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. 

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

Acts of Loving Kindness During the Holocaust

Great Harbor of Malta

Save the date for our upcoming virtual lecture on January 30, 2022: “Acts of Loving Kindness During the Holocaust: Unknown Stories from Corsica and Malta.”

Date: January 30th, 2022 
Time: 2:00 PM EST US/20:00 Italy/21:00 Israel

Hosted by the Italian Jewish Cultural Center of Calabria and Synagogue Ner Tamid del Sud, Serrastretta, Italy

Presented by Irene Shaland

This virtual lecture is free and open to the public. No registration is required. To attend, click on the zoom link a few minutes before the starting time: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83848871371

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.

Review of Jewish Guide to Malta and Corsica

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

By Barbara Miller, the author of “If I Survive: Nazi Germany and the Jews.”

This book is a masterpiece in bringing to light the unknown history and rich cultural treasures of Malta and Corsica which are situated in the beautiful Mediterranean Sea but off the beaten track for most tourists. Author Irene Shaland’s experience as an art and travel writer, educator, and theatre reviewer brings a richness and depth not normally found in travel guides. Her husband, Alex, an internationally-acclaimed photographer has contributed a huge number of amazing photos that bring the story to life.

And this is much more than a travel guide. It also opens the door on the Jewish story of Malta and Corsica. As Jewish migrants from Russia to the USA, they bring unique insights to this travel guide. 

Many gems of information for the curious are revealed like the first alphabet, the temples built well before the pyramids of Egypt, and much more but you need to read it to find out. You will be surprised at how pivotal these two small islands were in the history of Europe and the Middle East. When you pick this book up, you’ll not be able to put it down. Even if you don’t plan to travel there, you’ll be carried along as Irene’s skills as a detective and researcher draw you into this amazing story. 

If your Amazon account is in the US (www.amazon.com), please follow one of the links below to take a look at the paperback or eBook edition of Irene’s book:

Paperback edition: https://amzn.to/3nfjH9s

eBook (Kindle) edition:  https://amzn.to/3uJRTeQ

If you live outside of the US and your Amazon account is based in your country, please go to your Amazon account and type “Shaland’s Jewish Travel Guide to Malta and Corsica” in the search box.

Learn more about Irene Shaland.

travel literature, travel nonfiction, travel stories books, ultimate travel list, travel the world book, guide book, guide book europe, guide book of, jewish authors, jewish places, jewish sites, best sellers wwii jewish biography, jewish women authors.

Dani Rotstein Talks about Jewish Majorca

Logo of Jewish Majorca company

The following text and images were provided by Dani Rotstein, Founder & Owner of a unique cultural tourism company called Jewish Majorca.

“Let me tell you about an exciting educational resource that is innovative and useful for Jewish communities around the globe!

Jewish Majorca is a cultural tourism company that provides educational tours of the island exploring the deep-rooted Jewish history. They’ve pivoted to offer virtual tours and experiences for people of all ages! This video best describes what they do and how they do it. 

Its founder, Dani Rotstein, is originally from New Jersey but fell in love with Spain when he spent his junior year of college studying in Madrid. Upon moving to Mallorca, he learned of the taboo history of the island’s descendants of Jewish Conversos – named “Chuetas.” He has since made it his life’s mission to educate about the topic and bring other diverse Jewish stories from around the world into the homes of interested Jewish community enthusiasts.

Below is an outline of some of the programs they offer:

Live Zoom Walking tours  where Dani actually walks through the streets of Palma with you as if he were giving you an in-person tour of the city and supplemented with some beautiful pre-recorded content of previous tours. It’s a truly unique experience. The live experience is available during daylight in Spain. If you should need a later time, he can also do a version of the tour from his home office. Dani is a fantastically enticing guide and the content is enthralling. These tours are generally broken into four parts. They can be booked as a complete package or in any combination. 

