Jewels on the Danube
Vienna & Prague
Rabbis, Writers & Dreamers
October 13–22, 2023

Overview

Vienna and Prague were two of the richest and most glamorous cities of the Hapsburg and Austro-Hungarian Empires, and both were home to important Jewish communities. Their great rabbis guided Jews everywhere—and their works lived on to influence modern-day writers whose books and ideas have spread worldwide. Nineteenth-century modernization in both locations brought about fascinating changes in Jewish thought and way of life. Our visits to the synagogues, cemeteries, and Jewish quarters will give us the opportunity to explore medieval heritage and the challenges of modernization — and to lament the destruction in the Nazi era.

Our accompanying scholar, Professor Chaim Seidler-Feller, will address a wide variety of themes associated with Jewish history and culture and provide context and insight to the places we will visit. In Vienna, we will have private, guided tours of world-class museums, including the Belvedere Museum, which holds the largest collection of paintings by Gustav Klimt. We’ll also focus on the Picture Gallery and Peter Breughel the Elder in the Kunsthistorisches Museum.

While traveling between Vienna and Prague, we’ll tour the Rear Synagogue and Seligmann Bauer House in Třebíč. In Prague, a walking tour of Old Town will include the baroque Klementinum Library, considered by many to be the most beautiful library in the world. On a half-day excursion to Theresienstadt, we’ll tour the ghetto that was presented as a “model Jewish settlement” for propaganda purposes.
The itinerary is carefully designed with some free time to explore on your own in both cities.

Highlights

  • 9 nights of deluxe accommodations in Vienna and Prague   

  • Visits to the Judenplatz Holocaust Memorial and the Museum Judenplatz, Klementinum Library, and synagogues throughout both cities

  • Walking tours of the Vienna State Opera; the Hofburg courtyards; the Innere Stadt, including Dorotheum, Dorotheergasse, and St. Stephen’s Cathedral; and Prague’s Old Town and Lesser Town, including Charles Bridge and the astronomical clock

  • Special trip to Třebíc with a tour of its Jewish Quarter, one of the best preserved and the largest Jewish Ghettos in Europe, followed by a visit to the Basilica of St. Procopius 

  • Lectures by Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller

  • Guided tours of the Kunsthistorisches fine arts museum, Belvedere Palace, Schönbrunn Palace and gardens, Synagogue Stadttempel, the MAK — Vienna’s museum of applied arts, Prague Castle, and the Terezín Memorial for the Theresienstadt concentration camp

Itinerary

Friday, October 13 | Vienna

We’ll arrive in Vienna and check in at Hotel Bristol, an art deco gem in the heart of the city, adjacent to the Vienna State Opera. You may join an optional afternoon walking tour or rest up from your travels. Later, we will meet for an orientation and a brief presentation. Our guide, rabbi and scholar Chaim Seidler-Feller, will discuss the Jewish history of the region and the Jewish culture of these two cities. There will be a group dinner after the presentation (included).

Saturday, October 14 | Vienna

The morning will be unscheduled, so you may attend services at one of several synagogues within a 15-minute walk of the hotel or enjoy some free time. (The nearby Leopold Museum, also within walking distance, returned two Egon Schiele watercolors stolen by the Nazis to the descendants of the rightful Jewish owners in 2016.) An afternoon walking tour through the Hofburg courtyards will be followed by a visit to the  Kunsthistorisches Museum. Our private guided tour of the picture gallery will cover the museum’s collection of works by  Peter Breughel the Elder, including The Tower of Babel. As you pass the  monument to Empress Maria Theresa in the large public square in front of the museum, look for composer Joseph Haydn with one hand on the shoulder of a young Mozart, who performed for the royal family at just six years old.

Sunday, October 15 | Vienna

During an orientation drive along the Ringstrasse, the “world’s most beautiful boulevard,”  you’ll see the Prater (the city’s famous amusement park), the Danube, and the UN building. We’ll continue to Upper Belvedere Palace, a masterpiece of Baroque architecture built in the early 1700s. The private guided tour will focus on the permanent collection’s iconic paintings by Gustav Klimt (including Judith, Flowering Poppies, and, of course, The Kiss) and Egon Schiele (The Embrace, Death and the Maiden, and The Family). 

