Raves for Joy Katzen-Guthrie's Heritage Tours

Sun, 11 May 2008 08:47:18 -0400 • Dear Joy, I often think about the wonderful time I had on our trip to China. Our guides were excellent. Fine hotels and great Chinese food. Fun shows, too. Thanks to everyone for a beautifully planned trip - even the weather cooperated. I feel so fortunate for this great experience. (I was especially fascinated by Shanghai, its history, architecture and ambience.) Thanks again. Sincerely, Roz Sedlezky, Sarasota [reflecting on Joy's Temple Beth El-St. Petersburgh Group Discovery of Jewish China Tour of March/April 2008 that visited Beijing, Xi'an, Suzhou, and Shanghai]

Thu, 17 Apr 2008 17:17:15 EDT • I had a wonderful time and I am thrilled that I actually went and that I did it with you and your arrangements. I have beautiful memories of all the places we went to and of the guides and your singing on the way to Kehillat Beijing and of the delicious oily vegetables, etc. My cholesterol levels dropped, probably from little meat and more walking, and my other blood tests came out perfect, I'm sure, due to the trip. My photos are fun to watch and I'm still unsure of all the labels I should be putting on, but each and every day was delightful and full of discoveries. You are an inspiration that we should pursue our curiosities and learn all we can of a foreign culture. Thanks so much for everything. Welcome home and have a peaceful, happy pesach. Fondly, Linda Borsykowsky, New York [reflecting on Joy's Temple Beth El-St. Petersburgh Discovery of Jewish China Tour of March/April 2008 that visited Beijing, Xi'an, Suzhou, and Shanghai]

Sat, 26 May 2007 10:29:59 -700 (PDT)
Hi Joy: Our experience with you and your guide were excellent from the get-go. Our guide was highly knowledgeable and answered every one of our detailed questions, on site. By all means, continue to send us your materials and keep us on your mailing list. Keep up your MUSIC! ~Yvonne and Mike Rosenblatt [Joy arranged a Jewish Day Tour of Shanghai for the Rosenblatts with Regent Tours' vivacious Judaic scholar and guide, Liang Pingan from the Center For Jewish Studies, Shanghai. Liang is a brilliant speaker and scholar, and one of our most beloved guides.]

Tue, 14 Nov 2006 21:50:06 -0500
Dear Joy, Well it exceeded our expectations for sure. Thank you sooo much for all your help and input. We had a wonderful time and Regent did a wonderful job organizing everything for us ... You certainly picked the right cities for us and we saw everything we could. The 2 Buddhist restaurants we ate at for lunch, one in Xi’an and one in Shanghai were excellent. Liang was marvelous as a guide and as a person and his Jewish tour of Shanghai was brilliant and very informative. I wish there was some way that we could be of further assistance to him. The Dam Museum in the Eling Park in Chongching was marvelous and we were thrilled to have had the time to see it after we got off the cruise and before we caught our flight to Shanghai. In Xi'an, Cindy was wonderful and very energetic ... she chose a marvelous Buddhist restaurant for lunch...the best meal we had the whole trip. Your itinerary was a Godsend to me, well written and well itemized and I took loads of notes ... things we would not have known about like the spice and herb market and the cave people in Xi’an. We loved and will cherish our memories and over 750 pictures. Many thanks again. ~Jean and Armand and Willie and Arthur [Joy arranged an extensive month-long vegan Shomer Shabbat tour throughout China for the Lindenbaums and Aeders in October 2006.]

Sun., 22 Jan 2006 19:50:22 EST
Dear Joy: Needless-to-say, our China trip was really terrific. Even though it was from November 10-25th, China, particularly Beijing, was 10 degrees WARMER than usual. It was in the mid-60's (fortunately). We were very lucky. The more southern cities were in the 70's. Not a day of rain or drizzle during the entire trip. Really mazel … The Chinese people were very nice, the scenery, the culture, the old versus the new, we just LOVED every moment of what was an exhausting but terrific and memorable trip. We were glad that we were able to experience the 3 day cruise down the Yangtze River. Really beautiful … I hope you will keep us on your mailing list if and when you start leading tours again. ~Bill [Joy arranged a 16-day vegan, Shomer Shabbat tour of China for Bill & Toby Albert that included many regions of the country.]


