The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, the nonprofit that collaborates with the National Park Service and raises funds for the restoration and preservation of these two national monuments, has introduced a new service in response to Ellis Island closing during the COVID-19 crisis. Each year thousands visit the American Family Immigration History Center at Ellis Island to explore their connections to the 17+ million immigrants who entered the U.S. through the Port of New York (1820-1957). Now, a newly created virtual experience replicates a visit to the Family History Center to help people along their genealogical journey.
For a $30 donation, the Foundation’s experts conduct a personalized search of the passenger database, home to about 65 million arrival records. With a successful search, donors receive two copies (a digital version and a hard copy on archival paper) of the Ship Manifest displaying the immigrant’s arrival. The Foundation is also producing a series of videos featuring research tips and interesting stories about Ellis Island’s immigration history.
This team consists of the same research staff you would normally meet at the American Family Immigration History Center on Ellis Island. Your donation secures a 30-minute research session conducted by the team, with the funds supporting the Foundation’s mission and our commitment to keeping these 65 million records available for people all over the globe.
Successful searches will result in the Foundation sending you a free digital copy of the Ship Manifest displaying your ancestor’s arrival in America! In addition, when the Foundation’s office reopens, you will receive a hard copy, on archival paper, sent with free shipping.
Each research session will be 30 minutes in length. During this time, the research team will search the vast records for your ancestor (only one per session; you can purchase more than one session). Allow up to 10 business days to receive your search results. You may purchase more than one session. If you are interested in searching for multiple passengers, you can reserve additional sessions. Research sessions occur without live participation from donor. The research team will reach out to you if they have any additional questions.
How it works
Visit the website shop to make your donation and secure your 30-minute research session.
You will receive a confirmation email from our research team. This email will include a document where you will provide as much information possible about the passenger you’d like us to research. The more information the team has from you, the more they can narrow the search.
After submitting your form, a research team member will be assigned to conduct your search.
If your search is successful, you will receive a free digital copy of the Ship Manifest (up to a $50 savings!)
If your search is unsuccessful, you will receive a 10% off promo code for the Ellis Island Shop.
The Ellis Island Database, which is free for all, is an amazing gateway to history. There are close to 65 million records documenting the people who came to America through the Port of New York, from 1820 to 1957.
In the coming weeks, The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation will unveil a series of videos on social media that will guide you along a genealogical journey, providing research tips and historical fun facts from our staff.
Ireland may be a small country but it is rich in culture
with its wild landscapes and hearty culinary delights. From enjoying a pot of
Irish stew, to exploring Ireland’s lush lands and regal castles, you’ll connect
with your Gaelic Roots on Insight Vacations’ immersive experiences.
Planet named Galway as one of the top places to visit
in the world in 2020—a cultural destination highlighted on Insight Vacations’
Ireland itineraries. The accolade has been
given in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2020, describing the city as “arguably
Ireland’s most engaging city”.
According to the European
Capital of Culture, visitors to Galway can expect to
experience the city and county’s best year yet, with a year-long program of
extraordinary street spectacle, live and digital art as well as world-class
music, theatre and dance.
As the award-winning leader in premium escorted
travel, Insight Vacations wants travelers to observe Galway with experiences
that go beyond the ordinary. On Insight’s journeys to Ireland, guests
are invited to meet and interact with locals and explore various establishments
that offer authenticity as well as good old-fashioned fun.
Here are several Insight trips that immerse guests
into the unique aspects of Galway:
Country Roads of Ireland (12
Days):Travelers will get the chance to enjoy
breathtaking views of the Clare Coast before a delightful drive through the
strange, rocky landscape of the Burren to Galway Bay. They will spend a day at
their leisure to relax and enjoy the city– perhaps joining an Optional
Experience to the Aran Islands – a genuine highlight of the Wild Atlantic Way.
With their cliffs and spectacular coastal views, the islands are a true Irish
Focus on Ireland (7 Days):Lead
by Insights’ dedicated and knowledgeable Travel Director, guests will explore
the infamous Lynch Memorial and the Church of St. Nicholas, where Christopher
Columbus reputedly prayed before his discovery of America. They will also see
the aged Spanish Arch and Eyre Square, dedicated to the late US President, John
Irish Elegance (8 Days):Guests will journey the City of the Tribes and visit
Galway’s stunning cathedral. They can take in the beautiful scenery during
their two-night stay at the Connemara Coast Hotel, which is spectacularly set
on the shores of Galway Bay.
For a limited time on Insight Vacations journeys, guests can
visit Galway with Insight Vacations’ amazing air offer:From
now until Dec. 18, travelers can save up to $300 per couple on economy
air on departures from Oct. 1, 2019 to May 31, 2020, and Sept. 1, 2020 to Nov.
By choosing flights with American Airlines, British Airways,
Finnair and Iberia, travelers can save $150 off per person on Economy,
$200 off per person on Premium Economy or $300 off per person on Business Class.
In addition to the these air offers, Insight
Vacations is also offering a 10% savings to Europe with their popular Early
Payment Discount for those who book and pay in full by December 18, 2019. This
discount is combinable with Insights’ air offers.
