Barcelona and the Road to Provence

Spain and France

October 22—November 1, 2020

Barcelona and Provence

Traveling with You...

Scholar in Residence

Raymond P. Scheindlin, Ph.D. is Professor 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, especially 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, dealing with secular poetry; and The Gazelle: Medieval Hebrew Poems on God, Israel, and the Soul, reflect both the academic and the literary aspects of his career. He 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.

Trip Leader

Jo Fisher has been working with and assisting Dr. Maidenbaum in designing, organizing, and leading educational travel programs for over 20 years. With degrees in education and art, and a strong background in event planning, Jo’s research, planning, and site visits insure our itineraries combine a focus on content with the comfort and deluxe accommodations our participants have come to expect. Additionally, her help in coordinating and personalizing their own, individual travel plans has made travel seem seamless and personally meaningful for our many participants.

Tour Manager

Lucy Rapoport 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 more than twenty years. Specializing in Europe, Lucy 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.

Program Overview

At the beginning of the 12th century, a large part of Provence was incorporated into Catalonia, bringing Provençal scholars into contact with those of Barcelona. It was home to an unusual Jewish culture, combining features of northern European Talmudism, Arabic philosophy and science, and a homegrown mysticism that became the kabbalah. The result was a greater spirit of enlightenment in Provence and the broadening of its intellectual horizon to include interest in the sciences and language.

That development was speeded up with the invasion of Spain by the Almohads in the mid-12th century and the consequent flight of many Spanish thinkers to Provence when Jewish centers in Spain were destroyed. The cultural life of Provence was considerably enriched as a result. Protected by the popes, Jews continued to live in parts of Provence even after they were expelled from France and Spain, up until modern times; there was even a special Jewish version of the local language, known as Judeo-Provençal.

With five-star, deluxe accommodations all along the way, we invite you to join accompanying scholar Professor Ray Scheindlin as we will travel through magnificent countryside from Catalonia to Provence and immerse ourselves in the culture and heritage of this unique area. Along the way, we will hear exciting lectures, visit medieval castles, mikvehs, synagogues, dynamic art museums, and, of course, experience the fascinating and unique architecture of Barcelona.

Tentative Daily Itinerary*


The Arc de Triomf was constructed as the main access gate to the 1888 Barcelona World Fair.
Thursday, October 22

Check into the five-star Majestic Hotel-located just steps from Las Ramblas and situated on one of Barcelona’s most prestigious boulevards—known for it’s famous architecture and upscale boutiques. Rest and relax from our journey.

Evening: Opening presentation by Dr. Raymond Scheindlin, orientation, and an opportunity to get to know one another before ending the day with dinner at our hotel (included).


Barcelona Jewish Quarter

View down a narrow street in Barcelona’s “Old City” also called the Gothic Quarter.
Friday, October 23

Our day will start with a guided tour to Montjuic (said to be named for a Jewish cemetery once located on its hill) and visit the Shoah Memorial (dedicated in 1995). Return to Barcelona’s “Old City” for a walking tour through what was the Jewish Quarter in the Middle Ages and visit the small, unique Jewish Museum.

Break for lunch (included) before visiting the historic Gothic Quarter. Despite several changes undergone in the 19th and early 20th century, many of the buildings date from Medieval times, some from as far back as the Roman settlement of Barcelona. From the Gothic Quarter we will visit the Picasso Museum for a private guided tour. The museum is housed in five adjoining medieval palaces and houses one of the most extensive collections of artworks by the 20th-century Spanish artist Pablo Picasso.

Evening: Shabbat dinner at our hotel (included).


Gaudi architecture exterior detail |

Antoni Gaudi’s historical Casa Batllo in Barcelona
Saturday, October 24

Morning: Free to rest or explore Barcelona on our own.

Afternoon: (optional) walking tour, focusing on local “Catalan Architecture,” where we will hear about the elements of this style and see examples of Barcelona’s best-known architects of this period, including Antoni Gaudi.