Bill Albert writes: "The baby was walking on his own with his mother watching nearby in the
park (he had just  learned to walk). I was walking next to him. I reached out my
hand, which he promptly took, and there we were, Bill and baby, walking
slowly together to the great approval of all the Chinese passers by.
After a while, I stopped, plopped the baby on my lap, and my
guide snapped this cute picture for me. I LOVE this picture."
Photo ©2005 by William Albert. All Rights Reserved.

Fri, 4 Mar 2005 15:17:20+0000
"I enjoyed the tour at the time, but as the years have gone by, I have appreciated the tour even more. We really got to see, do, and experience China (in general), while getting a good explanation, tour and connection with (specifically) Jewish life in China. When I attend, even academic lectures, it is amazing how "well grounded" I am in the historical facts (just from your tour bus talks), and it is so much fun to have "the mental pictures and experience" of different sites. With raising Dahlia, the tour really gave me an integrated sense of myself as a Jew (by birth) and a part of a "Chinese family" (through adoption). Even though Dahlia had not yet arrived, your tour is still a part of "our family." I include things from the tour in stories that I tell her about her motherland and our Jewish heritage. When I "compare notes" with people from other tour groups, I am very aware of how well the Regent tour balanced our comfort as travellers (some trips sound like they were "no vacation" due to poor accommodations) with "seeing the real China" (not just having a tourist-y tourist experience)." ~ Rabbi Elena Stein, Cincinnati, March 4, 2005 ... [reflecting upon her 18-day Chai Jewish Heritage Tour to Beijing, Kaifeng, Luoyang, the Yangtze River, and Shanghai that she took with Joy and Regent China Tours in April/May 2001, one year before she adopted her Chinese daughter, Dahlia.]

Rabbi Stein (on right, holding up flag) joins local celebrants in Beijing in July 2002
following the acceptance of Beijing's bid as Host City for the 2008 Olympics.
Photo ©2002 by Joy Katzen-Guthrie. All Rights Reserved.

Fri, 16 Jul 2004 12:05:01 +0200
"Dear Joy, We have been back a week now and I just wanted to thank you for all of your effort in organizing this very special and wonderful trip. It was indeed fascinating. The details were all worked out and we both feel that this was our best summer trip ever (and we have been to a lot of places). The group was lovely, the tour guides competent, the kosher food was excellent, and the country amazing. What more could we ask for in a vacation trip. We would love to hear from you about any other exotic places that you are organizing kosher tours to. It was a pleasure working with you. We look forward to doing so again. Thanks for everything." ~ Myra & Yisrael Levitz, Israel, Friday, July 16, 2004 ... [reflecting upon their fully glatt kosher Shomer Shabbat tour of China in June 2004 when they visited Beijing, Xi'an, Shanghai, and Suzhou that was created for them by Joy and Regent Tours]

Sat, 27 Dec 2003
Hello Joy, just returned home last nite - safely. I had an amazing journey through China - most important the attention I received from Regent - Yin, Liang and all of the guides were wonderful. I feel like I have made some new friends. It would be my pleasure if you and or Yin's brother and anyone else connected with Regent would like to visit NY. There are so many Jewish people in my community, I would not hesitate to arrange a gathering at my temple if people from Regent would like to make a presentation. I will thank Yin personally. My daughter Lauren will be returning to China in mid January. She will join a different program and reside in Shanghai Jan - June. She spent a whole day with Liang at the Jewish studies center in Shanghai. So it looks like China is in my life for the foreseeable future as my daughter will do something wiith it for her career. By June, she should be fluent in Chinese - she will live with a host family. Bye for now - hope we meet up with each other some day. Best regards, Elaine Katz"
[Joy arranged a private 2-week tour of China in December 2003 for Elaine and her daughter Lauren to visit Beijing, Kaifeng, Shanghai, Suzhou, Wuzi, and Yunnan Province, with special visits to the Jewish communities and China Judaic Studies Institute.]

