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Iceland: One Of The Hottest New Kosher Vacation Spots!

Travel makes the world both bigger and smaller. As Orthodox Jews, we love the idea of exposing our children to new people and places, so they get a feel for life outside of their bubble, understand the expansiveness of the planet, how people live differently than they do, and get a sense of the shared experiences of mankind. And how better to appreciate the Creator than to marvel at His creations? When my older daughter graduated from high school a few years ago and we knew she was moving to Israel, we did our biggest family vacation yet – a week in Hawaii, where we made wonderful memories and saw breathtaking scenery. When my younger daughter did the same, replete with plans to make Aliyah, we also wanted to give her a major send off. We wondered what location might feel similarly magical. We landed on Iceland, which I dubbed “cold Hawaii.” Last August, when we went, “cold Hawaii” wasn’t too cold. Most days were in the mid-50’s to low 60’s. It was a lot of crisp Fall weather days or cool Spring days, which happens to be my daughter’s favorite weather. That meant that you could hike – which there is a lot of – without being too hot or too cold. We wore layers and got lots of waterproof gear.

 

 

 

 

 

Both Hawaii and Iceland are remote islands made out of volcanic rock, constantly boast dramatic skies, and have similar caves and topography (just no palm trees in Iceland!). Iceland is called the land of fire and ice due to its volcanoes* and glaciers. It was not a very traveled location for Americans until recently and certainly not for kosher ones, but in the last few years this is becoming a hot spot for Jews who keep kosher! You have a mix of city and outdoorsy activities and as mainland Europe becomes increasingly dangerous for visible Jews, Iceland, thank God, is quiet. For the lower budget traveler, there is a Chabad in Reykjavik that offers kosher food, Shabbos meals and davening. There are also many kosher products in the country.

For those who have the means, a fully kosher tour is the way to go. The leading one right now is Lebor Tours, led by a lovely Israeli American couple and catered by Gaya Tours, a high-end, gourmet caterer. Because Reykjavik is the center of Jewish life (and well, most life in Iceland!) there is a value in making it your base while traveling. But there are sites to see that are hours from Reykjavik, and having the ease of being on a tour bus to get around definitely makes for a more relaxing experience, while allowing you to cover a lot of ground.

Some of the highlights of our trip were the Kerid Crater (above), which is a beautiful location we hiked through. The color of the water is unreal. This photo is untouched! This is an easy hike and breaktaking the whole time.

The Blue Lagoon is a well advertised tourist spot. We didn’t go into the the hot springs themselves (our hotel had them inside), but the color of the water is UNREAL. Again, there is no coloring of this photograph. This is just how it looks and I’ve never seen water like this in my life.

The funnest day was when we took a cruise to Westman Islands, where we got on a speedboat, after thoroughly bundling up! We got to see puffins and gorgeous caves, that looked like Hawaii. And when the boat operator blasted Top Gun music and we sped through the water, with the seagulls gliding and diving, it felt like we were almost flying ourselves!

The Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach reminded me a whole lot of – Hawaii! And nearby at the Kvernufoss Walk, we got so close to puffins, we could almost touch them. They are soooo cute! Reykjavik is an adorable sitting to stroll around in and pick up some souvenirs. I loved the hiking skirt I saw in a store window, but didn’t purchase it. We saw glaciers, geysers and waterfall after waterfall. It was the magical place that we hoped it would be. And all of our Jewish needs were met. If you’re looking for your next kosher adventure, add Iceland to the list!

    

*While volcanic eruptions in Iceland are indeed quite a spectacle but they can easily be avoided by tourists. As incredible and possibly terrifying as they seem on television they are contained to a very small area and pose no danger to anyone in Iceland. They are a 40-minute drive away from Reykjavik and only the small town of Grindavik is affected, as damage has occurred to two buildings. Everyone in the town has been evacuated and they are all safe.

This article was sponsored by Lebor Tours, the leading kosher tour in Iceland. For more information, visit https://lebortours.com

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