Jewish History on the Islands of Madeira and Azores

Synagogue Interior, Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel Island, Azores

Dear friends, readers, and followers,

Please register for Irene’s new virtual Portuguese Jewish History lecture hosted on December 20 by the New City New York Library. This lecture is FREE, but registration is required to receive a link to attend.

The Hidden History of Jewish People on the Islands of Madeira and Azores and the Unsolved Mystery of a Sefer Torah

Day/Date: Tuesday, December 20th 

Time: 7:00 PM EST

Marina on Madeira island
Marina on Madeira island

Follow Irene Shaland in her exploration of two Portuguese autonomous regions in the Atlantic: Madeira and Azores. With their mild climate, dramatic waterfalls, and mountains, both archipelagos are popular tourist destinations with over five million visitors arriving annually. Few of the tourists though know that the two islands of Madeira and the nine islands of Azores have a hidden Jewish history, and the archipelagos tightly guard their secrets. The Jewish presence on the islands, still under the radar of most historians, spans the entire length of recorded history beginning with their discovery by the Portuguese in the 14th and 15th centuries. It is even thought that the explorer who discovered Madeira, Joao Zarco, was of Crypto-Jewish ancestry.

       Learn about the unsolved mystery of the ancient Sephardic Torah with an Ashkenazi cover. First given by a local man to an American Jewish officer serving on the US Army base on Terceira Island of the Azores, the Torah reappeared 40 years later on Sao Miguel Island inside a sea cave. Follow Irene on a virtual visit to the synagogues and Jewish cemeteries in Madeira and Azores and delve deeper into the archipelagos’ hidden Jewish history.

To register for Dec. 20 FREE ZOOM event, please follow the link to the library website:

https://newcity.librarycalendar.com/event/hidden-history-jewish-people-islands-madeira-and-azores-and-unsolved-mystery-sefer-torah

If you have any questions please contact Program Manager Veronica Reynolds at

vreynolds@newcitylibrary.org

Phone Number: (845) 634-4997 ext. 139

Learn more about Irene Shaland

Check out Irene’s books at Amazon

Storytelling with Photos

Alex Shaland and lemur

The Cleveland Photo Fest Presents:
A free in-person presentation “Storytelling with Photos”

Presented by: Alex Shaland

Date and Time:  December 16, 2022 at 7:00 PM

Location:  Bostwick Design Art Initiative Building, 2731 Prospect Rd, Cleveland, OH 44115 (Parking at East Side of Building)

Alex Shaland is a travel photographer and the author of two adventure books: “Suburbanites on Safari” and “Jackie the Penguin Goes on Safari.” In this entertaining presentation he will explain how his life-long passions for travel photography and creative writing merged into his published books.

Alex and his wife Irene explored more than 80 countries around the world. This presentation features many images he took during their travels. The emphasis is on photography used in their books. Three of Irene’s five books are richly illustrated with Alex’s photographs. In two of his own books, his creative writing and images help Alex to tell an entertaining and engaging story.

Irene’s and Alex’s books will be on display. Founders of the GTA Books publishing company, Irene and Alex will be delighted to share their experience with anybody interested in writing and publishing a book of their own.

Alex Shaland and his children's book

About Alex Shaland

Alex Shaland started his writing career in the 1990s, contributing articles and book chapters for several Penton Publishing periodicals and other publications. In addition to his own writing, he collaborated as an editor and photographer with his wife, Irene Shaland, in producing four books and articles published in numerous magazines in the U.S., Canada, U.K., and East Africa.

Alex’s photographs have appeared in over 20 print publications and online sources including Holiday Magazine (France/U.K.), The Boston Forward, Tikkun, ZEEK, Diarna Digital Heritage Mapping, Hackwriters(U.K.), IMAGE Magazine, ROMAR Travel, Design World Magazine and other journals printed in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Korea, and Kenya. Alex had several solo travel photography shows and participated in group exhibitions in New York, New Jersey, Michigan, and Ohio.

Following his first adventure book for adults “Suburbanites on Safari,” Alex’s children’s book “Jackie the Penguin Goes on Safari” was published in May of 2022.

Learn more about Alex Shaland and Alex Shaland Books: “Jackie the Penguin Goes on Safari” and “Suburbanites on Safari.”

Image of Alex and lemur courtesy of Anatoly Zaydes.

