Book Event at Appletree Books

flyer for book event at Appletree Books store

Book Event Date and Time:  Thursday March 30th 7:00 PM

Book Event Location: Appletree Books 12419 Cedar at Fairmount Cleveland Hts. OH 44106 216.791.2665

Limited seating. Advance registrations strongly suggested. Call 216.791.2665 to register.

An internationally-published Cleveland-based writer, Irene Shaland introduces her latest, recently-released book The Dao of Being Jewish. She shares her “Stories Behind the Stories” inviting you to embark on a fascinating journey, both familiar and unknown. While traveling from Europe to Asia and Africa, from Vienna to Delhi and Nairobi, you are immersed into a collective Jewish narrative from all parts of the globe. Whether you hear Irene’s Polish family Holocaust narrative or discover two-millennium old tales of little-known Jewish communities of India and China, who never knew religious persecution – these stories are us, our way of preserving our heritage, identity, memory, and history. Because we are the stories we tell to ourselves, to others, and to the world.

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Lecture: Jewish Renaissance in Sicily and Sardinia

The infamous 1492 Edict of Expulsion of the Jews forced close to 500,000 people into exile from Sicily. Many had to leave their home country where they lived for centuries, but still many, with nowhere to go, were pressured into conversion and into what became their “internal immigration.”

Travel with Irene Shaland to the islands of Sicily and Sardinia that present a fascinating chapter in both, the history of immigration and the history of Jewish Diaspora. Discover a world of little-known Jewish narrative: centuries marked by fear and secrets, decades filled with the search for one’s identity, and courage to defy conventions by reinventing oneself. These are the stories of B’nei Anousim, or “children of the forced ones” from the South of Italy. The elimination of institutional Judaism by the Edict and the Inquisition did not mean the end of Judaism itself. The destruction of synagogues and the burning of “Judaizes” five centuries ago forced the Jews of Sicily and Sardinia to “immigrate internally”: take their traditions into the cellars of their homes where the memories and stories were kept alive, even when descendants forgot their exact meaning. And now, the number of those with a “call of blood,” who think they have Jewish ancestry and want to learn more about it, or even embrace their newly-discovered heritage, is on the rise throughout these islands. Let the story of the Anousim lead you into the world of hope: the cultural and spiritual reawakening-and-return.

Irene will also introduce her latest book The Dao of being Jewish and Other Stories: Seeking Jewish Narrative all Over the World. Book signing follows the presentation.

Limited seating. Advance registrations strongly suggested. Call 216.368.2242 to register.

Download Lecture Flyer: CWRU_CHF_Sicily_March_28_2017

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New Ad for The Dao of Being Jewish Book

New ad of the book

Our new ad for Irene Shaland’s book “The Dao of Being Jewish and Other Stories”

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Free Photography Exhibit at Appletree Books

Internationally-published photographer Alex Shaland has a life-long passion for travel. Together with his wife, travel writer Irene Shaland, they have explored close to 70 countries. His photographs have appeared in more than twenty magazines published in the USA, Canada, UK, France, Kenya, and South Korea. This wildlife photography exhibit takes you to South Africa, Kenya, and Tanzania.

Through his photographs, Alex shares his excitement and love for our beautiful world.

Apple Tree Books
12419 Cedar at Fairmount
Cleveland Hts. OH 44106,     216.791.2665

See more photos in Alex’s photo gallery: Photo Gallery

See full schedule of our lectures and photography exhibits: Schedule

Read our travel blogs: blogs

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The “Jewish Question” in Vienna (excerpt from The Dao of Being Jewish and Other Stories)

monument-vienna

Don’t look for the Steinedererinnerung in your guidebook: the murdered Jews of Austria have neither a Rick Steves nor a Frommer. And Vienna, basking in its Baroque and Art Nouveau splendor, would rather have you waltzing from Schonbrunn palace to Sachertorte’s shops instead of searching out the synagogues and homes of long-gone Jews. An Austrian sarcastic proverb, as noted by Magrit Reiter in her conference presentation “Antisemitism in Austria after the Shoa,” declares that Germans were the “better Nazis,” while Austrians were definitely the “better anti-Semites.”

