Before World War II, Poland’s 3 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, Zionists, and socialists.
Today, an impressive new museum has 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.
Our trip will include Warsaw, where a highlight will be the Museum of the history of Polish Jews which explores Poland’s 1,000-year Jewish history. Additionally, we will visit other sites of interest in Warsaw, including the monument to the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, the remains of Mila 18, and the Umschlagplatz—the site from which Jews were deported to Treblinka.
In historically rich Krakow, we will tour the once-thriving Jewish district of Kazimierz, with its many surviving synagogues, the prewar Jewish cemetery, and the largest medieval market square in Europe. Additionally, we will visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum and newly expanded Auschwitz Jewish Center, operated by the Museum of Jewish Heritage.
Traveling with us throughout will be trip leader Dr. Aryeh Maidenbaum and our accompanying scholar, Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie, who will help us explore the phenomenon of a renewal of Jewish life in Poland. We invite you to join us on this exciting trip.
Afternoon: check in to deluxe Sheraton Hotel in Krakow.
Evening: Overview and Introduction to trip by our accompanying scholar, Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie.
Orientation and an opportunity to get to know one another, followed by Welcoming Dinner at our hotel (included).
Welcome and lecture by Maciek Zabierowski, coordinator of the Learning and Special Projects division at the Auschwitz Jewish Center. Maciek will be our guide for the day as we tour the Kazimierz District and visit its important Jewish sites. Some of the sites we will see in the Jewish district this morning include the Alte Schul; the Remuh, Isaac, High and Tempel Synagogues; the former Jewish streets and market place, and the old Jewish Cemetery.
During the course of our day, lunch on our own before visiting the former Ghetto area; the new memorial on the Deportation Square, and remnants of the ghetto wall from 1941. Our last stop of the day will be the Galicia Museum, documenting remnants of the Galitzianer heritage in Poland and Ukraine today.
Evening: Shabbat dinner at the JCC Krakow with some members of the Krakow Jewish community (included).
Morning: free to attend Services OR explore sites of personal interest in Krakow on our own.
Afternoon: Walking Tour to Wawel Castle (seat of the Polish monarchs until 1596).
Evening: Presentation by Rabbi Amichai, followed by dinner on our own.
Our day will begin with a walking tour of Krakow’s Old Town and the Rynek (main town square), a UNESCO world heritage site. Old Town is a 13th century medieval town — the largest of its kind in Europe.
Break for lunch on our own in Old Town before visiting Schindler’s Factory. We will end our day with a visit to Plaszow, a former forced labor camp, to view an important memorial dedicated to the Polish Jews.
Morning: depart for the Auschwitz Jewish Center for a tour and a light lunch followed by an afternoon guided tour of Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp and memorial.
Depart Krakow for Wroclaw. Formerly known as the German city of Breslau, Wroclaw was the European Capital of Culture for 2016. En-route, visit Katowice for a tour of the Silisean Museum, one of the largest in Poland containing works of Polish art including some remarkable portraits by Stanisław Wyspiański.
Break for lunch on our own.
Arrive Wroclaw for a late afternoon check in to the deluxe Wrocław Art Hotel with time to rest and relax before dinner (included).
Walking tour of Old Town Wroclaw, including the Rynek and the Old Market Square; White Stork Synagogue; the “Little Synagogue;” Takowa Street (including monument to the “New Synagogue” that was torched during Kristallnacht) and Swidnicka Street (site of the former Jewish theater).
Presentation by Professor Marcin Wodzinsky, Director of the Center for the Culture and Languages of the Jews, and Department of Jewish Studies of the University of Wroclaw and author of several books and articles. Dr. Wodzinsky’s special fields of interest are the social history of the Jews in nineteenth-century Poland, the regional history of the Jews in Silesia, and Jewish sepulchral art.
Evening: Free, dinner on our own.