Africa Through the Eyes of a Jewish Explorer

Lion, Star of David, Masai people

Face-to-Face with Africa Through the Eyes of a Jewish Explorer

Virtual Lecture: Irene Shaland

Sunday, November 13th, 2022       7:00 PM EST  Via Zoom

Hosted by Temple Emmanuel of Wakefield, MA

For more information and to register for this lecture, please email the Sisterhood President Susan Hochberg: shochberg.sh@gmail.com

Encounter Africa – a never-ending journey of mystery and discovery!

Join Irene Shaland, a Jewish historian, book author, and educator, as she leads us on a unique journey to Africa seen through the eyes of a Jewish explorer. As a writer focused on the past and present of Jewish communities around the world, Irene shares personal Jewish stories she discovered in Africa.

Nairobi Hebrew Congregation Synagogue, Kenya
Nairobi Hebrew Congregation Synagogue, Kenya
Sanctuary, Nairobi Synagogue, Kenya
Inside the sanctuary, Nairobi Synagogue, Kenya

The mysterious continent of Africa remains one of the most enchanting and fascinating destinations for both Irene and her husband Alex, a travel writer and photographer.

Masai warrior dance
Masai warrior dance

Through Alex’s photographs and Irene’s story-telling, you will journey to South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Tanzania, and Zanzibar. You will meet Africa’s Big Five (five African animals most dangerous for a hunter on foot), visit the Nairobi Synagogue and its energetic community, go to a Masai Tribe village to learn Masai Old Testament-like legends, the Great Rift Valley (where life on Earth began) and follow the Great Migration in Kenya and Tanzania.

For more information and to register for this lecture, please email the Sisterhood President Susan Hochberg: shochberg.sh@gmail.com

Find out more About the Presenter

Find all Shalands’ books on Amazon:

Link to Irene Shaland’s Books. 

Link to Alex Shaland’s Books. 

Announcing New Jewish Portugal Lectures

Kadoorie Mekor Haim Synagogue in Porto, Portugal

Discover Jewish Portugal: SAVE THE DATES FOR IRENE’S PORTUGUESE SERIES LECTURES

Dear friends, readers, and followers,

Many of you asked us when you would finally learn about our exploration of Portugal. Well, the wait is (almost) over!

Please save the dates in your busy calendars for Irene’s Portuguese Jewish History Series lectures, hosted by our great supporter, the New City New York Library.

Part I 
Day/Date: Tuesday, November 8th
Time: 7:00 PM EST
Title:  Rediscovering Portuguese Secrets: How the Jews of Iberia Changed the Course of World History

Travel with the author and historian Irene Shaland to Portugal and discover the most fascinating Jewish history, which is largely unknownThe Jews are believed to have been present in the Iberian Peninsula since Biblical times. The Sephardic or Spanish-Portuguese Jewish heritage in Portugal has greatly influenced the country’s development throughout the ages: from the Roman and Visigoth times to the brilliant Age of Discovery; through the dark centuries of Inquisition and persecution, when the Jewish faith and traditions survived in secret, to World War II, when the country became a safe haven for thousands of European refugees; and to today’s small but blossoming Jewish community.

Discover remarkable stories of courage, resilience, and survival: the enduring legacy of the Sephardic Jews. Embark on the search for legends and evidence of Jewish history in Portugal within a broader history of the world. Follow the Shalands from Lisbon and Belem to Mafra and Evora, from Sagres and Tomar to Coimbra and Guarda, from Castelo de Vide to Belmonte and tiny mountain villages, and even crossing the border to Tui in Galicia, Spain.  

To register for Part I of the Series, please click the link below:

Link to register for Part I


Part II
Day/Date: Tuesday, December 20th 
Time: 7:00 PM ES
Title:  The Hidden History of Jewish People on the Islands of Madeira and Azores and the Unsolved Mystery of a Sefer Torah

     Follow Irene Shaland in her exploration of two Portuguese autonomous regions in the Atlantic: Madeira and Azores. With their mild climate, dramatic waterfalls, and mountains, both archipelagos are popular tourist destinations with over five million visitors arriving annually. Few of the tourists though know that the two islands of Madeira and the nine islands of Azores have a hidden Jewish history, and the archipelagos tightly guard their secrets. The Jewish presence on the islands, still under the radar of most historians, spans the entire length of recorded history beginning with their discovery by the Portuguese in the 14th and 15th centuries. It is even thought that the explorer who discovered Madeira, Joao Zarco, was of Crypto-Jewish ancestry.