COUNTY WICKLOW, Ireland– With the European Union’s approval, Britain has received an extension to its exit (Brexit) until 31 January 2020. Rob Rankin, founder and owner Vagabond Small Group Tours of Ireland, is taking a wait-and-see-attitude concerning the UK Parliament’s vote to uphold or not the exit date that could change how the UK does business with Europe — and also on the Emerald Isle.
Maybe Brexit will be washed down the drain over a toast with its trading bloc partners since 1993. Maybe not. In the meantime Rankin’s team offers a list of ideas to visitors to Ireland who may want to know what the fuss is all about. In Dublin, the gateway city for Vagabond Small Group Tours of Ireland, historic attractions are two-a-penny. Guests are invited to discover for themselves the bullet holes on the General Post Office that betray its role at the heart of the 1916 Easter Rising. The National Museum is housed in a former barracks. Glasnevin Cemetery holds an array of independence heroes and an excellent museum.
Highly recommended in Belfast is an on-own Black Cab tour that offers a unique perspective on the capital of Northern Ireland. Guests listen to expert personal commentary on a guided tour through unionist and nationalist communities, learning about the late 20th century ‘The Troubles’ while viewing political murals and signing names to a peace wall.
Itineraries encompassing Derry include a guided walking tour around the historic walled city of Derry/Londonderry that showcases the Guild Hall and a siege cannon while shedding light on the nationalist neighborhood where the Northern Irish Civil Rights movement was born in the late 1960s, leading to a virtual 30-year war between Catholics and Protestants.
And other itineraries including Cork, also known as the Rebel County, share stories of the action here during the early 1920s War of Independence and ensuing Civil War. Michael Collins was ambushed and assassinated at Béal na Bláth. Picturesque Cobh was a center of resistance in 1916.
“It’s a no-brainer to say that this ours is a complicated history,” adds Rankin. Vagabond Tours of Ireland assists its guests in scratching the surface of the history of why there are two separate Irelands. This history goes back well into the 16th century when the island was like a piece of fabric being stretched between Gaelic-speaking Catholics and the English who spoke English and who were eventually predominantly Protestant.
“Today Brexit has become our own three-legged milking stool,” Rankin explains. The three legs are:
European Union (EU) – since 1993 a commerce-driven alliance of European nations, the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom.
United Kingdom (UK) – inclusive of Great Britain (Scotland,
Wales, England) and Northern Ireland (six counties that are culturally British
out of an overall 32 counties on the island). This bloc known as the UK has
voted to disengage from the EU because of a perception that the UK doesn’t
enjoy full sovereignty in the EU.
Republic of Ireland – represents 26 of 32 counties on the
Emerald Isle, is not part of the UK bloc and enjoys 80% to 90% support for
continuing its own EU membership. The Republic of Ireland fought and won
independence from the UK from 1916 to 1921. The six counties in the northern
part of Ireland demanded that their union with the UK and the British crown
remain intact, resulting in Northern Ireland. When the UK voted to remove
itself (Brexit) from the EU, the independent country Republic of Ireland
determined to remain within the EU.
Customs and tariff protocols between the Republic of Ireland
(EU) and Northern Ireland (UK) have been operational and peaceful for nearly
two decades. Residents and visitors to Ireland and the UK enjoy visa-free
travel to each other’s countries. All sides have agreed that this situation
will continue post-Brexit.
What is of concern, adds Rankin, is that without a so-called backstop built
into the negotiations, the now a ‘soft’ border between the Northern Ireland and
the Republic of Ireland could once again become a ‘hard’ border that in turn
could pick at century-old scars. The relationship between the Republic of
Ireland and Northern Ireland has steadily improved since the landmark peace
accord of 1998. What’s known as the Good Friday Agreement ended paramilitary
activity and customs infrastructure at north/south border crossing points. The
British army was removed from Northern Ireland.
No matter Brexit’s outcome – or not – Rankin and his team are high on 2020
bookings, already strong.
“We envisage no major disruption. The bright side is, we hope, more opportunity
to explain Irish history,” he says.
Vagabond Small Group Tours of Ireland offers two styles of culturally immersive
travel. Vagabond Adventure Tours (the
division hosting the Epic Irish Food Adventure Tour) are for active travelers
who want to mix up hiking, kayaking and biking and other outdoor adventures
with history, culture, dining and shopping. Driftwood Journeys of Discovery follow
similar itineraries but at an intimate and in-depth looking and lingering pace,
sans the physical exertion.
On all of its tours, Vagabond staff curate locally owned accommodations, pubs
and restaurants that help serve their goal of authenticity. In the end the
mission is to have guests “love Ireland as much as we do.” Transport is in a
custom Mercedes ‘Vagatron’ or special mini-buses which allow access beyond
where regular tour buses go.
