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From Devastation to Renewal
Berlin
Jewish Past and Present
August 20–27, 2024

Overview

Jewish history in Berlin is deep and long, with periods of turbulence and devastation, but also enlightenment, prosperity, and cultural achievement. When philosopher and scholar Moses Mendelssohn first arrived, Berlin was one of the great centers of Jewish culture. By the end of the 18th century, the city had become the focal point of the Haskalah (Jewish Enlightenment). It was, and remains, a place of renowned art, theater, and music. 

This trip will provide a unique opportunity to learn about Berlin’s rich Jewish history as well as visit its world-class art museums. Discover a surprising Jewish revival, once unimaginable, taking place in Germany’s capital, which now boasts the fastest-growing Jewish population in Europe. Through guided visits to museums, landmarks, synagogues, and, of course, memorials, we’ll celebrate the rich history of German Jewry while commemorating and honoring its tragedy.

During our travels, we’ll visit the much-praised Jewish Museum (Daniel Libeskind’s architectural tour-de-force), the rebuilt Neue Synagogue, and the Pergamon with its outstanding collection of Middle East, Islamic, and ancient art museums. In addition, we will take an excursion to the infamous Wannsee Conference House and tour the nearby home of Impressionist painter Max Liebermann. 

Join us to explore the Jewish-German experience, accompanied by an outstanding scholar and experienced guide, for an unforgettable immersion into the city’s culture and monumental Jewish history — its triumphs and its tragedies.

Highlights

  • 7 nights of deluxe accommodations
  • Walking tour in Berlin, including the Bebelplatz, Unter den Linden Avenue, and the five world-famous museum buildings known collectively as Museum Island
  • Visits to the city’s world-class Jewish Museum, “Platform 17 memorial, Brandenburg Gate, the remainder of the Berlin Wall, Wannsee House, the home of artist Max Liebermann, the historic Berlin Synagogue, Charlottenburg Palace, and the Reichstag 
  • A guided tour of the city’s Jewish Quarter, including the centuries-old Weissensee, the Old Jewish Cemetery, the Otto Weidt Museum, and more
  • Special presentations by our Jewish Heritage Travel scholar

Itinerary

Day 1 | Tuesday, August 20  



Guests will check in to the deluxe five-star Westin Grand Berlin hotel, located in the Mitte district on the Friedrichstraße, a major cultural and shopping street in central Berlin. In the afternoon, we’ll commence with a walking tour of this historic area, starting with the Bebelplatz, one of the city’s most famous squares (and the home of “The Empty Library,” a public memorial by Israeli sculptor Micha Ullman located at the site where Nazis burned banned books in 1933). From there, we’ll stroll along the iconic Unter den Linden Avenue, one of Berlin’s most elegant boulevards, which links many of the city’s attractions and famous sites, including the Brandenburg Gate. After crossing the Spree River, we’ll pass the famed Museum Island, a complex containing five different world-class museums: the Altes Museum, Neues Museum, Alte Nationalgalerie, Pergamonmuseum, and Bode Museum. In the evening, we’ll return to our hotel to discuss the days ahead and receive a presentation from our Jewish Heritage Travel scholar, followed by an opening-night dinner together at our hotel’s restaurant.

Meals Included: dinner
Accommodations: Westin Grand Hotel

Day 2 | Wednesday, August 21

Before we continue to explore the city, our Jewish Heritage Travel scholar will begin our second day with a presentation on Berlin’s unique Jewish culture. We’ll then head to the Berlin Jewish Museum, passing Micha Ullman’s and Zvi Hacker’s memorial for the Lindenstraße Synagogue along the way. Designed by the renowned architect Daniel Libeskind, the Berlin Jewish Museum is the second-largest museum in Europe; it comprehensively presents German-Jewish history from the Middle Ages to the present. Later, we’ll ride through the Kreuzberg neighborhood, filled with iconic street art, to visit the East Side Gallery, which has murals by artists from across the world. At 4,318 feet, this open-air art gallery on the banks of the Spree is the longest continuous section of the Berlin Wall still standing. Guests may also visit the Bavarian Quarter’s street sign memorial containing 80 carefully composed street signs with anti-Semitic legislation, phrases from letters written by deported Jews, and more. There will also be opportunities for those interested to visit the Fraenkelufer Museum, Kreuzberg’s active synagogue, and the Berlin chapter of Hillel.

