Alaska Kosher Cruise
aboard the Norwegian Cruise Lines: Pearl
July 21-28, 2013 (7 Nights - Kosher Cruise)
SCHOLAR IN RESIDENCE:
RABBI BEREL SIMPSER
|Sun., Jul. 21||Seattle||Departs||4:00 pm|
|Mon., Jul. 22||At Sea|
|Tues., Jul. 23||Juneau||2:00 pm||10:00 pm|
|Wed., Jul. 24||Skagway||7:00 am||8:15 pm|
|Thurs., Jul. 25||Glacier Bay|
|Fri., Jul. 26||Ketchikan||6:00 am||1:30 pm|
|Sat., Jul. 27||Victoria, BC, Canada||6:00 pm||11:59 pm|
|Sun., Jul. 28||Seattle||8:00 am||Arrives|
Featuring Scholar In Residence: Rabbi Berel Simpser
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Seattle, WashingtonThe Emerald City of the Pacific Northwest, Seattle is known for its stunning waterfront. "Catch" a salmon at Pike Place Market, ride to the top of the Space Needle, sample a local microbrew in funky Fremont, or down a cup of java in the coffee capital of the world.
Juneau, AlaskaFor years Juneau's livelihood, like that of many cities in Alaska, was tied to mining. The city itself is built on tailings from the A-J mine whose shafts perforate the hillside above town. Because it is Alaska's capital, Juneau prospers through government work and tourism. This is a great place to sample salmon baked over an alderwood fire, pan for gold, and hike the massive Juneau Icefield. If you feel the need for speed, hop on a sled and let a dog team pull you across the surface of a glacier.
Sitka, AlaskaBald eagles perch in the spruce and cedar trees of Sitka—often several to a branch. Russian Alaska is enthusiastically represented in a lively performance by the New Archangel Dancers. View holy paintings of the Czarist days, and visit recuperating eagles at the rehabilitation center.
In the heart of the Tongass National Forest, immerse yourself in Tlingit Indian culture and view the world's largest collection of totem poles; kayak the colorful waterfront and stroll the boardwalk that once led to Ketchikan's red light district.
Victoria, British Columbia
High tea can be taken at the Empress Hotel if you really want to discover what Victoria is all about. Then, walk over to the breathtaking Museum of Natural History or stroll through the charming downtown of that lives up to its British-flavored name with double-decker buses, turreted castles, fine British woollens and delicate china. A coach-ride away, the Butchart Garden earns every superlative of its impeccable reputation for glorious blooms and redolent scents.
Whether relaxing in the Caribbean or exploring Alaska, Norwegian Pearl has something for everyone. The bowling alley, the 16 different dining options, 13 bars & lounges, a massive spa, two pools, six hot tubs, the Aqua Kid's Club, kid's pool, a rock climbing wall, fitness center with floor-to-ceiling windows, the Broadway theater and a lively casino certainly proves that point. For accommodations, she has it all, with the three-bedroom Garden Villas, the exclusive Courtyard Villas with private pool deck, and lots of multi-room suites and inter-connecting staterooms to make traveling as a family a breeze.
Gross Tonnage: 93,350 grt.(One registered ton equals 100 cubic feet)
Length: 965 feet
Beam: 125 feet
Maximum speed: 25 knots
Passenger capacity: 2,3994
Dedicated: December 2006
Rabbi Berel Simpser
Rabbi Simpser has worked as the Kashrus Field representative for the CRC (Chicago Rabbinical Council), the O.U. (Orthodox Union), the O.R.B. (Florida), and the Star –K, over the last 22 years. He is one of the most experienced Rav Hamachshirim in the areas of kosher cruising and hotel kashrut, having supervised over 15 Kosherica Cruises, over a dozen Pesach programs, as well as the North American Federation's General Assembly. Rabbi Simpser founded the Community Kollel of Des Moines in 1999, and currently leads a Kiruv /Jewish Outreach Program in Minneapolis.
