which was managed without four footed help
which was managed without four footed help
with some unasked for assistance
for those of you who have lost track of the date. It is the 27th of Nissan 5780, and the 12th day of counting the Omer. None, of which, is relevant to me on most days.
But in today’s world of conspiracy theories and re-writing of history to eliminate things that are uncomfortable, or that we don’t want to be true (leaving out Holocaust deniers, those claiming England never participated in slave trade, etc) it is good to remember what has been done, what has been lost and the cost to us, both as individuals and society.
As we have all heard the old saw “those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it”
Unlike for the last several years — I am now stationed in the UK with my duty station located on the Sandhurst grounds in Camberley. If you don’t know where that is – neither did I before being assigned. My choice that year was staying by myself or taking some time to head back home to Heidelberg, be with the family. Not to mention joining the community Seder at the Mark Twain Village Chapel for the third year running (2004 was spent in Kuwait).
Being both too cheap to pay the exorbitant parking fees at Heathrow plus not feeling particularly secure about leaving a car at the airport anyway, I was facing the logistical challenges of getting from here to there with the UK patchwork of public transportation.
So – (and, no – I haven’ yet gone through all my backup drives to find the photos. Maybe if shelter-in-place lasts a few more months…
Oh joy, it was raining when I crawled out of bed this morning with less that 5 hours of sleep. Getting dressed was not that rough and my suitcase was packed. I even located my car keys, cell phone, and passport.
There was the particularly jobsworth at the train station who informed nformed me at 0610 (the train comes at 01618) that I should have purchased my ticket from the vending machine
Vending Machine didn’t have a place for a discount.
Yes, it does.
Well, I could not easily find it and could not see my way clear to paying full fare when I am can use HRM Military discount.
It is right there.
Fine, but you are here to sell tickets, aren’t you?
80 minutes later I am at Heathrow, much of it slow train, waiting, and even slower bus which connects train to airport . No way could I have taken the 0718 and made the flight.
I had preprinted my boarding pass. The first gatekeeper stops me – your wheeled carryon looks too big. I demonstrate- it fits in the size thing. Been taking it on the plane for two years. Never mind that the airlines have dropped the size of their overheads, I can make it fit (grin).
Heading down the runway – I got to see the infamous Terminal 5
with its line up of British Airway flights (can you spell Lufthansa? Nicer and cheaper).
Yes, it was raining – rapidly ascending through the clouds
The extremely kind, wonderful guy to whom I am married even picked me up at Frankfurt. After a stop at the commissary, we were home in plenty of time to wash, chop, and cook vegetables. The youngest two pitched in with minimal complaints. The Mole did wonderfully and didn’t even blink at being up and about.
From getting ready (anyone want to explain why my brain kept telling me 1830 like every other year when it turned out the starting time was 1930? I could have taken a nap. Really could have used that nap).
To holding the service –
(photo links which go nowhere removed….)
to the six (hard to get both sides of the table with this particular lens) who sang every single last concluding song. I guess it is one way to entertain those who are cleaning up.
Turning the Voice lose with the camera – she even proved that I was there.
It was well after 2300 when we returned – turkey and leftover tzimmes in tow. Staggered toward bed, it was a really long day, to be topped by a week of eating flavourless cardboard (excuse me, Matzah!)
During which, as it turns out, I was just about as up to date on posts as I have been so far this year. Life, I believe, sort of got in the way. Which means that there was nothing between 1 April-9 April 2007 or there about. I was working at 10th Med Lab during this time period – which been renamed to CHPPM-EUR (Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine-Europe) several years prior. The commute from Heidelberg to Landstuhl was a total pain and made only marginally sane by the steady diet of audio books into the CD player
So the best I can do for 2007 is the following from the end of March*.
There is less than 48 hours to go until the first Seder. For the second year in a row I am organizing it for our community. Since we are holding it at MTV Chapel Fellowship Hall, this gives me two kitchens to kasher. Naturally I spent a large amount of today either cleaning or pushing the four members of the family in residence to do their share. After a few flare-ups (no, I don’t give a whit about the grass length, no one can see it and doing email during daylight hours is not essential) I managed to brow beat the guys taking a large amount of trash to the recycling center and vacuuming.
The girls were supposed to be working on the kitchen and their rooms. Well, they have spent a lot of time in the kitchen and made some progress. But mostly I have been hearing their voices raised in harmony for the last few hours with interludes of solo opera from Nina. So I don’t think all that much is getting done. There are no cleaning or sorting sounds.
