RICHMOND, VA. -- You might think cool might be the last word to describe the capital of the Confederacy. Well, how many times do you sit a few pews away from Steven Spielberg and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner at Yom Kippur services?
The pair, in town filming an Abe Lincoln movie, were guests at Congregation Beth Ahabah -- where Assistant Rabbi Jesse Gallop just happens to be a native of Hopkins, Minn. He's also among the nation's first openly gay and happily married rabbis, having traded vows in Connecticut with Andrew Goodman, a campus rabbi and director of Jewish life at the University of Richmond.
We went to campus to visit our son, the soccer goalie, and were continually surpised and delighted by the historically rich capital of Virginia. Some highlights:
At the Black Sheep, my Green Eggs and Lamb breakfast includes a pesto frittata with spinach, green onions, derby sage cheddar cheese and duck sausage.
Maymont, a 100-acre estate, features an oriental garden, rolling grounds and a raptor center.
Perhaps my favorite stops were a couple of cemeteries. At the Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond's finest, including a couple former presidents, overlook the James River along with 18,000 confederate soldiers buried there. (OK, maybe the confederate flags aren't so cool.)
At the Hebrew Cemetery, we found what's believed to be one of the only Jewish soldier cemeteries outside Israel. Thirty Jewish soldiers were buried there in 1866 and the fence features muskets and swords. After gravestone gazing, we dined at the sensational Boathouse, which also overlooks the James River with a view of the skyline of this surprisingly hip southern city.