This year we missed what turned out to be a terrible Wisconsin winter to spend 80 days—January to March—aboard the MS Prinsendam. Beginning and ending in Fort Lauderdale, this was to be the final Grand Voyage of the Prinsendam and the grandest of voyages it was! We sailed through the Panama Canal, visited a number of ports along both coasts of South America, went 900 miles up the latte-colored Amazon River and dropped anchor at the world’s southernmost city, Ushuaia. From Ushuaia we headed south past treacherous Cape Horn and then, finding calmer waters, spent an entire week in the bays and inlets of the Antarctic Peninsula. On our final day within the boundaries of the seventh continent we actually set foot upon Antarctic land in the pristine village of Grytviken, where we walked among Emperor penguins and elephant seals, yielding to them the right-of-way at all times, and laid a stone upon the grave of heroic explorer, Sir Ernest Shackleton.
Antarctica was unexpectedly jaw-droppingly out-of-this-worldly beautiful.
When we returned to the ship at the end of our last day in Antarctica I ran across Henri and Marlyn, regular attendees at our shipboard Sabbath gatherings and active members of their home Temple in Paris. I mentioned to them that I was planning to speak about the Jewish view of heaven the following Friday night.
“Well then, Rabbi,” Henri quipped with a twinkle in his eye, “I’m not sure you’ll see us at services this time. After this splendid week in Antarctica, we’ve already been to heaven!”