GRAND JEWISH HERITAGE TOUR
DAY 1 VILNIUS. Arrival to Vilnius. You will be met by driver and taken to the hotel. Accommodation. Welcome dinner in the restaurant. Overnight.
DAY 2 VILNIUS. Full day to explore Jewish Vilnius. Vilnius used to be a very important Jewish center in Europe. From the 14th century onwards Jews settled in the city, and by the 18th century Vilnius had become the world center of traditional Talmudic learning, eventually known as the Jerusalem of the North. Jewish genius Vilna Gaon was born here. City could be proud of Grand Synagogue, the biggest religious institution in Easter Europe, equal to Vatican in Catholic World and before the WWII had around 110 synagogues in total. During the tour you will pass the streets of UNESCO listed Vilnius Old Town, visit Medieval Jewish quarter, Jewish ghettos, Choral synagogue, learn about the prototype of Doctor Dolittle - Zemach Shabad, one of the most famous French writters – Romain Gary. In Vilna Gaon Jewish State Museum you will get to know about Jewish life, art in Lithuania, Shoah visit newly established Samuel Bak museum. Overnight in Vilnius.
DAY 3 VILNIUS – ZIEZMARIAI – KAUNAS – VILNIUS. Breakfast at the hotel. Morning departure to Kaunas. En route stop at unique wooden synagogue of Ziezmariai. Afterwards continue to the Ninth Fort Museum, a former death site of thousands of Jewish nationals during the World War II. Arrival to Kaunas - second largest city of the country and the capital of Lithuania between the World Wars. During the sightseeing tour of Kaunas Old Town, you will pass by castle ruins, the Town Hall Square, Cathedral and Perkunas House. Visit former Kaunas Jewish ghetto, Kaunas Choral Synagogue, striking for its black and golden colors, as well as its Children's Memorial. Learn about Leah’s Goldberg life in Kaunas and great things Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara has done to save around 6000 jewish people when Holokaust started. Return to Vilnius for overnight.
DAY 4 VILNIUS – PANERIAI – TRAKAI – BIALYSTOK. Breakfast at the hotel. Morning departure to the ancient capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania – Trakai. En route stop at Ponar Forest and Memorial to pay respect to the thousands of Jews, shot in the early days of the war – but (as proved by your visit) never forgotten. Learn about escape tunnel, which location was recently discovered. Later continue to Trakai, famous for the medieval insular castle and heritage of karaites ethnic minority. Get to know how it is related to Judaism. Continue to Bialystok. Evening city tour during which you visit Jewish district- Szulhof. Three surviving synagogue buildings, a few houses including Ludwik Zamenhoff family house , a few architectural details, statues and plaques as well as Jewish cemetery , mass grave of over 900 Jews murdered during ghetto liquidation and the building of former Jewish Hospital. Overnight.
DAY 5 BIALYSTOK – TYKOCIN – TREBLINKA – WARSAW (350 km) Breakfasts at the hotel. Morning departure to Tykocin. Tykocin became a typical Jewish shtetl by 1800, the population was 70% Jewish (during WWII almost all were exterminated). Today Tykocin looks the same as it did before WWII - you can still see Jewish wooden houses, one of the finest Synagogues in Poland built in 1642 (now a museum). Synagogue visit. Later continue to Treblinka Extermination camp. Museum of struggle and martyrdom. Former death camp to exterminate Polish and European Jews was established here in July 1942 (date of first transport of Jews from Warsaw’s ghetto ). During this period over 800 000 people were murdered there, which makes Treblinka second only to Auschwitz Birkenau in the number of victims. Nowadays it’s hard to believe that Treblinka was a killing center. Germans wanted to obliterate traces of their crime. Camps buildings were destroyed and the area was ploughed up and planted with lupine. In Treblinka everything is symbolic. This is a thought-provoking place where humanity reached one of its lowest points in history. During Treblinka Tour you will visit the small exhibition devoted to the extermination camp, Memorial recalling the Wailing Wall surrounded by symbolic grave stones, the Gravel Quarries, former penal labour camp (Treblinka I) and the Execution Site. Drive to Warsaw for overnight.
DAY 6 WARSAW. Breakfast at the hotel. Sightseeing tour including the Museum of the History of the Polish Jews, the Ghetto monument, Umschlagplatz, Mila 18, remains of ghetto wall, Nozyk Synagogue, Jewish Historic Institute and museum, and the old Cemetery. Overnight in Warsaw.
DAY 7 WARSAW - KAZIMIERS DOLNY- LUBLIN ( 210 km) Breakfast at the hotel. Departure to Lublin. En route stop at Kazimiers Dolny. It is is a charming town picturesquely situated on the right bank of the Vistula River in the hills, valleys and gorges. For years it fascinated with its unique atmosphere. Before the II World War Jews made up almost the half of the population of the city. According to the legend – the local synagogue was founded by King Casimir the Great as a gift for his beloved Esther. Stones for the construction were to come from the Western Wall in Jerusalem and parochets were sewed by Esther. Drive to Lublin. City tour to discover Jewish Oxford. City once served as one of the most important centers of Jewish life: commerce, culture and scholarship in Europe. Pass by beautiful Old town, former Jewish quarter, oldest Jewish Cemetery in Poland – the Old Kirkut, building of the pre-war Academy of the Lublin Sages (Yeshiva Chachmei Lublin) and the Synagogue of the Chevra Nossim Funeral Society (Chewra Nosim). Overnight.
