Sabbatical 2020-2021

On Shabbat, the 12th of December, the second day of Chanukah, we spent a glorious day in Zion National Park in Utah, going on three hikes in five kinds of weather – from light snow to gentle hail to mist to heavy rain and finally to bright sunshine.. (More photos below.)

Zion National Park, Utah, December 12

Our plan for this two-and-a-half-month mini-sabbatical was to cross the country by car to spend time with our family in Eugene, OR, by way of Phoenix and Los Angeles and the Bay Area, where we also planned to visit family members. As Calfornia’s COVID restrictions became more and more severe, we decided to bypass the state on this leg of the trip with the hope that we could visit our families in the Bay Area and Los Angeles on our return trip in January.

Our trip began on November 30, leaving around 10:30 on a rainy day that got rainier as we headed for our first destination: our friends’ (and former Temple members) Sherry Dubester and Rick Nathan’s country home in Gloucester, VA. We had planned this to be our longest day in the car – about 9 hours of driving – and we arrived around 8:30 pm – remarkably, the time we had estimated when we departed from home.

Dec. 9 – Monolith Garden Trail, Cerbat Foothills Recreation Area, Kingman, AZ

Driving across the country during this time means forgoing lots of customary travel experiences like visiting museums, checking out regional food, strolling and shopping in historic or charming neighborhoods. And there is the inevitable stress of driving long distances, staying in a different place almost every night, and making travel choices in a time of great caution and risk. But these limitations have been more than made up for by the fabulous natural wonders that we have been privileged to enjoy. State and Regional in parks in Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and Utah. The Painted Desert in the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona. The lesser-known West Rim of the Grand Canyon on the Hualapai Reservation. Hoover Dam and the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Zion National Park. River canyons, rain forests, and hot springs in Oregon. (Below is a list of places where we hiked or visited or soaked; we have included them as much for the music and poetry of the place names as for their geographic significance.)

And we had a restful and enjoyable hiatus in Phoenix visiting (at a distance), eating, hiking, baking, and relaxing with Linda’s brother, Neil, our sister-in-law Vicki and our nieces Leah and Lauren.

Because we thought we were going to be spending Chanukah with family in California and then in Oregon, we didn’t think to bring a Chanukah menorah and candles. But we were able to join in remote candle lighting and singing either with our family – Shira, Ruhi, Jacob, the grandkids (and sometimes their community) in Oregon, or Ari and his housemates in Boston, or both. And we arrived in time to celebrate the last night of Chanukah in person with Ruhi and Jacob, the grandkids, and Shira.

We are fortunate that our trip went so safely, that we were able to maintain appropriate precautionary measures, and that we arrived in good health to be able to be with our family in Oregon. We are abundantly grateful to our Temple Sinai community for the opportunity to take the time off for this sabbatical.

List of Places where we hiked/visited:

Dec. 1 – Wahrani Nature Trail, Lanexa, VA

Dec. 2 – Natchez Trace State Park, TN

Dec. 3 – Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site, Little Rock, AR; Lake Thunderbird, OK

Dec. 4 – Santa Rosa Lake State Park, NM

Dec. 5 – Petrified Forest National Park, AZ

Dec. 6 – Piestewa Peak, Phoenix

Dec. 9 – Monolith Garden Trail, Cerbat Foothills Recreation Area, Kingman, AZ

Monolith Garden Trail

Dec. 10 – Dolan Springs Trail, AZ; Grand Canyon West Skywalk; Sil Daw Ba Nyu Wa Trail, Hualapai Ranch (Cabins at Grand Canyon West)

Grand Canyon West, Dec 10

Dec. 11 – Sil Daw Ba Nyu Wa Trail; Hoover Dam; Valley of Fire State Park, NV

Dec. 12 – Zion National Park: Riverside Walk; Upper, Middle, and Lower Emerald Pool Trails; Canyon Overlook Trail

Dec. 13 – Snow Canyon State Park, Utah; Cathedral Gorge State Park, NV

Dec 14 – Cave Lake State Park, NV

Dec. 15 – Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, OR; Deschutes River Trail, Bend, OR

Dec. 16 – Smith Rock State Park, Terrebonne, OR

Smith Rock

Dec. 17 – Belknap Hot Springs, McKenzie Bridge, OR

Rabbis’ Dispatch from Cape Town, November 2019

Dear Friends:

We have been enjoying our stay as guest rabbis in Cape Town, South Africa, and appreciate the opportunity that Temple Sinai gives us to bring our Bread and Torah project to such far-flung places.

Teaching religious school students how a Torah scroll is made

The Cape Town Progressive Jewish Community – also known as Temple Israel – has an interesting organizational structure. There are three separate synagogues, in three different parts of this city of 4 and a half million people, affiliated as one congregation. Each synagogue has its own council; the three members of the rabbinic team circulate among the three venues. The two larger synagogues have services every Shabbat evening and morning; the smaller one has weekly Shabbat evening services and once a month on Shabbat morning.

We have either taught or lead services at all three places, each lovely and distinct in its own way, and participated in the Mitzvah Day activity at Gracie Love in a Bowl, a “soup kitchen on wheels” based at a local organic farm and retreat center.

Challah workshop for 160 people — biggest ever!

We have also made pita on the braai (barbecue) at a Havdalah event, spoken about Women and Safrut (scribal craft), done a bagel workshop and a Torah project presentation with the religious school, taught a class on tefillin, and given divrei Torah at services.

Coming up are a scribal talk at a nursing home, a challah workshop at a Jewish home for people with intellectual disabilities, a hands-on Community Torah project event sewing two panels, and more service-leading. You can follow our activities on Instagram at breadandtorah.

Mitzvah Day at Gracie Love in a Bowl

Mitzvah Day at Gracie Love in a Bowl

We have received a warm welcome and met many wonderful people. Cape Town is an incredibly diverse city and that diversity is reflected in the membership of the congregation. We have been able to explore the beautiful surroundings as well as to meet with a humanitarian organization that works with disadvantaged people in the townships: Mosaic – Training, Service, and Healing Centre for Women. The chairperson of the Board of Mosaic is a member of Temple Israel.

With Rabbi Emma Gottlieb at Hout Bay

With Rabbi Emma Gottlieb at Hout Bay

We look forward to returning home next week and sharing more of our experiences with you.

Happy Thanksgiving!
Rabbis Linda and Jonathan

New Zealand Adventure February 2017

For a first report on our February 2017 trip to New Zealand, click here.

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