I am on load #8 of laundry and the turkey is thawing (the only kosher meat the commissary carries is turkey, chicken drumsticks and hot dogs. Since I did not have time to make a run to Strasbourg, turkey it is. No way is this crowd going to settle for a vegetarian meal.
I don’t see that I am going to have time until next weekend to update my projects webpage. At that point coding is going to look easy compared to eating more matzah!
* And, yes (they are absent), I am well aware that when I transferred almost 10 years of blog posts to the current server, the photos that I thought I had linked to import… well they didn’t import. Of course, I didn’t figure this out till the old server went off line…
Continuing my drift into the past, given that is it infinitely more interesting than the present where everyday is like every other day (and not, why is this day/night/meal different)….
12 April 2006, Wednesday
Community Seder, MTV Chapel
After finishing the final email to explain, once again, that tonite was a Jewish community Seder and not open to the general public, we got out the door. Shana came over to help once again (turkey in the oven, potatoes on the stove) but was not feeling well and decided to head home rather than come along.
All the usual on the Seder Plate + turkey, potatoes, tzimmis, potato kugel, apple kugel, spinach pie, salads x 3, soup. There was also a variety of deserts: you simply can not forget either deserts or wine. Even better, two families came early and helped with the set-up making all the difference in the world to my sanity. The teens, sincere there were so many, set up a teen table facing the head table with places for all 9.
The people: 43 three of us all told. Seven families contributing children (Expat, and military) along with six Israelis, a few other military members, some civilian US employees, a couple of locals and few more Expats that we see on occasion. The youngest was barely two, our oldest — I am not sure so I will be polite and figure somewhere well upwards of her seventies. A number of our regulars are back in the States or in Israel: but this is up a significant number from last year, even it being the first night.
The Seder: lead by Annette and Bill as our fearless leaders.
Well, the Haggadahs (Shire’s) that we wanted to use didn’t get here in time. No fault of anyone but for amazon.co.uk whose 1-2 day shipping wound up being 14+ to Jen making it too late to ship them across the Channel by MPS. (would you believe time spent at the Xerox machine this afternoon? Next year we will not do the copyright violation but this is one of the Haggadahs that has both an English and German version). With a fair amount of enthusiasm, we went through the order of the service. Bill moved the piano making it easier to follow the melodies and Annette made packets of the music.
The service is so familiar to me, cup after cup, asking questions, dipping items, mixing and matching the symbolic foods and adding a lot of music to what is both a celebration as well as a solemn ritual. Ducking in and out from the kitchen so that the matzoh ball soup would be ready on time, sometimes I was behind and sometimes ahead.
We added Miriam’s cup with music to the first half of the Seder leaving the rest to the end as well as offering hand washing to those who were interested. The four questions were sung by a couple of the younger boys with everyone helping and Dayenu was sung by just about everyone (well the chorus – how many verses does one need? Four or five – Dayenu!)
The meal: everyone got enough to eat and then some. Even better, there was plenty of help cleaning up right after the meal so that George, Bill and I were not the only ones. Kathie brought containers along to send home care packages for some of the singles plus anyone who was willing to take leftovers. The rest of the turkey came home with us, although not much was left from two full birds.
There were only three young enough to officially ransom the affikomen (which they found, and tried to raise the stakes on the return).
The last glasses of wine and juice saw a mellow group; some participating, some helping with clean up, and a few headed home as not everyone has the next day off. Suddenly it seemed rather late being well after 2100. I sent two out the door (Miriam to a friend and Noah to see her safely there) while Nina pitched in like an adult.
The cups – Elijah for what will happen, Miriam for that which sustains us now, are on the table with the door open welcoming in the future.
May we all be healthy and able to celebrate for the rest of this Passover Season and the rest of this year coming together again next year to talk about our freedom when we came out of Egypt.
May all of you who celebrate the Easter holiday find joy and peace.
MTV = Mark Twain Village. 2005 is obviously a year. The specific date was the 23rd of April. I thought about waiting till then to post, but, since Passover dates float – it wouldn’t make much sense to post it them. If you were on my email list way back when – you have seen this post before. Admittedly, I really don’t expect you to have any recollection of whatever I was scribbling 15 years ago, but there you are. It is a serious contact to both life here retired in the SF Bay Area. And the current reality of living in a “plague” year.
