Birthright Israel, funded by the Israeli government and Jewish philanthropists, provides free all-inclusive 10-day trips to Israel for Jewish young adults. The program's goal is to promote Israel along with general Jewish unity and engagement. The blog Jewlicious has a category about these trips. (Scroll down past many promotional entries for the interesting stuff.) Some question its efficacy and results, while some Jews subvert the program. The trips end with a "Mega Rally" featuring entertainment, giant inflatable Stars of David, and speeches by dignitaries including PM Ehud Olmert. Here is video coverage (FLV) of the most recent rally. There is also a satirical Something Awful report.
"Ala ZongGoNin! Ala YouTaNin!". Jerry Moses last walked on Gaoyang Road in 1947. It was called Chaoufoong Road then, and it was home to many of the 18,000 European Jewish refugees who had sought refuge from Nazi Germany in Shanghai's Hongkew District (today known as Hongkou) during the run-up to World War II. He casts his gaze at the lane, his brow loosens and he begins to nod. "This is it, this is it," he says softly. "I know this is it." One week into his first visit to Shanghai in almost 60 years, Moses has found his third home in an exile that lasted from 1941 to 1947. He strides into the space, his manner now much closer to that of the 12-year-old boy who had left than the 70-year-old man who has returned. More inside.
Who are the Sephardim? provides a short history of Sephardic Jews. The Ladino language website has a more complete introduction to Ladino, the Judeo-Spanish language. Included are a brief descriptive grammar, stanzas from Joseph the Wise, a long Ladino poem, and a translation of The Story of Gerineldo, a folktale. There are very good primary sources at the Medieval Sourcebook, and a Yahoo Ladino discussion group. This essay about the interactions between Moorish and Jewish cultures and their collective effect on European culture seems quite good (and is in Spanish). See also this Spanish-language article about exploring Ladino. There are more good Spanish-language resources on Sephardic history here.