For details on all of Vagabond Small Group Tours of Ireland itineraries,
availability and for 2019 reservations, visit https://vagabondtoursofireland.com/. Call toll
free (from the US) 1.833-230-0288; in Ireland 00353 (0) 1 5634358; or
Since 2002 Vagabond Adventure Tours has been creating opportunities for
visitors to embrace Ireland by walking, biking, horseback riding and kayaking
its lands and waters, imbibing history and culture along the way. In 2013 the
company was honored by National Geographic Traveler with a Top
50 Tour of a Lifetime distinction. In 2015 and 2017 Vagabond Small Group Tours
of Ireland was named the “Best Adventure Experience” at the Irish Tourism
Awards. In 2017, Vagabond became Ireland’s first tour operator to achieve
Ecotourism Gold Level Certification. In 2018, Vagabond Tours won The Green
Tourism & Entertainment category in Ireland’s most prestigious Green
(business) Awards. And in February 2019, the company won two top Irish Tourism
Industry Awards for the Best Ireland Ancient East Tourism Experience and Best
Environmental Tourism Innovation.
– Auschwitz. Not long
ago. Not far away. exhibition will remain on view at the NYC museum
through August 30, 2020, an eight-month extension from its originally scheduled
close date –
– Exhibition features more than 700 objects and 400 photographs on
display in North America for the first time, including a shofar that was
secretly blown at Auschwitz and a collection of 10 original artifacts from the
Anne Frank House –
New York, NY – Due to an overwhelming response, the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A
Living Memorial to the Holocaust today announced that Auschwitz. Not
long ago. Not far away., the most comprehensive Holocaust
exhibition about Auschwitz ever presented in North America, will be extended
until August 30, 2020. Produced by the international exhibition firm Musealia
and the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Poland, the groundbreaking
exhibition is the largest ever on Auschwitz with more than 700 original
objects and 400 photographs.
The extension responds to the record number of visitors the
exhibition drew to the Museum since opening in May. To date, more than 106,000
people from across the country and globe have come to the Museum to see the
exhibition, including more than 36,000 students to date and approximately
12,000 students scheduled to visit before the end of 2019.
“The number of adults and school visitors drawn to Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away. has been incredible. This exhibition greets its visitors with a clear warning to be vigilant – to not allow this history to repeat and to never presume that it won’t,” notes Bruce C. Ratner, Chairman of the Museum’s Board of Trustees. “In recent years and recent months even, we have seen a surge in antisemitic rhetoric, hate crimes, and a weaponized nationalism both here in the United States and abroad. We are extending this exhibition at our Museum because it offers clear, moral lessons that resonate powerfully today and from which visitors want to learn.”
“It has been a great honor to preside over the Museum as it presents this astounding exhibition and to witness it move so many of our visitors as deeply as it has moved me,” says Jack Kliger, the Museum’s President & CEO. “Most remarkable, this exhibition is dynamic. Already large in scope, it continues to acquire new artifacts over the course of its life, such as the shofar clandestinely used in Auschwitz that we unveiled last month ahead of Rosh Hashanah.”
“We have been profoundly overwhelmed by the phenomenal visitor response in New York – not only by the numbers themselves, but especially by the time visitors spend in the exhibition – on average two hours – and the care, attention and respect they show for this story. Deciding to visit this exhibition is a courageous step. It means confronting oneself with a traumatic, complex and challenging past. And more importantly, it helps us understand more critically our own present,” says Luis Ferreiro, Director of Musealia and the exhibition project.
“I don’t think that there is a more important exhibition presented in New York at the moment. This one about Auschwitz explores the essence of mankind, analyzes the limits of what is human, and asks important questions about our contemporary responsibility. I am glad people will be able to see it there longer,” says Dr. Piotr M. A. Cywiński, Director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far
away. traces the development of Nazi ideology
and tells the transformation of Auschwitz from an ordinary Polish town known as
Oświęcim to the largest German Nazi concentration camp and the most significant
site of the Holocaust —at which ca. 1 million Jews, and tens of thousands of
others, were murdered. Victims included Polish political prisoners, Sinti and
Roma, Soviet prisoners of war, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and those the Nazis deemed “homosexual,”
“disabled,” “criminal,” “inferior,” or adversarial in countless other ways. The exhibition tells not
only the story of their persecution and murder, but also the myriad ways
ordinary people responded to the unfolding genocide, including inspiring
stories of resistance, resilience, courage, and altruism. In addition, the
exhibition contains artifacts that depict the world of the perpetrators—SS men
who created and operated the largest of the German Nazi concentration and
With more than 700 objects and 400 photographs, mainly from the
Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, the New York presentation of the exhibition
allows visitors to experience artifacts from more than 20 international museums
and institutions on view for the first time in North America, including
hundreds of personal items—such as suitcases, eyeglasses, and shoes—that
belonged to survivors and victims of Auschwitz. Other artifacts include:
concrete posts that were part of the fence of the Auschwitz camp; part of an
original barrack for prisoners from the Auschwitz III-Monowitz camp; a desk and
other possessions of the first and the longest-serving Auschwitz commandant
Rudolf Höss; a gas mask used by the SS; Picasso’s Lithograph of
Prisoner; and an original German-made Model 2 freight train car of the type
used for the deportation of Jews to the ghettos and extermination camps in
The exhibition also features 10 artifacts on loan from the Anne
Frank House in Amsterdam, which include the spilled, dried beans Anne wrote
about in her diary and that were later discovered lodged between the cracks of
stairs in the home where she hid from the German Nazis. The beans have never
been displayed anywhere before. Most recently, the Museum announced the exhibition’s
incorporation of a shofar (a ram’s horn that is made into a special wind
instrument used during Jewish High Holiday services) that was hidden and
clandestinely blown in the Auschwitz. The shofar was newly added to the
exhibition on the cusp of the High Holy days and temporarily transported to two
New York City synagogues to be blown on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
The Museum of Jewish Heritage has incorporated into the exhibition
nearly 100 rare artifacts from its collection that relay the experience of
survivors and liberators who found refuge in the greater New York area. These
artifacts include: Alfred Kantor’s sketchbook and portfolio that contain over
150 original paintings and drawings from Theresienstadt, Auschwitz, and
Schwarzheide; the trumpet that musician Louis Bannet (acclaimed as “the Dutch
Louis Armstrong”) credits for saving his life while he was imprisoned in
Auschwitz; visas issued by Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese diplomat in Lithuania
often referred to as “Japan’s Oskar Schindler”; prisoner
registration forms and identification cards; personal correspondence; tickets
for passage on the St. Louis; and a rescued Torah scroll from the
Bornplatz Synagogue in Hamburg.