Sun, 1 Dec 2002 20:03:52 EST
Dear Joy, Just wanted to wish you a happy Chanukah and we hope all is going well for you. A bit overdue, however, our days with you in Kaifeng were truly memorable, we all agree, the major highlight of our trip to China. When we left you, we went on to Xi'an, spent a full day and then on Friday morning we went on to Shanghai for Shabbat. The entire trip was absolutely fabulous, and it was a real pleasure to travel with you and your group. Highly entertaining and very educational. We, Richard and I are thinking about Alaska for our next trip, and are trying to decide rather quickly if we will do it this coming summer. Your trip sounds wonderful, and just up our alley. I have actually been using your itinerary for Alaska as my night time reading for the past 3 weeks, hoping to be able to make a decision soon. Again, thank you for all you did for us for our China trip - we could not have done those days without you and Regent Travel. it was a true pleasure to work with all of you. Thanks again, Linda, Richard, Elizabeth and Eric Stone

Subject: a HUGE thank you
Wed, 5 Jun 2002 19:46:31 EDT

Dear Joy, Thank you so very much for enabling us to join your tour for Sun, Mon, and Tues, July 14, 15, and 16. It means a lot to us to be able to see Kaifeng with knowledgable guides and we eagerly look forward to meeting you. Also, a big thank you for connecting us with Yin at Regent travel. He was wonderful, working with our son, Eric, and through e-mail with me. I know that I drove Eric nuts with the back and forth of changes and ideas, and I also know that I drove Yin crazy as well. He was wonderful through it all and we greatly appreciate all he and you did for us. We look forward to the tour, and hope that the second part worked out for you as well as the first. Hope to be in touch soon. Linda, Richard (my husband), Elizabeth (my daughter), and Eric (my son) ... [The Stone Family joined Joy for the Kaifeng/Shaolin/Zhengzhou portion of our July 2002 Silk & Spice Jewish Heritage Tour to Shandong and Henan Provinces while they were in China visiting their son, and were assisted by Regent Tours in scheduling quite a bit of their travel while in China.]

A centuries-old custom in a centuries-old village alongside the Yangtze River
Photo taken by Joy on her April/May 2001 China Chai Heritage Tour
Photo ©2001 by Joy Katzen-Guthrie. All rights reserved.


Monday, September 30, 2002
Dear Joy, Got home safe and sound after a wonderful experience with my parents. The people at Kehillat Beijing were wonderful. Mom did the D'var Torah and we enjoyed participating in the Sukkot dinner and celebration. Our timing was terrific for the entire trip. Weather was beautiful, arrangements with the guides, etc., were perfect, and we got to celebrate Simchat Torah in Hong Kong. Thank you again for all your help. Hopefully I can direct other people to "Jewish Heritage Tours of China." B'Shalom, Jacqui Rose, New York [Joy arranged a private tour of China in September 2002 for Jacqui and four other family members to visit Beijing and Hong Kong and share Sukkot and Simchat Torah with their Jewish communities.]

Thurs., September 5, 2002
Joy -- This is an overdue thank you for our wonderful trip to Shanghai in June. We cannot say enough wonderful things about our excellent guide Liang. It was really a joy to have a such a knowledgeable guide. We learned so much Jewish history as well as general Chinese history and culture from Liang. We also greatly appreciated his professionalism and willingness to take the extra steps to ensure we had a good trip. We also did not take for granted Liang's English fluency. Any of your tour groups would be very lucky to have Liang as their guide. And to think I found you all on the internet. It's really remarkable. Thank you for a fabulous trip. Take care, Sima Michaels Dembo, Singapore [Joy created a private 4-day tour for Sima and her husband to experience Shanghai and Jewish Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Suzhou, added to a previously-scheduled business visit to China, traveling from Singapore.]