23 April 2005, Saturday
Mark Twain Village Chapel, Heidelberg Germany
Wasn’t up too very long before I had my list of everything that I had forgotten, resulting in a PX run for a couple of knives, cutting boards, dishpan, mixing bowl, and the like.
Oh, did I mention getting the turkey in the oven before I left? Which, of course, led to the usual discussion of how to set the oven. Since I am not the expert on how to cook various assorted kinds of bird, fowl, fish, and beast, I normally defer to George and the kids. They got out the manuals for the oven, a couple of cook books, and looked up cooking times.
I will say that the freezer bag did an excellent job of keeping the bird nice and cold. So I adjusted the cooking time for ice bird, rather than counted on frosted bird. This, unfortunately occurred at the same time George decided that he liked the idea of convection AND conventional heat. ARGH! (end of the story is we wound up on low heat and sealing said bird in with foil a whole lot earlier than planned.)
Dropped the crew and the first part of the supplies around 1600. Got the kids to help set up, haul out trash that no one recognized as trash the night before (go figure), and do one more sweep of the floor. We also brought down the supplies that Aleph had donated (same plastic prestocked and printed Seder plates we used last year downrange, matzoh, grape juice) since our small chapel area is off to the right of the main sanctuary. It was at this point I discovered two key points:
The first was that there was a Catholic Mass at 1700. The second, and much more problematic, was that in spite of arranging for use of the kitchen and downstairs hall, no one had bothered to put the Seder on the Chapel Calendar. As a result, the Catholic Congregation was expecting to be able to use the Fellowship Hall that evening.
I talked to one of their senior people. He was not at all pleasant. Neither was the same Little-Old-Lady that was the PIA yesterday. I quietly pointed out that this event happens once a year. I had arranged for exclusive use of the fellowship hall and the kitchen with the Chapel staff, and thought that part of the duty of the Chapel staff was to inform the other congregations, and to put things on the calendar. He allowed this was so. The priest came in about then. He is active duty. He is staff at this chapel. He did understand, but had no clue.
Don’t these people ever talk to each other?
Meanwhile, we beat feet back downstairs and put up polite signs that said, thank you…….
By the time 1800 rolled around, just about everyone had arrived. The tables were set up in a U with munchies on the tables. Nina put out juice, salt water, and matzoh. Noah opened up everything needing cutting open with his trusty pocket knife. With the addition of Kerstin and Bill’s three, we had enough kids to get everything ready. Plus, with adults getting the last of the kitchen prep done, by 1830 we actually were ready to start the Seder. Matzo balls cooked, the soup simmering on the back of the stove, vegetables warming, and the turkey on hold in the oven. Yep, all the food ready.
I think the end head count was ~33, five families with kids, and a number of singles making up the numbers. Bill brought his guitar and some printed music as well as some transliterations to make it easier.
If you have never been to a Seder, it is hard to describe, except to say that it is an ordered and orderly set of rituals and prayers reviewing the exodus of the Jews from Egypt. There are foods and prayers for different parts, cups of wine, a recitation of plagues and lots of songs. There was more than enough food for everyone, and then some.
For those of you who have – we balanced a traditional Seder with the realities of kids – we started well before sundown (2130 at this northern latitude), we skipped several sections (the rabbis talking about all of the days and all of the nights). We took turns reading, the two youngest attempted the four questions with a lot of help from everyone else. And, there was more than enough charoseth, matzoh, horseradish and other bitter herbs for half a dozen Hillel sandwiches each.
The final menu:
Matzoh Ball Soup (vegetable broth)
We did not throw frogs, put an orange on the Seder plate, or put out Miriam’s cup.
The kids ate enough they did not argue about opening the door for Elijah, singing or cleaning up. For that matter, we even got the afikomen back without a bribe.
Everyone helped with cleanup. We split the remaining food, sending care packages home with all the singles so that they would have several days supply. Getting home, I decided that I was not going to be making the drive out to the field site tonight.
I have been thinking back over where I have been in different years for Passover.
Over the next several days – I am going to try and work my way forward from as long as I have been writing this email list/blog. Some editing has been done for punctuation, clarity, and common sense. I am starting with 10 April 1998 when I took TFME (Task Force Med Eagle) from Wuerzburg, Germany to Blue Factory, Bosnia and will continue forward in time for those years when I can find anything resembling an interesting entry. Don’t know about you, but I need a break from COVID-19.
