Tuesday, June 26, 2012

How Did John the Baptist’s Bones Get to Bulgaria?

In July 2010, when my wife and I were still living in Sofia, a strange, somewhat sensational story made its way into the news. Bulgarian officials confirmed that remains of Saint John the Baptist were discovered during archaeological excavations on the Black Sea island of Sveti Ivan, not far from the town of Sozopol which we had visited.

According to the report, archaeologists discovered an exquisite reliquary, or ‘relic urn’, that contained six human bones: a knuckle bone from the right hand, a tooth, part of a cranium, a rib, and an ulna, or forearm bone. The remains were buried under a church in a fourth-century monastery. They were linked to John the Baptist because archaeologists also found a small box nearby which bore an ancient Greek inscription mentioning John the Baptist and his birthday. The inscription also asks God to "help your servant Thomas."

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Anne Frank Speaks

It was just a month ago that my wife and I visited the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, reading the words from Anne Frank’s diary in the exact location where they were written during the Holocaust years. I would never have imagined at the time that somewhere halfway across the world, someone was giving Anne Frank a voice.

What connection is there between a Caribbean-based magician/comedian and Anne Frank? How did it come about that a statue of Anne Frank was unveiled in a park on the island of Aruba? And who made a short documentary about Anne Frank that is up for awards in the Aruba International Film Festival (AIFF), with its world premiere this weekend?

Meet Adam Steinfeld, the ultimate modern magician and the man who is magically bringing Anne Frank’s words to life.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Book Review: Cutting for Stone

My wife is currently reading Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese after hearing my very favorable recommendation, so there will be no spoilers in this review. Instead I will focus on the book’s very appropriate title.

For those with very short attention spans, let me start with the bottom line. In my opinion, this is an excellent book, with very unusual, but believable characters interacting in a very unusual setting. So, what’s it all about?

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Bravery of Anne Frank

On our recent visit to Amsterdam we visited the very crowded Vincent Van Gogh Museum and the still-in-renovations Rijksmuseum. The museum that was most impressive, however, was the Anne Frank House, home of the Jewish girl who kept a diary of her family while they hid in a warehouse attic for two years during the Nazi occupation.

Outside the narrow building is one of Amsterdam’s picturesque canals, but that sight would not have been visible from behind the thick black curtains of the secret annex where Anne lived from 1942 to 1944, when her family was betrayed and taken to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Tragically, Anne died of typhus just months before the war’s end.