Date: July 24, 2002
Dear Joy, It was a pleasure to be part of your Jewish Heritage Tour in China this year. Laurie and I had a wonderful time and learned so much about the country, its people, and the Jews of China. Thanks so much for organizing such a marvelous tour. ~Cynthia Yoken, New Bedford, Massachusetts, Silk & Spice China Heritage Tour, July 2002

July 2001
I live in a small town in which there are very few Jews. Heritage Tours helped me to see that I am part of a world-wide Jewish community. It was wonderful to explore the Chinese-Jewish experience, and discover the treasures that it holds for Jews around the globe. Thank you, Heritage Tours, for taking me on an adventure that would touch my mind, my senses, and my spirit. I have continued to read about China: Wuhu Diary by Emily Prager, most recently. I know that I was in China only for the 2-week Regent China Tours, but I really feel like China is a part of me. It's been months since the Regent Tour, and it's really sinking in how much we saw and did and learned. When you see our guides, you can tell them that they really did a wonderful job. Even when I talk with other people who have been to China on other tours, I find that they did not get nearly the exposure that we did. Keep up the great work. Tsai Jien." ~Rabbi Elena Stein, Athens, Ohio, China Signature Heritage Tour, July 2001

Rabbi Barbara Aiello of Temple Beth-El in Bradenton, Florida, who joined our July 2001 Signature Heritage Tour to China with members of her congregation, leads our final night's motzi with song and sign language.

Rabbi Aiello shares the Sh'ma in Chinese calligraphy, which an artist made for her in Shanghai. Together they created this translation, which reads: "Listen Everyone! The Eternal One is God and there is only One God."

Photos ©2001 Joy Katzen-Guthrie. All Rights Reserved.

Mon, 27 Aug 2001 09:17:30 -0400
Dear Joy,

Thank you so much for coming to our Open House and sharing the China Experience with our members and friends. It was wonderful to have you with us. For me as a rabbi, the Jewish Heritage China Tour held special meaning. Not only were the cities, the people, and all of the incredible sites, like the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven and the Li River cruise so magnificent, but China's Jewish heritage was best of all. It was an honor to lead services for the Jews of Beijing and to share a Shabbat meal with the Jews of Shanghai. But most special of all was the overwhelmingly strong connection I felt with our Jewish family halfway around the world! Touring the two remaining synagogues of Shanghai, walking through the Hongkou ghetto, tracing the paths that our refugee brothers and sisters walked as they built their lives anew in this welcoming land -- these are memories I will cherish forever. The China experience is a different experience, filled with unusual sounds, sights and smells. The entire tour, so well-organized and filled with so many wonderful things to see and do, gave me a perspective on the Chinese people, their culture and history, in a way that no other experience could have. Regent has worked hard to craft a tour that gives us tourists such a rich experience that I left that beautiful country feeling more like a participant than a spectator. You helped me to immerse myself in all things Chinese and for that I am truly grateful. ~Rabbi Barbara Aiello, http://rabbibarbara.com/, China Signature Tour, July 2001

July 2001
"My going on the trip was a spur of the moment decision and a lifelong dream. If I had gotten to pick each person to go with, these are the people I would have chosen. They are my extended family with warmth and a shared history. The itinerary was very ambitious with every sight and then the Jewish heritage. The Beijing Jews were welcoming and also joyful, as were the Shanghai Jews. It is wonderful to know in many corners of the world Jews are celebrating the Sabbath, just like us. The wonder of the history came alive for me. The Chinese people are warm, kind & "hip." I saw every nook and cranny with our guides, who were gifted in their people skills, true ambassadors for China, and each with a singing voice to bring peace to my heart, humor and leadership and diplomacy. Joy is learned and gifted. Her stories of our people in China created a link with them and a appreciation for what China has done for the Jews. Her intellect and voice were one of the highlights of the tour. Regent Tours also deserves a mention as the easiest tour agency to deal with, with the best hotels, food and guides. Thank you, Joy, for the trip of a lifetime!" ~Carole Maram, Pinellas Park, Florida, China Signature Heritage Tour, July 2001

China Signature Heritage Tour Group, Ohel Rachel Synagogue, July 2001
Photo © 2001 by Joy Katzen-Guthrie. All rights reserved.