You can find all the many different virtual programs on their website. 

https://www.jewishmajorca.com/live-zoom-tours/

Feel free to contact Dani as well as Mariano Valdes, who’s managing the program booking. If this is something you’d be interested in for your congregants or community members, feel free to work with them directly! 
Thank you! 
Team Jewish Majorca”

Disclaimer: Global Travel Authors and its members are not affiliated with Jewish Majorca and have no financial interest in sharing the above information. We believe that Jewish Majorca could be a valuable resource for in-person and virtual travelers interested in Jewish history. GTA Team.

Visiting Chautauqua Institution

Bestor Plaza Fountain

Located by the beautiful Chautauqua Lake, Chautauqua Institution has been on our radar for decades. This 150-year old cultural organization in southwestern New York State is only a little over two hours from our home in Cleveland Ohio. However, for many years we have not managed to find a weekend for a visit. Finally, this year, when the international travel world became too stressful to navigate due to ever-changing Covid-related restrictions, we turned to domestic destinations. Attracted by the Chautauqua Institution’s superb performing arts and educational programming, we bought tickets for the last four concerts of the season.

Irene Shaland in Chautauqua Institution
Walking the red brick road inside the Chautauqua Institution.

Chautauqua Institution was envisioned by its founders Lewis Miller, a harvesting combine inventor, and Methodist Bishop John Vincent, as an educational and religious model of a promised land or a spiritual retreat for the faithful. It was initially called the Chautauqua Lake Sunday School Assembly. Today, with its resident symphony, opera, and drama theater, the Institution continues to strive toward achieving its initial goal of being a cultural, educational, and spiritual enclave. Inside the Institution, one can find a house of worship for not only every Christian denomination but also several other religions. We came across the Chabad House, and on Friday late afternoon, attended the most delightful Kabbalat Shabbat service of the Hebrew Congregation of Chautauqua, a reformed congregation formed there over thirty years ago.

Smith Wilkes Hall
Smith Wilkes Hall. The Hebrew Congregation of Chautauqua meets here in rainy weather.
Clock Tower on Lake Chautauqua
View of the Lake Chautauqua and the Intuition’s renowned Clock Tower. When the weather is good, the Hebrew Congregation celebrates Shabbat services here, right by the Lake. These services attract hundreds of people, both Jewish and non-Jewish alike.  

While in Chautauqua, one of our favorite pastimes was to meet people and talk to them. I am sure there were plenty of first-timers like us. But it just happened that everyone we met and talked to came to Chautauqua Institution almost every year. These were people who have been coming to Chautauqua during summer seasons for two or even three generations. They were staying there for no less than a week and attended lectures, numerous performing-arts offerings, and various classes (from writing poetry to sailing). Laughing, one young man told us that he did not remember a summer without Chautauqua: his mother was there when she was pregnant with him! We had an impression that most people knew each other and delighted in their world of culture and fellowship of minds.

One of our most favorite places to visit before our concerts was the historic Athenaeum Hotel with its wrap-around verandas and soaring columns. Called the “Grand Dame of the Chautauqua Institution,” the Athenaeum has been operating continuously since it was opened in 1881. This iconic structure was envisioned and financed by the Institution’s two initial founders. One of them, the inventor, Lewis Miller, was Thomas Edison’s father-in-law. Edison did some of the hotel’s early electric wiring and had his regular table at the restaurant, still called “the Edison’s Table.” I read that Edison used a nearby window right by his table to escape the autograph-seeking crowd!

Athenaeum Hotel
The historic Athenaeum Hotel, called the “Grand Dame of the Chautauqua Institution,” has been operating continuously since it was opened in 1881.

We delighted in every minute we spent in this timeless world, where every outsider can become an insider…if he or she paid $25 per person per day to get the gate pass!  And yes, with very few exceptions, no cars are allowed inside. The large parking lot is outside the Institution and costs only $10 per day. Shuttle buses are omnipresent and going continuously throughout the day taking people to various parts of the Institution and outside the main gate to the parking lot.

