Traveling as a Orthodox Jew is no easy feat. Simple trips require immense planning in order to find kosher food and locations to pray.
While most Chabad Houses open with the intention to help the local community, they are also a massive help for tourists. We’ve had some of our most memorable Shabbos experiences at Chabad Houses in cities like Buenos Aires, Chiang Mai, Hong Kong, Kobe, Melbourne, Palm Springs, Paris, Sao Paulo, Tokyo, Venice, and more.
I don’t limit my travels to places where I can find kosher food, I’ve happily brought food with me to locales like the Maldives, Palau, Svalbard, and Tasmania. But it sure makes life easier in a country like Thailand that has Chabad operated restaurants in every major city.
I cringe when I have seen some people act like a local Chabad House is only there to meet their needs. They didn’t move far from home and dedicate their lives just to make sure that you have kosher food in a far-flung locale and they most certainly deserve appreciation when they do cater to tourists.
Each Chabad House is responsible for their own fundraising, so I always make sure to leave a donation as a small thank you to the local Shliach. I also try to email them beforehand to see if they might need anything from the US. I’ve checked in suitcases full of meat, yogurt, and even candy for shluchim and their kids and it has always been very warmly received.
At any rate, that’s why I was excited to see the news via Chabad.org that a Chabad House is now opening in Reykjavik. Apparently it’s the last major European capital that has no shul or Rabbi. Chabad of Iceland’s website can be found here.
Thanks to massive expansion by IcelandAir and WOW, there are more flights than ever between the US and Iceland. WOW also offers 3 weekly flights between Tel Aviv and Iceland.
In May, both IcelandAir and WOW will even fly nonstop between Cleveland and Iceland, offering the first nonstop service to Europe since the Continental days. IcelandAir will also fly nonstop from Kansas City to Iceland in May. Continental used to fly 4 times a day between Cleveland and Kansas City, but since United dehubbed Cleveland in 2014 I’ve had to take a connection to visit my in-laws there. Maybe next time we’ll fly one-way nonstop from Cleveland to Iceland and “connect” there to visit my in-laws with a one-way nonstop from Iceland to Kansas City. It sure beats a boring connection in O’Hare 😀
United is even finally starting service to Iceland with a daily nonstop from Newark starting in May. They will even have lie-flat seat in business class, though that may be overkill for the short flight. American is starting nonstop service from Dallas to Iceland in June, also with lie-flat seats in business class.
Both IcelandAir and WOW offer the ability to stopover in Reykjavik while connecting to other cities and having a Chabad House should make that option even more convenient. Chabad of Iceland’s site has some basic tourist info and says that they offer kosher catering, so I’m looking forward to finally visiting Iceland once nonstop flights start from my hometown. The only real question is whether I go in the summer when the weather is better or in the winter when the northern lights shine brighter:
Iceland has been on my bucket list after seeing Something Fishy’s pictures from his PhotoDO there:
Is Iceland on your bucket list? What are some of your favorite Chabad Houses you’ve encountered while traveling the world?