Before World War II, Poland’s three million Jews represented one of the largest and most influential Jewish communities in the world. Poland’s diverse Jewish community included Hasidim, secular Jewish intellectuals, Yiddish writers and poets, Zionists, and Socialists. Fewer than 10 percent of Poland’s Jews remained after the Holocaust.
Today, more than 25,000 Jews live in Poland, contributing to the rebirth of Jewish life there. An impressive new museum has just opened in Warsaw; Jewish festivals in Krakow and other parts of Poland attract tens of thousands each year; synagogues are reopening; a chief rabbi has been appointed and Hebrew classes are being offered. We will explore this phenomenon of a renewal of Jewish life in Poland and address the complex questions that it invites.
Our program will begin in Warsaw where a highlight will be the new Museum of the History of Polish Jews, located on the site of the former Warsaw Ghetto. The visit will include a private, guided tour of the museum, where we will explore the 1,000 year Jewish history of Poland. Additionally we will enjoy guided tours of other sites of interest in Warsaw, including the monument to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, the remains of the Mila 18, the bunker of the Jewish Fighting Organization, and the Umshlagplatz, the site from which Jews were deported to Treblinka. We will meet with scholars and leaders of the Jewish community and enjoy Warsaw’s rich cultural life.
From Warsaw, we will drive to Wrocław (Breslau), the “City of 100 Bridges,” stopping on our way in the historic city of Lodz. Here we will enjoy a walk through the Old Town and participate in Shabbat services in the restored and rededicated historic White Stork Synagogue. Departing Wrocław, aboard a comfortable, deluxe coach, we will journey through Poland’s countryside and villages, stopping for lunch and a short visit to Jewish and Polish cultural sites before continuing on to Krakow.
In historically rich Krakow, the cultural capital of Poland, we will tour the once thriving Jewish district of Kazimierz with its many surviving synagogues and the pre-war Jewish cemetery, the largest medieval market square in Europe, and other places of historic and cultural interest. With Krakow as our base, we will travel to the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum and visit the last surviving synagogue in the town of Auschwitz at the newly expanded Auschwitz Jewish Center, where we will have a private tour by its director.
Accompanying us throughout will be the director of the Museum of Jewish Heritage — A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, Dr. David G. Marwell, joined by local scholars who will help us understand the richness and complexities of the Jewish experience in Poland — past and present. In addition, private receptions and meetings with experts and leaders of the Jewish community will provide us with a unique opportunity to learn firsthand what life is like for the Jews of Poland today. We invite you to join us on this exciting trip.
Check in to the 5-star Bristol Hotel in Warsaw, located near Old Town, with shops and restaurants nearby. Rest and relax before orientation and dinner (included).
Evening: Orientation, introductions, and short overview by Dr. David G. Marwell, followed by welcoming dinner at our hotel (included).
Walking tour in Warsaw that will include, among other sites, the Old Town, Market Square, the Barbican (surviving remnant of Old Town’s defensive structure), and the Monument to the Warsaw Uprising. Lunch on our own in Old Market Square, an area filled with street vendors, cafes, shops, galleries, and some of Warsaw’s top restaurants, all within easy walking distance.
Evening presentation by a local scholar, followed by dinner on our own.
In the morning: we will start with a short walk to the Umschlagplatz (where the Jews were gathered for deportation to Treblinka) before continuing to Mila 18 (site of Jewish Fighting Organization in the ghetto uprising). Then we will proceed to the Museum of the History of the Polish Jews for a private guided tour. We will break for lunch on our own at the Museum. In the afternoon we will continue our walking tour, including visits to Nozyk Synagogue, the Ghetto wall, and the site of the foot bridge that connected the small and large Warsaw Ghetto.
Evening free, dinner on our own.
Today’s program will begin with a special guided tour of the Jewish Cemetery, site of the graves of many Jewish luminaries, including Sholem Aleichem. We will then visit the Jewish Historical Institute, once the Main Judaic Library and the first Jewish research and educational center of Europe. It was turned into the Jewish Historical Institute in 1947. The most precious of its collections is the Ringelblum Archive, which was found in the ruins of the Warsaw Ghetto.
Afternoon: Free to continue exploring Warsaw on our own, visit its many museums, or the Royal Castle which houses paintings by Canaletto and Rembrandt. Many important elements of the interiors can be seen today thanks to employees of the National Museum who managed to save some furniture, carvings, paintings, and decorative elements during the evacuation of the castle in 1944.
Evening presentation by a local scholar, followed by discussion led by Dr. David G. Marwell, and dinner on our own.
Depart Warsaw for Lodz. Visit the Holocaust Memorial, Jewish Cemetery and Memorial, and
Piotrkowska Street (Main High Street), where we will break for lunch on our own. Arrive Wroclaw ( formerly the German city of Breslau), once a thriving Jewish community. Check in to the deluxe Wrocław Sofitel. Rest and relax before a festive Shabbat dinner at our hotel (included).
Morning: Free to rest, relax, or explore Wrocław on our own , or (optional) attend services at the White Stork Synagogue.
Afternoon: Walking tour of Old Town Wroclaw, including the Rynek and the Old Market Square. The rest of the afternoon is free to explore the Old Town.
Evening: (optional) Chamber music performance.
Depart Wrocław for Krakow with stops of interest along the way. Check in to the 5-star Radisson Blu hotel, ideally located a few minutes’ walk to Old Town and Market Square. Following lunch on our own, we will depart on a walking tour of Krakow’s Old Town and the Rynek. A UNESCO world heritage site, the Old Town is a 13th century medieval town and the largest of its kind in Europe.
Evening: Discussion led by Dr. David G. Marwell, followed by dinner on our own.
Depart our hotel for the Kazimierz District to visit its Jewish sites and synagogues. The itinerary includes the Old Cemetery at the Remuh Synagogue, established in 1535; the Stary Synagogue (the oldest synagogue in Kraków, dating back to the 15th century and housing a Museum of Jewish Art and Judaica); and the Galicia Museum (documenting remnants of Jewish culture and history in Poland). Lunch on our own along the waybefore continuing to Podgórze, the site of the Jewish ghetto, where we will visit the memorial to the ghetto, a museum to the ghetto resistance, and a fragment of the ghetto wall. Our tour will end at Schindler’s factory, today a museum, for an optional museum visit.
Evening presentation by a local scholar, followed by dinner on our own.
Morning visit to the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp complex, where we will witness the history of the most notorious site of the Holocaust. In the afternoon, we will visit the nearby Auschwitz Jewish Center, which is dedicated to memorializing the 400 year history of the Jews of Oświęcim (Auschwitz). Following that there will be an opportunity to say Kaddish in the last synagogue in Auschwitz and a special guided tour and meeting with the volunteers and directors of the Center. Evening: Free, dinner on our own.
In the morning we will have a tour of the Wawel Castle (seat of the Polish monarchs until 1596), including Wawel Cathedral and Dragon’s Cave. The afternoon is free for lunch on our own, and to do any last minute shopping or explore Krakow on our own.
Closing meeting and dinner (included).
Depart for home.
Situated on the famous Royal Route, in the heart of Warsaw, for over 100 years, the Bristol has served as Warsaw’s most distinguished destination. With a majestic neo-renaissance facade and romantic interiors and Art Deco elegance, the Bristol is just steps away from Nowy Swiat — the most fashionable street in Warsaw. Recently renovated, the Bristol combines incomparable beauty and luxury with a prestigious blend of history and culture. The exquisite guest rooms reflect an engaging mix of comfort, discreet elegance, and state-of-the-art technology.