Travel with a focus on content differentiates our trips from other travel programs.

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.

Trakai Castle | jhtravel.orgThrough lively presentations, informal discussions, and accessibility all along the way, our scholars share their expertise and perspective on the Jewish history, culture, and traditions of the countries we travel to. Carefully chosen for their proficiency and ability to impart their knowledge in a way participants can easily assimilate and grasp, they help us experience the richness — and complexity — of Jewish heritage in the places we visit.

Andrew H. Banoff

Andrew H. Banoff, MBA, a veteran Jewish Heritage Travel participant, brings his love of travel and Judiasim along with his deep commitment to the well-being of others to his role as trip leader. With a long and distinguished career in health care administration and, most recently, as the president and CEO of Jewish Senior Services, he will share his natural talents for bringing people together and for fostering community to ensure a memorable journey.

After a progressively responsible career in health care administration in New York and Connecticut Andrew transitioned in 2003 to focus on the state of senior living. He has led the way to significantly improved, community and family oriented nursing home models in both states. He a fellow in the New York Academy of Medicine and the American College of Healthcare Executives, and is a member of the board of directors of several organizations, including the Association of Jewish Aging Services (AJAS) and the Connecticut Alliance for Long Term Care (CALTC).

Andrew is also the executive producer of the film “Next Year Jerusalem,” which follows the journey of nursing home residents on a trip to Israel, shining a unique light on the meaning of life. He has led two such senior-focused missions to Israel.

Travel with Andrew H. Banoff to Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Joseph Benatov, Ph.D.

Joseph Benatov holds a Ph.D. in comparative literature from the University of Pennsylvania where he teaches Hebrew at all levels. He is originally from Bulgaria and a member of Sofia’s Jewish community. Dr. Benatov is the English translator of the contemporary Bulgarian novel Zift. He has also translated Israeli poetry, prose, and drama. His translations of plays by Hanoch Levin, Martin McDonagh, and Ethan Coen were all staged to wide acclaim in Bulgaria. Dr.Benatov has over 10 years of experience leading travelers across Bulgaria, including UNESCO representatives, 92nd Street Y visitors, JDC board members, and Anti-Defamation League officials. Dr.Benatov lectures regularly on the history of Jewish life in Bulgaria and has published on the fate of Bulgaria’s Jews during the Holocaust. His article on the topic appears in the anthology Bringing the Dark Past to Light: The Reception of the Holocaust in Postcommunist Europe (University of Nebraska Press).

Yoram Bilu

Yoram Bilu is a professor emeritus of anthropology and psychology at the Hebrew University. His research interests include the anthropology of religion (focusing on saint worship, messianism, and religious healing), culture and mental health, the sanctification of space in Israel, and Moroccan Jewish culture.

Professor Bilu served as the chair of the department of psychology and the head of the Authority for Doctoral Students, both at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and as the president of the Israeli Anthropological Association. He has been a visiting professor at several American Universities. In 2013, he received the Israel Prize (most prestigious award in Israel) in sociology and anthropology. In 2015 he was elected to the Israeli Academy of the Sciences. His publications include many articles in important journals and two books published in English: Without Bounds: The Life and Death of Rabbi Ya’aqov Wazana, Detroit: Wayne State University Press and The Saints’ Impresarios: Dreamers, Healers, and Holy Men in Israel’s Urban Periphery.

Travel with Yoram Bilu to Mystical, Exotic Morocco.

Maritza Corrales

Maritza Corrales is a Cuban historian who has dedicated her life’s work to researching the history of Jews in Cuba. Born in 1948, she is a graduate of the University of Havana (1972) and lives in Havana. She has been a consulting scholar to numerous research and academic institutions in Cuba and has published numerous articles on the history of Cuban Jews. She has lectured at universities in Israel, Spain, Mexico and Cuba.

Travel with Maritza Corrales to The Jews of Cuba, The Jews of Cuba and The Jews of Cuba.

Ivan de Beer

Ivan de Beer is originally from New Zealand where he studied Marine Science and became a certified Dive Instructor. He has travelled extensively for most of his life, living in Asia, Europe and now the USA. Ivan has worked in the travel and hospitality sector for many years and as a result places great importance on customer service. Ivan has a varied interest in culture and the arts and enjoys traveling with his family.

Travel with Ivan de Beer to The Jews of Cuba and The Jews of Cuba.

