Jewish Jewels of the Baltics
Lithuania & Latvia plus Estonia
Heritage & Culture Explored
June 2–10, 2024


Lithuanian Jews, also called Litvaks, were among Europe’s most influential scholars, energetic businessmen, and skilled professionals prior to World War II. In Lithuania, Jewish secular and religious institutions flourished. With more than 100 synagogues and some of the leading rabbinical schools of Europe, Vilnius was affectionately known as “the Jerusalem of Lithuania.” The YIVO Institute — the leading academic institution for the study of Yiddish language and literature — was founded in Vilnius, and the Gaon of Vilna was a world-renowned Talmudist and scholar.

In nearby Latvia and Estonia, Jews also played important roles in the economic and intellectual life of their countries. Their Jewish communities flourished, with customs and culture influenced by German, Russian, Polish, and Lithuanian traditions. Over the years, such luminaries as Isaiah Berlin, Rabbi Kook, Mark Rothko, Louis Kahn, Abba Eban, and Amos Oz have come from Lithuanian, Latvian, or Estonian families.

Join our Jewish Heritage Travel scholars to explore the heritage and culture of these Baltic Jewish gems. Our trip will begin in the picturesque city of Vilnius and continue through the countryside of Lithuania and Latvia, and then on to Estonia for those who choose to book the additional leg of the tour. Among other places, we will visit Trakai, ancient capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania; the charming city of Riga, a World Heritage Site; and Tallinn, an architectural wonder. Throughout the journey, travelers will enjoy good company and the magnificent countryside, along with fascinating lectures for invaluable context and insights on Baltic Jewry.


  • 11 nights’ accommodations at deluxe hotels (8 nights in Lithuania and Latvia, 3 nights in Estonia for the excursion bookings)
  • Walking tours through the medieval Jewish quarter of Vilnius and historic Old Riga
  • Tours of Rundāle Palace, Riga Art Nouveau Museum, Riga’s Jewish Community Center and Museum
  • Visit the old Jewish cemetery of Vilnius, the Vilna Gaon Jewish State Museum, the synagogue and museum of Keidan, the Kaunas Synagogue, the Paneriai Forest memorial site, Trakai Castle, the Karaite Ethnographic Museum, and the Tolerance Museum
  • Presentations and discussions with Jewish Heritage Travel scholars


Sunday, June 2 | Vilnius
Afternoon: Guests will arrive and check in to the centrally located Grand Hotel Kempinski in Cathedral Square.
There will be an evening presentation by our Jewish Heritage Travel accompanying scholar, followed by orientation for an opportunity for guests to get to know one another. We’ll enjoy an opening dinner at our hotel to become better acquainted and discuss the days we’ll share ahead.

Meals Included: Dinner

Accommodations: Kempinski Hotel

Monday, June 3 | Vilnius
We will begin this morning with a visit to the old Jewish cemetery (the final resting place of Gaon of Vilna) and a walk through the medieval Jewish quarter and ghetto before visiting the Vilnius synagogue.

In the afternoon, we will visit the State Jewish Museum, dedicated to the historical and cultural heritage of Lithuanian Jewry. This small institution surveys the history of the Jewish community of Vilnius from the 15th through 20th centuries. It displays rare photographs and copies of diaries and handwritten notes relating to the Holocaust.

In the evening, we’ll enjoy another presentation by a Jewish Heritage Travel scholar.

Meals Included: Breakfast

Accommodations: Kempinski Hotel

Tuesday, June 4 | Vilnius | Keidan | Kaunus
The day will start with an early-morning departure for Keidan (also known as Kedainiai), once an important Jewish shtetl. Here, we will visit the town synagogue and museum, tour Old Town, and have lunch together. Following lunch in Keidan, we will drive to Kaunus (also known as Kovno) and visit a synagogue founded in 1871. Before the Holocaust, this radically designed, neo-Baroque temple was one of more than 35 synagogues and Jewish prayer houses in Kaunus. Though few Jews remain here, the synagogue houses a stunning Torah ark and encapsulates the rich and famous history of Jewish Kovno. Now a museum, the building also contains collections of historical artifacts related to Soviet and Nazi atrocities.