Also on display from the Museum of Jewish Heritage collection is
Heinrich Himmler’s SS helmet and his annotated copy of Hitler’s Mein Kampf, as well
as an anti-Jewish proclamation issued in 1551 by Ferdinand I that was given to
Hermann Göring by German security chief Reinhard Heydrich on the occasion of
Göring’s birthday. The proclamation required Jews to identify themselves with a
“yellow ring” on their clothes. Heydrich noted that, 400 years later, the Nazis
were completing Ferdinand’s work. These artifacts stand as evidence of a
chapter of history that must never be forgotten.
Alongside Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away.,
the Museum offers a series of talks, screenings, performances, and
commemorative events that further explore Jewish history and life before,
during, and after the Holocaust. The last week of October, artist and Holocaust
survivor William Bernheim will discuss his history and artistic response, and
author Marty Brounstein will present a program abouta Christian couple in the
Netherlands who saved the lives of over two dozen Jews. November programming includes
commemorative events for the 81stanniversary of Kristallnacht,
including “Stories Survive: An Eyewitness Account of Kristallnacht”
with Ruth Zimbler. In December, The Sorceress will
be performed by the resident National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene. To learn
more about these and other activities, visit the Museum’s Events page
Following the New York presentation, the exhibition is intended to
tour other cities around the world. Future destinations will be announced by
Musealia and the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
Curated by an international team of experts led by historian Dr.
Robert Jan van Pelt, Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away. first
opened in New York City on May 8, 2019 after its successful run at Madrid’s
Arte Canal Exhibition Centre, where it was extended two times, drew more than
600,000 visitors, and was one of the most visited exhibitions in Europe last
year. The exhibition explores the dual identity of the camp as a physical
location—the largest documented mass murder site in human history—and as a
symbol of the borderless manifestation of hatred and human barbarity.
Museum of Jewish Heritage Board Vice Chairman George Klein visited
the exhibition in Spain and recommended to his Board that they bring it to
Lower Manhattan.The exhibition features artifacts and
materials on loan from more than 20 institutions and private collections around
the world. In addition to the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum and the Museum of
Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, participating
institutions include Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, Anne Frank House in Amsterdam,
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, Auschwitz Jewish Center
in Oświęcim, the Memorial and Museum Sachsenhausen in Oranienburg, and the
Wiener Library for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide in London.
Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away. was conceived of by Musealia and the
Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum and curated by an international panel of
experts, including world-renowned scholars Dr. Robert Jan van Pelt, Dr. Michael
Berenbaum, and Paul Salmons, in an unprecedented collaboration with historians
and curators at the Research Center at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, led
by Dr. Piotr Setkiewicz.
“When we, the Musealia curatorial team set out to design the
Auschwitz exhibition, we realized that we faced a difficult problem. In
Auschwitz over a million people, mostly Jews, were murdered shortly after their
arrival or suffered and died in unimaginable circumstances. How does one create
an exhibition about such a dark chapter in human history that, in our
understanding, is not long ago and happened in a place not far away? How does
one make the public, that has so many opportunities to explore a great city like
New York, decide that it would want to see such an exhibition? Our tools were
straightforward: a narrative told through more than 700 original artifacts, 400
original images, 100 stories, made present by means of filmed testimonies and
quotes – all revealing individual experiences of a history we must learn from,”
says Dr. Robert Jan van Pelt, Chief Curator.
Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far
away. is presented in the symbolic,
hexagonally-shaped core building at the Museum of Jewish Heritage. This 18,000-square-foot
exhibition introduces artifacts and Holocaust survivor testimony through 20
Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far
away. at the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A
Living Memorial to the Holocaust is made possible with lead support by Bruce C.
Ratner, George and Adele Klein Family Foundation, Ingeborg and Ira Leon
Rennert, and Larry and Klara Silverstein & Family. The exhibition is
presented in part with major support by The David Berg Foundation, Patti
Askwith Kenner, The Oster Family Foundation, and The Bernard and Anne Spitzer
Charitable Trust. The New York premiere is made possible in part by Simon &
Stefany Bergson with additional support from The Knapp Family Foundation.
Entry is by timed ticket available at Auschwitz.nyc. Audio guide
(available in 8 languages) is included with admission.
