April 14, 2024
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April 14, 2024
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Freedom and Celebration in DC: A Great Pesach Destination

Many families (mine included) enjoy celebrating the Seder and the rest of Yuntif at home, together with family and friends. With school breaks providing a rare opportunity to travel, Chol Hamoed Pesach can be an excellent time to explore new places and make lasting memories. With its vibrant atmosphere and iconic landmarks, Washington D.C., just four hours away from Teaneck, is a great destination for an easy road trip.

Washington, D.C. became the United States’ capital city on May 14, 1800, when it was moved from Philadelphia. The city is divided into four quadrants, each centered around the iconic Capitol Building. The Northwest quadrant is home to many landmarks, including the White House, where the President resides; the U.S. Treasury Building; the Smithsonian Museum; and Ford’s Theater. The Northeast quadrant houses the impressive Supreme Court Building. Meanwhile, the Southeast quadrant boasts the Nationals Park, where the Washington Nationals play, and the bustling Eastern Market. Finally, the Smithsonian Castle can be found in the Southwest quadrant.

Having visited Washington D.C. several times, I can attest to the city’s abundant historical sites, museums and attractions. It’s truly impressive to realize how many significant buildings are situated within a relatively small area, and every visit fills me with a sense of patriotic pride in the opportunity to live in a democratic country.

The Capital Wheel, 141 American Way, Oxon Hill, MD 20745

During my most recent visit to Washington D.C. over Thanksgiving, my wife and I, along with her brother’s family, visited the National Harbor by the Potomac River. The scenic and beautiful waterfront had plenty of activities to offer, but the highlight for us was The Capital Wheel. This magnificent attraction stands at 180 feet and offers stunning views of the White House, the U.S. Capitol Building and the Washington Monument. The ride lasted for around 12-15 minutes and we were able to go around multiple times. Besides the Capital Wheel, we also enjoyed visiting It’s Sugar nearby, where we purchased some delicious candy, and took a ride on the carousel by the water.

Washington Monument, 230 S. Washington St, Washington, DC 20001

After conquering the Capital Wheel, we drove to D.C. to visit the iconic Washington Monument. Opening in 1888, after 40 years of construction, at nearly 555 feet tall, it was the tallest structure in the world at the time. The monument stands to the east of the Reflecting Pool and the Lincoln Memorial, offering a stunning view of the National Mall. On the main platform, visitors can take in a breathtaking 360-degree view of the city, with the Capitol Building and White House surrounding them. I laid my back down on the Monument floor and raised my legs against the Monument wall. This gave me a spectacular view looking up at the gigantic monument. From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., you can ride an elevator up to the top. Call (877) 444-6777 to check availability and make a reservation. Although I haven’t taken the elevator yet, I hope to do so on my next visit. Who knows, maybe Spider Man will be there, too!

The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20500

Visiting the nation’s capital is one thing, but stepping inside the home of the sitting American president takes the experience to a whole other level. During the tour, you will get to see the East Wing, portraits and photos of past leaders, and be able to peek into the ground floor rooms: the Library, the China Room, the Map Room and the Vermeil Room. From there, you will go upstairs and walk through the rooms on the state floor, such as the East Room, which is the biggest room in the White House, the Green Room, a reception parlor, the Blue Room, where the president and first lady often receive guests, and the State Dining Room, which can host up to 130 people. Tours are unguided and take 30-45 minutes, but you can ask Secret Service members questions. In order to visit the White House, you need to request tickets from your member of Congress, so try to do so 90 days in advance. To find your member of Congress, visit https://www.congress.gov/members or call 202-225-3121.

The Smithsonian, 1000 Jefferson Dr SW, Washington, DC 20560

The Smithsonian isn’t just a museum—it’s actually 20 museums combined in one, including air and space, art, American History, a zoo and more. Its collections contain over 154 million specimens, artifacts and works of art. The Hall of Fossils displays real dinosaur bones, including a towering Tyrannosaurus rex and brachiosaurus, and visitors can even touch some of the fossils. At the Hall of Geology, you can marvel at the Hope Diamond, a dazzling 45.5-carat gemstone that was once owned by King Louis XIV of France in 1668. My personal favorite is the Air and Space Museum, which houses the Wright Flyer, the first-ever plane; the Apollo 11 command module, which carried the first humans to the moon in 1969; Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed 5B Vega; and Charles Lindbergh’s single-engine Spirit of St. Louis. The National Museum of American History has the original Star-Spangled Banner on display—the flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the poem that later became America’s national anthem. Also, be sure to check out the flight simulators and the Lockheed Martin IMAX theater, where exciting short films are shown.

The International Spy Museum, 700 L’Enfant Plaza SW, Washington, DC 20024

The International Spy Museum is a thrilling attraction for those who love to unravel the mysteries of espionage. Located just a 15-minute walk from the Smithsonian, this museum offers a behind-the-scenes look into the world of intelligence gathering for national security. As you enter, the one-and-only Morgan Freeman narrates an intriguing overview. For a more immersive experience, grab a Spy Badge and be assigned a secret cover and mission to accomplish while exploring the museum exhibits. The museum boasts two floors of fascinating exhibits, covering everything from the American Revolution to the Cold War, to artifacts used by the CIA against Al Qaeda terrorists, and more. It even showcases some of the failures of special intelligence during significant events like 9/11 and Pearl Harbor. Moreover, it includes exclusive stories from spies in America, Great Britain, China, Russia and Israel. Before leaving, put your spy skills to the test and get graded on various intelligence specialties. If you have a passion for uncovering secrets or love the idea of being a spy, then visiting the International Spy Museum is an absolute must!

Kosher Food:

Char Bar, 2142 L St NW, Washington, DC 20037

For a delectable kosher dining experience, head to Char Bar, the premier restaurant in D.C. Just a short five-minute drive from various national monuments and sites, this restaurant offers a wide range of mouthwatering dishes including steaks, burgers, deli sandwiches, chicken and duck wings, pasta and more. Over Pesach, they are offering a special Pesach menu and will be open Sunday, April 9 and Monday, April 10 from noon to 8:30 p.m..

Other Places to Visit

Besides all of the places which I’ve detailed, some other notable places you could put on your bucket list include:

= Mount Vernon in nearby Virginia—the beautiful home of our first president, George Washington.

Webdings        The Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., and Jefferson Memorials.

= Great Falls in McLean, Virginia, offers breathtaking waterfall hikes.

= The Museum of the Bible.

= The Petersen House, where President Lincoln died.

Pesach is a holiday celebrating freedom and celebration. I believe that Washington, D.C. represents both of these themes. The United States is the land of the free, where all religious groups are welcome to observe their faith in the manner in which they may choose. D.C. is a place from which all of our nation’s great history stems, and it offers many incredible sites for its citizens to enjoy. If you have a day or two to spend in D.C. over Chol Hamoed, I’m confident that you and your family will gain a deeper appreciation of our incredible country and the freedom it offers, creating memories that will last a lifetime.

Chag Sameach!

By Zachary Greenberg

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