The Holocaust victims’ destiny was, for the most part, determined by three key factors: the degree of control the Nazis had in the region, the history of Jews there, and the actions of the locals. The latter is where the Viennese truly excelled. Austrian inventiveness and viciousness quickly turned the city of Mahler and Freud into the city of “Hitler’s willing executioners,” using the title of the famous book written by Daniel Goldhagen. In this controversial study, Goldhagen argued that virulent “eliminationist antisemitism” was the cornerstone of German national identity. Austrians, in their zeal to eliminate their Jewish countrymen, managed to surprise even the Germans.
Vienna was by no means the only European city where the “final solution” had been successfully carried out. However, the delight the Viennese took in humiliating, torturing, and killing their Jewish neighbors was truly extraordinary. In that 1938 photograph I mentioned, the people in the laughing crowd taking such a delight in humiliating a Jew, were the very ones (or their parents) who elected the rabidly anti-Semitic Karl Lueger as a mayor of Vienna five times between 1897 and 1910. Hitler adored Lueger and considered the Viennese mayor to be a major influence on shaping his views on race.

According to the Austrian Jewish Community statistics, in 1938, 206,000 persons of Jewish decent had been living in the Austrian capital; one out of ten Viennese residents was Jewish. Less than 2,000 survived the camps. Practically no one returned. The flourishing Jewish community of Austria was all but obliterated during World War II. At first, Austrian Jews were lucky: unlike Germany, Austria had exit avenues open for a while and almost two thirds of the country’s Jews left. Those who stayed died wretched deaths at places like Theresienstadt and Auschwitz. One Vienna resident, Sigmund Freud, went to London with his family; his two elderly sisters stayed and perished.
After the war, Austria’s official position was that the country had been the very first victim of the Nazis’ aggression. Austria had no Nuremberg-like trials for crimes against humanity, and this fictional claim went unchallenged for many decades.

Continue reading “The Dao of Being Jewish and Other Stories” currently available on Amazon:

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Lecture Erika Bourguignon at Artists Archives

lecture about Erica BourguignonThe Artists Archives of the Western Reserve is proud to announce its program: The Woman Behind the Artist- The Many Lives of Erika Bourguignon a presentation by Irene Shaland.

Wednesday, August 17 at 6:30 PM

Address:  Artists Archives of the Western Reserve, 1834 East 123rd St., Cleveland, Ohio 44106
Internationally-published art and travel writer Irene Shaland invites you to voyage with her through time to uncover the different lives of an extraordinary woman, Erika Bourguignon, the life-long companion of the talented visual artist Paul-Henri Bourguignon. The journey will take us first to Vienna at the beginning of the 20th century where Erika Eichhorn was born to a prosperous Jewish family. In the Vienna of Erika’s childhood, music and arts were paramount and Viennese Jews played a crucial role in creating and supporting modernism. This was also the world of escalating anti-Semitism from which Erika’s family was lucky to escape to America in 1938 right after the Anschluss.
In the second part of the presentation, we will travel back in history to realms inhabited by ghosts and phantoms, where intense spirituality and shamanistic dance created altered states of consciousness. These worlds were the scientific focus of Erika Bourguignon, a US-educated cultural anthropologist, famous for her studies of “possession of trance” and its role in pre-historic and modern cultures. When considered in conjunction with his work, Erika’s various lives offer a unique perspective on her artist-husband as well as the famed intellectual atmosphere within their family.
Irene Shaland’s books, including “The Dao of Being Jewish and Other Stories” published in January 2016, will be available for sale before and after the program and the author is willing to sign purchased work following the presentation.
 
