Explore Berlin — its Jewish past and present, art, architecture, and culture. This unique, first-of-its-kind study tour with the Museum of Jewish Heritage will feature daily lectures as well as visits to the great Berlin museums and the numerous Jewish memorials that dot the city’s landscape. Additionally, we will travel to Wannsee, site of the notorious conference that unleashed the “final solution” — now home to a small museum of works by the famous Jewish painter Max Liebermann.
During our time in Berlin, we will encounter young Jews who have revived Jewish life in what has become the fastest-growing Jewish community in Europe. Lectures and study sessions will be led by our accompanying scholar, Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller, who will analyze the emergence of German anti-Semitism against the background of remarkable Jewish achievements and draw our attention to Berlin as the creative center of modern Jewish culture prior to the Holocaust. Lectures will include: “Beloved Germany: The Pity of It All”; “From Nietzsche to the Nazis: German Nationalism and the ‘Despised’ Jew”; “Moses Mendelssohn, ‘Nathan the Wise,’ and the Berlin Jewish Enlightenment”; “From Moses (Maimonides) to Moses (Mendelssohn), There Was None Like Moses”; “Berlin and the Birth of Dysfunctional Judaism”; “The Birth of Denominational Judaism”; and more.
Arrive in Berlin; check in to five-star deluxe Regent Berlin Hotel. Rest and relax from our journey.
Afternoon: optional walking tour to orient ourselves to the area, including Bebelplatz, (with a memorial commemorating the burning of over twenty thousand books by the Nazi regime), the Unter den Linden, and Museum Island.
Evening: Overview of our trip, and presentation by Chaim Seidler-Feller, followed by orientation, brief introductions, and an opening dinner (included) at our hotel.
Morning presentation by Chaim, “Beloved Germany: The Pity of it All,” before we depart our hotel for a visit to the impressive Berlin Jewish Museum, largest Jewish museum in Europe — designed by the famed architect Daniel Libeskind. At the museum, we will enjoy a private guided tour which will include a break for lunch.
Evening presentation by local representative followed by dinner on our own.
Following a morning presentation by Chaim, “Moses Mendelssohn, ‘Nathan the Wise,’ and the Jewish Enlightenment,” depart hotel by coach for a city tour, including stops at Brandenburg Gate and the remainder of the Berlin Wall before visiting the Holocaust Memorialt. Designed by Peter Eisenman, the controversial memorial, honoring and remembering the six million victims of the Holocaust, consists of 2,711 concrete slabs (“stelae”) arranged in a grid pattern, an underground information center, and a small museum displaying the names of all known Jewish Holocaust victims — obtained from Yad Vashem in Israel.
Following lunch on our own, visit the Neue Synagogue — now a meticulously restored landmark and museum — and walk through what was once known as the Jewish Quarter, including Sophienstrasse cemetery (the oldest and smallest in Berlin).
Evening free for cultural activities; dinner on our own.
Morning: visit Wannsee House (an elegant mansion, overlooking the Great Lake Wannsee) where the notorious “Final Solution” meeting conference was held. En-route we will stop at “Railway Track 17” Memorial commemorating deportation of Jews by Deutsche Reichsbahn during the Nazi period. From Wannsee House, walk to the nearby home of Impressionist artist and art collector Max Liebermann before returning to Berlin.
Late lunch and afternoon free.
Evening: Attend services at Oranienburg Synagogue followed by Shabbat dinner at local restaurant (included).
Following a leisurely breakfast and presentation by Chaim, “The Birth of Denominational Judaism: Rise of Reform Judaism,” enjoy a free day or (optional) a walk to nearby Museum Island for a tour of the famed Pergamon Museum (noted for its superb collection of ancient Middle Eastern and Islamic art) as well as other museums on the island, including the Altes and Neues Museums.
Evening free for cultural activities and dinner on our own.
We will begin with a visit to the Weissensee Jewish Cemetery. Located on the outskirts of Berlin, and housing over 115,000 graves, it is the second largest Jewish cemetery in Europe and one of its most impressive.
Following lunch on our own, tour Charlottenburg Palace — the largest and oldest surviving royal residence in the city.
Evening presentation by Chaim, “From Slobodka to Berlin: Eastern European Scholars Encounter Modernity,” followed by dinner on our own.
Following a morning presentation by Chaim, “Modern Jewish Philosophy: Between Martin Buber and Franz Rosenzweig,” visit the rebuilt Reichgstag for lunch and a tour. Originally built to house the Reichstag Parliament of the German Empire, it was opened in 1894 and housed the Reichstag until 1933 when it was severely damaged in a fire said to have been set by the Nazis when they seized power. After WWII, the building fell into disuse until German reunification in 1990 when it was redesigned by the internationally renowned architect Norman Foster. Since then, it has again become the meeting place of the German Parliament.
Rest of the afternoon free for visiting sites of interest on our own, and/or shopping or relaxing.
Evening: Closing dinner at our hotel (included).
Depart for U.S.
The deluxe five-star Regent Berlin hotel, is known for its personal service and classic elegance. The Regent overlooks Gendarmenmarket Square and its magnificent eighteenth-century cathedrals and concert hall. Only a short distance from the hotel are Museum Island, the famed Friedrichstrasse shopping mile, and several of the city’s most significant sites, including the historic Brandenburg Gate, the Bebelplatz, Reichstag, and opera house.