Meals Included: breakfast
Accommodations: Westin Grand Hotel

Day 3 | Thursday, August 22

In the morning, we’ll enjoy another presentation at our hotel with our scholar before visiting nearby historic landmarks, starting with the Brandenburg Gate. Built between 1788 and 1791, based on designs by Carl Gotthard Langhans the Elder, the gate is considered “one of the most beautiful buildings of classicism.” Once a part of the Berlin Wall, it is now a symbol of German unity. Afterward, we’ll pay our respects at the city’s Holocaust Memorial, also known as The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, designed by New York architect Peter Eisenman. The abstract installation, which opened in 2005, comprises 2,711 gray concrete slabs reminiscent of coffins. After a break for lunch, we’ll view Berlin’s New Synagogue and its restored facade before taking a walking tour through the Old Jewish Quarter. We’ll visit the Old Jewish Cemetery, the final resting place for many historical figures, including German philosopher Moses Mendelssohn, considered the pioneer of the Haskalah, or Jewish Enlightenment. Finally, we’ll stop at the Otto Weidt Museum, formerly a tiny broom and brush factory that employed mainly blind and deaf Jews during World War II. The museum chronicles Weidt’s efforts to protect his workers from the Gestapo. Enjoy a leisurely evening of your own choosing.

Meals Included: breakfast, lunch
Accommodations: Westin Grand Hotel

Day 4 | Friday, August 23 
In the morning, we’ll travel to the notorious Wannsee House. Now a memorial, this lakeside villa was the site of the “Final Solution” conference, where the Nazis planned their annihilation of European Jewry. We’ll also visit the “Platform 17” memorial in Grunewald Station, an installation that commemorates the deportation of Jews and records dates of transports. From there, we’ll board a luxury coach for a short ride to the neighboring town of Potsdam. This city is the site of the Potsdam Conference, where Winston Churchill, Harry Truman, and Joseph Stalin met to discuss postwar peace in the summer of 1945. It’s also the former home of the Prussian Kings and their magnificent royal residences, including Cecilienhof Palace. Built in the style of a Tudor country manor, this was the last palace erected by the Hohenzollern dynasty. We’ll tour the Charlotenburg Palace and its gardens. After returning to Berlin, we’ll enjoy evening services at the Oranienburg Synagogue and share a Shabbat dinner at a local restaurant.

Meals Included: breakfast, dinner
Accommodations: Westin Grand Hotel

Day 5 | Saturday, August 24

We’ll start the morning with another informative and fascinating lecture by our Jewish Heritage scholar, followed by a free day to allow guests to explore Berlin on their own. There will be an optional tour of Museum Island for those who wish to join. This evening you will be free to enjoy the city’s fine dining culture and nightlife on your own. 

Meals Included: breakfast
Accommodations: Westin Grand Hotel

Day 6 | Sunday, August 25

Our first visit of the day will be at the memorial center at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. As the principal concentration camp for the area — built by prisoners in the center of the town of Oranienburg,  just 20 miles north of Berlin — this was one of the biggest camps on German territory. Expert historians will detail the camp’s history and provide a timeline for the atrocities that took place there.

After a break for lunch, we’ll explore the gardens of the Charlottenburg Palace, Berlin’s largest and oldest surviving palace and the former summer residence for German royals. Siméon Godeau, a pupil of André Le Nôtre, the famous court gardener of Versailles, was commissioned by Sophia Charlotte to grow a Baroque modern garden in the French style. Other gardeners created landscapes in keeping with English models. Today, a stroll along these grounds is a walk through 300 years of garden design. Our scholar will have an evening presentation, and we will have dinner this evening on our own.

Meals Included: breakfast
Accommodations: Westin Grand Hotel

Day 7 | Monday, August 26

For our final full day together, we’ll explore the rebuilt Reichstag, the Neo-Renaissance architectural marvel with its signature glass dome, originally constructed between 1884 and 1894. The building burned down in February 1933. This pivotal historical moment was used as an excuse to suspend civil liberties, including freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom of expression, and much more. Redesigned in the 1990s, the Reichstag has acted as a parliament building since.

We’ll stroll through the tree-lined paths of the Tiergarten, the city’s most popular park, dubbed “Berlin’s green lung.” Its 520 acres contain a variety of attractions, including the Victory Column, the Berlin Zoological Garden, and much more. Later, we’ll admire the modernist architecture of Potsdamer Platz, a public square that was once the demarcation point between East and West Berlin. Guests will be free to visit other sites that pique their interest before we reconvene for our final closing dinner together at the hotel. 

Meals Included: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Accommodations: Westin Grand Hotel

Day 8 | Tuesday, August 27

Guests will bid farewell and depart for home.

Meals Included: breakfast

Traveling with you…

Each of our scholars are outstanding experts in their fields and play an active role in helping us design our journeys as well as accompanying us as we travel. 

