Thursday, September 8, 2011

Day Trip to York and "Jewish Heritage"

Although we're pretty far north in a seemingly remote area, there are actually a lot of things to do in and around Harrogate.  Leeds, Manchester and York are all within an hour and a half of here.  Edinburgh and London are only around four hours away.  Dan and I definitely have our work cut out for us to make sure we really make the most of this opportunity.

We started our travels by taking a day-trip to York this past weekend.  Our train to York only took around 30 minutes and cost £11!  And York was fantastic!  It is a great little city that is most well-known for York Minster and its Roman ruins.  What I will always remember York for though is the two-hour Jewish heritage tour we took.  I wish you could have been there with us.  It was the most amazing/ridiculous thing I've ever seen.

 We stumbled upon a sign saying there was a Jewish heritage walking tour starting in about an hour.  We couldn't believe our good luck!  We gathered at the meeting point at the appropriate time and waited with the rest of our group.  There were actually quite a few of us interested in York's Jewish history.  Our tour guide asked us all to say why we had chosen this tour and what our interest in Judaism is.  Out of the thirteen people on the tour, Dan and I were the only Jews.  Most people said they just had a general interest in the subject.  Our tour guide  Here's what he said.  

"I am interested in Judaism because when I was seven I met a Jew and saw how different he was.  He let me see his Bible that had colored pictures in it.  Then, when I was older in school, I remember making fun of Jewish children's names because they were not English.  This isn't being antisemitic, it's just making fun of them because they were different.  As an adult I set up a Christian heritage tour, but no one wanted to pay for the tour so the business failed.  But then I realized, you know who would pay for a tour?  Jews.  So I set up a Jewish heritage tour because it is much more commercially viable.  And do you know what?  It worked.  You all each paid £5.50 to be here!"
Our "Jewish heritage" tour

WHAT?  Seriously??  Dan and I just looked at each other and thought, what did we get ourselves in to?  Well, I'll spare you all of the details, but let's just say the next two hours did not go well.  It was painfully clear that the tour guide had no real knowledge of Judaism or York's Jewish history other than what he had read on wikipedia and in the book he was selling.  In fact, he kept telling us that he was not an expert and that he was simply throwing out questions for discussion. 

The tour was so ridiculous that at the end people came up to us and asked whether we were insulted by it.  It was seriously one of the craziest things I've been through.  Definitely worth the £5.50!  Ha!  

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