All aboard for education and adventure

If you’re a history buff, you might be interested in an innovative travel program sponsored by the Bureau of Jewish Education (BJE): A Presidential Libraries Tour to Southern California this summer, from August 6 to 11.

BJE Executive Director Myra Shindler promises that “participants will connect with like-minded adults who enjoy travel and experiential learning with an emphasis on fun, education and adventure.” Myra says BJE “sees this as an integral part of our educational goals and the start of what we hope will be a long-term and ongoing travel program concentrating on the Jewish experience in the United States.”

A luxury, air-conditioned bus will leave on Sunday, Aug. 6 from the Ina Levine Jewish Community Campus in Scottsdale. (Other arrangements can be made if interested parties are already in California at that time.) The cost of the trip is $1,300/person double occupancy and $1,500/person single occupancy with a $400 deposit due at registration.

Highlights include a two-night stay aboard The Queen Mary in Long Beach and three nights at the Elan Hotel in Los Angeles, near Beverly Hills; admission to and tours of both the Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan Presidential Libraries; a visit to either the Skirball Cultural Center or the J. Paul Getty Museum; and a “lunch and learn” session with Ron Wolfson, a nationally recognized professor in the Graduate Center for Education at American Jewish University in L.A. A concluding banquet at Pat’s Restaurant (fine kosher dining) will emphasize the owners’ passion for the culinary arts.

At the helm of the tour will be Jay Roth, a lifelong history buff who presently serves on the BJE faculty. Jay teaches courses on past presidents, including Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman.

Jay says the upcoming tour is a team effort with BJE’s staff. “If you love American history, you will love the tour,” he says, adding that discussions will include Nixon’s and Reagan’s commitment to Israel, along with Jewish life in the U.S. – historically and present-day. There will also be get-togethers throughout the excursion.

Andre Ivory, BJE’s outreach coordinator, will work alongside Jay on the tour. A dynamic Jewish educator, Andre served congregations and Jewish institutions in Los Angeles and Toronto before settling in Arizona.

Recent newcomers to the Valley, Jay and his wife, Susan, traveled a circuitous route to get here – albeit with a series of challenging and successful employment opportunities in the Jewish world. Jay has served in various executive capacities in Jewish Community Centers from the Bronx to Long Island, New York; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Miami Beach, Florida where he stayed for more than 25 years. Coincidentally, he was replaced in Florida by former Valley resident Paul Fishman (“a great guy”), who was associated with the JCC in Scottsdale.

Since Jay and his wife “already owned a place in Scottsdale, this is where we decided to retire – and it is a perfect choice,” says Jay. “We love Arizona. We love the newness and the welcoming ambiance. We find that the people are warm and friendly and there are endless opportunities to make new friends.”

For more information and to reserve your place on the BJE’s Presidential Libraries Tour, visit (click on the “Adult Travel with BJE” link) or call Andre Ivory at 480-634-8050.

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