Category Archives: Logistics

How high should your standards be?

Preparing for a trip

Part of the fun in going abroad for a vacation after so many years is learning about how much the world of travel has changed. I don’t mean how much our destinations have changed, because I’ve never been in Florence and Venice before. It’s the process of preparing for a trip that’s so different.

For example, how did we book hotels 20 years ago? Ask a travel agent? Look up possible hotels in travel guides, magazines and brochures? Then phone the hotel to book and confirm and hope it’s the best possible deal for our needs. Now it’s completely different. Continue reading How high should your standards be?

A Car Mezuzah and Good Luck

Car Mezuzahs

Have you ever heard of a Car Mezuzah?

Car MezuzahWhen I saw this picture my mind went totally blank. A Car Mezuzah? What’s that? Is it for real???? I started thinking that maybe I’m forgetting an important Law in the contemporary Rabbinical writings. Or maybe this is a modern form of Jewish voodoo… Continue reading A Car Mezuzah and Good Luck

Coping With No Strings Attached

no strings attachedYou know the people who take along a spare for everything they have in their luggage? Extra bottles of soap and deodorant, spare shoe laces, an extra toothbrush and a pile of batteries for the camera, another charger for the phone, all their jewelry, a spare set of prescription glasses…just in case?  Then when they return home they realize that  the extra weight could have stayed behind because the local stuff is just as good and why shlep it all the way when most of what we worry about never happens?

No Strings Attached

That brings me to the issue of taking a spare set of Tzitzit. Not a full Tallit Katan (the four fringed garment worn under the shirt). Just a set of Tzitzit, the eight fringes/strings. If there’s something that worries me while traveling beyond the Jewish Settlement, it’s that one or more strings on my Tallit Katan will tear and the garment will be Halachicaly disqualified. For those who wear their fringes inside the pants/trousers, the chances are small. But for Yeshivah Style travelers who walk around with their fringes dangling in the wind, getting “ripped off” with no strings attached, is a distinct possibility.

We lived in Amsterdam, Holland twenty-five years ago and everybody rode bicycles. Women, men and children. Old and young. Princes and paupers. One of my biggest concerns (besides for G-d forbid crashing into a tram with two kids on my bike), was getting my Tzitzit caught in the spokes. I always kept a few spare sets of Tzitzit strings at home for the nearly monthly ritual of tying on a new corner of fringes.

Cases when you need to replace torn strings – Slideshow

For me, it seems logical that if I go on a long trip I’ll take with an extra set of strings. Of course one can just take another Tallit Katan, but why carry extra when you only need the strings? But…most people (even among religious Jews) aren’t that familiar with tying their own fringes. In fact for years I tied my sons’ new Tzitzit until they grew up and learned the technique themselves.

Fringe Benefits

For those who wear a Tallit Katan (inside or out), and want to save space by only carrying the strings, here’s the DIY video. The video deals with one method of tying the fringes. As you can see in the picture at the top, there are  many systems for making the knots, but for sake of simplicity here’s the most common method.

I believe in traveling with minimum luggage and fuss, since one can replace most things locally. For some articles though, especially those with religious significance like Tzitzit, it’s better being safe then sorry and take a spare set of fringes.

Ultimate Bug-out Bag For a Jewish Traveler

Bug-Out Bags

bug-out bagIf you plan to travel around the world without stopping in any Jewish communities, you’ll need to be prepared with a Jewish version of a Bug-out Bag.

I first learned about Bug-out Bags from books on surviving disasters and disappearing from your past (see my post – If Jason Bourne Was Jewish).

To quote Wikipedia:

“A Bug-out Bag is a portable kit that contains the items one would require to survive for seventy-two hours, when evacuating from a disaster. The kits are also popular in the survivalism and prepper subcultures. Other names for such a bag are a BOB, 72-hour kit, a grab bag, a battle box, a Personal Emergency Relocation Kits (PERK), a go bag, a GOOD bag (Get Out Of Dodge) or INCHbag (I’m Never Coming Home).”