10 April 1998 –
Meanwhile – the Chaplain and I had our frolic and detour. It started with the shuttle ride to the Taszar Main Base. The 4 km bus ride manages to include every last back corner, all the bus stops, which turns the ride into 20 km in more than half a hour.
The vehicle fleet from which we drew our two vans for the trip consists of Ford 9-pax vans under lease for more than a couple of years. Saying it can be a rough ride is putting it mildly. Our route included back roads through several small towns, down a number of narrow roads. We passed horse drawn carts with their truck tire wheels, kids on bicycles, old people walking, and a number of pre-unification oil burning small cars from the former East. Not surprisingly it took an hour to travel the 70km to the autobahn. The next 120 km took about 90 minutes.
We arrived at the Old Synagogue in Budapest to find that it is still under renovation; not appearing much different than it did when I was last here in 1995. One courtyard features a memorial. Another has a collection of grave markers and tomb stones. The Seder was held upstairs in the attached building. Think of a large open room with high ceilings. The Head Table was at one end with the Rabbi, Cantor, and important guests. The rest of the room was filled with dozens of small tables of four plus several longer tables for visitors at the back. There was a small Seder plate at each place. Let me just say it was interesting trying to follow the service order. Hebrew accented with Hungarian does not sound like Hebrew accented with German or English. Hungarian falls into the category of “one of the thousands of languages about which I am clueless.” To cap off the fun – this was a “bring your own Haggadah” service; a fact that none of us knew a head of time. The whole evening was a challenge. For those of you whose Passover memories include children shouting and running, this was tame evening. Almost all in attendance were adults, many of whom were elderly.
It was about 2200 when we headed back to Taszar. Budapest was full of lights, people, and traffic. By the time we had driven 50km the roads were empty, the houses dark, little traffic and no one out. We arrive back to base after midnight
It was a few years after WWII, but the industrial area in Richmond where the major shipyards were located gradually started undergoing a transformation. As the post-war period no longer needed ships, other manufacturing took over for a while. And then, for years, the area went to seed. Undergoing a renaissance in the last decade, there is now a ferry terminal for those San Francisco bound with that rare offer of FREE parking. Columbia has taken over a major portion of one of the old buildings and runs a significant operation including their “employees warehouse/discount” store. To which others (trust me) can receive an invitation. About 2 years ago, they extended the courtesy to all with a military ID, including retirees. With prices running 40-60% of retail on Columbia, Mountain Hardware, and now Praha – if you need one of their products, it is worth the drive. This area is also now home to the Rosie The Riveter Museum.
Where was I? Oh, yes, heading into Craneway Pavillion – which was hosting this year’s holiday craft market. This is not your ladies auxiliary market. There are no hand crocheted toilet box covers, nor did I spot anything even remotely plastic or disposable. But if someone is shopping for artisan wares – this would be the place to go.
We spent a couple of hours wandering through about 200 vendors. There was nothing I needed, and surprisingly little that I wanted.
This followed me home (purchased by Dani since she remembered that once upon a time….). This mug was made by another Rose with a studio in Oakland. The cat was because, when first starting out, she shared a house with a fluctuating number of others, usually about 10. And, there was a cat in about every room. I gave her the “clowder of cats” but forgot the alternative (a glaring of cats) when I had stopped by her display earlier to admire the bowls. She said that the two siamese were the only ones which were distinctive out of that “bunch of cats.” It was a number of years before she headed out on her own, catless, but still uses the image.
From there, it was off to coffee and back to the house. It has been a quiet evening.
I wish you all joy and freedom.
A long time ago – or when I lived in Heidelberg – which may or may not be all that long ago in geological terms I wrote about some of the brass plaques inserted in various sidewalk locations in memory of those who had lived at that location and were taken and killed as part of the Holocaust.
As it turns out, there are plaques with a similar purpose set in the sidewalks here in San Francisco. These don’t relate to the Holocaust (obviously). So far I haven’t found any that relate to much of the California shame of the WWII internments. But what I found on my walk from the Powell Street BART to UC Hastings via various streets in the Tenderloin – was the following:
B’nai Brith arrived in San Francisco in 1855. Started originally to help widows and orphans, nationwide it became a strong supporter of the Anti-Defamation League, Hillel Foundations and BB Youth Organizations.