Monday, October 16 | Vienna

We’ll begin the day with a guided tour of Schönbrunn Palace, where we’ll view some of its 1,441 rooms and apartments, followed by a walk through the surrounding park and gardens with fountains, statues, and walled gardens. Lunch will be at Café Residenz — in the exact location the Habsburgs’ guards once dined — where they serve schnitzel and Emperor Franz Joseph’s favorite dish, the Tafelspitz. Next, we’ll enjoy a brief private strudel-making demonstration in the former imperial bakery and have a free afternoon to explore the city. There will be an evening lecture by Chaim Seidler-Feller before dinner on our own.

Tuesday, October 17 | Vienna

We’ll set off for a walking tour of the grand Innere Stadt, including the equestrian statue of Archduke Albrecht in front of the Albertina, the auction house Dorotheum, Dorotheergasse, St. Stephen’s Cathedral, and, finally, a private tour of the Synagogue Stadttempel. The city’s main synagogue — and the only one left after  Kristallnacht — it was built into a row of houses, hidden from sight due to an edict by Emperor Joseph II that only allowed Roman Catholic churches to openly face public streets. This is why Stadttempel wasn’t destroyed in 1938: Burning the synagogue would have meant setting fire to surrounding buildings. From there, we’ll continue to the Judenplatz Holocaust memorial. A minimalist block with doors that cannot open, it appears as an inside-out library with the book spines facing inward, hidden, with all the history and names lost forever. We’ll also have a tour of the Museum Judenplatz with the excavations of a medieval synagogue and exhibits on medieval Jewry. After lunch (included) at Café Central (a favorite of Freud, Trotsky, and Hemingway), there will be an optional guided tour of the MAK — the museum of applied arts.

Wednesday, October 18 | Třebíc and Prague

On our way to Prague, we’ll explore Třebíc‘s two synagogues, an ancient Jewish cemetery,  and the Třebíč Ghetto. The Jewish Quarter in Třebíc is one of the best preserved and largest in Europe. The collection of houses that make up the former ghetto, the cemetery, and the nearby Basilica of St. Procopius are together on the UNESCO world and natural heritage list as a reminder of the coexistence of Jews and Christians after the Middle Ages.

After checking in to the deluxe Grand Mark, a stunning neo-classical building just a short walk from the Old Town Square, we’ll enjoy a buffet dinner at the hotel (included).

Thursday, October 19 | Prague

We’ll spend the morning touring the city’s synagogues, its cemetery, and the Jewish Museum. After lunch, there will be an optional guided tour of Prague Castle, one of the largest ancient castles in the world. Built in the 9th century and now the most significant Czech monument, it was the seat of power for the kings of Bohemia, Holy Roman emperors, and presidents of Czechoslovakia. After a late afternoon lecture by Chaim Seidler-Feller, we’ll enjoy dinner on our own at one of the many fine restaurants within walking distance of the Grand Mark.

Friday, October 20 | Prague

In the morning, we’ll visit the Terezín Memorial for the Theresienstadt concentration camp — the “model ghetto” used to deceive the International Red Cross — and have guided tours of the small fortress, Ghetto Museum, and Magdeburg Barrack. Afterward, we’ll return to Prague in time for lunch on our own. The afternoon will be your free time to reflect or explore Prague’s many museums. We’ll gather for a Shabbat Dinner (included) in the evening.

Saturday, October 21 | Prague

The morning will be unscheduled so you can attend services, rest, or explore the city further. Our afternoon walking tour will include the Charles Bridge (c.1357), which connects Old Town and Lesser Town, and the astronomical clock, the third oldest in the world.  Also, we’ll visit one of the world’s most beautiful libraries: the Klementinum. A final lecture by Professor Chaim Seidler-Feller will be followed by festive dinner (included).

Sunday, October 22  

Depart for home.

Traveling with you…

Chaim Seidler-Feller recently celebrated his 40th year of working with students and faculty as the executive director of the Hillel Center for Jewish Life at UCLA. Currently director emeritus, he also serves as director of the Hartman Fellowship for Campus Professionals. An ordained rabbi, he also completed a master’s degree in rabbinic literature. Chaim has been a lecturer in the Departments of Sociology and Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at UCLA and in the Department of Theological Studies at Loyola Marymount University. He is also a faculty member of the Shalom Hartman Institute, North America, and of the Wexner Heritage Foundation and was rabbinic consultant to Barbra Streisand during the making of the film Yentl. The International Hillel Center has granted Chaim the Hillel Professional Recognition Award “for blending the love of Jewish tradition with the modern intellectual approach of the university.”

