Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow, The Jews of Poland


May 2—12, 2016

Traveling with You...


Sid Leiman, Ph.D. is Professor Emeritus of Jewish History and Literature in the Department of Judaic Studies at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, and teaches at the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Yeshiva University. Prior to his arrival at Brooklyn College and Yeshiva University, he taught at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem as well as Oxford and Yale where he served as Professor of Jewish History and Literature, administered graduate and undergraduate programs in Judaic Studies and served as Editor of the Yale Judaica Series of Yale University Press. A prolific and highly published scholar, he has contributed entries to Encyclopaedia Judaica, and Encyclopaedia Miqra’it. Currently, he is the Associate Editor of Tradition, where he contributes a column entitled “From the Pages of Tradition.”

Trip Leader

Program Overview

Before World War II, Poland’s three million Jews represented one of the largest and most influential Jewish communities in the world. Poland’s diverse Jewish community included Hasidim, secular Jewish intellectuals, Yiddish writers and poets, Zionists, and Socialists. Fewer than 10 percent of Poland’s Jews remained after the Holocaust.

Today, more than 25,000 Jews live in Poland, contributing to the rebirth of Jewish life there. An impressive new museum has just opened in Warsaw; Jewish festivals in Krakow and other parts of Poland attract tens of thousands each year; synagogues are reopening; a chief rabbi has been appointed and Hebrew classes are being offered. We will explore this phenomenon of a renewal of Jewish life in Poland and address the complex questions that it invites.

Our program will begin in Warsaw where a highlight will be the new Museum of the History of Polish Jews, located on the site of the former Warsaw Ghetto. The visit will include a private, guided tour of the museum, where we will explore the 1,000 year Jewish history of Poland. Additionally we will enjoy guided tours of other sites of interest in Warsaw, including the monument to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, the remains of the Mila 18, the bunker of the Jewish Fighting Organization, and the Umshlagplatz, the site from which Jews were deported to Treblinka. We will meet with scholars and leaders of the Jewish community and enjoy Warsaw’s rich cultural life.

From Warsaw, we will drive to Wrocław (Breslau), the “City of 100 Bridges,” stopping on our way in the historic city of Lodz. Here we will enjoy a walk through the Old Town and participate in Shabbat services in the restored and rededicated historic White Stork Synagogue. Departing Wrocław, aboard a comfortable, deluxe coach, we will journey through Poland’s countryside and villages, stopping for lunch and a short visit to Jewish and Polish cultural sites before continuing on to Krakow.

In historically rich Krakow, the cultural capital of Poland, we will tour the once thriving Jewish district of Kazimierz with its many surviving synagogues and the pre-war Jewish cemetery, the largest medieval market square in Europe, and other places of historic and cultural interest. With Krakow as our base, we will travel to the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum and visit the last surviving synagogue in the town of Auschwitz at the newly expanded Auschwitz Jewish Center, where we will have a private tour by its director.

Accompanying us throughout will be the director of the Museum of Jewish Heritage — A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, Dr. David G. Marwell, joined by local scholars who will help us understand the richness and complexities of the Jewish experience in Poland — past and present. In addition, private receptions and meetings with experts and leaders of the Jewish community will provide us with a unique opportunity to learn firsthand what life is like for the Jews of Poland today. We invite you to join us on this exciting trip.

Tentative Daily Itinerary*

Monday, May 2

Check in to the 5-star Bristol Hotel in Warsaw, located near Old Town, with shops and restaurants nearby. Rest and relax before orientation and dinner (included).

Evening: Orientation, introductions, and short overview by Dr. David G. Marwell, followed by welcoming dinner at our hotel (included).

Tuesday, May 3

Walking tour in Warsaw that will include, among other sites, the Old Town, Market Square, the Barbican (surviving remnant of Old Town’s defensive structure), and the Monument to the Warsaw Uprising. Lunch on our own in Old Market Square, an area filled with street vendors, cafes, shops, galleries, and some of Warsaw’s top restaurants, all within easy walking distance.

Evening presentation by a local scholar, followed by dinner on our own.

Wednesday, May 4

In the morning: we will start with a short walk to the Umschlagplatz (where the Jews were gathered for deportation to Treblinka) before continuing to Mila 18 (site of Jewish Fighting Organization in the ghetto uprising). Then we will proceed to the Museum of the History of the Polish Jews for a private guided tour. We will break for lunch on our own at the Museum. In the afternoon we will continue our walking tour, including visits to Nozyk Synagogue, the Ghetto wall, and the site of the foot bridge that connected the small and large Warsaw Ghetto.

Evening free, dinner on our own.

Thursday, May 5

Today’s program will begin with a special guided tour of the Jewish Cemetery, site of the graves of many Jewish luminaries, including Sholem Aleichem. We will then visit the Jewish Historical Institute, once the Main Judaic Library and the first Jewish research and educational center of Europe. It was turned into the Jewish Historical Institute in 1947. The most precious of its collections is the Ringelblum Archive, which was found in the ruins of the Warsaw Ghetto.