And here is a link to the California Digital Press Archives from 1897. The archives are searchable and there are a number of contemporaneous articles on the 1906 Earthquake and the aftermath (1, 2 , 3- which discusses the libraries that were lost in the fire)
In researching more recent times – there were three remaining Lodges in SF which combined in 1997 to one. Of interest is that of those involved was still named the Golden Gate Lodge (see picture above).
In 1999, the official office closed and the organization became completely run by volunteers.
At some point, they even decided to admit women. (gasp! I remember the mother of a good friend saying – the men do B’nai Brith, the women do Haddasah. The local chapter likes to bowl, and bowling is just not a Jewish sport, I don’t belong! This was the early 1970s. )
In 2005, the remaining San Francisco lodge celebrated 150 years of activity in San Francisco.
It was at this point I ran out of time following various links down newspaper archives and various other bit-buckets. Something about a couple more classes this afternoon and maybe being prepared?
now through 94 rows –
aka Amtrak #29 connects Washington DC and Chicago. The journey is supposed to take about 16 hours – give or take. This obviously is not all that high speed (take it from some one who has done this by car) for a distance of about 700 miles. Not being completely stupid, I have a roomette booked. It might be a lot cheaper to travel by straight coach but the smell and noise level can be overwhelming. There always seem to be both those who haven’t had the opportunity for hygiene mixed in with those who think everyone on the train is dying to hear other people’s cell phone conversations. At 0300 in the morning. Not.
I spent this morning touring the National Museum of American Jewish Military History. It’s worth a visit for those who happen to be in the vicinity of 1811 R Street NW. Not open on Sunday just to give you the heads up. Overall, it is well done but seems to have a few significant holes in the collection since I happen to know for a fact that there have been women as well as men serving in the military all the way back to the Civil War…..
The Loop (Yarn Store) 1732 Connecticut NW isn’t open on Monday. Inhabited by staff but not open…
It is after dark and there are some lights shining out between the Cassia Lodge and Lake Victoria. It means that Shabbat has arrived. For that matter – it means that the first night of Passover has arrived as well.
We had finished by noon today, both with lectures and a session in Mengo Hospital Lab. I will not readily admit how many years it has been since I personally prepared thick&thin slides for malaria diagnosis. Since the flight times for our group varied from 1830 onwards we had a couple members leave from the lab directly to the airport. The remaining four of us came back to the hotel for the afternoon. Given that there were a number of hours, Silke, Sarah and I split a room so that we could rest, lounge and shower before getting stuck in the lobby for the last couple of hours.
Did I mention that I am returning home on Turkish Airlines via Istanbul?
Well, anyway that is the plan. Lufthansa doesn’t fly directly from here. Nor does Austrian or Swiss Air. So my choice was Ethiopian or Turkish. Having flown on the latter, it was excellent plus I would rather change planes in Istanbul.
But I have not been able to check in on line. As it turns out, they have only the one flight per day coming through on a loop – Istanbul-Kigali-Entebbe-Istanbul which means that the counter might not be open for a while. I will update you….
(Right about midnight – give or take)
We left the hotel about 2030 and hit an insane amount of traffic immediately. So instead of taking 50-55 minutes it turned into almost 100 minutes. It was about when we were at the airport that the trip organizer mentioned about he was glad KLM didn’t leave till midnight. No, the time has been changed to 2330. Ooops. We get to the terminal to hit screening (everything through a huge x-ray that I am not sure had anyone watching the screen. The two on the KLM flight dashed for the counter which was about to close. Counter->Gate->boarding.
It was about then I found that Turkish Airlines doesn’t open their counters till around midnight…
But I managed to get checked in as soon as they opened, through immigration and to the “one lounge for everyone.” And everything to eat, other than fruit and chips is either on bread, wrapped in dough or is bakery products. Fruit is good, and chips are a vegetable, right?
With the current fad of gluten free, it is honestly easy to find food to eat during Peasch. I am not putting down or questioning the reasonable percentage of those who have actually had a diagnosis of Celiac Disease made. It is however a time of year when I have to seriously consider what I eat and how it is prepared.
My last couple of years have been different than the previous 26. Even deploying, I stuck to a vegetarian diet that included eggs and dairy but not meat in any form. Hint – if it had eyes I didn’t eat it. Now, you can make all the jokes you want about potatoes. I heard them all over the years as well as comments on the “white diet” which were those days when the various dining halls offered cauliflower, mashed potatoes and rice as the only items on the serving line which were warm and uncontaminated with beast du jour.