$25 Flexible Entry—entry any time on a specific day
$12 Seniors and People with Disabilities
$10 Students and Veterans
$8 Museum Members
FREE for Holocaust survivors, active members of the military and
first responders, and students and teachers through grade 12 in schools located
in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut (with valid school-issued ID).
For group visits, contact the Museum at 646.437.4304 or firstname.lastname@example.org. See Auschwitz.nyc for more information.
HOURS AS OF NOVEMBER 1, 2019:
Sunday, Monday, Tuesday &
Thursday 10 AM to 6
AM to 9 PM
AM to 3
Last admission to Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away. is
2 hours before closing time. Last entrance to the rest of the Museum is 30
minutes prior to closing time.
Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust is New York’s contribution to the global responsibility to never
forget. The Museum is committed to the crucial mission of educating diverse
visitors about Jewish life before, during, and after the Holocaust. The third
largest Holocaust museum in the world and the second largest in North America,
the Museum of Jewish Heritage anchors the southernmost tip of Manhattan,
completing the cultural and educational landscape it shares with the Statue of
Liberty and Ellis Island.
Since 1997, the Museum of Jewish Heritage has welcomed more than
2.5 million visitors; it maintains a collection of more than 40,000 artifacts,
photographs, documentary films, and survivor testimonies and contains
classrooms, a 375-seat theater (Edmond J. Safra Hall), special exhibition
galleries, a resource center for educators, and a memorial art
installation, Garden of Stones, designed by internationally
acclaimed sculptor Andy Goldsworthy.
The Museum receives general operating support from the New York
City Department of Cultural Affairs and New York State Council on the
The Museum is closed on Saturdays, Jewish holidays, and
Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, 36 Battery Place, New York City, 646-437-4202, mjhnyc.org.
There are more than a hundred cruise itineraries that provide access to sacred places – worldwide sites of healing, guidance, and divine inspiration. The significance of these hallowed sites cannot be expressed in words or pictures – to understand their impact, the faithful must visit them in person, to experience healing, guidance or divine inspiration.
While many of the world’s most sacred sites have historically been inaccessible to all but the hardiest of travelers – those who were able to make arduous overland journeys – the travel experts at CruiseCompete say travelers will find that today’s cruise itineraries make many of these locations surprisingly easy to visit.
Consumers come to CruiseCompete to research and book cruise vacations. More than 1.5 million users have generated close to 4 million requests from consumers, and agents have delivered almost 17 million quotes since 2003. They can compare offers from trusted travel agents, see consumer reviews of agents and agencies responding, then contact travel agents directly for more information and to book cruises. CruiseCompete is a member of the Family Travel Association, a leading authority and resource for family travel information and is home to the Sea Tales 2018 Family Cruise Travel Planner at Travel Resources.
CruiseCompete CruiseTrends™ offers monthly stats for an inside look at consumer trends and what consumers want in cruise vacations.
CruiseCompete takes top honors in Travel + Leisure’s “Top 60 Best Apps and Websites for Travelers” with an honorable mention. The Wall Street Journal praised CruiseCompete as “Best Cruise Travel Site,” The New York Times says, “… independent travel agents compete to offer you the best deal,” and follows similar praise from Travel + Leisure, Kiplinger and The Washington Post. The Street says, “Score luxury cruises at bargain prices.”
Niagara Falls, NY – The much-anticipated Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center, an experiential museum that reveals authentic stories of Underground Railroad freedom seekers and abolitionists in Niagara Falls, has just opened, May 4. A project of the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Commission in cooperation with the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area, a program of the National Park Service, the Heritage Center inspires visitors to recognize modern injustices that stem from slavery and to take action toward an equitable society. It is located in the former 1863 U.S. Custom House attached to the new Niagara Falls Amtrak Station.
“As the first new cultural attraction in the City of Niagara Falls in over 35 years, opening the Underground Railroad Heritage Center is an incredibly significant event, both to the people of Niagara Falls, and throughout the world,” said Bill Bradberry, President and Chair, Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Commission
The Heritage Center’s permanent exhibition, One More River to Cross, features the rich stories of the Underground Railroad in Niagara Falls, the crucial role played by its location and geography, and the actions of its residents – particularly its African American residents. The Heritage Center’s immersive exhibits and cutting-edge interpretation affirmatively align with the principles of the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, whose mission is to connect the past to modern social justice issues – “to turn memory to action.”
Through painstaking research, the exhibition presents engaging digital media, graphics, scenic built environments and facilitated dialogic programming as part of the visitor experience. Scenic exhibit components include a recreation of the Cataract House – a premier international hotel that employed an entirely African American wait staff, who helped uncounted numbers of freedom seekers to freedom in Canada, just across the Niagara River. Also included is a recreation of the International Suspension Bridge, built in 1848, and rebuilt in 1855 to incorporate rail traffic, where Harriet Tubman and other freedom seekers crossed the imaginary line from slavery to freedom. Stories are brought to life with powerful images by award winning illustrator and fine artist E.B. Lewis and voice-overs by Emmy Award winning actor Keith David.
“From the very beginning, the objective for the Heritage Center was to create an immersive experience that brings to life the stories of ordinary individuals who fought for freedom,” said Ally Spongr, Director and Curator, Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center.