Conor Ellard

Conor Ellard has guided several prior Jewish Museum trips to Ireland. Steeped in the land’s history, politics and people, Conor has worked with Dr. Maidenbaum for many years, guiding and helping organize many programs to Ireland. Conor is a delight to travel with and, if asked, might agree to sing a ballad or two with his beautiful baritone voice.

Ellen Goldberg

Ellen Goldberg is a Miami-based author, writer and photographer. With an extensive background in journalism and photography, she was a correspondent in India and Sri Lanka for The Christian Science Monitor for two years, during which time she interviewed His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and covered the ethnic civil war in the island nation once known as Ceylon. In addition to the Monitor, her works have been published in The Boston Globe, The Tampa Tribune, St. Petersburg TimesThe Jewish Press, and Hadassah and Arts of Asia magazines, among others.

Ellen’s many publications are Kashrut, Caste and Kabbalah (with Nathan Katz); and The Last Jews of Cochin: Jewish Identity in Hindu India (with Nathan Katz). Additionally, her photographs have appeared in various exhibits including the Hebrew University of Jerusalem: B’nai B’rith Klutznick National Jewish Museum in Washington, D.C.; the Judah L. Magnes Museum in Berkeley; and the Jewish Museum of Florida.

Travel with Ellen Goldberg to India.

Iddo Katz

Iddo Katz is an archeologist and tour guide licensed by Israel’s Ministry of Tourism. Iddo is a 7th-generation born Israeli who graduated from Bar-Ilan University with degrees in Land of Israel Studies, geography and biology. A former lecturer at the Schools of Tour Guides at Bar Ilan University, Iddo has also lectured widely throughout the United States and Israel and was the area manager on archaeological excavation sites, including a well-known site at Shiloh. Iddo also leads trips, and is accompanying scholar to other countries, including Spain, Portugal and Morocco among others.

Travel with Iddo Katz to Mystical, Exotic Morocco.

Nathan Katz

Nathan Katz, Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Florida International University, has authored numerous books and scholarly articles about the Jews of India. Founding editor of the Journal of Indo-Judaic Studies, he was selected as a delegate to the historic 1990 Tibetan-Jewish dialogue hosted by H. H. the Dalai Lama, and in turn hosted three visits by the Dalai Lama to Miami. Professor Katz has authored 15 books and over 100 academic articles. Among his numerous publications are a memoir, Spiritual Journey Home: Eastern Mysticism to the Western Wall; Who Are the Jews of India?  which was a Finalist for the National Jewish Book Award; The Last Jews of Cochin: Jewish Identity in Hindu India (with Ellen S. Goldberg); Ethnic Conflict in Buddhist Societies: Sri Lanka, Thailand and Burma (with Ellen S. Goldberg); and Buddhist Images of Human Perfection. Professor Katz studied, taught, researched and lived in South Asia for more than eight years and, together with his wife leads study tours throughout India and Sri Lanka.

Travel with Nathan Katz to India.

Amichai Lau-Lavie

Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie is the founding spiritual leader of Lab/Shul NYC and the creator of Storahtelling, Inc. An Israeli-born Jewish educator, writer, he received his rabbinical ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America.

Rabbi Amichai is a member of the Global Justice Fellowship of the American Jewish World Service, a founding member of the Jewish Emergent Network, a consultant to the Reboot Network, a member of the URJ Faculty Team and the Advisory Council of ORAM, an LGBT focused organization for refugees, asylum and migration. He was a Jerusalem Fellow at the Mandel Leadership Institute in Israel (2008-2009) and serves on the advisory committee of Faith House in Manhattan. Rabbi Amichai has been hailed as “an iconoclastic mystic” by Time Out New York, a “Judaic Pied Piper” by the Denver Westword, a “maverick spiritual leader” by The Times of Israel and “one of the most interesting thinkers in the Jewish world” by the Jewish Week. In 2016 The Forward named him one of the 32 “Most Inspiring Rabbis” in America. Rabbi Amichai hails from 37 generations of Rabbis, many of them in Poland.

Sid Leiman, Ph.D.

Sid Leiman, PhD, is professor emeritus of Jewish history and literature at Brooklyn College, and he teaches at the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Yeshiva University. He has taught at Harvard, Yale, and Oxford, as well as the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Author of Rabbinic Responses to Modernity (2007) and The Canonization of Hebrew Scripture (1991), as well as hundreds of articles and numerous publications, Dr. Leiman has contributed entries to Encyclopaedia Britannica and Encyclopaedia Judaica. He frequently leads Jewish historical tours to Central and Eastern Europe.