Part of my decisions during those years were religious, part on ethical grounds and mostly just for health reasons. But then I started cruising more and more. It was impossible to eat a healthy vegetarian diet on ship (enough protein) without more trouble than it was worth. Anything that came out of the deep fat fryer suffered from both intensive fat levels plus having shared a basket with all sorts of things that I just don’t eat nor want in the neighborhood. Kitchen prep on ships is good – no issues with separation of cutting boards and knives between meats and vegetable products. But trying feel comfortable about eating any thing that came off a grill in the morning? Am I really sure that there were no pork products around the pancakes or french toast? How about those scrambled eggs? Are they powdered or real? And a diet of hard boiled eggs, yogurt and oatmeal gets to be extremely boring even when augmented with fruits, veggies and salad when eaten three times a day.
Fish was the first compromise. It happened over Passover a few years ago. If you don’t want any grain products, no meat, no fish this leaves you with fruit, some veggies and hard boiled eggs for eight days. Even I am not that stubborn!
Smoked salmon at breakfast. Protein – check. Fresh fruit – check. Yogurt? Dairy & calcium – check. It seemed to be a bit smarter. No treif, but a greater variety of choices off the menu. I had to admit to myself that I was enjoying the variety of foods as the days and months started rolling along.
And then it gets to Passover again. I still don’t eat treif during Pesach, but will eat meats from the cloven hoof and chews a cud club. Not dairy and meat together, that is still a step too far for me. Which left me with an interesting dilemma last night after finishing in the gym. It was well after 2100. I hadn’t paid any attention to the closing time in the Windjammer which turns out to be 1800-2030. The main dining room final seating was 2000 and My Time was 2045. Chops and Izumi both stop seating at 2100. Did I mention that I was still in gym clothes which for me leaves out the option of eating anywhere other than Park Cafe in the Solarium.
The Cafe is open for late snacks from 2030 to midnight. It is still Passover. They have wraps (tortillas) on offer along with panninni all of which are already made. There is pizza and there are burgers. What kind of meat is in the burger? No clue. Beef only? Can’t tell me that for sure. Next to the bin of burgers are buns (not an option) onion, tomato and lettuce along with plastic cheese slices. and a pot of lentil soup. What is the broth for the lentil soup? Vegetarian? Shoulder shrug.
Did you know that room service is quite good? They can provide a steak sandwich without the bread, a salad without dressing or croutons and some veggies and there is no delivery surcharge till after midnight.
Now my only real question becomes…… Do I save the two small squares of cheese cake on the nibbles plate from the kitchen since the chocolate covered strawberries were inhaled immediately. Or do I be a good kid and just get them out of the room since it isn’t sundown yet…….If I cover them up, it should be ok, right?
and no, I did not attend a seder last night at the start of Pesach. It fell into the “too hard to do” box. When I was here in Miami last week, I ran a search for community seders. After eliminating all those affiliated with Chabad (we checked that box in 1981 in Charleston on our way to Germany for the first time. More than three hours into the Seder at 2200 and we still had not gotten to the meal. Not a fun time with a 2 1/2 year old) there were actually few options that were in striking distance of where I am staying. Public transportation is not exactly easy to work in Miami. Either I was no tin the right location or the synagogue wasn’t reachable
So anyway, right on the front of the webpage for Temple Beth Or was the information about their community seder to include that it was a vegetarian/fish potluck.
Now, I do potlucks. Have for years in various military communities. Only time it doesn’t work is if someone decides to be more Orthodox than thou. Those games I don’t play. I received a prompt reply from the admin office that I was more than welcome to join them and the fact that I was in a hotel didn’t present a problem, even offered a ride.
Arriving early enough, I was able to help with a bit of the set up –
Once everyone arrived I didn’t attempt to take any pictures but it was somewhere around 45 participants. Other than one family, it was pretty much baby boomers with a few of their parents generation. It is an interesting, educated and well traveled group who quietly and without fanfare watch out for each other. That includes pushing chairs, giving way to walkers and making sure that someone gets a helping of their favorite food. The Haggadah on the other hand? You can become so PC that the words stumble in your mouth (?Family Eclectic? or some other such non-sense).
But there was plenty to eat, more than enough Manischewitz wine (it was BOKW) and Kedem grape juice to give everyone heart burn.
