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JDCC’s Annual Rosh Hashana Services

Shanah Tovah! I am happy to be here and I am also happy that you are here to celebrate the holidays with us.

Today is Rosh HaShanah. It is the anniversary of the creation of people. It is a beginning for mankind. It is also a beginning for me. I now am able to be involved in the community and Jewish rituals and traditions. I am able do these things because I became a Bar Mitzvah this past summer.

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My Bar Mitzvah Trip

On Monday, June twenty-first, my family and I left Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) for Toronto, where we stopped for an one hour layover. After Toronto, we continued on to Ben Gurion Airport in Israel. After landing in Israel in late Tuesday afternoon, we drove to Jerusalem. When we landed, I couldn't believe that we WERE in Israel. It just didn't feel like it. Yes, the scen ery and the people were obviously middle-eastern, but it just didn't feel like we flew halfway around the world.

In Jerusalem, we took advantage of the two days before my Bar Mitzvah to get familiar with the surroundings. We went to Me'a She'earim. Me'a She'earim is a very religious area in Jerusalem. My grandfather used to live there before he moved to the U.S. My grandfather bought me a tallit there for my Bar Mitzvah.

As I did some sightseeing around Jerusalem, I could tell that the media was exaggerating about the conflict here. There were no ambulances racing around, no police officers arresting people about. Just daily life taking place.

On June twenty-fourth, I had my Bar Mitzvah. It was an amazing experience. It took place in Jerusalem. More specifically, the Western Wall, or as the locals call it, HaKotel Hama'aravi. About twenty people came to my Bar Mitzvah. It was an event that I will never forget about.

After my Bar Mitzvah, we celebrated in my hotel, Sheraton Jerusalem Plaza. We had a reception and the food was excellent.

We did some sightseeing before we left for Tel Aviv. We went to Ben Yehuda Street, where we encountered many Israeli wandering around and purchased things from the stores and restaurants situated on the street. We saw the famous Chagall Windows at the Hadassah Hospital as the security were kind to let us see it despite being closed due to construction in the hospital. At night, Israel is very beautiful. We also strolled around the streets taking in all the sights. We visited Yad Vashem, a large sprawling museum about the Holocaust, along with beautiful scenery and statues placed here and there.

We left on Sunday for Tel Aviv. On the way, we stopped in a town called Petah Tikvah. The town is home to eight generations of family graves on my mother's paternal side of the family. My great great great grandfather, Yehoshua Stampfer, founded the town. I was named after him.

We arrived in Tel Aviv in the afternoon. We discovered that our hotel was situated right by the beach. We settled down that night. The next day, we went to Tel Aviv University and visited my second cousin, Tamar. She showed us around and took us into the private zoo there. We took a van and drove around Tel Aviv, Jaffa, and Bat Yam, where my grandfather grew up. We went to the Diaspora Museum. It was a very good museum. Over the next few days, we just spent our time on the beautiful beach. The Mediterranean Sea is very warm!

After Israel, we flew to Switzerland. We stayed there five days. We enjoyed ourselves and admired the beautiful mountain scenery. It was very weird when we went into the Alps and stood on the Top of Europe' near Interlaken. There was thick snow everywhere and I had to remind myself that it was July, not January as I played in the snow.

We left Switzerland and headed for Milan and Rome, Italy by train. We met our private deaf tour guide, Terry Giansanti who planned our trip in Rome, Pompeii, Pisa, Florence, Sienna, and Venice.

In Rome, we had the opportunity to meet another tour guide, Roy Doliner, an sign language interpreter, who resides in New York and Rome. He showed us around Ancient Rome. The only difference between him and other guides in Rome was he told us about Jewish History in Rome! He took us to the Roman Forum and explained the history behind it, which involved Jewish people. He also took us to a kosher restaurant in the Jewish Ghetto there. After a great meal, he led us to the Sinagogia di Roma, or as we call it, The Synagogue of Rome. For a week, we toured most of Italy. We visited three synagogues, one in Rome, one in Florence, and one in Venice.

We went on a plane for Amsterdam, Holland. After landing in the Schipol (Amsterdam Airport), we went to our hotel. We stayed in Holland for five days. It was a fun experience. We visited a synagogue in Amsterdam, ate in a kosher restaurant there, and saw the Anne Frank House. It was really cool to see places that I'd only read about come to life.

We left Amsterdam for Heathrow Airport in London, England. There, we saw the JDA (Jewish Deaf Association) building and visited the Jewish area in London. We also did some sightseeing there during our one week's stay.

Finally, after five weeks, we flew home non-stop to Los Angeles. We were sad to leave all of the exotic places in Europe, but at the same time, we missed our home and our pet dog, Oggie.

Overall, it was an amazing experience. I would love to go again and again and again and f) well you get the point. My favorite part about the whole trip was that we got the chance to see an Jewish aspect from almost each country we visited. I don't think that many Jewish people have this opportunity to see the world from Jewish eyes, not as any other tourist.

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