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  • Lithuania’s wartime remembrances send mixed messages, critics say

    In Lithuania, two 2011 initiatives — the year of the Holocaust and the year of the anti-Soviet partisans — are seen by some as contradictory.

  • In Slovakia, a tale of two synagogues … and then some

    The former Orthodox synagogue in Trnava, Slovakia, has been converted into an avant-garde art gallery. (Alex Weisler) Leave it to Slovakia to put it in perspective. This trip has provided me with examples from the full spectrum of options for synagogues in western Slovakia — and I have to keep reminding myself that it’s all relative….

  • In Stupava, an old synagogue gets new lease on life

    The synagogue in Stupava, Slovakia, is being restored by Jewrope, an NGO dedicated to restoring Jewish cultural life. (Alex Weisler) My whirlwind tour of Jewish sites in Western Slovakia — tagging along with about two dozen students and faculty from three regional Jewish studies graduate programs — kicked off this morning in Stupava, a sleepy town…

  • Lessons learned from spending the High Holidays abroad

    When I went to Penn State, heading home to New City Jewish Center — my Conservative shul in suburban New York — for the High Holidays was easy: Hop on a Greyhound, brave a layover in Philadelphia or Harrisburg and I was set. And if I didn’t feel like venturing back to New City, there…

  • For French geneticist, Iceland offers unexpected Jewish journey

    Patrick Sulem poses in front of the Decode Genetics complex in Reykjavik, Iceland. (Alex Weisler) Patrick Sulem’s hometown — sunny Montpellier in southern France — has four synagogues, but he’s convinced his Jewish life is richer in synagogue-less Reykjavik. "When i was in France, I probably would have just done religion with my family, my…

  • In Iceland, tiny Jewish community celebrates new beginnings

    After decades of ups and downs, Iceland’s tiny Jewish community had its first formal Rosh Hashanah services with a minyan, rabbi and a genuine Torah scroll in more than 60 years.

  • Copenhagen’s Jewish museum is a quiet, moving gem

    The exterior of the Danish Jewish Museum in downtown Copenhagen. Unfortunately, photos are not allowed inside. (Alex Weisler) I thought my stop in Frankfurt was a quick hit, but my visit today to the Danish Jewish Museum was over in the blink of an eye. I made the mistake of not researching the museum’s opening hours…

  • In Iceland, tiny Jewish community has grit, proud energy

    Chabad Rabbi Berel Grunblatt puts tefillin on me in Reykjavik’s Eymundsson bookstore. (Courtesy of Rabbi Berel Pewzner) Time to cross "putting tefillin on in the middle of a crowded Nordic bookshop" off my bucket list. I arrived in Iceland yesterday and met up with Rabbis Berel Pewzner and Berel Grunblatt about an hour later at…

  • Whirlwind tour of Jewish Frankfurt opens my eyes to personal growth

    Frankfurt’s Holocaust Memorial commemorates more than 11,000 city residents who died during the Holocaust. (Alex Weisler) It seems odd to write a blog post about Frankfurt, given that I spent less than two hours in Germany’s fifth-largest city — but the city is charming enough to merit one. Faced with a five-hour layover en route…

  • In Hungary, focus on internal issues, not Israel

    The muted response in Hungary to Israel-related issues is a function of a Jewish community in a deep struggle over its own identity and leadership, and a reflection of the extent to which Hungarian Jews are assimilated.