The new Heritage Center focuses on stories of courageous self-emancipation by freedom seekers. Throughout the exhibition visitors experience these stories and hear from individuals past and present with the hope that these stories and connections will allow for deeper engagement, consideration of new or different perspectives, and motivation to action.
“The Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center will not only shine a light on the significant role Niagara played at this critical time in our nation’s history but the stories of the brave men and women whose contributions to this movement we must never forget. I want to commend the Heritage Commission for their painstaking efforts to bring this educational and interactive experience to life for generations to come,” said Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster.
This project is led by the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Commission, chaired by Bill Bradberry, directed and curated by Ally Spongr, and based on research by lead historian Dr. Judith Wellman. The Heritage Center’s design-build teams include Studio Tectonic of Boulder, Colorado, Richard Lewis Media Group of Boston, Massachusetts, and Universal Services Associates, Inc., of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Commission, 825 Depot Avenue W., Niagara Falls, NY 14305, niagarafallsundergroundrailroad.org.
COUNTY WICKLOW, Ireland–Vagabond Small Group Tours of Ireland’s 12-day “Giant Irish Adventure” circumnavigates the island nation. Beginning in Dublin, guests poke around impregnable fortresses, ring forts, beehive huts, manor houses and castles. The common element to the sites is the stone – indestructible and a metaphor for the Irish spirit
Nature’s stone edifices also play a role in the Giant Irish Adventure that includes Ireland’s highest mountain range called the Macgillycuddy Reeks or black stacks of glacial-carved sandstone; the Cliffs of Moher of shale and limestone overlooking the Atlantic; and the Giant’s Causeway, a natural sculpture playground of basalt columns created by volcanic activities in the Atlantic Ocean a millennia ago.
This tour caters to active travelers who want time aplenty to explore where they are by foot. Hikes of up to two hours are daily highlights. Some activities such as horseback riding, sea kayaking and surfing and biking in Killarney National Park are optional. The tour is flexible and guests can arrange to opt out of one activity and into another.
Among the historic stone structures guests may visit Dunluce Castle is a cliff-edge ruin from the 13th century, with views over the Irish Sea to Scotland; Stone Ring Fort (1700 BC) constructed by Bronze Age farmers as defenses against cattle thieves with such precision that no mortar was required; Glenveigh Castle and Gardens. a Victorian (1867) edifice in what is now Glenveagh National Park; the original owner drove poor tenants from the land so he could transform it into an aristocrats’ hunting playground; Donegal Castle was built in the 15th century on the site of a one-time Viking fortress; Abbeyglen Castle Hotel where the mountains of Connemara meet the sea was constructed in 1832 (overnight here); Beehive huts (Clochán) date to 5th century monastic settlements (think Luke Skywalker’s retreat in Star Wars); Blarney Castle dates to medieval times; kissing the Blarney Stone is said to bestow the gift of eloquence; Rock of Cashel or St. Patrick’s Rock from the 12th century boasts a Romanesque chapel harboring ancient frescoes.
On the daily walks and hikes, guests explore: Slieve Gullion Mountain, the highest point in Ireland which harbors Neolithic passage tombs; Cliffside Trail including 132 steps to Giants Causeway; Slieve League, the highest sea cliffs in Europe; Croagh Patrick, the famous holy mountain where every step taken means a sin forgiven; Cliffs of Moher, 700-foot sea cliffs; Kilkee Cliff Walk overlooking the Atlantic; Glacial valley of Lough Annascaul.
Looking for a unique experience this Halloween? Head to Lithuania, where Day of the Dead is celebrated by the whole nation, and the country offers unique glimpses into the world of crypts, crosses and ancient cemeteries.
Take one of the special tours – visit old cemeteries of Vilnius, adrift in flowers and candles; take a tour of the underground crypts of Vilnius Cathedral; head to the old pagan Lithuanian capital, Kernave, and see pilkapiai – ancient cemeteries with no crosses; take excursions to the seaside and southern Lithuania, visit national parks and local cemeteries with UNESCO-recognized cross-making traditions; head to the extraordinary Hill of Crosses – a site of pilgrimage in northern Lithuania with over 200,000 of crosses of all shapes and sizes. The first crosses were put on the hill by the relatives of the dead rebels of 1831 revolt against the Russian tsar.
On the first day of November, Lithuanian offices, shops and schools close, roads become packed with cars, families reunite, and everyone heads to one special place – the cemetery.
Lithuanian cemeteries are already different from what you’d find in other countries – they rather resemble a botanical park, sinking in the sea of trees, adorned with flowers and beautiful tombstones. On November 1st, Lithuanians celebrate Vėlinės (vėlė means “soul” and ilgėtis means “to long”) – the Day of the Dead, which is not as joyful an occasion as El Dia de Los Muertos in Mexico, but rather the day of remembrance and reunion that bears deep traditions. Cemeteries become the place of family gatherings, where young and old arrange flowers and light candles. When the sun sets, the cemeteries become enchanting, alive and mysterious from the sea of flickering candlelights and the aroma of thousands of fresh flowers.
When golden trees and low-hanging sun create special autumn atmosphere, it’s a perfect time to visit Lithuania and to get enchanted by the scenery and traditions, to explore some off-the-beaten track activities, and to see some old Lithuanian customs put into action.