The Woman Behind the Artist is FREE and open to the public, however, please register: click here to register
 
The address is:
Artists Archives of the Western Reserve
1834 East 123rd St.
Cleveland, Ohio 44106
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Lecture: Many Lives of Erika Bourguignon

Artists Archives of the Western Reserve presents:

The Woman Behind the Artist-
The Many Lives of Erika Bourguignon

Lecture presented by internationally published art and travel writer IRENE SHALAND
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 17TH 6:30-8:00 PM
     An internationally-published art and travel writer, Irene Shaland invites you to travel through time and space to uncover the different lives of an extraordinary woman Erika Bourguignon, a life-long companion of the  talented visual artist Paul-Henry Bourguignon.

The journey will take us first to Vienna of the beginning of the 20
th century where Erika Eichhorn was born to a prosperous Jewish family. 
In the second part of the presentation, we will travel back in history to the worlds inhabited by spirits, the scientific focus of Erika Bourguignon, a US-educated cultural anthropologist, famous for her studies of “possession of trance” and its role in pre-historic and modern cultures.
Erica’s various lives provide a different point of view in understanding her artist-husband, Paul-Henri, and the intellectual atmosphere within their family.

Copyright © 2016 Artists Archives of the Western Reserve. All rights reserved.

Address:

Artists Archives of the Western Reserve
1834 East 123rd St.
Cleveland, Ohio 44106

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Irene Shaland’s Book Available at Barnes and Noble

Barnes and Noble online store displays Irene Shaland's book The Dao of Being Jewish and Other Stories

Irene Shaland’s latest book “The Dao of Being Jewish and Other Stories” is now available at Barnes & Noble.

Go to Barnes & Noble online Store.

In “The Dao of Being Jewish and Other Stories” Irene Shaland presents a collective Jewish narrative from various parts of the globe. She takes the reader on a fascinating journey, both familiar and unknown, from Europe to Asia and Africa, from Vienna to Delhi and Nairobi. The fate of the brilliant Jewish community of Vienna annihilated during the Holocaust shines a disturbing light on the stories of the current rise of Antisemitism in Scandinavia and throughout Europe.

Two-millennium old tales of little-known Jewish communities of India and China, who never knew religious persecution, reveal happy chapters in the history of Jewish Diaspora filled with so many tragic events. And striking stories of the uplifting revival of Judaism in Sicily and Sardinia after 500 years of the expulsion of the Jews from these islands give us hope for a more harmonious future. Based on the author’s interviews during her travels to ten countries and three continents, this book is Irene Shaland’s passionate quest to preserve the Jewish heritage, identity, memory, and history.

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Celebrating a Milestone Anniversary inside the Enchanted Fig Tree of Australia

Fig Tree Restaurant

Enchanted Fig Tree Restaurant: One of the most unusual and one of the very best restaurants we ever dined in.

Alex and I have traveled to nearly 70 countries. We celebrated our birthdays and anniversaries in places like a street corner café on Easter Island, tiny seafood restaurant in Cochi, Kerala,  a second century BC villa –turned Renaissance palace-turned art studio in Rome; opera singers’ favorite tavern in Palermo near the famed Teatro Massimo, just to name a few. But we had the most unique experience this year on March 5th, when our new friend Steve Lane, Kangaroo Island’s Sea Dragon Lodge owner and our exceptional guide, took us to the remote Snellings Beach on the north coast. As a present on our milestone wedding anniversary, Steve invited us for a luncheon inside a… tree.

The brain-child of two extraordinary chefs Rachel Hannaford and Sasha Sachs, this pop-up restaurant is called (how else?) “The Enchanted Fig Tree” and is indeed located inside a 150-year-old fig tree on the Hannaford family’s property. Between the mighty tree roots and under its enormous canopy, there are five distinctive large spaces, called “rooms” by the owners. The lucky ones to get reservations, about 30-to- 40 people, sit in these “rooms” by elegantly set tables adorned with white table clothes and candles. Each table is placed in a nook of a sort that looks and feels like a private party room among the leaves and boughs of that tree. Thanks to our friend, on March 5th we were the ones “chosen by the tree” in a room for three people. Outside the tree, the enchanted world inside is not visible: all is covered by a great canopy. We felt we entered the Shakespearean Arden forest.