It occurred to me that every Jew who takes to the road, whether for business, vacation, a disaster G-d forbid, or just to escape for a while from the daily grind, needs a “Jewish Bug-out Bag”. I’m not talking about Kosher food (see my post on eating Kosher anywhere), but about all the other ingredients needed to keep a Jewish lifestyle anywhere you go.

bug-out bag
Jewish Chaplain’s Kit

With a bit of research and experience in the military, I compiled a list of all the materials, products and equipment you’ll need for keeping the Tradition throughout the year. Many of them (like apples and honey for the Rosh Hashanah, a boiled egg for the Seder Plate or even the raw materials for a Succah) aren’t inherently Jewish and you can get them anywhere on the globe.  Some of the list, though (like Tefillin or a Mezuza) need to be purchased at a reliable Jewish supplier.

For your convenience you can download the list as a two page PDF for printing on one double-sided page –  The Ultimate Jewish Traveler’s Checklist. Obviously you won’t need them all for every trip. Just check it out before you leave, compare it to your itinerary and the Jewish calendar, get what won’t be available later and you’re good to go.

The Ultimate Jewish Traveler’s Checklist

Kosher Eating
  • Meat / Milk / Parve stickers
  • Blue/Red/Yellow permanent markers
  • Laws of Kashrut
  • Disposable dishes
  • Flour sifter
  • Magnifying Glass (for bugs)
  • Kosher Symbols List
  • Cup for washing before bread
Prayer, Blessings & Torah Study
  • Siddur (Prayer book)
  • Chumash (Pentateuch)
  • Tefillin
  • Tallit
  • Tallit Katan
  • Tsitsit (spare fringes)
  • Kippa (for men)
  • Snood/hair-covering (for women)
  • Torah Scroll (if there’s a Minyan)
  • Halachic Time Charts (MyZmanim.com)
  • Compass for locating Jerusalem
  • Book of Tehillim (Psalms)
  • Traveler’s Prayer
  • Blessing for candle lighting
  • Birkon (prayer after meals)
  • Jewish Daily Laws & Customs
Shabbat & Festivals
  • Laws of Shabbat
  • Laws of Festivals
  • Candlesticks
  • Candles / oil / wicks
  • Blessing for candle lighting
  • Matches
  • Kiddush / Havdallah cup
  • Wine / Grape juice
  • Challah
  • Challah cover
  • Challah cutting board
  • Challah knife
  • Salt
  • Shabbat hot plate / “Blech”
  • Shabbat “Key Belt”
  • Havdalah spices
  • Havdallah candle
Rosh Hashanah
  • Book of Selichot
  • Machzor (Prayerbook)
  • Shofar
  • Honey / Apple / Dates
  • Fish head / Pomegranate
  • New fruit for Blessing
  • Yahrzeit candle
Yom Kippur
  • Machzor (Prayerbook)
  • Rubber / cloth shoes
  • Kittel
  • Shofar
  • Yahrzeit candle
Pessach
  • Bedikat Chametz Kit
  • Machzor (Prayerbook)
  • Seder Plate
  • Egg / Shank bone / Celery / Potato
  • Marror /Lettuce
  • Charoset (apple /cinnamon/ginger/nuts/wine)
  • Matsah (hand-made)
  • Matsah (machine-made)
  • Kittel
  • Cup for washing at Karpas
  • Yahrzeit candle
Succot
  • Machzor (Prayerbook)
  • Lulav / Etrog / Hadas / Arava
  • “Koishiklach” (leaves for tying)
  • Holder for 4 Minim
  • Succah (+ decorations)
  • Aravot for Hoshanah Rabba
  • Yahrzeit candle
Simchat Torah
  • Machzor (Prayerbook)
  • Torah Scroll for dancing
  • Flags (for kids)
  • Yahrzeit candle
Shavuot
  • Machzor (Prayerbook)
  • Tikun Shavuot
  • Cheese Cake
  • Yahrzeit candle
Channukah
  • Channukah candelabra
  • Channukah candles (oil + wicks)
  • Blessing on candles
  • Ma’oz Tsur Song
  • “Latkes” / “Sufganiot”
Purim
  • Megilat Esther (parchment / printed)
  • “Grogger” (noise-maker)
  • Wine (for festive meal)
  • Hamentaschen (Oznei Haman)
Fast of 9th Av
  • Kinot for 9th Av
  • Rubber / cloth shoes
  • Low chair
House
  • Mezuzah(s)
Sitting Shiva (Mourning)
  • Laws of Mourning
  • Spare shirt/blouse for tearing
  • Rubber / cloth shoes
  • Low chair
  • Yahrzeit candle

Click here for the PDF of The Ultimate Jewish Traveler’s Checklist.

Be prepared!