Mysticism, Music & Poetry
The Jews of

Northern Spain

October 29—November 8, 2015

Traveling with You...

Scholar in Residence

Raymond Scheindlin scholar | jhtravel.orgRaymond P. Scheindlin, Ph.D., is Professor of Medieval Hebrew Literature at the Jewish Theological Seminary and has served as the Seminary’s Provost. His publications include A Short History of the Jewish People; Wine, Women and Death: Medieval Hebrew Poems on the Good Life; and The Gazelle: Medieval Hebrew Poems on God, Israel and the Soul. A former Guggenheim fellow, Dr. Scheindlin is a member of the editorial boards of several scholarly journals. His latest book is The Song of the Distant Dove: Pilgrimage Poems by Judah Halevi.

Trip Leader

Aryeh-Maidenbaum | jhtravel.orgAryeh Maidenbaum, Ph.D., has a strong background in the fields of History, Psychology and Jewish Studies and more than 25 years experience in organizing and leading educational tours – including trips focusing on Jewish culture and history. Director of the N.Y. Center for Jungian Studies, Dr. Maidenbaum received 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.

Accompanying Artist

Janice Meyerson | jhtravel.orgJanice Meyerson (M.M., New England Conservatory; B.A., Washington University), has sung as a soloist with the New York City Opera, New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Deutsche Oper, Berlin, and the Spoleto Festival, among numerous others. A gifted mezzo-soprano and interpreter of song, Ms. Meyerson will perform Ladino and Hebrew examples of Sephardic music.

Our Trip Guide

Lucy Rapoport travel guide | jhtravel.orgLucy 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, 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

From the “Golden Age” of Spain to the present, the Sephardic community has made important contributions to both Jewish and Western cultures. Before the expulsion of the Jews in 1492, Spain was home to the world’s most vibrant Jewish culture — combining Hebrew and Arabic poetry, philosophy, science, and the Kabbalah.

Menorah Spain | jhtravel.orgTravel with us as we learn about the heritage, history, and mystical traditions of the Jews of Northern Spain. We will explore the homeland of the Spanish Kabbalah, beginning in Barcelona (site of Gaudi’s exotic architecture and where Nahmanides/“Rambam,” who represented the Jewish community in the 13th century Disputation before King James of Aragon). The trip continues to Girona, home to one of the most important Kabbalistic schools in Europe. Other highlights of our journey will include viewing the recently discovered remnants of the Jewish community of Tarazona; studying the roots of medieval intolerance in Madrid and Avila; and touring the surviving synagogues of Toledo.

Our accompanying scholar, Professor Ray Scheindlin, will address a wide variety of themes associated with Spanish-Jewish history and culture. During the course of our trip, Professor Scheindlin will discuss such great personalities of Jewish and Spanish history as Nahmanides/“Ramban,” Ibn Gabirol, El Cid, King Philip II, and Judah Halevi. Along the way, we will visit world class museums, enjoy readings of the great Spanish Hebrew poets, and hear a live recital of Sephardic songs by guest artist, mezzo-soprano Janice Meyerson.

Tentative Daily Itinerary*

Thursday, October 29

Check into the 5 star Majestic Hotel — located just steps from Las Ramblas and situated on one of Barcelona’s most prestigious boulevards, known for its famous architecture and upscale boutiques. Rest and relax from our journey.

Evening: Overview by our accompanying scholar, Professor Ray Scheindlin, followed by orientation and an opportunity to get to know one another. Welcoming dinner at our hotel (included).

Friday, October 30

Our day will start with a guided tour led by Dominique Tomasov Blinder (Architect and Co-Founder, Heritage Commission of the Jewish Communities of Catalonia) to Montjuic — said to be named for a Jewish Cemetery once located on its hill. Return to Barcelona’s “Old City” for a walking tour through what was the Jewish Quarter in the Middle Ages and explore its small, unique Jewish Museum. Following a break for lunch (included) a walking tour through the historic Gothic Quarter will also include a visit to the Picasso Museum for a private guided tour. The Museum is housed in five adjoining medieval palaces and contains one of the most extensive collections of artworks by the 20th-century Spanish artist Pablo Picasso.