According to the old Lithuanian tradition, this is the time to remember the ancestors and to re-think one’s place in the world. When Lithuania finally accepted Christianity (last country to be “baptized” in Europe), pagan and Christian traditions blended into one over time, giving special significance and depth to the Lithuanian Day of the Dead.
The Old Cemeteries of Vilnius
The Old Vilnius Cemeteries belong in the list of European historical cemetery heritage.
There are three main cemeteries in Vilnius city center: the first one, Rasų Cemetery, was founded in 1796, and is the eternal home to famous Lithuanian poets, artists and politicians, such as the activist and folklorist Jonas Basanavicius, and composer and painter M.K. Ciurlionis. This was the first cemetery that was founded outside of the city, on a hill surrounded by old oak trees. The name of the place – Rasos – suggests this used to be an ancient pagan ceremony site.
The Bernardine Cemetery was established in 1810 by the Bernardine monks of the the Church of St. Francis of Assisi. As most cemeteries in the city center, it was closed by the Soviets and remained mostly unchanged from that time, with burials allowed only in existing family graves.
Antakalnis Cemetery is commonly referred to as the Military Cemetery. 12 of the 14 Soviet Union protest victims from 1991 TV tower attack are buried here, as well as the victims of Soviet Medininkai Massacre. Among other perished soldiers there are graves of Polish soldiers from 1919-20, Lithuanian, German and Russian soldiers who have fallen in World War I and thousands of French soldiers of Napoleon’s Army, whose remains were found in Vilnius and reburied in Antakalnis in 2001.
During Vėlinės, these old cemeteries are afloat with flowers and sinking in the sea of candles – people come to remember the dead heroes or prominent poets of the nation, but they also don’t forget the unknown graves of dead people whose relatives might not be around anymore to light a candle.
Lithuanian Cross-Making and the Hill of Crosses
If you feel like venturing outside of Vilnius, Southern Lithuanian region of Dzukija and Lithuanian seaside will offer a special glimpse into the culture of Lithuanian cemeteries, with their distinctive crosses and breathtaking nature that surrounds them.
The Lithuanian art of cross-making was recognized to be unique and added to the UNESCO World Heritage list. Since Lithuania was the last country of Europe to abandon paganism and convert to Catholicism in the 14th century, pagan and Catholic elements intertwine in Lithuanian crosses – which were forbidden by Tsarist Russia and the Soviet Union.
Lithuania’s Hill of Crosses, located in the northern Lithuania, is a unique and enchanting place, with over 200,000 of crosses of every shape and size, and attracting thousands of Catholic pilgrims as well as curious tourists. People started leaving crosses on the hill after the 1831 uprising against the Russian tsar – relatives put crosses to commemorate dead rebels, since they had no bodies to bury. During Soviet occupation, the KGB bulldozed the hill twice – but today, the Hill of Crosses stands tall again as the symbol of resistance and faith.
You can also find cemeteries in Lithuania that have no crosses – these are pre-Christian pilkapiai dating from 12-13th century – abandoned in the 14th century – but still reminding everyone of pagan Lithuania. The most prominent site of pilkapiai is in Kernave, whose first residents arrived in the 9th century BC, and which later became an important pagan city.
Similarly, you wouldn’t find any crosses in the ethnic Jewish cemeteries, or the cemeteries of Lithuanian Turkic minorities – Tatars and Karaites.
Lithuanian Cemetery Excursions by Vilnius in Love:
Royal Mausoleum. A visit to the crypts of Vilnius Cathedral
Uzupis neighborhood. The Bernardine Cemetery
The old Military Cemetery of Antakalnis
The pagan capital Kernaveand pilkapiai
The Hill of Crossesin Northern Lithuania
National Park of Dzukija
National Park of Curonian Spit
Trakai Castleand old Karaites cemetery
Vilnius in Love is a tour guide company that offers customizable and personalized tours across all regions of Lithuania. Hiring guides who are very well versed in local history, they are able to offer trips to unique destinations and rare attractions. Contact VilniusinLove.com to learn more.
NEW YORK – Pacific Delight, a luxury tour operator which introduced a Jewish heritage tour of India last year, is now introducing Southeast Asia Through Jewish Eyes™ covering Singapore, Thailand, Myanmar and Vietnam in partnership with Rabbi Marvin Tokayer and the Foundation for Remote Jewish Communities (FRJC). The tour departs on Jan. 3, 2018 and will be co-led by Rabbi Marcia Tilchin, founder of the non-profit Jewish Collaborative of Orange County, and Rabbi Rachel Safman of Congregation Beth El in New London, CT.
Highlights include dinner at Singapore’s historic Magen Aboth Synagogue and a night safari to observe Singapore’s nocturnal wildlife, a boat ride on Bangkok’s “River of Kings” to the Temple of Dawn and shimmering Grand Palace with lunch at “the backpacker’s shul,” a tour of the ancient UNESCO World Heritage Site at Ayutthya, a journey through Chiang Mai’s rainforests interspersed with rice paddies and waterfalls, Shabbat at the historic Musmeah Yeshua Synagogue in Myanmar, and a fascinating trip to observe the famous pagodas of Bagan. The experience culminates in Ho Chi Minh City where passengers will visit the local synagogue in addition to exploring Saigon’s past and present by boat, bus, cyclo and foot.