Learn about the unsolved mystery of the ancient Sephardic Torah with an Ashkenazi cover. First given by a local man to an American Jewish officer serving on the US Army base on Terceira Island of the Azores, the Torah reappeared 40 years later on Sao Miguel Island inside a sea cave. Follow Irene on a virtual visit to the synagogues and Jewish cemeteries in Madeira and Azores and delve deeper into the archipelagos’ hidden Jewish history.

To register for Part II, please follow the link: Link to Register for Part II

If you have any questions, please contact Program Manager Veronica Reynolds at

vreynolds@newcitylibrary.org

Phone Number: (845) 634-4997 ext. 139

medieval mountain village Monsaraz, Alentejo, Portugal
On the streets of medieval mountain village Monsaraz, Alentejo, Portugal.
Former Synagogue Building in Funghal, Madeira.
Former Synagogue building in Funghal, Madeira.
Marina on Madeira Island
Madeira Island Marina.
Synagogue Interior, Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel Island, Azores
Synagogue Interior, Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel Island, Azores.

Learn more about Irene Shaland and her books.

Read more blog posts by Irene and Alex.

Inn on Britannia – A Terrific Place to Stay in Stratford, Ontario! 

We have been going to Stratford Theater Festival, our beloved place of theatrical pilgrimage, for almost thirty years, missing only two seasons due to the pandemic.  For theater lovers, Stratford offers arguably the best English-language theater outside London, UK. We also admired one more treasure, unique to Stratford, Canada. Stratford, with its forward-thinking and innovative approach to theater, stays ageless otherwise, seemingly frozen in time: the river, the swans, the boats, the streets, the gardens, and the houses, all look the same as years before. And we try to believe that we too have not changed, that time has no power over us all. Even with a new, brilliantly designed, Tom Patterson theater, Stratford seems to be that magical place where nothing and nobody ever gets old.

As we discovered, Stratford was also able to unveil for us, old-timers, wonderful newcomers to its “stage.” Just a few weeks before our mid-August arrival at the Festival, we unexpectedly found ourselves desperately seeking a place to stay in a town where everything – from restaurants to B&Bs – gets booked up solid for the summer. And then, when we almost resigned to try our luck 20 or more miles outside of Stratford, we found the Inn on Britannia.

This brand new establishment opened in June 2022 and is not yet broadly advertised. It remains largely unknown to Stratford visitors. The owners, Vern and Catherine, he – a retired communication towers business owner and she – a registered full-time midwife, have always been in love with the town itself and its crowds of theater-worshipers. This passion was the reason that Vern and Catherine had decided some time ago to acquire a 1908 house and turn it into an elegant B&B. They restored the outside of this old century house to the original look it used to have 114 years ago. Inside, you will find a beautiful interior, period furniture, and a stunning staircase. Each of the three double rooms and a suite with their oak trims and heated floors testify to the owners’ elegant taste and carry what Catherine called “a touch of magnificence.” The large bathrooms are equipped with state-of-the-art showers, towel warmers, expensive toiletries, and plush bath robes.

Hall
Hall: all three double bedrooms and a suite open up into this hall.
Bedroom
Bedroom.
Spacious bathroom
Spacious bathroom .
Bathroom interior.
Bathroom interior.

The professionally equipped kitchen is also state-of-the-art with a built-in coffee and tea maker producing anything from chi latte to elaborate cappuccino to double expresso. The kitchen is Vern’s kingdom, where this successful communications industry business owner transformed himself into an amazing gourmet cook.  Breakfasts are turned into an edible art exhibit: homemade yogurt and whipped cream parfait with fresh fruit or glazed fresh figs with raspberry coils as appetizers followed by either most tasteful scones or omelet quiche or asparagus crepes. And these are just a few examples.

Kitchen, Inn on Britannia
Kitchen.
Caramelized fresh figs with raspberry coils and cream
Caramelized fresh figs with raspberry coils and cream.

When we returned to our room either for a quick change after the matinee or late at night after an evening show, the beds were prepared, and gluten-free fruit and chocolate muffins and pitchers with reverse osmosis mint water were waiting for us.