Travel with Sid Leiman, Ph.D. to Lithuania, Latvia & Estonia and The Jews of Poland.

Dr. Aryeh Maidenbaum

Aryeh Maidenbaum, PhD, with a strong background in history, psychology, and Jewish studies, has more than 25 years’ experience in organizing and leading educational programs, including Jungian seminars and conferences as well as trips focusing on Jewish culture and history. Director of the New York Center for Jungian Studies, Dr. Maidenbaum earned his doctorate from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Former faculty member at N.Y.U., he is a contributing author to Current Theories of Psychoanalysis. Among his publications are The Search for Spirit in Jungian Psychology; Lingering Shadows: Jungians, Freudians and Anti-Semitism; and Jung and the Shadow of Anti-Semitism. His most recent book, Jung and the Shadow of Anti-Semitism, is a collection of essays he edited on the subject.

Travel with Dr. Aryeh Maidenbaum to Alsace & the Rhineland, Croatia and Mystical, Exotic Morocco.

Evry Mann

Evry Mann, M.A. is a percussionist, composer and writer who holds masters degrees in religious studies and in music composition. Founder of the Center for Creative Education — a non-profit cultural center in Stone Ridge, New York — he was an artist in residence with the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes in Mexico for six years, performing throughout the country. Ev has led over 50 trips to Cuba to study music, dance, and visual art, and authored the section on Music and Nightlife in Havana for the “Time Out” Guidebook. He has also studied traditional African music in Mali and Senegal and worked extensively with the Ballet Folklorico Cutumba of Santiago de Cuba.

Janice Meyerson

Janice Meyerson (MM, New England Conservatory; BA, Washington University), mezzo-soprano, has sung as soloist with the New York City Opera, New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Teatro São Carlo in Lisbon, and the Spoleto Festival, among numerous other venues. During the course of our program, we will hear a live recital by Ms. Meyerson, who will perform Ladino and Hebrew examples of Sephardic music.

Travel with Janice Meyerson to Croatia and Sephardic Jewry in Portugal.

Raymond P. Scheindlin, Ph.D.

Raymond P. Scheindlin, Ph.D. is Professor Emeritus of Medieval Hebrew Literature at the Jewish Theological Seminary and a former Guggenheim Fellow. Dr. Scheindlin’s main field of research is the encounter of Hebrew and Arabic cultures in Spain as embodied in the poetry of the two traditions. His books on medieval Hebrew poetry — Wine, Women, and Death: Medieval Hebrew Poems on the Good Life, and The Gazelle: Medieval Hebrew Poems on God, Israel, and the Soul, reflect both the academic and the literary aspects of his career. Among his many publications, Dr. Scheindlin is the author of a widely-used textbook, A Short History of the Jewish People and co-editor of The Literature of Al-Andalus. His most recent book is The Song of the Distant Dove: Judah Halevi’s Pilgrimage.

Travel with Raymond P. Scheindlin, Ph.D. to Spain and France, Sephardic Jewry in Portugal and Croatia.

Chaim Seidler-Feller

Chaim Seidler-Feller recently celebrated his fortieth year of working with students and faculty as the Executive Director of the Hillel Center for Jewish Life at UCLA. Currently Director Emeritus, Chaim also serves as Director of the Hartman Fellowship for Campus Professionals. An ordained Rabbi, he also completed a Masters 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.”

Travel with Chaim Seidler-Feller to Berlin, Germany, Alsace & the Rhineland and Sephardic Jewry in Portugal.

Ernesto Yattah

Rabbi Ernesto Yattah is the Dean of the Abraham Joshua Heschel Rabbinical School at the Seminario Rabínico Lationoamericano Marshall T. Meyer. He received his BA in comparative religions at Columbia University and his master’s degree in Judaic Studies from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York, where he also received his rabbinical ordination. Rabbi Yattah was assistant and associate rabbi at Congregation Beth Yeshurun of Houston, Texas, for nine years and president of the Houston Rabbinical Association from 1996 to 1997. Today, Rabbi Yattah also participates actively in the Interreligious Dialogue in the City of Buenos Aires.

Travel with Ernesto Yattah to Buenos Aires, Argentina.