July 2001
"For the adaptable traveler, China was a fascinating experience...a mix of the ancient with the brand new, the Jewish religious connection unexpected, the Chinese people friendly, the guides personable and knowledgeable, and Joy was a joy!" ~Sally and Arnold Friedman, Bradenton, Florida, China Signature Heritage Tour, July 2001

May 2001
"In the beginning (bereshit?!?!), there was the voice of Joy, then the implanted trip of a lifetime, a Jewish Heritage Tour of China. And, pouf, we became two of 17 who stepped foot onto the mysterious land of enchantment -- China. And, what a truly lovely, caring and giving group we had. We were indeed lucky. Friendship to share which made blending easy. And all those wonderful memories to keep for the rest of our lives ... To be able to attend Friday evening services, whether Reconstructionist or Lubavitch ... The familiar "Shabbat Shalom" greeting, the candle lighting, with "b'rachot", the warmth of a Shabbat Service so very far from home, made us feel at home ... The sights: ancient, bigger than life, magnificent, steeped in history, with marvelous tales of long ago. At our fingertips, a feast for the eyes ... We were the beneficiaries of seeing the "real life" of the Chinese people. The grandmothers, the auntie and uncle, the mother and father, and OH, those beautiful children! ... The Great Wall where we 17 Jewish brothers and sisters stood and recited the blessings over the wine and challah, followed by the Shehechiyanu, assorted Temples (Heaven, Buddha, Lama, White Horse, Iron Pagoda, etc.), the Forbidden City and its maze of building complexes, the Hutongs (Beijing, Kai Feng), the Yangtze River Cruise to see the new Three Rivers Gorge Dam project to provide electricity and prevent future flooding in the area, the Summer Palace ... Our people, did, in fact, live and interact with the Chinese people then, AND now ... spoken of with great respect by the current populace because of the Jewish reverence for the aged, for it paralleled the Chinese peoples' great respect for their elders; and the varied contributions these Jews made to China over all the years of their citizenship ... Is there not the possibility of "next year, in Kai Feng?" Did we not walk the streets of the hutong, near the river, see the hospital where once proudly stood the Synagogue and where these Chinese Jews lived and worked and prospered and worshiped? Can you not picture in your mind's eye their life on those streets over the many years they lived there - the self-same ones we traversed? ... We really would like to return and do this great trip all over again ... Joy, you and Millie and Frank and William created a real adventure and dream come true for us, and we thank you from the bottom of our collective hearts." ~Beth and Marshall Arkin, Homosassa, Florida, China Chai Heritage Tour, April/May 2001

May 2001
"Thank you, thank you for organizing and leading us through "Jewish" China. I enjoyed it so much. As I regale my friends and family with our experiences, I'm amazed at all we saw and did and learned. Even the problems we encountered were wonderful and in retrospect, lots of fun. The mix of people was incredible. Everyone was friendly, intelligent, witty, good sports and it was as if we had known each other for years. But most of all, I enjoyed meeting you, listening to your music, and admiring your depth of knowledge and love of the subject matter. You're a remarkable person!" ~Rae Haky, Culver City, California, China Chai Heritage Tour, April/May 2001

May 2001
"Thank you again so very much for such an enjoyable and memorable travel experience. When I first happened upon your website and signed up for the trip almost on a lark, I just had a good feeling about it. I had no idea how right I would turn out to be. " ~Paula Fuchsberg, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, China Chai Heritage Tour, April/May 2001

