Southern & Jewish
Southern & Jewish celebrates the stories, people, and experiences – past and present – of Jewish life in the American South. Hosted by the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life, posts come from educators, students, rabbis, parents, artists, and many other “visitors-to and daily-livers-of” the Southern Jewish experience. From road trips to recipes to reflections, we’ll explore a little bit of everything – well, at least all things Southern and/or Jewish. Shalom, y’all!
If I ever go bankrupt, it will be because of airline tickets and gas.
When I look back at my childhood, specific details about my home and school life are not nearly as clear as the memories from the times I was traveling with my family. As a travel writer for a local newspaper, my dad traveled with me so much that I had frequent flyer miles before I was even in school.
Travel was always a priority for me. From the minute I got my driver license, I was planning road trips all across the country. On one occasion, I drove from Atlanta to Knoxville with some close friends to attend a film festival I had learned about that very week. I also spent a month and a half backpacking across Europe, nearly clearing out my savings account in the process.
During all of my impulsive traveling, however, there was one constant: my dad would always be supporting me from somewhere far cooler than I was. While I was in Orlando or Chattanooga, my dad would be sending me pictures from Iceland or China. My father once told me that his solution to having an empty nest was to “leave the nest as much as possible.” During my undergrad years, if you were to stop me on the street and ask me where my dad was, I wouldn’t even be able to name the continent he was on half of the time—when I left for college, my father became a freelance travel writer; travelling all over the globe, writing for National Geographic, USA Today, and anyone else who would run his stories.
Today, my father isn’t the only traveler in the family. As an ISJL Education Fellow, I am on the road nearly every weekend, bringing Jewish programming to communities all across the South. I’ve learned a lot from my father regarding travel, from how to pack bags to how to book cheap flights. However, the most valuable thing I’ve learned from my father that I use to this day is to go with the flow, and never say “no” when you’re travelling.
Travel to me has always been about new experiences of all kinds; and as a guest in my communities that I travel to, I have the great fortune of having community members show me what makes their community special. When I began my travelling with the ISJL, I made a promise to never say “no” while on the road. Attend a Diwali celebration? Go skeet shooting? Watch a rodeo? Sure, why not? I consider myself lucky to even have the opportunity to experience so much and to do work that I am genuinely passionate about.
To anyone who I may visit, whether as a friend or as a colleague: Show me what a good time looks like in your area! I’ll never say no to a new experience!
To other Jewish travelers: Here’s the Traveler’s Prayer, in case you need it for easy reference!
And to my dad; thank you for all of the lessons and unforgettable experiences you’ve shared with me over the years. I don’t think you’ll ever come close to realizing how valuable they are to me.
However, if I ever bankrupt myself by buying plane tickets, I’m calling you first.