Depart Wroclaw for Lodz where we will have a guided tour of the impressive Jewish cemetery before breaking for lunch on our own at Manufaktura — an arts center, shopping mall, and leisure complex. The complex, formerly a large manufacturing plant owned by a Jewish industrialist, represents Poland’s largest renovation project since the reconstruction of Warsaw’s Old Town in the 1950s. We will also visit Radegast Station, today a memorial and museum. The former wooden railway station building houses a museum which contains books with lists of names of those who were deported from Radegast Station to Kulmhof and Auschwitz.
Overnight at Andel’s by Vienna House Hotel at the Manufaktura complex.
Evening free, dinner on our own.
Depart Lodz for Warsaw, with a stop in Piotrkow Trybunalski, family ancestral home of Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie for a tour. Arrive Warsaw, check in to the 5 star, deluxe Hotel Bristol – one of Warsaw’s finest hotels, perfectly located near the Old Town.
Evening: Shabbat dinner at our hotel (included).
Morning: (optional) Services led by Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie at our hotel. OR explore sites of personal interest in Warsaw on our own.
Afternoon: Depart hotel for a walking tour in Warsaw that will include the Old Town, Market Square and the Barbican (surviving remnant of Old Town’s defensive structure).
Break for 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: 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.: Presentation by Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie, followed by dinner on our own.
Depart our hotel, by coach, for Umschlagplatz (where the Jews were gathered for deportation to Treblinka) before continuing to Mila 18 – site of Jewish Fighting Organization in the ghetto uprising. From Mila 18, we will walk to the Museum of the History of the Polish Jews for a private guided tour- with ample time for lunch on our own at the Museum, and time to visit the Museum’s lovely gift shop.
This afternoon, we will visit the Nozyk Synagogue where we will meet with Rabbi Michael Schudrich- Chief Rabbi of Poland.
Depart for the Jewish cemetery- where many Jewish luminaries were buried over the years. The Warsaw Jewish Cemetery, one of the largest Jewish cemeteries in the world, contains over 200,000 marked graves as well as the mass graves of victims of the Warsaw Ghetto. Break for an early lunch on our own before a visit to the National Museum of Warsaw for a private, guided tour.
Our tour at the Museum will focus on “Polish-Jewish Exchange” through works of art from the Nineteenth and Twentieth centuries and include Jewish themes in Polish art as well as the contributions of Jewish collectors and patrons. An especially prominent component of this tour is the work of artists Maurycy Gottlieb, Moise Kisling Eugeniusz Zak and Henryk Berlewi.
Remainder of the afternoon free to explore Warsaw on our own and/or last minute shopping.
Evening: Closing meeting (followed by farewell dinner at our hotel (included).
Depart for U.S.
The five star Sheraton Grand Krakow is ideally located on the bank of Wisla River, within walking distance of the historic Wawel Castle, “Old Town,” and the famous Kazimierz district. This hotel has three restaurants including the Roof Top Terrace with views over Wawel Castle and Wisla River. Spa services, a fitness center, and a sauna are also onsite, as well as an indoor pool. Considered Krakow’s finest hotel, all its rooms have been beautifully restored featuring a residential ambiance.
The elegant and stylish Art Hotel is located in the cultural heart of Wroclaw just a few blocks from the Market Square. From the hotel, it is a short walk to theatres, museums, art galleries and numerous restaurants and pubs. The hotel’s decor includes wall paintings, ceramics, wooden ceiling beams, portals and stuccos; its rooms are cozy and furnished with stylized furniture, picturesque fabrics and flowers. Located in a beautiful 16th century tenant house, the Art Restaurant and Cafe are one of the most intriguing places in Wroclaw.
The deluxe Andel’s is an historic red brick façade, housed in a former weaving mill on the grounds of Manufaktura, the city’s premiere shopping, arts and cultural center. Its unique architecture is a combination of colors and forms, design and material, warmth and hospitality. Superbly located, its large windows and light colors ensure a spacious, airy feel. The hotel’s rooms combine modern design and technology in a modern setting.
Situated on the famous Royal Route, in the heart of Warsaw, for over 100 years the 5 star Hotel Bristol has served as Warsaw’s most distinguished destination. With a majestic neo-renaissance facade, 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.