The tour cost is $6,988 per person, based on double occupancy, and includes roundtrip group economy airfare from New York (JFK) or Los Angeles (LAX) via Cathay Pacific Airways, with premium upgrades available at additional cost. All internal flights and transportation are included along with deluxe, air-conditioned four- and five-star accommodations, all meals (kosher or vegetarian) including memorable Shabbat dinners in Singapore and Yangon, and fascinating cultural events and sightseeing, including riverboat tours in Singapore, Bangkok and Saigon.
Transfers, all gratuities to guides, drivers and hotel staff, and all hotel taxes and service charges are included in the package cost. Airport taxes, fuel surcharges and visa fees for Myanmar and Vietnam are not included.
An early-bird discount of $180 per person applies to bookings received by Oct. 3, 2017.
The tour cost includes a $900 per person tax-deductible donation to FRJC, a 501(c)3 not-for-profit educational charity that is devoted to preserving and promoting the endangered Jewish communities on the periphery of the Diaspora. Since its inception in 2003, FRJC has distributed more than $1 million for Jewish libraries, scholarships and sustainable farming projects in the Far East, Southeast Asia and India. Learn more at www.frjc.org.
Rabbi-Cantor Marcia Tilchin is the founder of the Jewish Collaborative of Orange County (JCoOC), a non-profit organization dedicated to helping OC Jewish residents and their families “feel the joy of Jewish.” Marcia’s passion for all things Jewish and love of helping people find what is meaningful to them in Judaism is a signature of her spiritual leadership and service to the OC Jewish community.
Rabbi Rachel Safman of Temple Beth El in New London, CT is a second-career rabbi. She earned a BS in biology from Harvard and a PhD in sociology from Cornell, then served as an advisor to the government of Thailand before accepting a teaching position at National University of Singapore, where she became involved with Singapore’s Jewish community.
Pacific Delight Tours has been a leading American tour operator to China and Asia for 44 years and is a member of the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA). The luxury tour operator has won numerous industry awards including the TravelAge West WAVE Award from 2008-2015, the 2009 Travel Weekly Readers’ Choice Award, and the 2016 Travvy Award from travAlliancemedia for Best Vacation Packager-Pacific Asia.
Reservations, brochures and information can be obtained from travel agents and Pacific Delight Tours, telephone: (800) 221-7179 or (212) 818-1781; website: www.PacificDelightTours.com.
Only the most outstanding testimonies to the history of mankind are awarded the status of UNESCO World Heritage Site, and many of them are in Germany. Thousands of years of history have left behind a significant legacy, and it is the continuous goal of UNESCO to keep these valuable sites protected. Two places from very different eras are now coming into the spotlight of international recognition at the same time: the caves of the Ice Age in Baden-Württemberg, dating back 40,000 years, and architecture of the Bauhaus era, which began in 1919.
The UNESCO World Heritage Committee has named the caves of the Ice Age in the Swabian Jura in Baden-Württemberg to its list. More than 50 artifacts mostly made of bone and ivory, were discovered in six caves in the Ach- and Lonetal. These archaeological sites and prehistoric works of art from the Ice Age allow researchers to draw conclusions about the earliest traces of human settlement.
Visitors to Germany will experience the works of the Ice Age in various historical museums in Baden-Württemberg. The Prehistoric Museum Blaubeuren is a central museum for the Paleolithic period of the state of Baden-Württemberg. It displays, among other original finds, the “Venus vom Hohlenfels” and three flutes of the Ice Age. At various locations, visitors can not only marvel at the objects, but also try working with stone tools.
The museum of the University Tübingen displays a 40,000-year-old figure of a horse made of mammoth ivory, called “Vogelherdpferd“, and a cave named “Vogelherdhöhle“ is part of the archaeological park Niederstotzingen. Other artifacts from the era of hunters and gatherers are on display in the permanent Stone Age exhibition of the Landesmuseum Württemberg in Stuttgart.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites of the Bauhaus Era
The committee also decided to allow visitors to tour further Bauhaus buildings listed among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. In addition to the architectural sites already included in 1996, the Bundesschule of the General German Trade Union Confederation in Bernau, as well as five arcades in Dessau-Rosslau are now added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. The exterior of the Bauhaus Memorial Bundesschule Bernau, north of Berlin, is open to the public all year round. Visits of the interiors are possible through guided tours, organized by the Association baudenkmal bundesschule bernau e.V., and visitors can tour the Dessau-Törten settlement.
Petra Hedorfer, chairman of the board of the GNTB, said, “Germany is already the number one cultural destination of Europeans today. With our theme campaign “UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Germany – Sustainable Culture and Nature Tourism,” in 2014 we have communicated responsible tourism to these particular cultural heritage sites worldwide. The inclusion of further unique testimonies of the cultural history of humanity on the UNESCO World Heritage list will give Destination Germany new impulses. As part of the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus in 2019, we are preparing a further theme campaign.”
Detailed information on UNESCO World Heritage sites in Germany is available online at www.germany.travel.