Chaim Seidler-Feller recently celebrated his 40th year of working with students and faculty as the executive director of the Hillel Center for Jewish Life at UCLA. Currently director emeritus, he also serves as director of the Hartman Fellowship for Campus Professionals. An ordained rabbi, he also completed a master’s degree in rabbinic literature. Chaim has been a lecturer in the Departments of Sociology and Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at UCLA and in the Department of Theological Studies at Loyola Marymount University. He is also a faculty member of the Shalom Hartman Institute, North America, and of the Wexner Heritage Foundation and was rabbinic consultant to Barbra Streisand during the making of the film Yentl. The International Hillel Center has granted Chaim the Hillel Professional Recognition Award “for blending the love of Jewish tradition with the modern intellectual approach of the university.”

Accommodations

The Westin Grand Berlin

This classic luxury hotel, recently renovated in 2022, offers old-world charm and modern elegance right in the city center. After entering a grand octagonal-shaped lobby with its sweeping staircase under a dramatic 100-foot glass dome, guests will discover a full wellness center, a large indoor pool, a gorgeous garden, and all the finest amenities. 

Details

Program Cost: $5,950* includes:

  • 7 nights’ accommodations at a deluxe hotel
  • Full breakfast daily; two lunches; three dinners
  • All group transportation via deluxe air-conditioned coach
  • All lectures, guided tours, museums and site entrance fees

*Per person, double occupancy; single supplement: $1,000. Fees not included: Gratuities: $195. Museum membership for nonmembers. 

Secure your place

Book Now: use the link below to reach our easy online booking form.

By phone: 845-256-0197 Monday–Friday, 10am–4pm EST.

Payment Reserve your space with a nonrefundable deposit of $1,000 per person. Final balance is due 120 days prior to departure.

Membership Participation on these tours is a benefit for active members of our museum partners. During the registration process, you will be asked about your membership status with your affiliated museum. If you are not a current member, you will have a chance to activate your membership.

Participation Tour sizes are limited to 28 participants unless otherwise noted. Trips entail considerable walking including over uneven terrain. Participants need to be in good health, be able to keep up with the group, be able to experience group and cultural differences with grace. Please let us know if you have any physical conditions that may require special attention while on tour.

Cancellations All cancellations must be received by Jewish Heritage Travel in writing. Cancellations received 120 days or more prior to departure: full refund less nonrefundable deposits, per person; 119–90 days prior to departure: 50% refund per person after nonrefundable deposits. 89–0 days before departure: no refund.

Trip Cancellation Insurance Jewish Heritage Travel strongly urges all participants to purchase travel insurance for coverage of losses necessitated by having to cancel due to illness or accident. For your convenience, we are providing a link to Allianz Global Assistance, which many past participants have used. Please use code ACCAM/Agency ID# F026815 or feel free to use your own insurance agent. When purchasing insurance, please consider the plans carefully to familiarize yourself with what is covered. In this context, do take note that most insurance companies generally will waive exclusion for preexisting conditions only if your application is received by them within 14 days from the date of your program registration. If you have a preexisting medical condition and are interested in taking trip insurance, you should do so either with Allianz or through your own insurance agent within 14 days of registration.

Changes All rights are reserved by Jewish Heritage Travel to make scholar substitutions and/or to modify the itinerary (including hotels) as needed. Every reasonable effort will be made to operate the program as planned; however, should unforeseen world events and conditions require the itinerary to be altered, Jewish Heritage Travel reserves the right to do so for the safety and best interest of the group. Any extra expenses incurred in this situation are the responsibility of the participant.

Disclaimer of Responsibility By registering for this program, participant specifically waives any and all claims of action against the Museum of Jewish Heritage and the Jewish Heritage Travel office and their respective staffs for damages, loss, injury, accident, or death incurred by any person in connection with this tour. The Museum of Jewish Heritage and the Jewish Heritage Travel office and their respective staffs assume no responsibility or liability in connection with the service of any train, vessel, carriage, aircraft, or other conveyance that may be used wholly or in part in the performance of their duty to the passengers. Neither will the Museum of Jewish Heritage or the Jewish Heritage Travel office or their staffs be responsible for any injury, death, loss, accident, delay, or irregularity through neglect or default of any company or person engaged in carrying out the purposes for which tickets, vouchers, or coupons are issued. No responsibility is accepted for losses or expenses due to sickness, viruses, weather, strikes, wars, and other causes. In the event it becomes necessary or advisable for any reason whatsoever to alter the itinerary or arrangements, including hotels or scholars, such alterations may be made without penalty. All rights reserved to require any participant to withdraw from the tour at his/her own expense when such an action is determined by the tour staff to be in the best interest of the participant’s health and safety and that of the group in general. Prices subject to change. Cost in effect at time of registration will be honored.

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