Evening: Presentation by Ray Scheindlin before dinner on our own.


Girona, Barcelona, Spain |

The 12th century saw the Jewish community of Girona flourish, having one of the most important Kabbalistic schools in Europe. The red metal Bridge in the center of the photo was built by Gustav Eiffel, who famously built the Eiffel Tower in Paris. the bridge in Girona pre-dates the tower in Paris.
Sunday, October 25
Girona | Besalú

Depart for Girona (birthplace of Rabbi Moses ben Nachman—Nachmanides, also known as the “Ramban”) and one time center of Jewish mystics and Kabbalists. Spend the day in Girona, where we will visit the Bonastrucça Porta Centre (housing the Jewish Museum and Nachmanides Center); the restored medieval Jewish Quarter; Alfama of Girona and Girona’s medieval, 11th century Cathedral.

After lunch on our own, depart for Besalú, designated as a “historical national property.” Here, we will see some of the town’s most significant features, including its 12th-century Romanesque bridge; a restored 12th century mikveh and the remains of a medieval synagogue, located in the lower town near the river.

Evening free, dinner on our own.


Monday, October 26

We will start our day with a private guided tour of Gaudi’s famous church, Sagrada Familia. Although incomplete, the church is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The rest of this afternoon and evening will be free for last minute shopping, relaxing or strolling about Barcelona on our own, or afternoon (optional) visit to Gaudi’s “Parc Güell.”

Evening: Presentation by Ray Scheindlin, followed by dinner on our own.


Carcassonne medieval fortress |

Medieval fort of Carcassonne.
Tuesday, October 27
Figueras | Carcassonne

Today, we leave Barcelona and head for Provence, stopping en-route in Figueras to visit the Salvadore Dali Museum, with its comprehensive collection of works by the late Spanish surrealist.

Break for lunch on our own before we continue to Carcassonne, a UNESCO World Heritage site, the largest walled city in Europe.

Late afternoon check in to the magnificent 5 star Hotel de la Cité located within the walls of Carcassonne’s medieval citadel. Following check in, time permitting, a stroll around the ramparts of the Fortress before dinner at our hotel (included).


Wednesday, October 28
Montpelier | Avignon

Depart for Avignon stopping en-route in Montpelier to see its former Jewish Ghetto. The University of Montpelier is one of the oldest universities in the world (c. 1160) and the Jews of Montpelier contributed to the development of its school of medicine (established in the twelfth century).

After breaking for lunch (included), continue to Avignon and check into the charming La Mirande hotel, our home for the next four nights.

Dinner at our hotel (included).


Thursday, October 29

Morning visit to the Avignon Synagogue, a short walk from our hotel. From there, we will depart Avignon with our local, expert guide, Laurence Minard-Amalou, for Carpentras to visit its 18th century Synagogue and through whose southern side, “Porte Juive,” Jews were forcibly taken to be baptized. From Carpentras, we will head for L’isle sur la Sorgue for lunch (included) and then continue to Cavaillon to see a Synagogue originally built in the 15th century which is now a Jewish Museum, the “Musee Judeo-Comtadin.”

Evening: Presentation by Ray Scheindlin followed by dinner on our own.


View of Avignon from Rochers des Doms

This English-style city park is located in the center of the city Avignon on the Rocher des Doms, 30 m above the Rhone. It offers a wide view of the old town, the Rhone and Pont D’ Avignon, the valley and the Mont Ventoux.
Friday, October 30

Walking tour of Avignon, including a visit to Rocher des Doms (a hilltop park with panoramic views over looking the famous Pont D’Avignon) and the Pope’s Palace.

After lunch on our own, visit the Museé Angladon. The Angladon-Dubrujeaud Museum is home to a collection of works by major artists from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, including works by Degas, Daumier, Sisley, Van Gogh, Cézanne, Picasso, Modigliani.

Evening: Shabbat dinner (included).