Our meal was a tasting menu based on the best of island produce. It happened to be nothing short of a marvelous symphony composed of taste sensations, textures, shapes, and colors.  The appetizers –   Carpaccio of local fish with homemade totopos and liver parfait with agrodolce and paper thin sourdough wafers, also homemade – were out of this world. As an entrée, understood in Australia as a first course or a starter, I chose Mexican-inspired pozole made of white chicken broth with lime, avocado, chili and corn, which was excellent. Alex had wild mushroom galette:  Sasha Sachs’s secret recipe puff pastry with local mushrooms on a watercress salad with parsnip puree. It seemed to evaporate from his plate, even before I wanted to ask for a taste. Instead of the main dish, we were treated to a real banquet, a Greek themed variations of taste. Local lamb with sofrito dolma was followed by a fresh grilled local fish with marjoram and vegetables. All was accompanied by Sasha’s wonderful taramasalata and quinoa salad with Kangaroo Island’s sheep cheese, pureed with roasted fennel. The knock-out crescendo of this concerto was a divine desert: raw sugar meringue with figs from the tree inside of which we were eating!

After the meal, we met the owners, Rachel and Sasha, to express our feelings of owe and admiration. When I told them that they are amazing food artists, these talented chefs, two extraordinarily women, seemed surprised. They just do what they love to do: creating an unforgettable experience and thus enriching lives of everyone they host in their magic forest.

Useful links:

  1. The Enchanted Fig Tree Restaurant: http://hannafordandsachs.com.au/enchanted-fig-tree/
  2. The story behind the enchanted tree: http://hannafordandsachs.com.au/our-story/
  3. Pre-requisite: stay in the Sea Dragon Lodge! http://www.seadragonlodge.com.au/
Fig Tree restaurant entrance

Entering this fairy-tale place is like getting inside the Shakespearean magic forest

Steve Lane, Irene Shaland, and Alex Shaland at Fig Tree Restaurant

Thanks to Steve, we had one of the most memorable celebrations!

Irene and Alex Shaland at Fig Tree Restaurant, Kangaroo Island, Australia

Irene and Alex Shaland celebrate their anniversary inside the 150-year-old fig tree

Author Irene Shaland and fig tree restaurant owners

Irene with two extraordinary chefs, restaurant owners, Rachel Hannaford and Sasha Sachs

Home-made appetizers served inside the Fig Tree

Appetizers from the Fig Tree: Carpaccio of local fish with homemade totopos and liver parfait and with agrodolce and paper thin sourdough wafers

Appetizer taramasalata

Sasha Sachs’s taramasalata pureed with roasted fennel

Divine dessert of raw sugar meringue with figs

The knock-out crescendo of this food concerto: a divine dessert made of the raw sugar meringue with figs from the tree inside of which we were eating!

Fig Tree Restaurant owner Sasha Sachs serves salad

Sasha Sachs is serving her quinoa salad with Kangaroo Island’s sheep cheese

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Where to Stay on Kangaroo Island, Australia: the Sea Dragon Lodge is an Excellent Choice

Koala looking at visitors

Usually koalas sleep over 20 hours a day but this one was very alert and quite curious

Since childhood, I always wanted to live among the animals of Australia – even if for a few days only. And this was how the Kangaroo Island, a small dot in the Indian Ocean, materialized first in my imagination, and then – in our itinerary for the Spring 2016 trip. Overlooked by most popular guidebooks, this third largest Australian island (after Tasmania and Melville) remains the largest secret of that country for many globe trotters. There are precious few corners left in our 21st century urbanized world where Australian animals could be observed in the wild, and Kangaroo Island is exactly that place.

