I went to Miami in order to participate in the Conference “Reconnecting 2016: Reinvigorating Shared Latino-Jewish Roots and Heritage,” that I was involved in organizing as a Board Member of the Institute for Sefardi and Anousim Studies at the Netanya Academic College. I will write about this conference separately, but just to mention that it was a great success, a historic event that brought together Hispanics and Sefardim, as well as Bnei Anousim (descendents of forced Jewish converts to Christianity) from many countries – Brasil, USA (New York, Puerto Rico, New Mexico), Colombia, Cuba, etc. We wanted to attract 200 attendees and there were about 235, and the hall was filled. The sessions were excellent and there were many great speakers, including Henry Cisneros, a leading Hispanic American from San Antonio, and Pastor Hagee, a leading Evangelical Christian and the founder of Christians United for Israel (with 3.5 million members)..
We met in the Trump International Resort Hotel (that has nothing to do with that Presidential candidate). Just to show you that I was so busy, I never even set foot on the beach. Now after returning home to Israel I have no recollection of my trip to Miami, except that I did get my emergency US passport just in time.
After the Conference I flew to Washington DC to stay with my friend Frank Portugal and his partner Evie in their lovely mansion in SE Washington. They were very hospitable and hosted a memorable dinner for a group of 3 couples who were old friends of ours from the days more than 20 years ago when we lived in the Bethesda area. For my birthday that occurred during the visit, Frank bought me a Groucho Marx nose and mustache glasses, a thoughtful present, that I have above my desk to remind me not to take myself too seriously (was that his intent?).
From DC, I was due to fly to San Francisco to be met by my son. Just to show you how a minor mistake can have almost serious consequences, the airline or travel agent had changed my flight to an earlier one, instead of via Houston to go via Chicago O’Hare. But, the updated flights were listed in red in my itinerary, and when I printed this out it was against a black banner background, and so the airline and flight number did not show up (usually it was white lettering against black). Since I could not see the airline or flight number, I went to the last airline I had flown with, American. After some messing around they concluded that my ticket was not for their airline and sent me to United. United confirmed my code, but the ladies could not issue the boarding pass. After some further messing around they called the central office and then hung up. I thought I was doomed to remain in DC, but then they explained that when the airline had changed my flights they had by mistake not changed the flight number. Now they had corrected it and now they could issue me a boarding pass, phew!
I had a few days with my son Simon and daughter-in-law Sharon in Livermore CA, a beautiful place. I greatly enjoyed sitting in the shade by the pool doing nothing and having a session in the jacuzzi. I gave a talk in their Reform synagogue on the situation in Israel (to be written up later). We dashed around and bought presents, and then it was already time to leave. On-line we could not get me an aisle seat, but when I got to the check-in one mysteriously appeared. So I had a smooth and uneventful direct flight home, watched two movies, dozed and read a book (also more of that later) and here I am, back home in my reality. I want to thank my daughter Miriam for stepping in for me and helping my wife while I was away. I’m lucky, I have two great children (we must have taught them well).