Fez offers a stunning array of medieval buildings, the world-famous souk of Marrakech sells a bewildering array of goods, Casablanca highlights a thriving commercial center, and Rabat reflects its modern French origins.…

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Passover In Israel – Chol Hamoed Activities

Raise your hand if the announcement, “Mommy, I’m bored!” makes you cringe. Yeah, we’re waving our hands, too. That’s why we prepare fun lists of things to do on Chol Hamoed for guests at our Pesach hotels in Israel. Here we share some of them with you:

Rosh Hanikrah and the Arch Cave – Rosh Hanikra is located on the coastline of the Mediterranean Sea, on the Lebanese border.…

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10 Reasons to Be in Israel for Passover

We’re already on our 26th year of hosting Passover hotels in Israel, and each year we pinch ourselves because it’s hard to believe how lucky we are to be doing this with our amazing guests. Not that you need to be convinced, but here are our favorite reasons for being in Israel for Passover. We’d love to hear yours in the comments below!…

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Smart phone apps for Jewish sites in Warsaw and Berlin

 This post also appears on my En Route blog for the Los Angeles Jewish Journal

 By Ruth Ellen Gruber

I’ve been on the road for the past 10 days, and I have a backlog of material to catch up on with postings…. both items I have seen online and on-site visits I’ve made myself.

One new development is the release of smart phone apps that guide you around several Jewish sites in Berlin and Warsaw.…

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Staying in Krakow

This post also appears on my En Route blog for the Los Angeles Jewish JournalBy Ruth Ellen GruberI’ve just been to Krakow for the last few days of the annual Jewish Culture Festival – the best party around. This year I did a couple of lectures to groups who were attending (and observing) the festival. It led to some reminiscing with friends who — like me — have been going to the Festival since the early 1990s.One of the things we talked about what where we had stayed in Krakow in those early years — because, until the late 1990s, there were very few if any places to stay in Kazimierz, the old Jewish quarter where the Festival now takes place. Nowadays, there is a wide variety of choices all over the city — from top flight hotels to inexpensive hostels and rental rooms and apartments.In the early years, the artists at the Festival used to be put up at the Forum Hotel — I should say, the late Forum Hotel, because the Forum as it was then does not exist anymore.…

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Smartphone App for Oshpitzin/Oswiecim

A version of post also appears on my En Route blog for the Los Angeles Jewish Journal

By Ruth Ellen Gruber

The latest Jewish travel app for smartphones and tablets takes you to a place that no longer exists except in memory: Oshpitzin.

Oshpitzin was the Jewish name for Oswiecim, the small town in southern Poland where the Nazis built Auschwitz which had a majority Jewish population before the Holocaust — I’ve written a lot about the town and its difficulty in balancing its Holocaust identity with its pre-WW2 past, starting in the mid 1990s, when I dealt with the issue in the long chapter “Snowbound in Auschwitz” in my book Upon the Doorposts of Thy House: Jewish Life in East-Central Europe, Yesterday and Today, which was a sort of diary and meditation on nearly four days blocked in Oswiecim by a freak snowfall……

Last year, the Auschwitz Jewish Center—a prayer, study and research center in Oswiecim—launched a project aimed at putting Oshpitzin back on the map.…

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Wonderful Exhibit in Warsaw of Gwozdziec synagogue panels

A version of this post appeared on my En Route blog for the Los Angeles Jewish Journal Preview of the Exhibition. Photo courtesy of Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett By Ruth Ellen Gruber A wonderful exhibition opens today at the Arkady Kubickiego (Kubicki Arcade) of the Royal Castle in Warsaw and runs til the end of the month—the colorful ceiling panels that have been painted this summer as part of the Gwozdiec synagogue reconstruction project.…

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Untitled

This post also appears on my En Route blog for the Los Angeles Jewish Journal The replica of the Neolog Synagogue in Bratislava, next to the highway. Photo(c) Ruth Ellen Gruber By Ruth Ellen Gruber I’ve already posted on this blog about the new ITunes app called Oshpitzin that uses smart phone technology to teach and tour pre-WW2 Jewish Oswiecim—the town where Auschwitz was built—which before the Holocaust was a majority Jewish town.…

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