The Jews of
Poland
Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow
May 12–23, 2023

Overview

Before World War II, Poland’s three million Jews represented one of the largest and most influential Jewish communities in the world. The diverse community included Hasidim, secular Jewish intellectuals, Yiddish writers, Zionists, and socialists. Recently, a world-class museum opened in Warsaw, devoted to what Jewish life and culture were like in Poland. Jewish festivals attract thousands of people each year. Additionally, several universities have opened Judaic studies departments where graduate students have published impressive publications, documenting Poland’s astonishingly rich Jewish history and culture.

Join us on what promises to be a meaningful and fascinating trip — beginning in Warsaw, where a highlight will be a guided tour of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, an institution that explores Poland’s 1,000-year Jewish history. Additionally, we will visit sites including the monument to the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, the memorial of Mila 18, and the Umschlagplatz — the site from which Jews were deported to Auschwitz and Treblinka.

From Warsaw, we will travel to Lodz, followed by an overnight stay in Wrocław where we will learn about the prosperous textile industry built by Jews and the role they played in this thriving industrial city. From there, we will travel to historically rich Kraków, once home to a flourishing Jewish presence. Here, we will explore the district of Kazimierz, with its many surviving synagogues, a prewar Jewish cemetery, and the largest medieval market square in Europe. Additionally, we will visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum and newly expanded Auschwitz Jewish Center.

Traveling with us throughout will be Professor Chaim Seidler-Feller, who, through lectures and on-site commentary, will help us appreciate the phenomenon and vibrancy of Jewish life in Poland over the centuries.

Highlights

  • 11 nights of deluxe accommodations in Warsaw, Wrocław, and Kraków 
  • Enriched experience as we travel through out with our own scholars
  • Guided tour of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews
  • Explore the district of Kazimierz, with its many surviving synagogues, a prewar Jewish cemetery, and the largest medieval market square in Europe
  • Visit Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum and newly expanded Auschwitz Jewish Center.

Itinerary

Friday, May 12 | WARSAW
Afternoon: Check in to the 5-star deluxe Bristol Hotel, superbly located near Warsaw’s Old Town.

Evening: Presentation by our scholar, Chaim Seidler-Feller, “Overview POLIN: The Tragic Story of a Jewish Homeland,” followed by orientation and an opportunity to get to know one another, and welcoming Shabbat dinner at our hotel (included).

Saturday, May 13 | WARSAW
Morning: Free time or option to attend services at the Nożyk Synagogue (built in 1898, and Poland’s only existing synagogue since then, an easy walk from the hotel), followed by a walking tour of Warsaw that will include the Old Town, Market Square, and the Barbican (surviving remnant of Old Town’s defensive structure). Break for lunch on our own in the Old Market Square, an area filled with street vendors, cafés, shops, galleries, and some of Warsaw’s top restaurants, all within easy walking distance.

Evening: For those interested (optional), a night at the Warsaw National Philharmonic, located a few minutes’ walk from our hotel, where Gustav Mahler’s Symphony #5 will be performed, as well as a piece by Paul Kletzki, a Jewish composer and conductor.

Sunday, May 14 | WARSAW
Morning: We will begin today at the National Museum of Warsaw and enjoy a private guided tour highlighting the “Polish–Jewish Exchange” through works of art from the 19th and 20th centuries. Our tour will focus on Jewish themes in Polish art, including contributions of Jewish collectors and patrons. Especially prominent on this tour are works of artists Maurycy Gottlieb, Moïse Kisling, Eugeniusz Zak, and Henryk Berlewi.

Afternoon: After breaking for lunch on our own, we will visit the Warsaw Jewish cemetery, the largest Jewish cemetery in the world. Many Jewish luminaries were buried here over the years, and the cemetery comprises more than 200,000 marked graves, as well as the mass grave of victims of the Warsaw Ghetto.

Evening: Presentation by Chaim Seidler-Feller, “VARSHA (Warsaw): A Beacon of Jewish Cultural Creativity and Renewal,” followed by dinner on our own.

Monday, May 15 | WARSAW
Depart our hotel for Umschlagplatz (where the Jews were gathered for deportation to Treblinka) and proceed on foot for Mila 18 (site of Jewish fighting organization in the Ghetto uprising) and then continue our walk to the impressive Polin: Museum of the History of Polish Jews. At the museum, we will have a private guided tour, with ample time for lunch on our own at the museum, and time to browse in its gift shop. (Please note: for those wanting to spend more time at the museum and continue exploring exhibits of personal interest on their own, taxis are available.)