If the B&Bs were rated like hotels, the Inn on Britannia would rightfully get its five-star rating.

We will be definitely returning to the Inn on Britannia next year!

Click here to find out more about Inn on Britannia

Read more blog posts by Irene Shaland

Irene and Alex Shaland Present Their Books at Author Alley

Irene Shaland and Books

Irene Shaland and Alex Shaland will present their books at the Loganberry Books Author Alley annual event on Saturday, August 20th, 2022 between 12:00 noon and 4:00 PM.

Event Location: 13015 Larchmere Boulevard, Shaker Hts., Ohio

Here is the Event Page on the Loganberry Books website: Click here to view the event info.

Irene Shaland presents her latest book “Shaland’s Jewish Travel Guide to Malta and Corsica: A Trusted Travel Companion for the Jewish History Explorer” and her previous book “The Dao of Being Jewish and Other Stories: Tales of Jewish Diaspora, Persecution, the Holocaust and Rebirth in Europe, Africa and Asia

Alex Shaland presents his latest book “Jackie the Penguin Goes on Safari: A Story of One Little Penguin Who Wanted to Meet the Wild Animals of Africa” and his previous book “Suburbanites on Safari: Chasing Lions and Giraffes in South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Alex Shaland and his children's book

Learn more about Irene Shaland and Alex Shaland

Author Alley is an annual event organized by the Loganberry Books bookstore. This even showcases books written by the local authors. 

Why We Went to Portugal

Tomar Castle, Tomar, Portugal

Dear friends and followers,

Many of you know that we just spent 6 weeks crisscrossing Portugal and jumping to Madeira and Azores archipelagos. We explored in depth cultural and historical centers like Lisbon, Evora, Coimbra, Belmonte, and Porto, which also served as our bases for trips to towns like Guimarães and Guarda and a dozen or so enchanting small mountain villages saturated with rich history and Jewish stories. We met with many wonderful people on this trip who opened the doors to special museum and archival collections helping us to reach our objectives. And, just as importantly, we made new friends. So, why did we go to Portugal for so long?

Yes, you guessed it right: we were on the hunt for materials and photos for our next book “Shaland’s Jewish Travel Guide to Portugal.” This will be the second book in our Jewish Travel Guide series, following the “Shaland’s Jewish Travel Guide to Malta and Corsica” published last year and available at Amazon in the paperback and eBook formats: https://amzn.to/3nfjH9s

Shaare Tikvah Synagogue, Lisbon, Portugal

The writing and photo editing phase of the projects will start soon after our return from the Tiger Safari in India at the end of May. Stay tuned for updates!

Irene & Alex

Undiscovered Jewish Malta 

Malta

Save the date for our upcoming free virtual lecture on March 6th, 2022: The Tayar Foundation for Jewish Heritage in Malta presents:

 “Undiscovered Jewish Malta – Through the Eyes of a Historian, Travel Author and Lecturer Irene Shaland.”

Day/Date: Sunday March 6th 2022

Time: 2:00 PM EST US/19:00 Portugal/20:00 Malta and Italy/21:00 Israel

The event is free, but registration is required. Here is the link to register for this free presentation:

https://us06web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZcrcuiopjktGt0WrOeueofw-ApLZbpn9LFb

Join Irene Shaland, internationally-published art and travel writer, educator, and lecturer for a deeper look into Malta’s Jewish history and present-day society. This presentation will highlight Malta’s spellbinding Jewish narrative still under-the-radar for most historians and travelers: from Israelites sailing there with Phoenicians three thousand years ago, to the first Jewish traveler, the Biblical Paul, arriving in Malta in the first century CE, through the dark times of Jewish slavery during the Knights of St. John’s rule in the 16th century, to today’s blossoming Jewish community.

Much of what will be shared has been captured in Irene’s latest book “Shaland’s Jewish Travel Guide to Malta and Corsica” available in paperback and eBook editions on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3nfjH9s

 

About The Tayar Foundation for Jewish Heritage: https://jewishheritagemalta.org/

The Tayar Foundation was established to safeguard Malta’s precious Jewish History. The Foundation aims
– To bring awareness to the general public, locally and internationally, of the Jewish communities that lived in the archipelago.
– To promote the study of Jewish communities in Malta since Roman times.
– To hold events highlighting Jewish History and Culture for the benefit of the Maltese community.
– To restore the Kalkara and Ta’ Braxia cemeteries on behalf of the Jewish Community of Malta.

