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


  • Pattie

    How wonderful Rabbis, thank you for sharing your amazing journey with us. Continued safe travels!

    December 22, 2020
  • Jerry Silverman

    Thanks for sharing your journey. We visited a number of national parks when the kids were young and Zion was our favorite. Your pictures from Zion brought back very fond memories.

    December 22, 2020
  • Sally Lebowich

    Enjoyed your photos and comments. Glad you had a good trip. Enjoy your time with the family. Best wishes for a healthy and happy 2021 to everyone.

    December 22, 2020
  • Doris Rubenstein

    What a wonderful use of this time! Nice to see the AZ Motzkins and the gang in Eugene. Wonderful photos!

    December 22, 2020
  • Lisa C

    WONDERFUL ~ Thanks so much for sharing your Sabbatical with us!!

    December 23, 2020
  • Richard

    Well-earned and well-executed. Fabulous destinations. I’ll want to know more when you’re back.

    December 29, 2020
  • monte

    Hi Rabbis L & J,
    Thanks for sharing your trip with us, I loved the pics, G-d bless you two and all you come in contact with. my mother Amalia is holding her own, B”H, doing OK for now, she’s on comfort care. dash to your family, happy new year 2021, b’shalom, Monte & Anna

    January 5, 2021
  • Phyllis Wang

    Beautiful pictures…of family and sites. Enjoy your family as we all wish for a happy, safe and healthy new year. We, of course, miss you both so very much.
    With great fondness.
    P and B

    January 5, 2021
  • Ronda

    עס איז הערליך
    Wonderful!! You 2 look great. Enjoy!

    January 5, 2021
  • Gillian Hirsch

    Thank you for this wonderful journal of your trip so far. It is with such happiness that I read about your journey, activities and family. Beautiful photos! May you feel the lightness of being in the hot springs throughout!

    January 5, 2021
  • Robin Solomon

    Just thinking of you and sending my love. Hope you travel home is as safe and interesting as your trip out west💗

    January 8, 2021
  • Catherine J. Golden

    This sounds like a safe and lovely pandemic tour of beautiful highlights of our country. The pictures are lovely and allow us to follow in your footsteps. I still recall seeing some of these wonders when my family made a trip across country when I had just finished 4th grade! So it was also nostalgic for me to read this, too. Be well and safe. We miss you.


    January 19, 2021

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