DAY 8 LUBLIN - MUJDANEK – ZAMOSC – LVIV ( 230 km) Breakfast at the hotel. Morning departure to Majdanek. Once a Nazi-Germany concentration and extermination camp, today a museum and a memorial site. It is one of the best-preserved camps and it’s not as overrun with visitors as Auschwitz. While moving through the barracks and gas chambers, you will learn about the reality of the camp. Last but not least – Zamosc. Zamosc - the pearl of Renaissance where you will have the opportunity to see beautiful synagogue and building of the ritual baths (mikvah). What is interesting about the city is that until the 18th century Zamosc was the only religious community of Sephardic Jews in Poland. Later they probably became assimilated into the Ashkenazi community. Drive to Ukraine, Lviv, for overnight.
DAY 9 LVIV Breakfast at the hotel. Full day to explore Jewish Lviv. There were more then 200 synagogues in Lviv before WWII, and the city was an important center of Jewish religious, cultural and social life. The oldest synagogues were located in the inner city in the historical Jewish quarter located near to the city’s main Rynok Square. During the tour you will walk around Lviv's historic center which is now a part of UNESCO World Heritage and visit the Golden Rose Synagogue remnants - which once was one of the most beautiful synagogues in Eastern Europe. In 2016 The Space of Synagogues and ‘Perpetuation’ memorial installation were constructed here - a space of commemoration and dialogue on the history and heritage of Jews in Lviv. Stop at the Jewish Centre and the synagogue, the premises of the former ghetto, and the area of the the Janowski Concentration Camp where 120.000 Jews from the Lviv ghetto died. Visit Klepariv railway station where transports destined for the Belzec extermination camp were prepared, and Janowski cemetery with a huge Jewish section.
DAY 10 LVIV - MEDZHYBIZH - VINNYTSIA (360 km) Breakfast at the hotel. Morning departure to Medzhibizh - once a major Jewish centre in the Podolia region. Medzhybizh is popular with Hasids from all over the world, since the founder of Hasidism, Israel ben Elieser Ba`al Schem Tow, is buried in the local Jewish cemetery. Drive to Vinnytsia. Vinnytsia once was one of the main Jewish towns of Podolia with 17 Synagogues in Vinnytsia in the beginning of XX century. During WWII, when Hitler’s headquarter «Werwolf» was build near Vinnytsia, most of Jewish inhabitants of the city where murdered.
DAY 11 VINNYTSIA - BERDYCHIV - ZHYTOMYR - KYIV (270 km) Breakfast at the hotel. On the way to Kyiv we will visit two towns which played crucial role in the history of the Jewish people in Ukraine. Berdychiv - considered to be the capital of all Shtetls in Tzar' Russia. Visit the synagogue there, the notable rabbi Levi Isaac' grave, the Carmelite monastery, and St. Barbara's Church with cellars that served the Nazis to murder many local Jews. Zhytomyr, once an important centre of Jewish life in Ukraine. The Great Maggid of Zhytomyr, a central figure in Hasidic mysticism, is buried in the local cemetery. Nowadays all Jewish communities in the western Ukraine subject to the Zhytomyr rabbi.
DAY 12 KIEV Full day to explore Jewish Kyiv. Sightseeing of the city following the footsteps of the Jewish community. The program includes the the Cave Monastery with the Museum of Historical Treasures of Ukraine with the collection of the Judaic ritual silver objects, Podol Synagogue, Jewish Community Center, houses where Sholom Aleichem, Golda Meir and other personalities of Jewish culture lived. Trip to the Babi Yar Memorial, the place where the Nazis shot 100.000 people.
DAY 13 KIEV Departure from Kyiv. After breakfast at the hotel and check-out our guide will help you to buy some souvenirs and presents. Then we will transfer you to Kiev Borispil Airport (KBP). Some extra excursions could be made depending on the time of your flight.
Return airport transfers
English speaking guide’s service
Transport service: car/ minibus/ bus depending on the group size
12 overnights in centrally located hotels of selected category
Meals: daily breakfasts, welcome dinner
Entrance tickets: Tolerance center, IX fort museum, Kaunas Choral Synagogue, Sugihara house, Trakai castle, Tykocin synagogue museum, Treblinka museum exhibition, the Old Cemetary in Lublin, Majdanek museum, Synagogue in Zamosc, Museum of the History of the Polish Jews, Nozyk Synagogue, Jewish Historic Institute, Galychyna jewish museum, Medzhibizh castle, Carmelite monastery, Kyiv Pechersk Lavra Cave Monastery, Museum of Historical Treasures of Ukraine.