Evening: Presentation by Chaim Seidler-Feller, “Hasidism: A Revolution of the Spirit and Its Impact on Jewish Life,” followed by dinner on our own.

Tuesday, May 16 | LODZ | WROCLAW
We will depart Warsaw for Lodz, known as the Manchester of Poland, where Jews were an integral part of the textile industry in the early 20th century. In Lodz, Jewish families owned 175 factories, including the I. K. Poznański factory, one of the largest textile plants in Europe. Upon arrival in Lodz, we will stop for a visit to the Radegast train station historical site (used extensively to serve as the Umschlagplatz for deportation of Jews to the extermination camps) and the Lodz Jewish cemetery—once the largest Jewish cemetery in Poland. During the course of our time in Lodz, lunch on our own.

Late this afternoon, we will depart Lodz for Wrocław (formerly known as the German city of Breslau) and check in to the elegant Art Hotel, located in the cultural heart of the city, in time for dinner at the hotel (included).

Wednesday, May 17 | WROCLAW
In Wrocław, we will visit its impressive Jewish cemetery, reopened in 1991 after many years of neglect. The beauty and diversity of styles and symbols on display here are unmatched—so much so that it is now known as the Museum of Jewish Cemetery Art, in tribute to the craftsmanship of its sepulchral art. Many noteworthy figures are buried here, including renowned biologist Ferdinand Cohn, historian Heinrich Graetz (author of the first complete history of the Jews), Clara Immerwahl (first female PhD student at the University of Breslau), Ferdinand Lassalle (founder and leader of the first labor party in Germany), and the parents of Edith Stein, also known as Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, a highly respected German philosopher. Born and raised in an Orthodox Jewish environment, she converted to Catholicism, was ultimately canonized as a saint by the Catholic church, but was, ironically, deported to Auschwitz and murdered there because of her Jewish heritage.

Following a break for lunch on our own in the Old Market Square, we will enjoy a walking tour of Old Town, including the White Stork Synagogue.

Evening: Presentation by Professor Marcin Wodziński, director of the Center for the Culture and Languages of the Jews, and the Department of Jewish Studies at the University of Wrocław. Author of several books and articles, Dr. Wodziński is especially interested in the social history of the Jews in 19th-century Poland, the regional history of the Jews in Silesia, and Jewish sepulchral art.

Thursday, May 18 | KRAKÓW
This morning, we will depart for Kraków. En route, we will visit Katowice for a private guided tour of the Silesian Museum (one of the largest in Poland), which contains unusual works of Polish art, including some remarkable portraits by Stanisław Wyspiański. Lunch on our own at the museum.

Upon arrival in Kraków, we will check in to the 5-star deluxe Sheraton Grand hotel, considered Kraków’s finest hotel, with time to rest and relax before a late-afternoon walking tour of Old Town and the Rynek—Kraków’s main square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, dating back to the 13th century and the largest of its kind in Europe.

Friday, May 19 | KRAKÓW
Welcome and lecture by Maciek Zabierowski, coordinator of the Learning and Special Projects division at the Auschwitz Jewish Center. Maciek will be our guide for the day as we tour the Kazimierz District and visit its important Jewish sites. Some of the sites we will see in the Jewish district include the Alte Schul; the Remuh, Isaac, High, and Tempel Synagogues; the former Jewish streets and marketplace; and the old Jewish cemetery.

Lunch on our own before visiting the former Ghetto area to see the new memorial on Deportation Square and the remnants of the Ghetto wall from 1941. Our last stop of the day will be the Galicia Museum, documenting remnants of the Galitzianer heritage in Poland and Ukraine today.

Evening: Depart our hotel for the Kraków JCC for Shabbat services, followed by dinner with members of the Jewish community (included).

Saturday, May 20 | KRAKÓW
Morning free. Afternoon tour of the Wawel Castle (seat of the Polish monarchs until 1596), including Wawel Cathedral and Dragon’s Cave, within walking distance of our hotel.

Evening: Presentation by Chaim Seidler-Feller, “Rabbi Moses Isserles (Remo) and the Curious History of the Code of Jewish Law *(Shulhan Arukh),”* followed by dinner on our own.

