When a Jewish Educator Travels

Has everyone seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding? The highest-grossing romantic comedy of all time, it’s one of my go-to movies for long plane rides because of how re-playable it is [although I do run the risk of people judging me when I crack up at numerous points]. For those who need a slight refresher, it’s the story of Toula Portokalos, the Greek-American with undiagnosed middle child syndrome, who falls in love with an American guy and has to navigate their relationship against the backdrop of her rambunctious, shameless, hilarious family.

It’s also the most Jewishly relatable movie I’ve ever seen.

Putting aside the Greek cultural moments [Greek Orthodox baptism, Easter celebrations, and everyone being named Nick], there was so much that resonated in terms of my own endearingly crazy Jewish family. Traveling as a pack and being completely invested in/weighing in on each other’s business? Check. Constant communication? Check. The token eccentric aunt who has a lot of feelings? Check plus! And unlike Toula, who at least tries to rebel against the togetherness of her family, I’m basically obsessed with mine. Which leads me to today’s update: next week, 30 + members of my extended family will be traveling to Berlin for the opening of a new museum exhibit that features our family. This has been in the works for a while - essentially, one of the people highlighted in this exhibition is my great-great uncle, and his whole branch of the family tree was planning on going for the launch of the exhibit. Luckily, we’ve remained incredibly close, and so my branch of the family tree decided to go as well. We’re taking off next week for a trip that’s part Holocaust memorial, part reunion, and all [anticipated] hilarity.

I’m sure there’ll be a lot to unpack both during and after the trip. I’ve had several previous experiences with family heritage travel as a participant + through my Jewish educator hat, and I’m looking forward to many more posts/reflections about that, Holocaust education, and experiential history education in the weeks to come. In the meantime, if you’re interested in following along in real-ish time, the most recent updates will be found on Instagram @Sam_Vinokor. I’d love to have you with me for updates on the trip and what it means for a Jewish educator to go on a Holocaust heritage journey. Stay tuned!