TRAVEL with pat and lew

* Dubrovnik is spectacular!

Posted by Lew Weinstein on July 19, 2011

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Dubrovnik is alive!

And at the same time beautiful and restful. The city is loaded with tourists, including many young people who fill the beaches during the day and the bars at night. Yet there is no sense of over-crowding, and once you move off the main street, the narrow side streets offer many pleasant places to have a glass of Croatian wine or beer, or to eat a fine meal or pizza at a reasonable price. There are plenty of shops with a variety of tourist merchandise and some up scale clothing, and there is a fine book store well stocked with English titles.

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Dubrovnik’s Jews and synagogue

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The Old Synagogue in Dubrovnik is the oldest Sefardic synagogue still in use today in the world and the second oldest synagogue in Europe. It still functions as a place of worship for Holy days and special occasions, but is now mainly a city museum which hosts numerous Jewish ritual items and centuries-old artifacts. After the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, many of the expelled went east and some eventually settled into the then independent city of Dubrovnik, where there was already a small Jewish community. Many Conversos came to the city.

NOTE: for more about conversos in Spain, see my novel “The Heretic” at …

http://www.amazon.com/Heretic-Lewis-M-Weinstein/dp/1595943242/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1311062422&sr=1-1

In 1546, Dubrovnik officials allocated a Jewish settlement within the city, with the main street being called Ulica Zudioska (“Jewish Street”) in the Dubrovnik Ghetto. When and Dubrovnik was occupied by Napoleon’s forces in 1808, essentially ending Dubrovnik’s centuries of independence, Jews attained legal equality for the first time. However, when the Austrian Empire annexed Dubrovnik in 1814, legal equality was again withdrawn. Jews were again granted legal equality under Croatian law in the mid-late 19th century.

Today, because of the small number of Jews in Dubrovnik, the synagogue does not have its own rabbi.

However, when we visited the synagogue,

there was a Rabbi in residence.

Rabbi Yisrael Karasik had just arrived from Brooklyn with his charming new bride Mushki (from LA). It is Rabbi Karasik’s Chabad mission to bring Jews into greater recognition of their Jewishness. On this day, that meant convincing me to wear tefillin and say the Shema prayer.

Rabbi Karisik and his wife are hosting a regular Friday night Shabbat dinner

at 8:00 pm at the Dubrovnik Hilton.

If you are Jewish and plan to be in Dubrovnik this summer,

this would be a fine addition to your trip.

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Croatia on the Adriatic Sea

a brief historical note

Dubrovnik is a Croatian city on the Adriatic Sea.  The prosperity of the city of Dubrovnik has always been based on maritime trade. In the Middle Ages, as the Republic of Ragusa, it became the only eastern Adriatic city-state to rival Venice.

During World War II, in 1941, Nazi Germany, Italy, Hungary and Bulgaria occupied Yugoslavia, redrawing their borders. A new Nazi puppet state, the Independent State of Croatia (NDH), was created. Many Croats took refuge in the satellite state of Croatia, which became the battleground for a guerrilla war between the Axis and the Yugoslav Partisans. Following the surrender of Italy in 1943, most of Italian-controlled Dalmatia was reverted to Croatian control. After WWII, Dalmatia (including Dubrovnik) became part of the People’s Republic of Croatia, part of the SFR Yugoslavia (then called the Federative People’s Republic of Yugoslavia).

The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) was the Yugoslav state under Marshall Tito that existed from the second half of World War II (1943) until it was formally dissolved in 1992. It was a socialist state and a federation made up of six socialist republics: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia. Yugoslavia pursued a policy of neutrality after the Tito-Stalin split of 1948.

Rising ethnic nationalism in the late 1980s led to fast dissidence among the multiple ethnic groups within the various republics, followed by recognition of their independence by some European states in 1991. This led to the country collapsing on ethnic lines which were followed by wars fraught with ethnic discrimination and human rights violations.

In 1991 Croatia and Slovenia, which had been republics within Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, declared their independence. On October 1, 1991 Dubrovnik was attacked. The siege of Dubrovnik  lasted for seven months. The artillery attacks on Dubrovnik damaged 56% of its buildings, as the historic walled city, sustained 650 hits by artillery rounds. Following the end of the war, damage caused by the shelling of the Old Town was repaired. As of 2005, most damage had been repaired.

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