An Executive Coach, Rabbi Simpser recently founded MyExecutiveLife.com. Its mission is to assist anyone in "applying the distinctions of business, while grounded in Torah wisdom, to be the "Executives of your own life".
He has lectured internationally on topics ranging from Mysticism, Relationships, Personal Growth and Leadership.
Major Cruise Questions
What is included in the price of my cruise?Virtually everything, with the exception of certain items of a personal nature, for which there is a fair and reasonable charge. Your cruise fare includes shipboard accommodations, ocean transportation, standard meals, services and onboard entertainment.
What's not includedItems that are of a personal nature, for which there is a fair and reasonable charge. Not included in the cruise fare are items that are of a personal nature including gratuities, shore excursions, airfare, telephone calls, faxes, spa treatments, salon services, photographs, laundry and valet service as well as wine, liquor and other beverages.
Will I need a passport or visa?You are responsible for obtaining all necessary travel documents and for complying with Customs and Immigration requirements. Guests with out proper travel documents will not be allowed to board the vessel. If for some reason you must leave the ship mid-cruise, you will be denied re-entry into the U.S. unless you possess a valid U.S. passport and no refund of cruise fare will be given to any guest failing to bring such documentation. All major cruise lines encourage all guests to obtain passports as soon as possible to avoid backlogs. For more information, please visit the U.S State department website at www.travel.state.gov.
Air TravelPassports will be required for any air travel from the Caribbean as of January 23, 2007. ALL persons, including U.S. citizens, traveling by air between the United States and Canada, Mexico and South America, the Caribbean and Bermuda will be required to present a valid passport.
Cruise TravelAs early as January 1st, 2008, subject to U.S. Government amendment, ALL persons, including U.S. citizens, traveling between the United States and Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean and Bermuda may be required to present a valid passport or other documents as determined by the Department of Homeland Security.
Mediterranean and North Europe Cruises:United States and Canadian citizens must have valid passports and necessary Visas. The expiration date of your passport must not occur within 6 months of the scheduled return date of travel. Naturalized U.S. citizens are advised to carry their naturalization papers. Aliens who are residents of the U.S. must carry their Alien Registration Card and passport. All others must have valid passports and necessary visas.
Please check current visa requirements with the appropriate embassies or consulates.
What clothing should I pack?Most of the time, you'll feel comfortable in casual resort wear including light cotton clothing. Sweaters, lightweight jackets, raincoats and hats are also appropriate for Northern Europe. Tennis shoes or low-heeled walking shoes are recommended for exploring the ports of call. While most shore excursions do not have dress codes, some tours specifically prohibit shorts and sleeveless shirts, and require ladies to wear knee-length skirts or slacks.
There is usually two formal galas to which ladies will wish to wear long gowns or cocktail-length dresses; gentlemen may choose either tuxedos or dark suits. Number of formal nights may vary depending on cruise length and itinerary. On other evenings, resort attire is the norm.
What is the climate like?Temperatures in Northern Europe and the Mediterranean (April through October) average 14 - 31 degrees Celsius; 57 - 88 degrees Fahrenheit. Of course, they may vary.
Temperatures in Caribbean: (November - April) average 72-85 degrees. Of course, they may vary.
Temperatures in South America: (December - March) average 71-84 degrees. Of course, they may vary.
Can I phone home?Ship-to-shore telephone service is available 24 hours a day while the ship is at sea or in port from your stateroom. You'll find a telephone and dialing instructions in your stateroom.
If you need to be reached by people at home, have them call or fax the ship directly; or they can contact you via email through your own Internet Service Provider which you can then access via the Internet Café.
Is internet service available?You can send and receive emails through your own service provider in the Internet Café for a nominal charge.
