16 Oct 2008

Keep Memory Alive

One of our favorite charities here in Nevada is the Keep Memory Alive Foundation which supports the Lou Ruvo Brain Institute.

Tonight, Allyn and I went to a cocktail party at The Wynn to support the charity. We were joined by a veritable who’s who of Las Vegas.

Dementia wasn’t a big deal until recently because people didn’t live as long. Did you know that one out of five people aged 65 have dementia, and that number grows to one out of two by age 85? It is irreversible. By the time Alzheimer's is diagnosed, the damage is done. It progresses until the person eventually dies.

My senior moment (or was it just stupidity) came when I met Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. I put my hand out to shake the hand of the wrong gentleman who was next to him.

The beautiful lady in the picture with me is Elaine Wynn, Steve’s lovely wife.

15 Oct 2008

Budapest, Hungary

Budapest, often referred to as “Paris of the East,” is Hungary’s largest city and its political, cultural and economic center. It is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. Often named as one of the most livable cities in the world, Budapest’s rich culture attracts over 20 million visitors annually. 

The river Danube divides the city into two, once independent cities: Buda and Pest. They united in 1873, after 150 years of Ottoman rule, to form the present day global city and Hungarian capital.

Below is the night-time view across the Danube from our hotel room – Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace,  formally the Royal Palace. Fabulous hotel. One of the best in Europe. Get a Danube view for sure.

Hungarians are great believers in the medicinal powers of thermal bathing. Though the baths of Budapest have a history that stretches back to Roman times, it was under the Ottoman occupation that bath culture flourished. Today, several still-functioning bathhouses are among the architectural relics of the Turkish period.

Budapest's most spectacular bathhouse, the Gellért Baths (pictured above) is located in Buda's Hotel Gellért, the oldest Hungarian spa hotel and an Art Nouveau jewel. Enter the baths through the side entrance. The exterior of the building is in need of restoration, but once inside the lobby, you'll be delighted by the details.

The unisex indoor pool is without question one of Europe's finest, with marble columns, majolica tiles, and stone lion heads spouting water. The two single-sex Turkish-style thermal baths (off to either side of the pool through badly marked doors) are also glorious, though in need of restoration.

13 Oct 2008

Jewish Budapest

Budapest, the capital of Hungary, is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, and has one of the highest number of Jewish citizens per capita of any European city.  It is also home to the second largest synagogue in the world, which survived WWII because because Nazis used it for strategic reasons.

June 1944 saw the forced deportations of Jews by Hungarians. Today they are remembered by a metal Weeping Willow Holocaust Memorial. This “Tree of Life” memorial resembles a weeping willow whose leaves bear the names of the 600,000 Hungarian Jews who perished in the Holocaust. The inscription on top of the memorial reads: "Whose agony is greater than mine."

Also of special interest is the Shoes on the Danube Promenade: a memorial to the Budapest Jews who fell victim to Hungarian pro-Nazi militiamen on January 8, 1945. It depicts sixty pairs of shoes left behind by Jews shot on the banks of the Danube River. It was erected April 16, 2005 by Gyula Pauer and Can Togay to commemorate the 60 year anniversary of the Holocaust.

Also of significant importance is the Statue of Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish humanitarian who worked to save Hungarian Jews in 1944. With the help of Swedish diplomats, Wallenberg issued protective passports and housed several thousands Jews, saving tens of thousands lives.

As usual I strongly suggest a private guide for greater leaning. I arranged a guide in Budapest through


07 Oct 2008

Manley Beach, Sydney, Australia

If you enjoy a nice day at the beach I recommend Manley Beach. It is a half hour ferry ride from Circular Quay (near Opera House) and has the added benefit of a beautiful harbor tour. In fact even if you don’t want to spend time on the beach, the ferry is basically a harbor tour for a much cheaper price.

When you get to Manly, don’t be fooled by the mini beaches adjacent to the Ferry terminal. You will walk a couple enjoyable blocks on The Corso and actually cross from Sydney Harbor to the Pacific Ocean.

You’ll like the ambiance, pubs, beautiful ocean and beautiful people. If you need serenity then this is not the place for you.


01 Oct 2008

Jewish Australia

The Jewish community in Australia is relatively new. The first Jews that arrived there were convicts from England, similar to many other immigrants. Australia was open to Jews during the War, and was then settled by many Holocaust survivors.

There are 100,000 – 120,000 Jews in Australia, some living in Melbourne and most of the rest in Sydney. Melbourne has a particularly active community with over ten Jewish day schools and thirty Congregations.

Both Sydney and Melbourne have outstanding Jewish museums that merit visiting.

In Sydney, it is basically a Holocaust museum which is particularly moving in that the guides tend to be Survivors who are willing to share their stories.

Melbourne’s museum, technically the Jewish Museum of Australia, is about typical Jewish life and traditions.

I was surprised to see it was so basic in its presentation although it is extremely well presented. It turns out that most of its visitors are not Jewish. It is a great learning experierience for those who want to learn about our traditions.

Separate and distinct, they have an extremely well done Holocaust Centre.