Just like the island itself, its best accommodation (at least in our opinion!) is not mentioned in either the Lonely Planet or Rough Guide, the very books usually consulted by travelers to Australia.  This picturesque luxury establishment with its main lodge and free-standing 5-star villas faces a secluded private beach and seems as ubiquitous to the island landscape as Australian bush. Situated on a 250 acre seafront estate and surrounded by woods, the Sea Dragon Lodge constitutes a true refuge from the modern world – for people and the wild animals alike.

I do not remember how I found the Sea Dragon. Was that just surfing the internet? I believe not in coincidences but rather in that web of connections that brings people together. And before I knew it, the lodge owner Steve Lane and I were corresponding, and I felt I found an understanding friend. I am sure that this is how Steve, as a lodge owner and a guide, operates: treating all his customers with acute sensitivity to their needs and wants. But both my husband photographer Alex and I felt we were the “ones and only” dear, long-awaited friends of Steve who finally arrived to see his island.

Calling the Kangaroo Island “the only guilt-free place in Australia,” Steve introduced us to its history. The British Government commissioned Capitan Matthew Flinders to explore this part of Australia in 1800. He found no humans there but an abundance of – well – kangaroos.  The Aboriginal people avoided this island because they believed that it was inhabited by evil spirits.  Modern archeological evidence suggests that the Aboriginals left the island at least two thousand years prior to Capitan Flinders’s arrival.  After World War I, the Australian Government offered the island’s land to returning soldiers either as a reward for their service to the Crown or to get deeply traumatized veterans out of big cities. Today, most of the island’s land is a national park or reserve established to protect its unique wildlife and sublime natural beauty.  The climate there is very pleasant and mild, of a Mediterranean kind, and could as well be a setting for a Shakespearean play. So it was only natural for us to see Steve becoming our Prospero who instead of creating the Tempest for his old enemies, unveiled for new friends the magic of his island, one treasure at a time. We were treated to two full-day safaris with Steve as our driver and a naturalist guide. Our island discovery trip culminated in a night walking tour of the bush led by Steve’s friends, the Chesters, a renowned photographer and a contributor to the Royal National Geographic, and his wife, a biologist and a National Park ranger.

The island is very diverse landscape-wise and is indeed rather large. It takes almost three hours just to drive east to west, from Cape Willoughby to Flinders Chase National Park, and over an hour – north to south – from Stokes Bay to Vivone Bay. Guided by Steve, we slowly took it all: rolling hills and secluded bays of the North Coast; the rugged, almost surreal landscape of the South Coast; iconic Remarkable Rocks on the western end; the picturesque seaside village of Penneshaw on the Dudley Peninsula; and of course – the animals. The Kangaroo Island was spared by the damage done to the mainland by the species introduced by the European settlers, such as foxes or rabbits. As a result, it preserved its unique environment. Some animals either evolved into distinctly different-looking creatures like long-haired kangaroos, and some, almost extinct on the mainland, like Tammar wallabies, flourished.

We could not drag ourselves away from Steve’s “secret” place, just around the corner from his estate, where Australian sea lions and New Zealand seals sun-bathe on the shore surrounded by their babies. In the morning we were greeted by giant long-haired kangaroos and curious wallabies. Late evening we had the cutest brush-tail possum honoring us with his regular visits to our deck.  One afternoon we encountered two echidnas crossing the road: each one stopped to either pose for Alex or pretending it was a stone. Koalas slept up high on eucalyptus trees, but one was considerate enough to demonstrate us her amazing front and hind paws: she stretched them one at a time in a slow tai-chi-type motion. We were among the animals of Australia, true indigenous custodians of this island.

For us, the Sea Dragon Lodge became the center of this unique world.  Steve, an excellent guide, was a wonderful host as well. He presented us with a bottle of champagne on our milestone anniversary and organized a once-in-a-life-time experience to celebrate our special day: a luncheon inside an…ancient fig tree! (See my next review/blog).

