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Best Jewish Travel Ideas for Boston

 

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On the evening of April 18, 1775, the sexton of the Old North Church climbed the steeple and held high two lanterns as a signal from Paul Revere that the British were heading to Lexington and Concord (just a few miles from Boston) by sea and not by land. This fateful event sparked the American Revolution and assured Paul Revere’s place in American history.  No matter what means of transportation you take to get to the city of Boston, you will love the time you spend here.

The Boston area ranks seventh in Jewish population among U.S. metropolitan areas.  The surrounding communities of Brighton, Brookline, Cambridge and Newton have vibrant and well-attended synagogues, restaurants, day schools and community centers that are enriched by a highly educated lay and professional leadership – many with ties to the large number of prestigious colleges and universities in the area, including Harvard, MIT, Tufts, Hebrew College, Boston University, Boston College and Brandeis University.

For a look at Boston Jewish life in Beacon Hill before the Second World War, visit The Vilna Shul, Boston’s Center for Jewish Culture.  Built in 1919, it is the last remaining immigrant era synagogue in the city of Boston and offers a variety of historical and cultural events every month.

Our 10 Favorite Things to See and Do in Boston

1. Museum of Fine Arts

With approximately 450,000 items on display, a remarkable collection of ancient Egyptian, classical Chinese and Japanese art and pottery, and a vast selection of works by Rembrandt, van Gogh, Gauguin, Monet and Renoir, it is no wonder why nearly one million visitors flock to the MFA every year. A new wing (scheduled to open in late 2010) will highlight the MFA’s world renowned collection of art from the Americas from the pre-Columbian era through the 20th Century.
2. Boston Children’s Museum

For over 90 years, the Boston Children’s Museum has been one of the leading children’s museums in the country. Exhibits focus on science, culture, environmental awareness, health & fitness, and the arts. It is worth a visit just to see the Japanese House, where Japanese family life, customs, ceremonies, art, architecture and seasonal events come alive in an authentic 100-year-old home of a Kyoto silk merchant painstakingly reconstructed at the museum by Japanese carpenters.
3. Fenway Park

In Boston, baseball is religion and Fenway Park (the home of the Red Sox) is the ballpark equivalent of Mecca, Bethlehem and Jerusalem. If you are visiting during baseball season you will have to plan far ahead or get pretty lucky to score a ticket to a game, every home game is generally sold out before the season even begins. However, even if you get shut out at the ticket window or if you find yourself visiting during the offseason, guided tours are available where you can bear witness to the mythology (the Green Monster), blessings (2004) and curses (from Bambino to Buckner) that are just part of life as a Boston Red Sox fan.
4. Freedom Trail

You can walk along the footsteps of American history just by following along Boston’s Freedom Trail. At 2.5 miles long, the red brick trail begins at the Boston Common, America’s oldest public park, and ends at the USS Constitution, nicknamed “Old Ironsides” for her impenetrable hull that resisted the onslaught of the British during the War of 1812. The Freedom Trail highlights sixteen different spots that played a pivotal role in the founding of the United States.
5. Franklin Park Zoo

Franklin Park Zoo is a 72-acre site where visitors can experience the most innovative indoor gorilla exhibit in the world and stand face to face with these incredible creatures, behind the safety and security of reinforced glass walls, of course. While at Franklin Park Zoo, be sure to also visit the African lion in the Kalahari Kingdom, the tigers in the Tiger Tales exhibit, the Masai giraffe and Grevy’s zebra on the Giraffe Savannah, and the rest of the zoo’s treasures in recreated habitats that include a tropical rainforest, the Australian outback, and the African savannah.
6. New England Aquarium

The sea comes alive at the New England Aquarium, a leader in ocean conservation and marine exploration. One of the highlights of this Aquarium is the Giant Ocean Tank, a towering, four-story coral reef exhibit where sharks, sea turtles, stingrays, eels and nearly six hundred other wonders of the sea. From April to October, you can board the Voyager III from the New England Aquarium dock for whale watching at the Stellwagen Bank Marine Sanctuary. This area is home to several kinds of large whales, including humpback whales, finback whales, minke whales, as well as pilot whales and endangered right whales.
7. Faneuil Hall Marketplace

Long before Samuel Adams was a drink special during happy hour, he could be frequently seen at Faneuil Hall rallying against British tyranny and galvanizing opposition against English rule. Today, his statue defiantly stands outside of the Faneuil Hall Marketplace, which includes Faneuil Hall, Quincy Market, North Market and South Market. The Marketplace is located within a cobblestone plaza filled with hundreds of stores, cafes and bars where jugglers, magicians, clowns and street musicians entertain the millions of visitors who stroll through each year. While you are in the area, the New England Holocaust Memorial is located next to Quincy Market in Boston. Six tall towers reach up to the sky with six million numbers etched in glass commemorating the victims of the Shoah.
8. Paul Revere House

Built in 1680, the Paul Revere House is downtown Boston’s oldest building still in existence. Revere was living at this house the night he set forth on his momentous immortalized in Longfellow’s famous poem. Restored to resemble its 17th century appearance, the House provides a fascinating glimpse into colonial life.
9. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

This 15th century Venetian palace was created at the turn of the century by Isabella Stewart Gardner, one of the leading women patrons of the arts and a friend to some of the leading artists and writers of her time, including John Singer Sargent, James McNeill Whistler and Henry James. The museum houses more than 2,500 art objects, including works by Rembrandt, Botticelli, Raphael, Titan, and Matisse. Don’t miss the interior flowering courtyard and stunning outdoor gardens.
10. Harvard University

No trip to Boston is complete without a visit to Harvard University in nearby Cambridge. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and its alumni list reads like a Who’s Who of American politics, literature, business and law. While strolling along the beautiful campus, don’t miss The Harvard Museum of Natural History and the Harvard Art Museum. The Museum of Natural History is actually the combination of three University museums: the Museum of Comparative Zoology, the Harvard University Herbaria, and the Mineralogical and Geological Museum. The Harvard Art Museum is considered to be one of the finest collections of art in the world and is made up of three separate museums, the Fogg Museum, which specializes in Western Art from the Middle Ages to the modern, the Busch-Reisinger Museum, which specializes in the arts of the German-speaking countries of Central and Northern Europe, and the Arthur M. Sackler Museum, which specializes in ancient art, Asian art, Islamic and Indian art.

Been There! Done That!  Tell Us in the Comments Below!

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About Tamar Genger MA, RD

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Tamar lives in New York and is the mother of three amazing children, a Registered Dietitian, professor of Nutrition, and as you can probably guess, a foodie! Tamar loves to travel with her family and visits kosher restaurants wherever she goes. Although she loves the sights, she spends more time talking about the restaurants and food she ate! As a mom and a nutritionist, Tamar tries to balance her passion for healthy cooking with her insatiable desire for chocolate!

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