Mandel JCC Cleveland Jewish Book Festival 2022

Book cover of Shaland's Jewish Travel Guide to Malta and Corsica

During the Cleveland Jewish Book Festival,  Irene Shaland will introduce her latest book  “Shaland’s Jewish Travel Guide to Malta and Corsica.”

Date/time of event: Sunday February 6th 2022, 11:00 AM EST

Event Host: Mandel JCC Cleveland

JCC Website: 

https://clevelandjewishbookfestival.eventive.org/schedule/local-author-day-61ae481e9fed72004ce7db95

Location of event:   Free Virtual Event. Please click the link below to join the event:

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82067065720

Or One tap mobile :     US: +16465588656,,82067065720#  or +13017158592,,82067065720#

Introducing Irene Shaland’s Book:

Book Review by Corinne J. Brown, author and HaLapid Editor. Reprinted with permission from the Society for Crypto-Judaic Studies and the HaLapid magazine

“Shaland’s Jewish Travel Guide to Malta and Corsica: A Trusted Travel Companion for the Jewish History Explorer”

by  Irene Shaland

Link to book: https://amzn.to/3uJRTeQ

Irene Shaland never ceases to amaze with her commitment to Jewish history and travel and her expertise in writing about it. Her latest release is a handbook for discovery and adventure: a reason in and of itself to book a flight to the islands of Corsica and Malta. Drawn to the roads-less-traveled, Irene and her husband Alex, her official photographer, do all the necessary homework, from researching ancient history to the latest advice on where to go and what to see that matters.

            This easy-to carry book is loaded with 186 photos and 12 maps. It takes you back in time to a period 3000 years ago when the Israelites first came to Malta. Fun facts to remember about Corsica include the earthshaking proclamation that, in 1763, Corsica was the first country to proclaim equality for its Jews.

            As always, Irene’s’ command of the English language and easy writing style compels the reader to enjoy these travel books whether you make the trip or not. Just one more part of the amazing story of the global Jewish Diaspora, the history of these two far-off places in the Mediterranean helps close the gap between who we are today and where the Jewish people have been.  This reader can hardly wait to see where she takes us next.

Link to book: https://amzn.to/3uJRTeQ

Day of Learning Yom Limmud 2022

Bonifacio, Corsica
Malta
Malta

Please register for our upcoming free virtual lecture
February 20, 2022:

“Acts of Loving Kindness During the Holocaust: Unknown Stories from Corsica and Malta.”

Hosted by the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston TX.

Annual Day of Learning Yom Limmud 2022.

Date of event: Sunday, February 20th,  2022

Time: 12:15 PM CST (Houston) /  1:15 PM  EST (New York)

Please register in advance: 

https://us06web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZwpcumtrzsvEtCPHeT7g7O57ZMhQ2GwaVuL

The Jewish story of Corsica is not well known, and many are surprised to hear that the island has any to reveal. However, in 1763, Corsica was the first modern country to proclaim social and political equality for the Jews: 27 years ahead of the US and 28 years ahead of France. The history of the Jews in Corsica goes back at least a millennium.  Reconstructing that history in its entirety what firmly comes across, is the welcoming Corsican heart, always open to those who seek refuge from cruelty and injustice. In addition, the island’s Jewish narrative reveals an irony of Omerta (mafia’s code of silence) that led many Corsicans to risk their lives in saving thousands of Jews fleeing the Nazi-occupied mainland France to escape deportation and death.

The Maltese Jewish narrative manifests a spellbinding trajectory still under-the-radar for most historians: from Israelites sailing there with Phoenicians three thousand years ago, to the first Jewish traveler, the Biblical Paul, arriving in Malta in the first century CE, through the dark times of Jewish slavery during the Knights of St. John’s rule in the 16th century, to today’s blossoming Jewish community. The tiny archipelago of Malta was the only country in the world during WWII that did not require entry visas, therefore saving the lives of untold thousands of European refugees.

The lecture concludes with the Lessons Learned from the “acts of loving kindness” and Jewish stories in Malta, Corsica, and Q&A.

Please register in advance: 

https://us06web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZwpcumtrzsvEtCPHeT7g7O57ZMhQ2GwaVuL