We will return to Vilnius and the evening will be free for guests to relax or explore the city on their own.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Accommodations: Kempinski Hotel

Wednesday, June 5 | Vilnius | Trakai
We’ll depart for a day trip to Trakai, the ancient capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. En route, we’ll stop at Paneriai Forest to see a memorial site commemorating victims of the Holocaust. In this forest, more than 100,000 Jews were murdered, most over a period of a few days.
In Trakai, we will tour historic Trakai Castle and visit the Karaite Ethnographic Museum, situated on a street dotted with picturesque wooden cottages. Many of these cottages were built by the Karaites, an ancient sect and offshoot of Judaism whose descendants arrived in Trakai from the Crimea in the 14th century.

In the evening, we’ll enjoy another presentation by an accompanying scholar.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Accommodations: Kempinski Hotel

Thursday, June 6 | Vilnius
Morning: We’ll depart our hotel for Old Town to see the Gothic corner with two medieval buildings, the churches of St. Anne and St. Bernadine, and Dawn Gate. Later, we’ll take a tour of the Tolerance Center, a branch of the Vilna Gaon Jewish State Museum that teaches about the history and culture of Lithuanian Jewry and also acts as a performance space, before returning to our hotel. The afternoon and evening are free for guests to explore the city, sightsee, and shop.

Meals Included: Breakfast

Accommodations: Kempinski Hotel

Friday, June 7 | Riga
We’ll depart Vilnius for Riga, stopping at the Baroque Rundale Palace for a private guided tour. One of the most outstanding monuments of Baroque and Rococo architecture in Latvia, the palace was built as a summer residence for Ernst Johann Biron, Duke of Courland and a favorite of the Russian empress Anna Ioannovna. We’ll have lunch together at Rundale Palace.
Evening: We’ll have a Shabbat dinner together at the hotel.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodations: Grand Palace Hotel

Saturday, June 8 | Riga
Morning: Guests are free to relax or attend Shabbat services.
Afternoon: We’ll take a walking tour of historic Old Riga (designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site), with its many wooden buildings and Art Nouveau architecture. Plus, we’ll have a guided tour of the Art Nouveau Museum.

Evening: Guests will be free to relax or explore the capital city of Latvia on their own.

Meals Included: Breakfast

Accommodations: Grand Palace Hotel

Sunday, June 9 | Riga
Our morning will begin with a private guided tour of Riga’s Jewish Community Center and Museum. At the museum, we will hear a presentation about Riga’s Jewish history by Ilya Lensky, a director at the museum. Following a break for lunch in Old Town, we will visit the “Moscow District” and Rumbula Forest, where more than 25,000 Jews were massacred over one weekend.
We will end our day at the Žanis Lipke Museum (a modern, interactive museum designed by a prominent local architect that tells the little-known tale of Žanis Lipke and the network of about 25 people who created an “underground railroad” to rescue Jews from the Nazis during the German occupation of Latvia).

We’ll gather for a festive dinner together this evening.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Accommodations: Grand Palace Hotel

Monday, June 10 | Tallinn
We’ll take in a morning presentation by our accompanying scholar.

Travelers booking for Lithuania and Latvia will return home. Those who have chosen to visit Estonia will continue on and depart for the capital city of Tallinn. Along the way, we will view the magnificent countryside with a stop in the seaside town of Pärnu for lunch together at Villa Ammende, a mansion that is one of the best examples of the early Art Nouveau style in Estonia. From Pärnu, we will drive on to Tallinn, Estonia’s capital on the Baltic Sea.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Accommodations: Hotel Telegraaf

Tuesday, June 11 | Tallinn
Morning: We’ll head to the spectacular Kumu Museum for a private guided tour that encompasses the building’s award-winning architecture and its permanent collection of Estonian art. In 2008, it received the European Museum of the Year Award, one of the most prestigious in Europe. We’ll have lunch together at the museum.