It felt like community – our original military one in Heidelberg, the Seders I spent in Bosnia, Kuwait, Afghanistan where being there was more important than what you knew or your shul or town or family.
(note, I delayed a few days and thought about it seriously before posting the following)
Whether I attended them or not, all the cruise lines seem to have a slot in the Friday night schedule for self-led services. Occasionally I would be known to drop in, or not as the mood struck. Over major holidays the ships on which I have traveled have made more than a slight effort. (some engaging the services of a cantor or rabbi over the High Holidays) or supporting organized celebrations for Hanukah (somehow a more understandable holiday to the Christian world although of minor importance to most of us on this side of the fence).
But I realized the other morning when I made the mistake of heading early to the Sky lounges ad stumbled into quavery voices raised in off-key hymns that I hadn’t noticed an option on this ship. In fact not for Jewish or Catholic services. Protestant services – there always seems to be a minister, pastor or preachers lurking among the passengers. But the lack options for me or many others was clear once I went looking.
Carmen and I noticed last June on the Constellation that they did not offer Mass. Since we were in a port on Sunday morning and one of the Cathedrals had a Mass who’s time worked there wasn’t as much issue for her in Bergen as there could have been. I am vaguely remembering there might have been an opportunity to attend Friday evening services but didn’t take advantage. I don’t think there was that option on the Eclipse out of Southhampton and there is certainly nothing on the Solstice. Even Costa with it’s idiocy of scheduling the life boat drill at the same time as Friday night services (2012 out of Singapore) wasn’t this oblivious.
In case you frequent cruisers are wondering – the community bulletin board on this ship is not passenger friendly. If you want something posted, you have to find a member of the Cruise Director’s staff or the event coordinator. If they agree that what you want posted would be of interest to “enough passengers” then they will make up a sign and post it. Nothing (other than Bill W) will make the daily program. Just their policy, don’t argue with us, there is nothing we can (or want) to do.
WHich takes me back to my original assertion. The reason there was a Protestant service on Sunday morning was that someone went to the staff and requested that they be able to run it along with enough pressure from others on the ship who wanted to attend that it would have been fairly uncomfortable for the staff to turn them down. However since the Cruise Critic meeting was already scheduled at 0945 in the Sky Lounge they were provided an earlier time than requested with a take it or leave it attitude. I made an initial inquiry about other services and then dropped it as it was obviously not something the staff had heard often before nor did they seem at all interested.
Perhaps “Modern Luxury” means being “modern” in everything and eschewing support for what are assumed to be traditional passenger activities on the ship. Being modern means that Friends of Bill W get a nod, right along with unlimited drinks packages. The staff had difficulty understanding why a meeting place at one of the bars out in public was not an appropriate location. It means an interesting selection of music (most of which is actively detested by the demographic on board) in all the lounges whether desired or not. It means furniture appropriate for 20s-40s creating challenges for the over 50 & overwieghts who become trapped in the chairs and couches.
There is no chapel on the ship, but the Captain does have the power to perform weddings which just leaves me wondering. This apparently is a cruise line for people who like comfort, style and a nod toward tradition (Tea in the Afternoon) while avoiding the uncomfortable issues of religion, discrimination or politics.
While their advertisements state that Kosher/Hallel meals are available in reality the labeling on the menus or in the Oceanview Cafe is woefully inadequate. I have no clue why a chef would think that topping Halibut with a strip of crispy bacon was a good idea but there it was lying dead and nasty on top of my fish. It certainly wasn’t on the menu, mentioned by the waitstaff or something I would expect in a restaurant devoted to modern healthy cooking. The serving line personnel in most locations did not know which oils or fats were used for food preparation. Gluten they know, just because of the current fad but on most other issues (to include nuts and seafood) they were clueless.
So all of this might explain why I haven’t seen too many Jews on Celebrity as compared to Royal although both have the same parent corporation. I think it also might apply to Catholics if they want a line that insures there is a Priests on long repositioning cruises. Or maybe I am reacting to a slight undertone of distain for passengers that I have picked up across the board on this ship. Sincere efforts are made to insure passengers are getting what they want – not because it makes sense or is great customer service but in an effort to avoid complaints.
The difference is subtle but clear. My message is less subtle – not rebooking on this ship and likely not on Celebrity again beyond those itineraries on which there are no other viable choices.