The Jewish Women's Archive is planning a trip to one of my favorite places, Santa Fe, New Mexico, during March 2010.
The theme is Jewish memory and narrative through art and craft, with a talk by Dr. Stanley Hordes, author of the excellent "To the End of the Earth: A History of the Crypto-Jews of New Mexico."
The trip is set from Wednesday-Sunday, March 3-7. For details, see the JWA.
For a century, artists have flocked to Santa Fe. The work of Jewish artists there combines both their heritage and their understanding of themselves as modern Jews. Life in Santa Fe is influenced by the existence of the hidden Jews - the Conversos - and their descendants who survive in Spanish outposts like New Mexico.
Jews living here have the freedom to be or not to be Jewish - surrounded by the ghosts of Jews who were not free to make that same choice, who were forced to give up their heritage but preserved it anyway as family custom and lore.
The local Jewish community lives alongside two others struggling to keep their cultural heritage. Both the Native Americans, with their extraordinary baskets and carvings, and Hispanics, with their tapestries and folk art, are engaged in the quest of how to remain affiliated and proud despite the forces of assimilation, homogeneity, and modernity.
The venue is the historic downtown Hotel Santa Fe, the city's only Native American-owned hotel. It is in the new Guadalupe Railyard District, called Santa Fe's Soho, filled with museums, galleries, shops and restaurants just outside the hotel.
Each day, meet Jewish artists and visit their studios, enjoy meals with poets and artists at some great dining locations, enjoy private tours of the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum and the new facility of the Santa Fe Art Institute, visit galleries like the Casa Nova Gallery, tour the School for Advanced Research on the Human Experience, lunch at and and tour the Institute for American Indian Arts with legacy guide Carol Franco and Jewish Native American Lois Frank, visit the Museum of New Mexico with director Fran Levine.
There's a Santa Fe-style Shabbat dinner at the Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi with Rabbi Malka Drucker and local hosts. On Saturday morning, join Shabbat serves at any of the local synagogues or privately tour the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture and the Museum of International Folk Art. Famed photographer Annie Leibovitz will speak at the O'Keeffe museum (separate tickets) when she receives the museum's 2010 Women of Distinction award, and end the day at a farewell banquet at the Geronimo Restaurant.
On Sunday, listen to one of my favorite people, Dr. Stanley Hordes, author of "To the End of the Earth: A History of the Crypto-Jews of New Mexico," as he discusses the remarkable story of Crypto-Jews and their tenuous preservation of Jewish rituals and traditions over the past 500 years, from their origins in medieval Spain and Portugal to their efforts to escape persecution by settling in the far reaches of the northern Mexican frontier.
What a great way to take a Santa Fe break! Your first visit will not be your last. If you've been to Santa Fe before, this is a new way to enjoy the city's atmosphere.