Pont d'Avignon |

Sur le Pont d’Avignon…
Saturday, October 31

Morning: free to rest, relax or wander about Avignon on our own or participate in Services at the Synagogue in Avignon.

2:00 p.m.: (optional) tour of the Museum Calvet, known for its beauty and rich collection of art-within walking distance of our hotel.

Evening: Festive closing dinner (included).


Sunday, November 1

Departures for Avignon train station or Marseilles airport.

*Please Note: Daily schedule may be modified subject to weather or unanticipated changes.


Majestic Hotel and Spa, Barcelona

A symbol of excellence and 5-star hospitality since 1918, the Majestic Hotel is located on Paseo de Gracia and provides guests with an ideal opportunity to visit Gaudi ́s famous buildings, the exclusive shops and restaurants within a few steps. With luxury and comfort in the historical center of Modernist Barcelona, in an impressive building with a magnificent Neo-Classical façade, the fully refurbished (queen size or twin bedded) rooms are decorated in a new classic, elegant style with a welcoming, relaxed atmosphere and views over the traditional Eixample District courtyard or the Pasaje de Campos Eliseos.


Hotel de la Cité, Carcassonne

The Hotel de la Cité is an integral part of the history of Carcassonne, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. At the very heart of the medieval city and built on the site of the former bishop’s palace, our 5-star hotel stands next to the Saint-Nazaire Basilica and overlooks the lower town from the ramparts, offering an enchanting view over the city, its gardens, its walls and its stones that have been there for centuries. The hotel’s foyer and lounges are an enchanting mix of Neo-Gothic and 1920s Art Deco styles.


Hotel Le Mirande, Avignon

An historic 5-star Boutique Hotel and Restaurant in the romantic heart of Avignon, Hotel La Mirande is famous for its intricately renovated interiors. No expenses were spared to carefully restore what has survived from the past and to replenish, where necessary, the features of the age of enlightenment for the revival of a nobleman’s townhouse in the 18th century. In a brilliant endeavor, a secret private place was converted into a luxurious 5-star hotel without intruding on the soul of the building. Each guestroom has all the luxury and amenities one would expect.

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Deluxe Accommodations

Travel in comfort. We stay at deluxe hotels with fine amenities. A description of our accommodations for this trip are described below the itinerary.

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Program Details

Program cost: $6,980 (plus $54 Museum of Jewish Heritage membership fee for nonmembers)
Program cost includes:

  • Ten nights’ accommodations at five-star deluxe hotels*
  • Full breakfast daily; three lunches; six dinners
  • All ground transportation
  • All Lectures, presentations, guided tours, museum and site entrance fees.

*Per-person, double occupancy; single supplement ($1,750) and gratuities ($165) additional

To reserve your place, please complete the registration form and submit with a non-refundable deposit of $1,000 per person (payable to Jewish Heritage Travel Program), or call our office (845-256-0197) to register by phone. A second nonrefundable deposit of $1,000 per person is due on March 1, 2020. Balance in full is due by June 19, 2020.

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Registration Information

Participation Limited to 26 participants, the program will entail considerable walking, including uneven terrain. Participants need to be in active, good health, able to keep up with the group, and ready to travel and experience group and cultural differences with grace. If you have any questions, or need help with your travel plans, please call the Jewish Heritage Travel Office at 845.256.0197.


Participants are strongly urged to purchase travel insurance for losses necessitated by having to cancel participation due to health issues. For your convenience, insurance forms will be sent upon registration, or consult your own insurance agent. Please contact The Jewish Heritage Travel office at 845.256.0197 for more information.


Refunds and Insurance: All cancellations must be received by The Jewish Heritage Travel Program in writing. Cancellations received up to 120 days prior to departure: full refund less non-refundable deposits, per person; 119-90 days prior to departure: 50% refund per person after non-refundable deposits. No refunds after this date.


All rights are reserved by the Program Directors to make faculty substitutions and/or to modify the itinerary (including hotels) as needed.