Sunday, May 21 | KRAKÓW
We will spend the day visiting the Auschwitz Jewish Center for a tour and a light lunch (included), followed by a guided tour of Auschwitz itself. The Auschwitz Jewish Center (AJC) in Oświęcim, operated by the Museum of Jewish Heritage, is located two miles from the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camps. The only Jewish presence in the vicinity of Auschwitz, the center opened its doors in 2000 so that people from around the world could gather to learn, pray, and remember the victims of the Holocaust. Evening discussion led by Professor Seidler-Feller, where we will process and discuss together our experience at Auschwitz.

Monday, May 22 | KRAKÓW
Our day will begin with a walking tour of Kraków’s Old Town and the Rynek (main town square). A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Old Town is a 13th-century medieval town—the largest of its kind in Europe.

Afternoon: Free for exploring sites of interest on our own and/or last-minute shopping. Or for those interested, visit Schindler’s factory on our own (transportation will be provided).

Evening: Closing dinner at our hotel (included).

Tuesday, May 23
Depart for home.

Traveling with you…

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.”

Marcin Wodziński is a professor of Jewish history and literature and head of the Department of Jewish Studies at the University of Wrocław. His academic interests range from the social history of Jews in the 19th century to the history of Jews in Silesia and Jewish material culture, especially the history of Hasidism and Haskalah. His publications include more than 100 articles in Polish, English, Hebrew, French, and Czech, nine books authored and one coauthored, and six volumes coedited.

His publications include: Hebrew Inscriptions in Silesia from the 13th to 18th Centuries (1996); Bibliography on the History of Silesian Jewry II (2004); Haskalah and Hasidism in the Kingdom of Poland (2005); The Polish Kingdom Authority Against Hasidism (2008); Hasidism and Politics (2013). Wodziński is the editor of the Makor Academic Series / Sources of Austeria Publishing, Bibliotheca Judaica Series at the University of Wrocław Press, editor-in-chief of “Studia Judaica.”

Maciek Zabierowski is head of Learning at the Auschwitz Jewish Center, a role he has held since 2006. He designs and runs workshops on Jewish history in Poland, the Holocaust, and human rights for Polish and European students of all ages and Polish law-enforcement officers. Zabierowski received a master’s degree in history in 2006 from the Jagellonian University. In 2012, he was featured as a scholar for Facing History and Ourselves’ Holocaust and Human Behavior international seminar. He is also a licensed tour guide in Kraków, specializing in Jewish walking tours.

Accommodations

WARSAW: HOTEL BRISTOL
Situated on the famous Royal Route, in the heart of Warsaw, for over 100 years the 5-star Hotel Bristol has served as Warsaw’s most distinguished destination. With a majestic neo-Renaissance façade, 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.

WROCLAW: ART HOTEL
The elegant and stylish Art Hotel is located in the cultural heart of Wrocław, just a few blocks from the Market Square. From the hotel, it is a short walk to theaters, museums, art galleries, and numerous restaurants and pubs. The hotel’s decor includes wall paintings, ceramics, wooden ceiling beams, portals, and stuccos; its rooms are cozy and furnished with stylized furniture, picturesque fabrics, and flowers. Located in a beautiful 16th-century tenant house, the Art Restaurant and Cafe is one of the most intriguing places in Wrocław.

KRAKOW: SHERATON HOTEL
The 5-star Sheraton Grand Kraków is ideally located on the bank of the Wisla River, within walking distance of the historic Wawel Castle, “Old Town,” and the famous Kazimierz district. This hotel has three restaurants, including the Roof Top Terrace, with views over Wawel Castle and the Wisla River. Spa services, a fitness center, and a sauna are also on site, as well as an indoor pool. Considered Kraków’s finest hotel, the Sheraton has beautifully restored all its rooms with a residential ambiance.

Details

Program cost: $6,200* (plus $54 Museum of Jewish Heritage membership fee for nonmembers)

Program fee includes:

  • 11 nights’ accommodations at deluxe hotels
  • Full breakfast daily; one lunch; four dinners
  • All group transportation via deluxe air-conditioned coach

*Per-person, double occupancy; single supplement ($900) and gratuities ($165) additional

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 Tours offered by the Museum of Jewish Heritage are available to active members. The individual annual membership is $54 and will be collected at the time of final payment for any nonmembers. To see the list of benefits, visit the museum’s website.

Participation Tour sizes are limited to 26 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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