A great majority of US visitors concentrate their exploration of Australia on Sydney and Melbourne, supplementing their experiences by visiting either the Ayers Rock or the Great Barrier Reef. While these iconic places are certainly the “musts,” no true understanding of this country could be complete without a trip to the Kangaroo Island. And, of course, without encountering the host-guide-friend par excellence: Steve Lane and his terrific Sea Dragon Lodge!

Useful links:

1.       The best place to stay and discover the island: Sea Dragon Lodge: http://www.seadragonlodge.com.au/

2.       To get to the island, fly to Adelaide and then take either Regional Express Air: http://www.rex.com.au/ or

3.       SeaLink Ferry: https://www.sealink.com.au/kangaroo-island-ferry/

View on Sea Dragon Lodge, Kangaroo Island, Australia

Rustic-looking five star Sea Dragon Lodge seems to be blending with the bush around it

Terrace in the back of Sea Dragon Lodge

When you are on a Lodge’s terrace, you feel light years away from the 21st century urbanized world

Lodge guest practices yoga on the terrace

With spectacular views all around, terrace seems perfect for morning Yoga practice

Wester Grey Kangaroo resting

The Island’s kangaroos evolved to look different from their mainland cousins: they are bigger and actually brownish-reddish

Small kangaroo came close as if to talk

Long-haired kangaroo seems to be talking to us, the intruders

Small red-necked Wallaby hiding in the bush

Red-necked wallaby earns its name from the rusty-reddish fur on the back of its neck and shoulders

A pair of red-necked pademelons in the shade

Red-necked pademelons seldom ventures outside the forest

Australian kangaroo half asleep

Female kangaroos are usually gray

This huge granite boulder with smaller rocks on top is called Remarkable Rocks

Peculiar clusters of granite boulders on the south-west shore of the island look like they came from one of Dali’s paintings

Closer view of Remarkable Rocks

One of the most popular island’s landmarks , Remarkable Rocks seemed to be a nature’s art gallery of stone abstract sculptures

Visitor standing next to huge rocks

Irene tries to mold herself into Remarkable Rocks formation

Australian Goanna

Called goannas, these lizards have patterned with spots skin arranged in bands. Unlike other lizards, they cannot drop their tails.

The head of huge Emu bird, Australia

The emu is the second-largest living bird by height. It is endemic to Australia where it is the largest native bird.

Sunny day at the black rock beach, Australia

Secluded beaches of the island are truly spectacular

Admiral Arch, Kangaroo Island, Australia

Admiral Arch is one of the most unusual landmarks of this diverse island

Irene Shaland stands on the beach at Kangaroo Island

Exploring the island marine life

Australian fur seal

Australian fur seals like to sun themselves on the stony beach

Australian fur seal pup

A curious seal pup is watching us very intently

Two sea lions and fur seal

Sea lions and fur seal resting near Admiral Arch

Sea lions swim near shore

Watching fur seals swimming was one of our favorite pastimes on the island

Australian koala holding on to a branch of eucalyptus tree

Koalas are adorable

Sleeping koala

When sleeping koalas often turn themselves into a furry ball

Koala sleeps on a branch

This sleepy koala decided to show off her front and hind paws in a super slow Tai Chi-like motions

Australian Echidna

This echidna was leisurely crossing the road and paid no attention to us

Fig Tree Restaurant

Enchanted Fig Tree Restaurant: One of the most unusual and one of the very best restaurants we ever dined in.

Fig Tree restaurant entrance

Entering this fairy-tale place is like getting inside the Shakespearean magic forest

Irene and Alex Shaland at Fig Tree Restaurant, Kangaroo Island, Australia

Irene and Alex Shaland celebrate their anniversary inside the 150-year-old fig tree

Steve Lane, Irene Shaland, and Alex Shaland at Fig Tree Restaurant

Thanks to Steve, we had one of the most memorable celebrations!

 

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