Afternoon: There will be a walking tour of Old Town, including Town Hall Square, Toompea Castle, Dominican Monastery, and Alexander Nevsky Cathedral (a magnificent example of a Russian Revival cupola cathedral). Along the way, we’ll take a guided tour of the Niguliste Museum, with its collection of medieval and early modern ecclesiastical art.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Accommodations: Hotel Telegraaf

Wednesday, June 12 | Tallinn
Morning: We will visit Tallinn’s new Jewish Community Center and the adjoining, architecturally fascinating synagogue and museum for a guided tour. After a break for lunch, we’ll have the afternoon free for last-minute shopping or to explore the city.

Evening: We’ll have a final closing dinner as a group at our hotel.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Accommodations: Hotel Telegraaf

Thursday, June 13
Depart for home.

Traveling with you…

Therkel Straedeis professor emeritus of contemporary history at the University of Southern Denmark in Odense and Denmark’s leading scholar in Holocaust studies. He has worked extensively on the history of Nazi Germany, the October 1943 rescue (and deportation) of the Jews from Denmark, and the Holocaust in the areas that belonged to the Soviet Union at the time of the June 1941 German attack. His newest book, about the rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust, will be published in 2024. Professor Straede has worked with the Museum of Jewish Heritage to create an exhibition for children and families on the Danish October 1943 events. He also operates a website on the Danish deportees to the Theresienstadt ghetto: Straede received a Congressional Citation of Honor from the United States House of Representatives for his achievements in Holocaust research and education.

Lucy Rapoport, trip leader, has guided and accompanied many previous Jewish heritage tours, all to great acclaim. Born and schooled in England before moving to Italy as a young adult, Lucy is fluent in Italian, German, French, and Spanish and has been a tour manager for over twenty years. Specializing in Europe, she has accompanied previous Jewish groups to such places as Lithuania, Krakow, Prague, Berlin, Croatia, Spain, Romania, Serbia, France, northern and southern Italy, and Sicily. With Lucy’s attention to detail, knowledge of history, and considerable expertise in guiding groups, participants will be well served on this trip.


Vilnius: The Grand Hotel Kempinski
The Kempinski Hotel Cathedral Square is a truly distinctive hotel located on Cathedral Square, featuring breathtaking views over the UNESCO-listed Old Town. Major tourist attractions, such as the Presidential Palace and the main shopping street, Gedimino Boulevard (home to many designer boutiques), in addition to galleries, are all within walking distance.

Riga: The Grand Palace Riga
The Grand Palace Riga was originally built in 1877 as the Central Bank of Latvia and was converted into a boutique 5-star hotel in 2000. It now offers a setting that encompasses luxury, warmth, and comfort. Voted as Latvia’s leading hotel, the Grand Palace Hotel is located in the heart of the sightseeing district of Riga Old Town.

Tallinn: Hotel Telegraaf
Hotel Telegraaf is an elegant 19th-century building with a stunning façade, perfectly placed in the heart of Tallinn’s historical Old Town. Formerly a telephone exchange, it has been masterfully converted to a boutique hotel that provides the highest standards of accommodations and cuisine.


Program Cost: $6,250* includes: 

  • 8 nights of deluxe accommodations in Vilnius and Riga
  • Full breakfast daily; five lunches; three dinners
  • All group transportation via deluxe air-conditioned coach
  • All lectures, guided tours, and museum and site entrance fees

*Per person, based on double occupancy. Single supplement: $1,450. Fees not included: gratuities: $165. 

Estonia Extension cost: $1,950* includes:

  • 3 nights deluxe accommodations in Tallinn  
  • Full breakfast daily; two lunches; one dinner
  • All group transportation via deluxe air-conditioned coach
  • All presentations, guided tours, and museum and site entrance fees

*Per person, based on double occupancy. Single supplement: $370. Fees not included: gratuities: $70.

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 after you have registered.

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, and be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. 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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