Accommodations

Vienna: The Bristol Hotel
Perfectly located in the heart of the city, adjacent to the Vienna State Opera and close to all major sights, this 5-star hotel and art deco gem serves as a living example of Viennese charm. Antiques combine harmoniously with modern comforts to turn these luxurious hotel rooms into an urban retreat.

Prague: Grand Mark Prague
Nestled in a former baroque palace, The 5-star Grand Mark Prague personifies luxury — blending classical design with modern art and technology. The location is ideal for leisure and entertainment and is within walking distance of all the key attractions in Prague, as well as high-end designer shopping. The design incorporates rich textures, fine furnishings, and specially commissioned artwork for both aesthetics and comfort.

Details

Program Cost: $6,950* includes:

  • 9 nights’ accommodations at deluxe hotels
  • Full breakfast daily; four lunches; four dinners
  • All group transportation via deluxe air-conditioned coach
  • All lectures, guided tours, museums and site entrance fees

*Per person, double occupancy; single supplement: $1,790. Fees not included: gratuities: $165. Museum of Jewish Heritage membership for nonmembers: $54.

Secure your place

Book Now: use the link below to reach our easy online booking form.

By phone: 845-256-0197 Monday–Friday, 10am–4pm EST.

Payment Reserve your space with a nonrefundable deposit of $1,000 per person. Final balance is due 120 days prior to departure.

Membership Tours offered by the Museum of Jewish Heritage are available to active members. The individual annual membership is $54 and will be collected at the time of final payment for any nonmembers. To see the list of benefits, visit the museum’s website.

Participation Tour sizes are limited to 26 participants unless otherwise noted. Trips entail considerable walking including over uneven terrain. Participants need to be in good health, be able to keep up with the group, be able to experience group and cultural differences with grace, and be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Please let us know if you have any physical conditions that may require special attention while on tour.

Cancellations All cancellations must be received by Jewish Heritage Travel in writing. Cancellations received 120 days or more prior to departure: full refund less nonrefundable deposits, per person; 119–90 days prior to departure: 50% refund per person after nonrefundable deposits. 89–0 days before departure: no refund.

Trip Cancellation Insurance Jewish Heritage Travel strongly urges all participants to purchase travel insurance for coverage of losses necessitated by having to cancel due to illness or accident. For your convenience, we are providing a link to Allianz Global Assistance, which many past participants have used. Please use code ACCAM/Agency ID# F026815 or feel free to use your own insurance agent. When purchasing insurance, please consider the plans carefully to familiarize yourself with what is covered. In this context, do take note that most insurance companies generally will waive exclusion for preexisting conditions only if your application is received by them within 14 days from the date of your program registration. If you have a preexisting medical condition and are interested in taking trip insurance, you should do so either with Allianz or through your own insurance agent within 14 days of registration.

Changes All rights are reserved by Jewish Heritage Travel to make scholar substitutions and/or to modify the itinerary (including hotels) as needed. Every reasonable effort will be made to operate the program as planned; however, should unforeseen world events and conditions require the itinerary to be altered, Jewish Heritage Travel reserves the right to do so for the safety and best interest of the group. Any extra expenses incurred in this situation are the responsibility of the participant.

Disclaimer of Responsibility By registering for this program, participant specifically waives any and all claims of action against the Museum of Jewish Heritage and the Jewish Heritage Travel office and their respective staffs for damages, loss, injury, accident, or death incurred by any person in connection with this tour. The Museum of Jewish Heritage and the Jewish Heritage Travel office and their respective staffs assume no responsibility or liability in connection with the service of any train, vessel, carriage, aircraft, or other conveyance that may be used wholly or in part in the performance of their duty to the passengers. Neither will the Museum of Jewish Heritage or the Jewish Heritage Travel office or their staffs be responsible for any injury, death, loss, accident, delay, or irregularity through neglect or default of any company or person engaged in carrying out the purposes for which tickets, vouchers, or coupons are issued. No responsibility is accepted for losses or expenses due to sickness, viruses, weather, strikes, wars, and other causes. In the event it becomes necessary or advisable for any reason whatsoever to alter the itinerary or arrangements, including hotels or scholars, such alterations may be made without penalty. All rights reserved to require any participant to withdraw from the tour at his/her own expense when such an action is determined by the tour staff to be in the best interest of the participant’s health and safety and that of the group in general. Prices subject to change. Cost in effect at time of registration will be honored.

Registration