How do I plan my on-shore activities?Naturally, you are free to explore many of the ports of call on your own, however, a variety of shore excursion are arranged for you convenience. Each excursion is carefully researched by our Shore Excursion Staff to ensure your experience ashore is as enriching and enjoyable as your stay aboard. You may pre-book your excursions online by selecting Personalize Your Cruise. You will need to enter your booking number and your name as it appears on your reservation. The excursion selected will be debited to you onboard account . Or, if you prefer, you may purchase the shore excursion onboard at the Shore Excursion Desk. Shore Excursions are subject to availability and not available on all ships and sail dates.
What about laundry and dry cleaning services?Complete valet services including laundry, pressing and dry cleaning, can be arranged through your stateroom steward/stewardess and billed to your shipboard account.
You are responsible for obtaining all travel documents as well as compliance with Customs and Immigration requirements. You will be required to comply with all government imposed security measures, which may change without notice.
All passengers are responsible for obtaining all necessary travel documents and for complying with Customs and Immigration requirements.
Please check current VISA requirements with the appropriate embassies or consulates prior to departing on your cruise vacation. Kosherica is providing this application for your convenience.
Kosherica is not responsible for the accuracy of information provided herein. Please contact www.visahq.com with any questions.
Guests without proper travel documents will not be allowed to board the vessel. If for some reason you must leave the ship mid-cruise, you will be denied re-entry into the U.S. unless you possess a valid U.S. passport and no refund of cruise fare will be given to any guest failing to bring such documentation. Kosherica encourages all guests to obtain passports as soon as possible to avoid backlogs. For more information, please visit the U.S State department website at www.travel.state.gov.
It's all about fur.
Coats, to be precise.
Fur coats to keep out the chill of the brutal Russian winter.
That's why there are Jews in Alaska.
In the early 1700s Russia's population exploded. Its population of people, anyway. Its population of animals whose skins could be sewn into coats (and of course those famous Russian hats), declined. Severely. The Russians needed a new source of fur.
Explorers who had gone off to map the wildernesses at the far eastern edges of the Empire, had reported abundant populations of fur bearing animals there. Before long, adventurous capitalists who understood the laws of supply and demand went to work.
The Danish sea captain Vitus Bering, whose namesake Sea is about a thousand miles northwest of our present position, led the first Russian settlement expedition that established what would eventually become a permanent Russian presence in this far corner of North America. Jewish fur trappers were among his crew.
A little over a hundred years later the fur trade was enormous, increasingly international, and increasingly Jewish. Merchant companies, especially those whose dealings were on the territorial fringe of the Empire, were among the few commercial enterprises open to Jewish participation. One of the largest Alaskan fur ventures, the Russian-American Company, was managed throughout the 1850s by a man named Nikolai Rosenberg. But it wasn't until 1885 that Jews settled permanently here. Robert Goldstein and his family set up a trading post in Juneau, and specialized in sable, beaver, and mink. Juneau's first mayor was Jewish, and the Goldstein Building, which still stands, was used for a time as the state's interim capital.
As the ninteenth century rolled along, Alaska's own population began to explode. President Lincoln's Secretary of State William Seward had purchased Alaska from the Czars in 1867. The price he paid -- $7.2 million, or less than 2 cents per acre -- was ridiculed in the continental US as a colossal waste of money, but the merchants of San Francisco, then the largest city in the American west, knew otherwise. Among them were many Jews who had toiled to build a thriving US trade with Russia, and who lobbied intensely for Seward to make the purchase. Their faith in the move was soon vindicated, as the succeeding decades saw discoveries of Alaska's vast mineral wealth - mother lodes of gold, silver, copper, zinc, coal, and oil.
The Gold Rush was on.