Afternoon: Free to continue exploring Warsaw on our own, visit its many museums, or the Royal Castle which houses paintings by Canaletto and Rembrandt. Many important elements of the interiors can be seen today thanks to employees of the National Museum who managed to save some furniture, carvings, paintings, and decorative elements during the evacuation of the castle in 1944.

Evening presentation by a local scholar, followed by discussion led by Dr. David G. Marwell, and dinner on our own.

Friday, May 6

Depart Warsaw for Lodz. Visit the Holocaust Memorial, Jewish Cemetery and Memorial, and
Piotrkowska Street (Main High Street), where we will break for lunch on our own. Arrive Wroclaw ( formerly the German city of Breslau), once a thriving Jewish community. Check in to the deluxe Wrocław Sofitel. Rest and relax before a festive Shabbat dinner at our hotel (included).

Saturday, May 7

Morning: Free to rest, relax, or explore Wrocław on our own , or (optional) attend services at the White Stork Synagogue.

Afternoon: Walking tour of Old Town Wroclaw, including the Rynek and the Old Market Square. The rest of the afternoon is free to explore the Old Town.

Evening: (optional) Chamber music performance.

Sunday, May 8

Depart Wrocław for Krakow with stops of interest along the way. Check in to the 5-star Radisson Blu hotel, ideally located a few minutes’ walk to Old Town and Market Square. Following lunch on our own, we will depart on a walking tour of Krakow’s Old Town and the Rynek. A UNESCO world heritage site, the Old Town is a 13th century medieval town and the largest of its kind in Europe.

Evening: Discussion led by Dr. David G. Marwell, followed by dinner on our own.

Monday, May 9

Depart our hotel for the Kazimierz District to visit its Jewish sites and synagogues. The itinerary includes the Old Cemetery at the Remuh Synagogue, established in 1535; the Stary Synagogue (the oldest synagogue in Kraków, dating back to the 15th century and housing a Museum of Jewish Art and Judaica); and the Galicia Museum (documenting remnants of Jewish culture and history in Poland). Lunch on our own along the waybefore continuing to Podgórze, the site of the Jewish ghetto, where we will visit the memorial to the ghetto, a museum to the ghetto resistance, and a fragment of the ghetto wall. Our tour will end at Schindler’s factory, today a museum, for an optional museum visit.

Evening presentation by a local scholar, followed by dinner on our own.

Tuesday, May 10

Morning visit to the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp complex, where we will witness the history of the most notorious site of the Holocaust. In the afternoon, we will visit the nearby Auschwitz Jewish Center, which is dedicated to memorializing the 400 year history of the Jews of Oświęcim (Auschwitz). Following that there will be an opportunity to say Kaddish in the last synagogue in Auschwitz and a special guided tour and meeting with the volunteers and directors of the Center. Evening: Free, dinner on our own.

Wednesday, May 11

In the morning we will have a tour of the Wawel Castle (seat of the Polish monarchs until 1596), including Wawel Cathedral and Dragon’s Cave. The afternoon is free for lunch on our own, and to do any last minute shopping or explore Krakow on our own.

Closing meeting and dinner (included).

Thursday, May 12

Depart for home.

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


Hotel Bristol
Poland-Hotel-Bristol | jhtravel.orgSituated on the famous Royal Route, in the heart of Warsaw, for over 100 years, the Bristol has served as Warsaw’s most distinguished destination. With a majestic neo-renaissance facade and 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.


Poland Sofitel Hotel | jhtravel.orgSofitel
A 5-star luxury hotel, the Sofitel in Wroclaw is located within easy walking distance of Market Square, one of the largest medieval squares in Europe. The Square’s unique shops, cozy cafes, and fascinating ambience is alive with local events. The Sofitel, considered to be Wroclaw’s finest hotel is a place where visitors can enjoy a warm welcome, luxury accommodations and superb, excellent service.

Radisson BluPoland Radisson Blu | Situated in the city center, directly opposite Krakow’s Philharmonic Hall, the Radisson Blu hotel is only 200 meters from Market Square and Wawel Castle, and within minutes of Planty Park, Archbishop’s palace, and Czartoryski Museum. The Radisson’s warm hospitality, high speed internet access, up to date business center, and 24 hour room service help create an ideal retreat for travelers.

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Travel in comfort. We stay at deluxe hotels with fine amenities. Accommodations for this trip listed below.

Program Details

PLEASE NOTE: This trip is no longer open for online registration. To inquire please contact the office at 845.256.0197, Monday-Friday, 10am-5pm or by email anytime.

Land program cost: $5900
(plus $54 Museum of Jewish Heritage membership fee for non-members)
Program fee* includes:

  • Ten nights accommodations at 5-star deluxe hotels
  • Breakfast daily; one lunch and three dinners
  • All lectures, receptions, guided tours, museum and site entrance fees
  • All ground transportation for group travel via deluxe, air-conditioned coach

*Per person, based on double occupancy. Single supplement available at $900.
Gratuities ($160 additional).

A non-refundable deposit of $1000 per person will secure your place on the trip. A second non-refundable deposit of $1,000 per person due on November 2, 2015. The balance is due in full by January 2, 2016.


Jewish Heritage Travel - Poland

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Registration Information


Limited to 30 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, 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 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.


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.