Chautauqua Institution amphitheater
Chautauqua Institution amphitheater

We enjoyed every concert we attended, but our favorites were the first and the last: Brazilian Jazz and legendary Smokey Robinson. Most programs take place in the 5,000 seat amphitheater, so getting the tickets was not a challenge. However, finding a reasonably priced accommodation conveniently located inside the Institution—was. The majority of establishments require a week-long commitment, and most get filled long before the new season is announced and gate passes go on sale.

I was almost desperate: I had our tickets, daily gate passes, and pre-paid parking, but no place to stay! And then, purely by chance, we discovered the Great Tree Inn. Read about that wonderful B&B in our next article.

The Colonnade of Chautauqua Institution
The Colonnade of Chautauqua Institution houses art galleries, boutiques, and cafes.
Moses and the Ten Commandments
Moses and the Ten Commandments as another spiritual symbol for the Institution. 

Learn more about travel writer Irene Shaland.

Check out Irene Shaland’s latest book “Shaland’s Jewish Travel Guide to Malta and Corsica.”

Crazy Travel Photography and Story-Telling

Irene Shaland and Alex Shaland in Africa

Come to a Free In-Person Presentation “Crazy Travel Photography and Story-Telling”

Date and Time: June 24, 2021 at 7-8 PM EST

Presenters: Irene and Alex Shaland

Organized by: Cleveland Photo Fest

Where: 2731 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44115, in the Bostwick Design Art Initiative Building

About the presentation:

Meet Irene and Alex Shaland, world travelers, book authors, travel writers, and camera swingers.  Alex swings the camera, Irene simply looks glamorous. Hear their stories of globe-trotting adventures-on-steroids researching, photographing, and writing about the countries and places they visit, people they meet, and nature and wildlife they deeply care about.

Why was this program titled “Crazy Travel Photography and Story-Telling”? As an example, who else but crazy Shalands would have crisscrossed the entire Indian subcontinent in 12 days pushing the shutter button and scribbling notes as fast as they could. After returning home, they produced two magazine articles, a chapter for Irene’s book, and several lectures. And they have been performing this stunt (research-travel-meet people and become friends-photograph and take notes-write, publish, present–repeat) for over 30 years. Almost 80 countries and counting.

Knowing Shalands’ “mode of operation” event sponsors asked Irene and Alex to share some unusual or “crazy” moments and images from some of their trips. This program will take you from the jaw-dropping architectural marvels of Singapore to insanely-creative street art of Melbourne, Australia; from African safaris in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya, and Tanzania to the pyramids of Egypt; and from the streets and fields of Nepal to national parks in the USA.

About the presenters:

Irene Shaland’s art and travel articles, accompanied by Alex’s photographs, have appeared in over 20 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, and other journals printed in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Korea, and Kenya. Irene’s third book “The Dao of Being Jewish and Other Stories” narrates little-known tales of Jewish communities in 10 countries over two millennia.

Suburbanites on Safari” is Alex’s first work devoted exclusively to Africa and African wildlife that, in addition to being informative and entertaining, aspires to support the effort to preserve and protect the animals with whom we humans share this planet.

Learn more about Alex Shaland.

Learn more about Irene Shaland.

Irene Shaland’s Cuba article published by Mosaic magazine

Irene Shaland’s Cuba article  The Island within an Island: The Cuban Jewish Story of Survival was published on August 22nd by the Sephardi Ideas Monthly, a magazine of the American Sephardic Federation and Center for Jewish History Research of New York. On August 23rd, the essay was also published by the Mosaic, a magazine dedicated to advancing philosophical discussions related to Jewish history and Judaism. See the excerpts below:

http://bit.ly/2wKtbzx

Read more Jewish history stories in Irene Shaland’s latest book:

http://amzn.to/1PM8I1x

Celebrating a Milestone Anniversary inside the Enchanted Fig Tree of Australia

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

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.

Continue reading “Celebrating a Milestone Anniversary inside the Enchanted Fig Tree of Australia”