Prospectors in search of their fortunes migrated north. 20,000 gold-rushers came to the Yukon in 1898 alone. Communities were born as tiny homesteads grew into villages, towns and cities. The institutions of civilized life came next - roads, schools, markets, places of worship. Dawson City, whose population today is just 1500, had 40,000 inhabitants in the early 1900s, making it the largest city in North America north of San Francisco. It was the site of the first significant Jewish institution in Alaska. Nearly 200 Jews had settled there. Thirty-six of them gathered for Rosh Hashanah in 1898, and celebrated the first organized Jewish worship in Alaska in the back of Charles Rosener's General Store. Word spread around the territory, and soon the newly established Hebrew Congregation of Dawson had to rent the commodious Yukon Order of Pioneers Hall, in which they davened regularly. They founded a cemetery when a young Jewish prospector named Isaac Simons, who had come to Dawson all the way from New York, drowned, and his Alaskan fellow congregants honored him with a proper Jewish burial. That cemetery, Beit Chaiim, was restored and reconsecrated in 1998 as part of the ceremonies commemorating of the 100th anniversary of the Klondike Gold Rush.
Jews have made a disproportionately large contribution to Alaskan history, as they have to every society and culture in which they've lived. Those furriers who accompanied Bering on his famous expedition were second in their influence only to the prominent Jews who came here to profit from the Gold Rush. Lewis Gerstle, a Jewish San Francisco merchant, founded the Alaska Commercial Company, and became a major provider of groceries and general merchandise for trappers, explorers and gold seekers. His steamboat line plied the Yukon River, providing one of the only reliable routes into and out of the territory. His venture capital funds financed an enormous percentage of Alaskan mining. Gerstle's village stores became centers of community activities, serving as post offices, community halls, courtrooms, marriage parlors, funeral homes, and safe havens for travelers, as well as banks which could extend credit to trappers, miners, and fishermen. Gerstle got a river named after him; J.B. Gottstein, another Jewish retail merchant, named his company after himself, and to this day Gottstein's remain's one of Alaska's largest firms.
In 1901, the Jews of Nome, who built the shipping and retailing industries of that city, formed the first Jewish charitable organization in Alaska, the Nome Hebrew Benevolent Society. At around the same time, Nome also gained notoriety for being the location of an establishment called The Dexter, a saloon run by the legendary OK Corrall gunfighter Wyatt Earp. Mrs. Wyatt Earp was an apparently beautiful young lady by the name of Josephine Sarah Marcus. Her German-Jewish parents moved the family from Brooklyn to San Francisco when Josephine was a child, and in her teen years she met the dashing deputy U.S. Marshal who would steal her heart. After the OK Corrall, Josephine and Wyatt Earp led a peripatetic existence that took them to Idaho, remote northern California, and eventually, to Nome where they opened their saloon. Later they moved south to Colma, California, near San Diego, where they are both buried in a Jewish cemetery.
The Jewish community of Fairbanks was founded with the arrival of Lithuanian Jew Robert Bloom in 1904. Bloom ran a general store in town, and was a leader of the Fairbanks Jewish Community for nearly half a century. Earlier a member of the pioneering Hebrew Congregation of Dawson, he became the Yukon's first lay rabbi. He was also a member of an advisory group that helped establish the first US military base in Alaska, and he was a founder of what would later become the University of Alaska. Bloom's wife, Jessie Spiro Bloom, met her husband while he was on holiday in Dublin. She left Ireland with her new husband in 1912 to settle in Fairbanks and soon became an active member of the community. A woman's suffrage advocate during her student years in London, she helped the women of Fairbanks organize to win the vote in 1913. Later, while raising four daughters, she established the first kindergarten in Fairbanks and the first Girl Scout troop in Alaska. Together, the Blooms were very active in conservation efforts, supporting the movement to set aside Alaskan land for wilderness preserves. The Blooms also served as unofficial chaplains for Jewish servicemen stationed in Alaska during World War II.
