EXPLORE THE MOSAIC OF SINGAPORE

EXPLORE THE MOSAIC OF SINGAPORE

WITH IRENE SHALAND

Free In-Person Event in Cleveland, Ohio

Text by: Irene Shaland and Artists Archives of the Western Reserve

Saturday, June 1st, 1:00 – 2:30 pm: The Mosaic of Singapore with Irene Shaland

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

Register for this FREE IN-PERSON event:  Link to Registration

Travel with Irene Shaland to one of the most amazing destinations in Asia for history and art aficionados: a small city-state of Singapore. Bustling, cosmopolitan, artsy, trendy, modern, clean, and orderly, Singapore plays an important part on the world’s financial and political stage. Ethnically and religiously diverse, this city-state is a true microcosm of tolerance and inclusiveness, unique in our world today.

Discover the fascinating story of the uniquely Singaporean world: composed of a mosaic of cultures: Chinese, Malaysian, Indian, Armenian, Persian, Jewish, Arabic, and European – this is a world like no other.  A country of immigrants, Singapore is called a nation of cultures. Unnoticed by many visitors, the streets of Singapore can double as a museum of modern and contemporary art, while the city skyline displays cutting-edge architecture.

This event is free of charge and will be held at the AAWR gallery. Immediately following the program, a small sampling of authentic food from Singapore, courtesy of Dang Good Foods will be served. 

Register for this FREE IN-PERSON event:  Link to Registration

Marina Bay Sands
Gardens by the Bay and Supertrees
Singapore National Gallery

Madeira and Azores – Virtual Lecture

May 19, 2024
12:00 Noon EST via Zoom

opening slide of Portuguese lecture

Please “come” virtually to Irene Shaland’s lecture devoted to Jewish history in Portugal. This time, we will be exploring the enchanting islands of Madeira and Azores that belong to Portugal.

This lecture is hosted by the Society for Crypto Judaic Studies. The event is OPEN to the public. To receive the link to the event, you need to register. Please find the link to register: 

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER ON SCJS WEBSITE

About this Zoom event:

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

Date: May 19, 2024

Time: 12:00 Noon EST

Description:

Join the renowned author and historian, 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.

However, few tourists 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.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER ON SCJS WEBSITE

To learn more about Irene Shaland’s new book “Shaland’s Lisbon: An Illustrated Guide to Jewish History and Sites in and around Lisbon” click here: https://amzn.to/4awMblb

 

Learn more about the presenter Irene Shaland.

Free Virtual Lecture February 27, 2024: Madeira and Azores

Opening slide of Azores and Madeira lecture by Irene Shaland

Dear friends, readers, and followers,

Please “come” virtually to Irene Shaland’s 2nd lecture devoted to Jewish history in Portugal. This time, we will be exploring the enchanting islands of Madeira and Azores that belong to Portugal.

This event is FREE and OPEN to the public. To receive the link to the event, you need to register. I recommend registering as soon as possible; it only takes a couple of minutes. Please click the link to register: Link to Registration

About this Zoom event:

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

Date: February 27, 2024

Time: 11:00 AM EST

Description:

Join the BZD and renowned author and historian, 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.

However, few tourists 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.

To learn more about the organization and to register, go to the BZD website: https://bzdisrael.org/ or call: 410-484-4510

To learn more about Irene Shaland’s new book “Shaland’s Lisbon: An Illustrated Guide to Jewish History and Sites in and around Lisbon” click here: https://amzn.to/4awMblb

Read more about the presenter, Irene Shaland

Shaland’s Lisbon is N 1 on Amazon

We are happy to share great news: Irene Shaland’s new book “Shaland’s Lisbon: An Illustrated Guide to Jewish History and Sites In and Around Lisbon” is N1 New Release at Amazon.

What is this book about?

“Drawing on extensive academic research and personal experiences during an extended stay in Portugal, Irene Shaland paints a vivid picture of the Sephardic Jewish experience in Iberia from Antiquity through modern times.” –GTA Books.  Take a minute to check this book out:

LINK to Paperback edition

Link to eBook edition

Visiting Adeje, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain

In this post we wanted to share a few images of a lovely town of Adeje where we stayed during our recent trip to the island of Tenerife, Spain.

Irene Shaland and Alex Shaland at Madrid airport

On the road again. After flying from Cleveland to Atlanta and then to Madrid, we were waiting for our flight to the Canary Islands. Also known as the Canaries, this archipelago consists of eight larger islands and a few smaller ones. As our base, we chose the island of Tenerife, the largest and the favorite of many visitors. And why were we going there? To celebrate Alex’s BIG birthday!  He was going to be 70 years young.

Hotel Iberostar Selection (adults only) Sabila in Adeje

Our hotel Iberostar Selection (adults only) Sabila in Adeje was a luxury resort. Adeje is full of top-tier hotels, most are trying to look like the Taj Mahal or a Buddhist Temple or whatever. We chose this tasteful, understated one, famous for its art hall, culinary arts, high level of comfort, and services. And we were very happy both with the Art Deco facade and with what we were surrounded with inside.

