The streets are winding, narrow. No cars can navigate through here. It’s hardly a stretch to imagine yourself in the 17th century as you walk through the Jewish Ghetto after sunset. To imagine that the gates have shut, shutting you out from the rest of the city, shutting the rest of the city away from you.
In the lengthening shadows, we stop to look through a window at tables set for Shabbos with white tablecloths. We hesitate there a moment, and a boy bursts out of the door, careens into us. “Have you made Kiddush yet? Come in and make Kiddush!” No, we... oh, well...OK, why not? So we go inside and say the two brachas, for the fruit of the vine and for the sanctity of Shabbat, and drink some wine. The boy, really a teenager, has an Israeli accent. He is with Chabad here in Venice. There is a Jewish community here; it’s not just a museum. “Stay, stay for dinner. Have you had dinner?” No thank you....We’re going back to the hotel.... Maybe tomorrow...,
A few days later, we stand on the deck of a boat, watching the sun, a perfect blazing circle, sink into the sea at the horizon line. It is a bracha-inducing sunset, astounding, beauty that catches your breath and makes you say thank You for this life we take for granted. A life of unexpected intersections, light and dark, the familiar amidst the unknown, ancient and new, Kiddush in a foreign land.