(Note: This post was written on Thursday, October 4) There is no way to fully express the experience called Venice, even though we were only there for about 44 hours. Old, water, elegant, boats, Italian yet filled with people from everywhere, more water, big (much bigger than I expected) and busy, all sorts of boats, historic, did I mention water(?), too much to see in a lifetime, boats that I have never seen before….and water.
Much of what we saw and enjoyed, you can read about in travel books and hear from others. It’s all true. We didn’t have time for the major museums or to explore the classic art in the innumerable churches, and we decided to skip the gondola ride. But every narrow alley, every canal is a treat. Our hotel was on a skinny long island called Lido (Beach), which is a ten minute walk from a beautiful public beach on the Adriatic Sea, and a short vaporetto (water bus) ride to the center of the city.
The highlight of our time happened in the Ghetto. In the middle ages throughout Europe, Jewish people had to live in designated neighborhoods called ghettos, where in some cases they were locked in at night. The word ghetto originated in Venice. Currently, there are a few remaining synagogues and other Jewish establishments still there, though there are only a few Jewish people left in the city. There is also a Jewish museum, which we did see. I will let Robin take it from here:
We were walking through the main square of the getto, and I saw a group of teens, so I listened and a teacher was speaking English. One of the students read a paper on the history of Venice, and another read one on the history of the ghetto. And then another teacher began talking, to “fill in the gaps” about the ghetto and the Jewish people. It was so respectful, honouring, and moving that I was in tears. The group moved on, but I decided that I wanted to find that teacher to thank him (if I could possibly do so without breaking down).
Alan and I found him nearby, and I tried to tell him how much I appreciated what he said. At first when I told him we were Jewish people from Canada, he was worried that somehow he had caused offense. He was very sweet and humble, but we made him understand that far from being offended, we really, really appreciated what he said, which really blessed him to hear.
We can’t say we were surprised to learn that the teacher was a believer. He was leading a group of students from an American school in London, England. I don’t know if I can convey the impact of this unusual encounter, but it has to do with hearing words of honor and respect in the midst of a place that symbolizes great shame. So many yearn to hear such words spoken to them. Our people need to hear such words from men like this teacher.
This ancient scroll was on display in the Jewish museum in the Ghetto square:
This morning we traveled by train to Trieste which is located at the north, eastern corner of Italy, where it borders Slovenia, and where we were picked up by car for the drive to Ljubljana to start the final leg of this journey. Details to follow.