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America’s Oldest Synagogue

By Linda Tancs

In colonial times, Newport, Rhode Island, welcomed its first Jewish residents as early as 1658. A century later, the population had grown substantially with the rise of the mercantile trade, giving rise to the need for a place of worship that was named Congregation Jeshuat Israel (Salvation of Israel). It was later renamed Touro Synagogue after Newport natives Abraham and Judah Touro, who both provided bequests to see to the perpetual care and maintenance of the Congregation’s properties. Designated a National Historic Site in 1946, the synagogue boasts a connection to George Washington, who adopted many of the views on religious liberties and the separation of church and state that were espoused by the congregation’s president during his address to Washington at Newport. In fact, Washington’s written response to the congregation is an annual celebrated event, lauded and commemorated as possibly having the greatest impact on America and American Jewry. The next annual reading of George Washington’s historic letter “To the Hebrew Congregation at Newport” will take place on Sunday at 1 p.m.

A Ten-Year Wait in Baden

By Linda Tancs

The Swiss spa city of Baden hosts the largest municipal folk festival in the region known as Badenfahrt. It’s held once every 10 years and, judging by the 1 million or so visitors, worth the wait. This year’s festivities take place from Aug. 18–Aug. 27, featuring theater performances, concerts, parades and fireworks over the Stein Castle ruins. Every festival has a motto; this year’s theme is “Versus,” celebrating the many facets of city life embracing the old and the new.

An Old Wooden Lighthouse

By Linda Tancs

A Canadian province, Prince Edward Island’s oldest wooden lighthouse is located on Panmure Island. Open seasonally from June to October, Panmure Island Lighthouse offers enviable views of the white sand beach, one of PEI’s most popular. Later this month the area also hosts an annual pow wow, featuring drum bands, native crafts and a sweat lodge. Panmure Island is part of the Points East Coastal Drive touring region.

A Feast for the Eyes in Santa Fe

By Linda Tancs

This weekend marks the 96th annual Santa Fe Indian Market in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Begun in 1922, the market is the largest and most prestigious juried Native American arts show in the world. It attracts over 100,000 visitors from around the world who buy art directly from roughly 900 artists from over 200 federally recognized tribes in the U.S. and Canada. Items include pottery, sculpture, textiles, paintings, wooden carvings, bead work, baskets, drums and bows and arrows. The event is preceded by Indian Market Week, a series of events in Native film, literature, music, fashion and visual art.

An Old Goat in Ireland

By Linda Tancs

In Killorglin, County Kerry, Ireland, they’ve been celebrating a goat for over 400 years. Every year a wild goat gets crowned king and reigns o’er the town from August 10 to 12. Known as Puck Fair, it’s one of Ireland’s oldest festivals. A popular legend involving its origin is that a runaway he-goat (a “puck”) broke from a herd that was routed by a group of raiders, arriving in town to alert the inhabitants of Cill Orglain (Killorglin) of impending danger. A festival then arose to honor the goat’s service. In addition to the coronation ceremony, expect fireworks, parading, a horse fair, musical entertainment and family fun.

Breaking Up in Hollywood

By Linda Tancs

Forget about tea and sympathy. Apparently a better way to get over a relationship is to create art about it at the Museum of Broken Relationships in Hollywood, California. Originally founded in Zagreb, in 2010 it won the EMYA Kenneth Hudson Award as the most innovative and daring museum project in Europe. Exhibits include everything from wedding dresses to an ax used to break an ex’s furniture, accompanied by the contributor’s personal yet anonymous story. Cathartic? Maybe. But remember the immortal words of Alfred, Lord Tennyson: ‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

The Residents of Green-Wood

By Linda Tancs

Composer Leonard Bernstein. Artist Louis Comfort Tiffany. Politician Boss Tweed. Newspaper magnate Horace Greeley. They’re just some of over 500,000 permanent residents of Green-Wood, one of the first rural cemeteries in America. Founded in 1838 and now a National Historic Landmark, its 478 acres include hills, valleys, glacial ponds and paths. In addition to its famous occupants, the site has Revolutionary War roots, the Battle of Long Island having been fought along what is now its grounds. It also boasts one of the largest outdoor collections of statuary and mausoleums. Located at 5th Avenue and 25th Street in Brooklyn, New York, admission is always free. Take the trolley or a guided or self-guided tour.

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