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Jewish Heritage tour of Poland


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Introduction

One of Europe’s largest Jewish communities lived in Poland for centuries. The catastrophe of World War II destroyed its rich culture, and the postwar political system in Poland was not conducive to its recovery. In the 1990s everything changed. Historic synagogues and cemeteries are being restored. Nowadays, klezmer music can be heard again in cafes of Kazimierz, and at the tombstones of famous rabbis, Jews can once again be found praying.

Day 1: Warszawa

Arrival in Warszawa.

Overnight stay in Warszawa

Day 2: Warszawa

In the morning you will start a full-day sightseeing tour of the Polish capital, including its Jewish sites.

Many years ago Warszawa was one of the greatest Jewish centres of Poland. In 1939 there were approximately 380,000 Jews living in and around the city. Most of Jewish Warszawa was destroyed after the Ghetto Uprising, and just a few traces of its presence remain. The majority of the monuments and memorials are located within the wartime ghetto area and include Nozyk Synagogue, which is open for worship, the Ghetto Heroes Monument, the Jewish Cemetery, the Jewish Historical Institute, the Ghetto Wall, and the Jewish Theatre – one of only two full-time theatre companies performing in Yiddish.

Your visit to the capital would be incomplete without seeing places such as Łazienki Palace and Park, the Royal Castle, Wilanów and other sights.

Overnight stay in Warszawa.

Day 3: Warszawa – Treblinka – Tykocin – Warszawa (381 km)

Today you will take a day-trip to Treblinka and Tykocin.

First you will visit Treblinka, the former labour and extermination camp for Jews and Poles, which was built in 1941. In terms of the number of victims who perished there Treblinka was the second biggest (after Birkenau) extermination camp for Jews.

You will then move onto Tykocin, a town famous for its many great and learned scholars of the Tora. The Waad Arba Arcot had its seat there. The town still has the lay-out of a typical Jewish “sztetl” with many old buildings and a 17th century synagogue. It is one of the most magnificent historical monuments to Jewish culture in Europe. The family house of the Zamenhof family lies in Piłsudskiego Street, while the cellar of the “small synagogue” is the current home to the Tejsza restaurant, where you can try examples of Jewish cuisine, including tzimmes, kugel and kreplech donuts which are considered to be the best in the town.

Overnight stay in Warszawa.

Day 4: Warszawa – Góra Kalwaria – Kazimierz Dolny – Lublin (219 km)

Today you will leave the Polish capital and head towards Kalwaria and Kazimierz Dolny.

Góra Kalwaria is the former seat of the famous Hassidic dynasty founded in the early 19th century by Tzaddik (Rebbe) Meir Alter. His son, Tzaddik Abraham Mordecha’ Alter, promoted the court at Gora as a rallying point for Orthodox Jews.

In the afternoon you will go to Kazimierz Dolny, which became a prosperous mercantile town in the 14th century, when Jews began to settle in the area. Dynamic Jewish communities of traders and shopkeepers were integral to the character of the town and their legacy is still visible in the former Lustig House which belonged to a Jewish mercantile family. Other traces of their presence include the local synagogue, the Jewish Cemetery and the collection of ritual objects displayed in the Silverware Museum.

You will then travel to Lublin where we will take you for a tour of the town, which was home to a Jewish community for centuries. The old town includes an orphanage for Jewish children, the Orthodox cathedral, old and new Jewish cemeteries and a mausoleum. During your visit, you will see the site of the former city ghetto with its 19th century synagogue. Lublin also boasts the famous Yeshivat Chachmei Lublin – a modern talmudical college.

Overnight stay in Lublin.

Day 5: Lublin – Majdanek – Leżajsk – Łańcut – Rzeszów (74 km)

You will leave Lublin and visit Majdanek, a former Nazi camp. Almost the entire Jewish community of Lublin perished here.

Further along on your route there is Leżajsk, erstwhile home to a Hassidic centre established in 1772 by Rebbe Elimelech. It is currently a place of pilgrimage for many Jews who come here to pray.

Our next destination is Łańcut. Here you will visit the Jewish Museum, the old cemetery which includes the restored grave of Reb Horowitz, the new Jewish cemetery and the old synagogue, which was built in 1761. The synagogue has a small prayer room known as the Lublin room, named after the Lublin Tsaddik Jakub Izaak Horowitz, also known as the or the “Prophet of Lublin”.

Overnight stay in Rzeszów.

Day 6: Rzeszów – Krosno – Rymanów – Tarnów (166 km)

You will leave Rzeszów and visit Krosno, where the only remaining physical trace of its Jewish heritage is the Jewish cemetery. Around 200 gravestones have been preserved in the cemetery and special attention should be paid to the statue of Bernard Munz, shaped in the form of a broken tree.

In Rymanów you will see the grave of Tzadik Menachem and his wife and the grave of Tzadik Cwi Hirsch and his son Jozef Friedman. Rymanów was also the birthplace of the Nobel Prize winner Isidor Isaac Rabi

In the afternoon you will move onto Tarnów. Here you will take part in sightseeing tour of the city whose architecture comprises a blend of Gothic and Renaissance styles. Tarnów has many places of Jewish cultural interest, such as the ruins of the old synagogue and the Jewish cemetery, which includes a large stone monument commemorating the deaths of thousands of Jewish people in WWII.

Overnight stay in Tarnów.

Day 7: Tarnów – Kraków (92 km)

Leave Tarnów for Kraków.

In the afternoon you will visit the Jewish quarter of Kazimierz in Kraków.

Kazimierz has been a major historic centre of Jewish culture since the 16th century. Its soul perished during the traumatic events of the Second World War, but many of the district’s buildings, some still with Yiddish inscriptions, have survived. Today Jewish life and culture is undergoing a revival in Kazimierz. Many buildings have been restored and the district’s fashionable cafes, restaurants and bars are nowadays full of tourists from all over the world curious to learn more about Jewish culture. The district’s main attractions are Szeroka Street where “Schindler’s List” was filmed, Isaac, High, and Old Synagogues, Remuh Synagogue and its Cemetery, and the “Pod Orłem” (“Eagle”) Pharmacy.

In the evening we invite you for dinner in a Jewish restaurant in Kazimierz to the accompaniment of Jewish music.

Overnight stay in Kraków.

Day 8: Kraków – Auschwitz – Łódź (213 km)

You will leave Kraków and travel to the  Museum of Martyrdom - Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp.

The Museum provides one of the most memorable lessons in Modern European History. The visit includes a film showing the camp’s liberation, the flower-strewn Death Wall, national memorials, the railway line and ramp, the remains of hundreds of barracks, all of which constitute a moving testimony to the number of lives lost through Nazi atrocities across occupied Europe.

In the afternoon we offer you a tour of Łódź.

This industrial city owed its growth to the role played by the Jewish community, as some of its members became notable industrialists. The ghetto established there during War World II was really big. Over 200,000 Jews from all over Europe were kept there, but only a few hundred survived. The small cemetery and monument commemorate the victims of these terrible events. The main cemetery is the largest Jewish cementary in Europe and tombstones from 19th century can be found there.

Overnight stay in Łódź.

Day 9: Łódź – Warszawa airport (139 km)

Transfer from Łódź to Warszawa airport.

Departure.