Weekly Reader Travel Stories

December 19, 2021

Who doesn’t hate holiday travel? Between the packed airports, the mismatch between warm- and cold-weather clothes, and the many delays, aggravations, and now COVID-related requirements and restrictions, going home for the holidays is a huge pain in the tokhes. But there’s a reason why so many of us do it. During the darkest part of the year, it’s good to be around family and friends. But while you wait for them to call your boarding group, here are some travel stories to transport you elsewhere.

Ezra Glinter

Walking in Karlsbad

Abraham Cahan, the workaholic founding editor of the Forward newspaper, would be the last person you’d expect to see taking the spa waters at Karlsbad. But tucked into the fifth and final volume of his memoirs is the story of his tummy troubles preWorld War I and a detour, on his return from Galicia, to the spa. Out in nature, strolling with the friendly public, meandering between café and park, Cahan had an epiphany about how the pathways of Karlsbad are the ultimate social equalizers.

Read “Walking in Karlsbad”

The Jewish Globetrotter

Photographer and documentary filmmaker David Kaufman has traveled the globe to document architectural and historic Jewish sites. On an episode of The Shmooze podcast he described himself as “working in the spirit of Eugene Atget, who, before World War One, photographed the Paris that was already old when he was young.”

Listen to an interview with David Kaufman

On the Trail of the Salamander

Isaac Bashevis Singer’s first literary venture was lost for almost a century—until a partial copy resurfaced in an attic in Poland. A cache of old printers’ proofs turned up in Bilgoraj, the Polish town where Singer lived as a teenager. The sheets from Poland were the biggest clues in a mystery worthy of Bashevis himself—the complete disappearance of Salamandrye (Salamander), the literary journal he edited as a young man. No library in the world has a copy. Not a single one appears to have survived. It is as if the young Singer had devised the perfect vanishing act—a mythical journal named after a creature with supposed supernatural powers.

Read about the hunt for Singer’s Salamander

Going Home Again

George Jochnowitz, professor emeritus of linguistics at the College of Staten Island, remembers an anecdote passed down from his mother about her mother, who gave birth in a shtetl in Poland. In later years, George traveled to the town and was actually able to meet someone who knew his grandmother.

Listen to an oral history interview with George Jochnowitz