May 2001
"Joy, we want to thank you for leading our Heritage Tour to China. This was truly one of the highlights of our traveling life. We enjoyed seeing all of the traditional tourist sights, but the Jewish sights and attending services with others from the local Jewish community was really a highlight of the trip. We particularly enjoyed your own insightful and educational commentary with a Jewish historic perspective from the "Silk Road" through WWII. We also loved your beautiful voice and willingness to entertain us whenever the opportunity presented itself. Thanks again, we will never forget the friends we made, the images we saw, and all the shopping we crammed into one trip! Good luck on future ventures and keep us on your newsmail list." ~Best Regards, Ron and Harriet Davis, San Jose, California, China Chai Heritage Tour, April/May 2001

June 2000
"Joy Katzen-Guthrie is an exceptional speaker, teacher and singer/performer. She makes the almost 2000-year-old history of the Jewish people in China come alive with her stories, astounding photographs and poignant personal insights from her many trips as guide and leader to the country. It is a delight to listen to her entertaining anecdotes, but most of all to bask in the heartbreakingly beautiful quality of her voice as she illustrates her experiences with timeless songs in Hebrew and English. If you can travel with her to China as I did, do it. If you can hear her speak and sing in person, make sure you're in the front row." ~Lora Cain, Lora Cain Productions, Los Angeles/Dallas, Regent Tours' First China Signature Heritage Tour, June 2000

Wed, 04 Jul 2001 17:52:56 +0800
Subject: Our thanks for your teaching us about your country

Dear Liang,
Our trip to China came to and end on Wednesday and we sadly left for the United States. Audree and I will spend may hours telling our friends, our families and our grandchildren about the exciting things we saw, learned and did. Most of all, we will talk about how different the Chinese country and people are, than what we had thought. I want to thank you for all you did to make our trip so special. We thank you for teaching us about Chinese culture and Chinese history. These are lessons which came late in our life, but, we will tell our children and grandchildren and I hope that one day, they too can visit China. Several nights ago, while in Hong Kong, we were getting ready to go to bed. I turned to my wife and said ..."My fondest dream would be to come back to China in 5 or 10 years." I am sure we would not recognize even that part of the country we have visited. China is a growing country and a changing country.

Our history books have taught us the China gave the world so very much in art and culture. They have given us knowledge in science and the building blocks to the growth of modern science. I don't believe that we in the western world have appreciated or respected China's contributions. I am happy that we have had a chance to visit and see and learn for ourselves. Shortly before we left on our trip I had an opportunity to visit with my uncle who is a Nuclear Engineer. He spent a great deal of time in China because his company was given the first license to come to China and work with Chinese nuclear scientists and together they built the first nuclear power plant. He told me of the people he met and worked with and the relationship they still enjoy when he comes back to visit. One night while we were in Shanghai, we were walking from the Bund back to our hotel. I passed some old walls and thought about everything that has happened in this city over the past years. I wished that the walls could talk to us and tell us their story. When I came back to our hotel I wrote this poem. I hope you will enjoy it.

If these walls could only tell us
Of the stories walls could tell,
Of the rising of a nation
And the burning wars of Hell.

Of the people's rise to power
Then the changing of the ways,
And the image of a nation
Of the mind games that it played.

How the land matured with wisdom
Still the ignorance that abounds,
And the cries of little children
With the empty belly sounds.

Then the sun rise of tomorrow
And the ring of freedom's call,
With love and understanding
And with brotherhood for all.

If we only stop and listen
To the stories walls could tell,
Then the peace of loving brothers
Would replace the fires of Hell.

Thank you again for your friendship. I hope we can meet again in your country or in the United States. You will always be welcome in our home. Respectfully, Harold and Audree Singer, Boca Raton, Florida [written to one of our Chinese Judaic scholars, Liang Pingan, who served as a national guide for a June 2001 China Jewish Discovery Heritage Tour that Joy and Regent Tours organized especially for Temple Beth-El of Boca Raton, Florida.]


Joy Katzen-Guthrie is Owner/Operator, Creator, and Web Master of this site.
All site content except where noted otherwise ©1999-2016 Katzen and Guthrie Associates, Inc.
Contact Joy Katzen-Guthrie • Katzen and Guthrie Associates, Inc. • 727-785-4568  (Tampa Bay Area)  •  joyfulnoise@earthlink.net