Evening: Festive Shabbat dinner at our hotel (included).

Saturday, October 31

Morning: Free to relax, continue to explore Barcelona on our own, or attend Shabbat services at the Communidad Israelita de Barcelona.

Afternoon: (optional) Walking tour, focusing on local “Catalan Architecture.” Led by Dominique Tomasov Blinder, we will see examples of some of Barcelona’s best known architecture of the period – including works by Antoni Gaudi.

Evening: Presentation by Professor Scheindlin, “Nahmanides and the Jewish Mystical Tradition,” and musical performance by Janice Meyerson, followed by (optional) night out at one of Barcelona’s fine restaurants.

Sunday, November 1

Day trip to Girona, one time center of Jewish mystics and Kabbalists and birthplace of Nahmanides — Rabbi (and physician) Moses ben Nachman, known as the “Ramban.” In Girona, we will visit the Bonastruc ca Porta Center, which houses the Jewish Museum and Nahmanides Center; the restored medieval Jewish Quarter; Alfama of Girona and Girona’s medieval, 11th century Cathedral. During the course of the day, we will enjoy some free time in the area of Girona’s Ramblas and have lunch on our own.

Evening: (optional) Study group led by Ray Scheindlin for those interested in studying selected passages from Nahmanides commentary on the Torah.

Monday, November 2

Depart for Zaragoza, arriving in time for lunch (included) and a tour of historical Zaragoza and Cathedral Square. This afternoon, we will visit Aljaferia Palace, an 11th century Arab palace and now home to the Aragonese Parliament, and the La Seo Chapterhouse Tapestry Museum. Located in La Seo Cathedral, the museum is home to a major collection of tapestries, considered to be one of the most important of its kind in the world.

Late afternoon: Check in to the deluxe Hotel Palafox in Zaragoza- our home for the next two nights. Rest and relax before dinner (included).

Tuesday, November 3

We will begin today by exploring nearby Tudela, famous in Jewish history as the home of Benjamín de Tudela, one of the most important chroniclers of 12th century Jewish communities around the world. A detailed diary of his travels, Benjamin of Tudela’s chronicles provide us with one of the most important legacies of 12th century Jewish life around the Mediterranean basin. Describing the Jewish communities of such places as Baghdad, Alexandria, Aleppo, and Tyre, among others, his contribution to Jewish history is monumental. Following lunch on our own, we will continue to Tarazona for visits to the old Jewish Quarter and the “Hanging Houses;” a recently discovered synagogue; and the Tarazona Cathedral archives. At the archives, we will have the opportunity to see fascinating, recently discovered Hebrew documents from medieval Spain.

Evening presentation by Professor Scheindlin on “Abraham Ibn Ezra and Judah Halevi: Children of Tudela,” followed by dinner on our own.

Wednesday, November 4

This morning, we depart Zaragoza for Madrid via Spain’s AVE high-speed train, and we will arrive in time for a short overview tour of the city, lunch on our own near the Plaza Mayor, and a guided tour of one of Madrid’s finest art Museums. Later this afternoon, we will check in to the superbly located, 5-star Relais & Chateau Hotel Orfila with time to rest and relax before dinner on our own.

Thursday, November 5

Early morning presentation by Professor Scheindlin on “Toledo’s Jews: From Golden Age to Decline” before we proceed on a day trip to Toledo. For centuries, the political, spiritual, and intellectual capital of Old Castile, Toledo was affectionately referred to as the “Second Jerusalem.” Walking through “Old Toledo” (the center of medieval Spanish Jewry), we will visit Santa Maria la Blanca, once a thriving synagogue and impressively decorated in Moorish-Jewish style. Other sites of interest we will visit in Toledo include the El Transito Synagogue and Museum. Return to Madrid in time for dinner on our own.