Irene Shaland inCosta Adeje

Here we are on the main boulevard in Costa Adeje, Tenerife, near our hotel.

Irene Shaland and Alex Shaland in Adeje
Irene Shaland in the ocean

Costa Adeje, Tenerife, the Canaries. Welcoming and heart (and body) warming ocean. Black sand beach. Volcanic peaks with hats made of clouds. What is there not to love?

Sunset over the ocean

Spectacular sunsets over the ocean.

Irene Saland and Alex Shaland in front of restaurant La Salitre

This is how we celebrated Alex’s anniversary at a  lovely and very popular seafood restaurant La Salitre.

I wanted to mention two dishes, known well to most of us and probably frequently cooked at home: gazpacho and paella. Both were done very differently from what we were used to, however, in a blend of the Andalusian and Canarien styles. Gazpacho was yellow: from yellow tomatoes and peppers; paella came with every seafood group cooked in a different sauce. All food was superb!

Irene Shaland eating soup
Irene Shaland eating paella

Read more about Irene and Alex Shaland

A Great Resource for Lovers of European Jewish History

website JGuide Europe

While working on our upcoming trip to France, I came across a wonderful resource that would be very helpful for any history buff.

The website is called “The Cultural Guide to Jewish Europe.” It was created in the 1990s by a group of historians and journalists with the goal of “leading the curious traveler to discover an unknown Europe.”  The site is very easy to use: just click on the link  

 

and then choose your country!

Happy discovering!

Irene

Learn more about Irene Shaland.

Things to Do in Santa Barbara California

Santa Barbara, California

“Whenever you are in Santa Barbara and whoever you are with, you will be thinking one thing over and over again: Life is good!”

I do not recall who said or wrote the phrase above or how I came across it, but it stuck in my mind. When our travel plans to foreign countries had to be canceled one after another during the pandemic, that same sentence kept reappearing in my thoughts. And so it happened that we went “domestic” in our travel plans, and in May of 2021, we arrived in Santa Barbara, California.

Monochromatic gate Santa Barbara
Monochromatic Gate to California Riviera.

This pleasant little town is snuggled comfortably between the imposing Santa Ynez Mountains and the glittering Pacific Ocean. Santa Barbara is simultaneously artsy, chic, and casual, and is widely known as the “American Riviera.” And indeed, that coastal town’s red-tiled roofs, white stucco buildings, its omnipresent Spanish colonial heritage—all channel the Mediterranean atmosphere and European-like civility that immediately took us, in our imagination, across the Atlantic. Haven’t we decided to go “domestic” or what?

Walking, hiking, or bicycling along the East Beach boardwalk

We stayed at the Hilton Beachfront Resort located on one of the best California beaches, the East Beach. And there we discovered that just walking or bicycling along that beach made us feel, if not exactly Santa Barbara’s natives, but almost an integral part of their community. That boardwalk stretches for miles along the coast. And, just like we saw in Copacabana in Rio, the beach is treated by the locals as their living room, exercise studio, soccer field, in other words, a natural extension of their homes and a fundamental part of their lifestyles. People practice yoga and martial arts, roller-blade and skateboard, drive a strange hybrid of a bike and cabana, and eat and drink wine with their friends. In short, they live in their home away from home, the East Beach. A large number of homeless people seemed disturbing at first, but they too looked perfectly at ease laying on the beach’s grass or sand.

East Beach Santa Barbara
One of the best beaches in California: East Beach in Santa Barbara.
East Beach Art Fair
Art Fair on the East Beach.

Enjoying State Street

We loved to stroll down the city’s main street. Called State Street, it seemed to be designed down to the smallest details—from exotic potted plants to thorny and flowery ornamental vines covering walls and facades. Twinkling lights surround fun bars and fantastic places to eat, enticing boutiques and attention-grabbing art galleries.  Even at the time of pandemic restrictions, this grand dame of Santa Barbara streets, buzzing with people and activities, looked elegant and charming.

E. Cabrillo Blvd
Enjoying the Mediterranean Vibe of E. Cabrillo Boulevard.
State Street, Santa Barbara
Walking along the State Street.
Granada Theatre, Santa Barbara
Historic Granada Theater on the State Street.
La Arcada, State Street, Santa Barbara, CA
La Arcada on the State Street: Shopping and dining in a quaint, art-lined square built in 1920s Spanish Colonial Revival style.

The Architecture

We fell in love with Santa Barbara’s historic architecture. To us, it seemed both Mediterranean and Spanish: its deep-red colors contrasted with the white walls and polished wood textures. Santa Barbara’s iconic architecture and its visual identity were largely derived from the rebuilding and reconstructions following the devastating earthquake of 1925 when the entire town was reborn in Spanish Revival style. The spirit of Spain is felt everywhere, pervasive and persuasive.