The war years saw one of the stranger episodes in the Alaskan Jewish saga. As the number of European Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany neared crisis levels, a handful of American government officials, frustrated with the rigidity of the country's strict immigration quotas, began to search for solutions. FDR's Secretary of the Interior, Harold Ickes, and New York Congressman Charles Buckley, came up with an extraordinary one. They sought to allow a certain number of refugees to settle in sparsely-populated Alaska, then still a territory and not yet a State. Roosevelt resisted at first, as did many Americans, some on anti-Semitic grounds, and others opposed to any measure that would increase competition for scarce jobs by bringing foreign workers into the depressed U.S. economy. Alaskans also opposed the plan for a variety of reasons, from provincial xenophobia to worry about the cost of absorbing so many new citizens.
While America debated the issue, the leader of the Jewish community in the town of Neustadt, Germany wrote Washington in 1939 in an urgent application for immigration to Alaska. One day after his letter arrived at the Department of the Interior, Germany invaded Poland and World War II began. In March, 1940, Roosevelt answered the Neustadt letter, saying that the Alaska immigration plan was still being considered. And it was. Congress debated the proposal in May, 1940, and it collapsed in subcommittee, unable to attract sufficient votes for passage. The Jews of Neustadt perished in the Holocaust, but their letters petitioning Roosevelt remain in the National Archive, a testament to one of the darker moments of American Jewish history.
Alaska's Jewish population waned as the war raged on, falling below 100 in 1940. The following year, Jewish military chaplains arrived to minister to soldiers stationed in the territory, becoming the first ordained rabbis to officiate here. After the war the GI Bill swelled Alaska's population, and brought new Jews to the most remote towns and biggest cities. The first mayor of Anchorage was David Leopold, who was followed in that capacity some years later by another Jew, Zachary Loussac. Former territorial governor Ernest Gruening was elected one of Alaska's two senators when the territory gained statehood in 1959. In 1964, Jay A. Rabinowitz was named to the Alaska Supreme Court. Even some Alaskan mountains (Ripinski, Neuberger, and Applebaum) are named after Jewish pioneers.
Since 1970, the state's Jewish population has grown steadily, fed mostly by Jews moving north from California, Oregon, and Washington. A 1995 survey, the most recent completed, counted a Jewish population of approximately 3,000 in the state, or about six-tenths of one percent of the state's population. But Chabad statistics indicate a presence of some 6,000 Jews, or approximately 1% of the total state's population. Eighty-one percent of Alaska's Jews live in its three largest cities -- Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau, and fully half of Alaska's Jews live in Anchorage.
Although one might assume that the remoteness of Alaska might foster a disinterest in Judaism, or that a Jewish life would be difficult to sustain here, statistics indicate that the Alaskan Jewish community is surprisingly robust. A recent study showed that fully 42 percent of Alaskan Jews belong to synagogues, compared with 27 percent in the continental US. Most of the Jews here are between the ages of 25 and 62, married, and highly educated. Some 53% of Alaskan Jews are women. The intermarriage rate in Alaska is high. Only 6% of Alaska's Jewish community was born here.
Anchorage boasts a Reform synagogue and a Chabad House, and Fairbanks has a lay-run Reform synagogue. Jewish cemeteries are now established in Anchorage and Fairbanks. Anchorage is also home to chapters of Hadassah and the Anti-Defamation League, and an active outreach program to Jewish communities in Siberia. Kosher food is available at supermarkets in Anchorage and Fairbanks, and in more remote locations, is shipped frozen from Seattle. In addition, the Anchorage Lubavitch rabbi maintains a mikvah. Alaska does not yet have a formal partnership with Israel; nevertheless, during the 1990s the state exported nearly $25 million in goods to Israel, which now ranks as Alaska's 35th leading trade partner.
Alaska's state nick name is "The Last Frontier," and as we'll continue to discover this week, the name is apt, certainly from the point of view of American Jewry, at least. But its remoteness and isolation notwithstanding, the state's beauty and natural bounty, not to mention the hardiness and determination of its inhabitants, justify another phrase often applied to this remarkable place. That phrase, the state's official motto, may well have been on the lips of those first Jews leaving Russia in search of fur nearly three hundred years ago, and I leave you with it today: "North to the Future."
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