July 2009 Archives

Synagogue in Riga, Latvia

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(click to enlarge) The entryway to the newly-remodeled Riga synagogue is in bright Art Nouveau/Art Deco style, in keeping with the architecture for which Riga is renowned as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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(click to enlarge) The windows in the synagogue proper face onto a crumbling old wall.

We were fortunate to be able to see the Riga synagogue a few days before it officially opened.

Jewish Sites in the Baltics

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(click to enlarge) Wall and benches of new synagogue in Tallinn, Estonia, displaying the Tree of Life theme that is repeated imaginatively throughout the building.

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(click to enlarge) Menorah (with shadow) in the courtyard of the newly remodeled synagogue in Riga, Latvia.

Today I begin a series of photos of Jewish sites in the Baltic countries: Estonia, Latvia, and (especially) Lithuania. Seeking out these sites was the prime reason for our trip to the Baltics this summer.

Lithuanian Millennium Song Festival - On Castle Hill

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Historic Castle Hill rises from the park in the center of Vilnius where the Millennium Song Festival was held. Many participants and onlookers climbed the hill to enjoy the view, socialize, explore the castle museum, and just hang out.

Lithuanian Millennium Song Festival - Faces and Costumes

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Lithuanian Millennium Song Festival - Faces

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Lithuanian Millennium Song Festival - Craftswomen

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Lithuanian Millennium Song Festival - Weaving and Cooking

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On the midway at the Song Festival.

Lithuanian Millennium Song Festival - More Kids

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Lithuanian Millennium Song Festival - Cute Kids

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The young girls looked like they were having a good time in their colorful costumes and flower-bedecked hair.

Lithuanian Millennium Song Festival - Barnyard Animals

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Consistent with the state fair atmosphere at the Song Festival, there were a couple of pens of barnyard creatures. No blue ribbons were awarded, however.

Lithuanian Millennium Song Festival - More Accordions

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These men were not performing on a stage (at least not when I saw them) but they were making good music with their friends while sitting in the park.

Lithuanian Millennium Song Festival - Accordions

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Lithuanian Millennium Song Festival - Singing and Dancing

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Trying to get a good photograph of dancers is hard. But they were having a good time, and managed not to trip over the lights or microphones.

Lithuanian Millennium Song Festival - Singing

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The singing was heartfelt and joyous. Some interesting tonalities and timbres; I wished I were a musicologist.

Lithuanian Millennium Song Festival - On the Big Stage

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There were a couple of smaller stages, but this was the main one. I don't know the significance of the mask-like face surrounding the stage, but it was striking. And the singers were full-throated.

Lithuanian Millennium Song Festival - Walking to the Stage

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Groups at the Song Festival walking to assemble near the stage before their performances.

Lithuanian Millennium Song Festival - Portraits

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Participants in the Song Festival are in a festive mood, decked out in their finest costumes, and generally pleased to be photographed. (But it's always polite to ask.)

Lithuanian Millennium Song Festival - Waiting

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Having gathered in their small groups, the participants wait for their turn on stage.

Lithuanian Millennium Song Festival - Gathering

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The Lithuanian Millenium Festival in Vilnius extended from July 1-6. We were there on July 4 to catch part of the Song Festival (not the competitive part, as far as we could tell; just a lot of nice, rather informal, performances). There were also lots of crafts booths and food stands, rather like a state fair in the U.S. But the costumes were much more striking.

Lithuanian Millenium Dance Festival - Spirit Dancers

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Two final photos from the Lithuanian Millennium Dance Festival. Modern dancers in spirit costumes shared the field with dancers in traditional dress. The overall effect was magical.

Lithuanian Millenium Dance Festival - Dancers (2)

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Another two photos from the stirring and remarkable Lithuanian Millennium Dance Festival, showing dancers in traditional costumes.

Lithuanian Millennium Dance Festival - The Dance

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Two more photos from the Lithuanian Millennium Dance Festival, showing dancers in the heat of action.

Lithuanian Millenium Dance Festival - Lineups

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Lineups of dancers from the beginning of the Millennium Dance Festival.

Lithuanian Millenium Dance Festival - Light

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Two photos from the beginning of the Lithuanian Millenium Dance Festival. This one shows the waiting crowd in the dramatic sunset light.

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(click to enlarge) This one shows one of the stadium's light towers, before the lights were turned on, with a TV crew hanging off the side. Sort of a stationary version of the Goodyear blimp.

Millenium Lithuanian Dance Festival

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Last night we had the privilege of attending a dance festival at the athletic stadium in Vilnius, Lithuania. The festival celebrated the 1000th anniversary of the founding of Lithuania. It was extraordinary in its scope: we were told that there were 7000 dancers from all over the country performing traditional dances, and there were about 20,000 spectators. Here are two photos from the very end of the event, showing the exhilaration of the occasion.

Vietnam Photos - Motorbike and Watermelon

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I'll conclude my series of photos from Vietnam with this picture, which incorporates many of the elements we found so engaging in Hanoi and the rest of the country: motorbikes, colorful walls, incongruity, and an atmosphere of optimism and high spirits.

Tomorrow I'll begin a new series, on travels in the Baltic countries.

Vietnam Photos - Museum of Ethnology

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(click to enlarge) The Museum of Ethnology in Hanoi is one of the most interesting museums in Hanoi. It displays cultural artifacts and exhibits from the 54 ethnic groups in Vietnam. Our arrival there coincided with that of a class of pre-schoolers.

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(click to enlarge) This is a large cluster of fishing baskets attached to a bicycle (not seen). This is emblematic of the incredibly large loads carried by bike or motorbike in Vietnam.

Vietnam Photos - Hanoi Transportation

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(click to enlarge) If you're a tourist, you can travel around Hanoi in a pedicab.

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(click to enlarge) If you're a resident, you'll probably take your motorbike.

Vietnam Photos - Hanoi Workers

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(click to enlarge) Hanging a banner in the midst of Hanoi's tangled electrical system.

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(click to enlarge) As someone pointed out to us: "The weight on those poles is about ten pounds in each basket. Imagine carrying that on your shoulder 10 hours a day, 7 days a week, for 50 years."

Vietnam Photos - Vietnam Fine Art Museum

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The Vietnam Fine Art Museum in Hanoi has an interesting collection, ranging from old traditional sculptures to recent paintings celebrating the various wars of resistance. Here are two charming sculptures of Buddhist monks.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from July 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

June 2009 is the previous archive.

August 2009 is the next archive.

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