The Old Mission Santa Barbara founded in 1786 (the current exterior from the 1920s) is called “the Queen of California Missions.” The amazing Santa Barbara Courthouse (1929) is known as “the most beautiful government building in the United States.” Both places seem to us belonging to Spain rather than to the twenty-first century the United States. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 safety rules, visitors were not allowed inside the working courthouse. So we could not see the elaborate murals and ornate chandeliers and were not able to climb up the El Mirador, the famous clock tower for the panoramic view of Santa Barbara and environs.  Oh well… But we did go to its sunken garden and spent some enjoyable time there.

Santa Barbara City Hall
Santa Barbara Historic City Hall, designated a National Historic Landmark in 2005 for its architecture.
Santa Barbara Historic District
In the Old Spanish District of Santa Barbara.
Irene Shaland in Spanish Courtyard
The Author inside a typical Spanish Style Courtyard in Historic Santa Barbara.
Santa Barbara Courthouse
Historic Santa Barbara Courthouse.
Sunken Garden in Santa Barbara Courthouse
Sunken Garden of the Santa Barbara Courthouse.
Santa Barbara Old Spanish Mission.
Old Spanish Mission, Santa Barbara.

The Art Museum Santa Barbara Opens! Hooray!

Well, only two rooms were open on our last day in town to showcase the highlights of the Museum’s impressive collections. But that was enough for us to feel that “normalcy”– identified by us as packed theaters and crowded museums – that normal state of things is just around the corner.  Our optimism was rewarded by two surprises: an amazing Marc Chagall “Jeune fille en marche” or “Young Girl Running” from 1927 and a beautiful “Portrait of Nadya” from 1890 by Ilja Repin who is largely unknown outside Russia.

Santa Barbara Museum of Art.
Santa Barbara Museum of Art.
Painting by Marc Chagall titled Young Girl Running,
Marc Chagall. “Jeune fille en marche” or “Young Girl Running,” 1927. Museum of Art, Santa Barbara.
“Portrait of Nadya" by Ilja Repin.
Ilja Repin. “Portrait of Nadya,”1890. Museum of Art, Santa Barbara.

Not being impressed by the Funk Zone

We heard and read a lot about the city’s widely popular area called the Funk Zone. This former industrial district is located between the ocean and Highway 101. You will find it right next to the Amtrak station. The Funk Zone is a complex of wine tasting rooms, cafes, art galleries, and funky street art. But for some reason, our hearts belong to State Street!

The Foodie Capital of California

Mexican food
Who is able to stay away from Mexican food when in California? At Flor De Maiz on Cabrillo Boulevard we most possibly ate the best Mexican food ever!

I do not think that Alex and I are fully qualified as typical “Food and Wine” travelers. We are too art and history-centered and too agenda-driven to be completely and professionally immersed in the food-n-wine scene. But we always see food and wine produced by the region and served at its restaurants as an integral element of the local history and culture.

  And so it happened that in our four-and-a-half days and five nights in Santa Barbara we were doing our best to eat and drink in as many places as it was humanly possible to appreciate the freshness and carefully-crafted quality of what we were served. Among all the fine dining places that we greatly enjoyed, our favorite place was …a seafood shack at the very end of the historic Stearns Wharf. We ate twice there, and we never do that during short trips when we usually strive to try as many establishments as possible!

Historic Stearns Wharf.
Historic Stearns Wharf.

This famous wharf is located at the southern end of State Street. Built in 1872, it is the oldest continuously operated wharf on the West Coast. But most people come to this long rough wooden pier not for its history but the great views and the great food. Our favorite establishment was the Santa Barbara Shellfish Company.

Santa Barbara Shellfish Company.
Santa Barbara Shellfish Company.
Irene Shaland eating oysters
Enjoying the fresh oysters at the Santa Barbara Shellfish Company.

This company was born as a seafood takeout counter. For over forty years, it has been owned and operated by the same family. Today, the company is located on its original spot at the very end of the wharf. The first time we ate there, we had to shoo away the aggressive seagulls who wanted to steal our dinner. We had terrific lobster bisque, amazing cioppino, aromatic garlic-baked clams, and the rock crab, my personal favorite! And we came back once again—for more of the same!

Irene Shaland with a glass of vine
Life is good!

Find out more about the author and the photographer.

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”

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

Koala looking at visitors

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.

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

Chasing the Elusive Northern Lights in Iceland

northern lights appear over the ocean

All visitors to Iceland fall into two distinctive categories: those who saw the northern lights and those who did not. When Irene set her trip target on Iceland, she was determined to place herself, our daughter, and I squarely in the first category. The problem was that unlike the predictable crowds at JFK on the way to Iceland, the famous northern lights of Iceland are highly unpredictable. However, the best time to see them is from November through December.  So mid-November looked pretty good. Oh, and  it also happens to be one of the coldest months of the year.

Continue reading “Chasing the Elusive Northern Lights in Iceland”