If I would ask you what comes to mind when I say “Geneva, Switzerland” and “First weekend in December” what would you say? Skiing, perhaps skating, perhaps dog sledding, maybe even fondue? Would you thing of jogging through the streets of the old town? Well, last Shabbat was spent in Geneva as we started our week of conferences, Barbara in Lausanne and Bruce in Jerusalem. Which meant we started the trip in Geneva (why not?). The first Sunday in December in Geneva was the 39th running of series of road races, with hundreds of people participating. The weather was not exactly balmy, maybe 4C, but running kept people warm (or maybe it was the hot wine being served). There was a street festival, and the day ended with the annual Course de la Marmite (the Pot Race…. no, the cooking kind) where everyone racing dressed up in costume and paraded around after dark! But that was after Shabbat, so to really give a recap, we will go back to the beginning.
We arrived in Geneva about 10:30 AM after an overnight flight. We were staying in the old City part of Geneva, at a great place called the Fraser Suites. Right near all the action and lots of bus routes. Geneva Hotels and the airport provide passes for free public transport for as long as you are staying there. A great deal; the bus took us from the airport to the corner of our street. Barbara’s colleague Isabelle Gelinas was also staying in Geneva, on the other side of the bridge near the train station. What can you do in Geneva on Friday if you keep kosher? You can go to the one sushi restaurant, open till 2:30 in the winter! The weather was nice, so we took a 25 minute walk through various parts of town to the restaurant, had sushi and then walked back along the water through Le Parc Anglais. Shabbat was early and we had not slept much the night before, so we called it a night fairly early.
The hotel was a 5 minute walk from La Grande Synagogue, built in the 1850’s and on an appropriately named street, Rue de la Synagogue. It was restored several years ago by the Safra Foundation, and was very pretty. The Shabbat Morning crowd is not very big, usually about 20 people, but there was a community meal last week, which brought out about double the people. As we were still a bit jet lagged, Barbara slept in, and we had our meal in the hotel and then walked around the streets, getting to see the races, the street festival, large screens put up all over the city to watch the race, etc. There were tons of people out, till well after dark. Geneva is very compact, with pretty areas on both sides of the river. Since our last trip there in the late 80’s the downtown became much more American, with lots of stores that look like downtown everywhere! They even have Starbucks. The truth is that it is quite clear that the Europeans are not fond of Americans, but they have no problem embracing their consumer habits!
Sunday I left for Israel, and Barbara went to Lausanne. She was asked to participate in an International Occupational Therapy Think Tank on Driving Rehabilitation. She and Isabelle are among the worlds’ leaders in this area of research, so it was a great place for them to be, interact and discuss issues with others in the field. It was really interesting and the mountain and countryside setting was beautiful. Tuesday night, Barbara left for Zurich and flew to Israel Wednesday PM.
Bruce landed in Israel Sunday afternoon and drove to visit Ariel, Gila and Elisha. Elisha was so excited to see that Sabi had come out of the computer that he was doing somersaults! We played and read books and he was very entertaining!
I went to Jerusalem Monday afternoon to attend the World Immunology Scientific Congress at the Jerusalem Conference Center. This was the first time this organization ever held a meeting in Israel and was a political coup for a few very dedicated people from the World Allergy Organization and one of my favorite groups, Allergists For Israel. 650 people registered and the sessions were great. I organized one symposium and moderated another, and spoke at the Pediatric Asthma session today. All in all, it was a successful meeting!
Gila and Elisha came to Jerusalem yesterday AM and they wandered around and shopped with Barbara. Ariel arrived after work last night and we are spending Shabbat at the Dan Panorama.
More info, pictures, commentary with a Shabbat Update, next week!
We wish you all a wonderful, meaningful Shabbat!
Barbara and Bruce
Happy Birthday to Tali!
Happy Birthday to Shlomo Yehuda!
Happy Birthday to Shilo!
Lots of other kids too!