I Can’t Escape My Jewish Identity

Hi everybody!

It’s been nearly three months without a single post and I’m finally back. After 70 posts without stopping I simply hit a wall and dried up. It was probably because I realized that one can’t keep writing about travel without experiencing it first hand. See my post – Walk Your Talk in Travel and Life.

I’ve lived in Canada, Holland, England and Israel and traveled to other countries but in the past 20 years I haven’t really traveled anywhere just for the sake of traveling.

Till last week.

Italy here we come!

My wife and I finally made a trip to Italy. We had 5 whirlwind days of driving, walking and touring Florence, Venice, Rome and the tiny Republic of San Marino. A really lovely trip. It took me out of being only an armchair traveler and gave me many JewishTravel insights to write about. So forgive me if in the next few weeks I write only about Italian related ideas, but that’s my primary firsthand experience (till our next trip IY”H).

Escape My Jewish Identity
Traveling ‘incognito’ (next to an Italian policeman)

Here’s my first insight – I can’t escape my Jewish identity (without a lot of effort of course).

I figured that with the terrible situation in Israel it would be best not to look too Jewish abroad. Since I usually wear a black Kippa, a white shirt and my Tzitzit hanging out, I decided to walk around with an Adidas baseball cap, a blue shirt and my Tzitzit tucked under my money belt. Totally incognito and anonymous, right? Not exactly….

I didn’t know I look Jewish

In Florence and Venice we didn’t get any special recognition but in the center of Rome, everywhere we went people said ‘Shalom’ or even ‘Shabbat Shalom’ and some tried to say a few Hebrew words to us. At first I was sure it was because of my wife’s Shaitel (wig) but after some deep contemplation, it occurred to me that with my beard and features maybe I look too Jewish to hide….

At that point I looked around and discovered a few more bearded, baseball-capped guys with blue shirts in the streets of Italy (walking next to women with wigs of course 🙂 ). I guess they were also former Yeshiva guys traveling incognito or at least trying to do so.

For my next trip I’ll still wear my “costume”, but it made me realize that one can’t really run away from a Jewish identity for a few days of vacation.

2 thoughts on “I Can’t Escape My Jewish Identity”

  1. Traveler Beware: Italy is pretty Jew-friendly, as you noticed. Things seem very different in say Greece. Do not assume to have the same Israel-friendliness or safety at your next destination. Europe is kind of tricky in this nowadays.

    1. Dear friend, we booked to Italy right before all the trouble in Israel. I’m aware that the situation in Europe is sensitive. I wonder though if there are places still friendly to Jews. Maybe in Holland, for example?

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