Friday, November 6

Early this morning, we will drive to the charming city of Segovia, at one time considered the center of Sephardic Jewry. Here, we will walk through the picturesque Old Town of Segovia before proceeding to Avila, once a thriving Jewish community that was home to Rabbi Moses de Leon (author of the Zohar) and birthplace of Theresa of Avila (whose grandfather was a “Converso”).

Evening: Festive Shabbat dinner (included) at our hotel.

Saturday, November 7

Morning free to rest and relax, or visit sites of personal interest.

Afternoon: (optional) Private guided tour of the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum or continue exploring Madrid on our own. This evening, a closing meeting, followed by a musical performance by Janice Meyerson and dinner (included).

Sunday, November 8

Depart for U.S.

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


Majestic Hotel & Spa, BarcelonaMajestic Hotel Barcelona |
The 5-star Majestic Hotel & Spa Barcelona which forms part of the central city’s urban landscape is surrounded by the masterpieces of modernist architecture by Antoní Gaudí. Situated in the heart of Modernist Barcelona, Majestic Hotel & Spa’s unsurpassable location makes it an ideal location for our time in Barcelona. The hotel is equipped with air conditioning, and wireless high speed, complimentary, internet, among other services.

Hotel Palafox Zaragoza | jhtravel.orgHotel Palafox, Zaragoza
The Hotel Palafox is in the heart of Zaragoza, just steps from the Pilar Basilica. It is located on Calle Marques de Casa Jiménez, a semi-private pedestrian street, to ensure peace for its guests. All the hotel’s interior design and furniture, provided by the Pascua Ortega Studio, follow the same lines with elements of Aragonese inspiration. The Ducal floor, where our rooms are located, is especially outstanding for its sophistication, and is decorated with original artwork.
Hotel Orfila, MadridHotel Orfil Madrid |
Housed in a small 19th century palace and situated in a residential area located in the cultural center of Madrid, this hotel makes an ideal choice. A 10-minute walk will find guests at the Prado, Thyssen-Bornemisza, or Reina Sofía museums. The Relais & Châteaux Hotel Orfila has spacious guestrooms, facing either the street or a private garden. Details such as warm colors, English wallpapers, as well as the highest quality fabrics create a cozy ambience for guests.

Request Information

Majestic Hotel Barcelona |

Hotel Orfil Madrid |

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

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.

Program Cost: $6950 (Plus $54 Museum of Jewish Heritage fee for non-members)

  • Ten nights’ accommodations 5-star deluxe hotels*
  • Full breakfast daily; two lunches; five dinners
  • Transportation via AVE high speed train from Zaragozato Madrid
  • All lectures, presentations, guided tours, museum and site entrance fees
  • All group transportation via deluxe air-conditioned coach

*Per person, based on double occupancy. Single supplement available at $1380. Gratuities: $150 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 May 29, 2015. The balance is due in full by June 30, 2015.

Jewish Heritage Travel - Northern Spain

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Register with confidence: Your deposit is 100% refundable if Covid restrictions cause us to cancel this trip.


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.


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.

Land Program Cost

Program Cost: $6950 (Plus $54 Museum of Jewish Heritage fee for non-members)
*Ten nights’ accommodations 5-star deluxe hotels; full breakfast daily; two lunches; five dinners; and all group transportation via deluxe air-conditioned coach.
*Per person, based on double occupancy. Single supplement available at $1380. Gratuities: ($150) additional.

To Register

To reserve your place, please complete the reservation form and return with a non-refundable deposit of $1000 per person (payable to The Jewish Heritage Travel Program). Second non-refundable deposit of $1000 per person due on May 29, 2015. Balance due in full by June 30, 2015.


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.


Refunds and Insurance: All cancellations must be received by The Jewish Heritage Travel Program in writing. Cancellations received up to 90 days prior to departure: full refund less non-refundable deposits, per person; 89–60 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.