JEWISH TOUR BALTICS AND BELARUS
10 days/ 9 nights
2700 EUR/ person
Accommodation with breakfast in centrally located 4- 5* hotels;
Transport service during the tour;
Sightseeing tours with car and English speaking guide as per itinerary;
Meals where mentioned: welcome dinner, Karaite’s traditional food in Trakai, Friday night’s dinner.
Admission fees: Museum Jews in Latvia, Riga synagogue, Rundale palace, Kedainiai multicultural center, IX fort, Sugihara house, Kaunas synagogue, Tolerance center, Jewish museum in Minsk, Mir, Niasvizh palaces.
Price valid if minimum 2 people traveling
Single room supplement 600 EUR
DAY 1 Monday RIGA. Arrival to Riga’s airport. Private transfer to the hotel. Welcome dinner at the restaurant Salve or similar. Overnight at the hotel Gallery Park 5* or similar.
DAY 2 Tuesday RIGA Breakfast at the hotel. This morning, embark on a full day tour of Jewish Riga, including the Jewish Quarter, "Alt-Neu Shul” (Old-New Synagogue), and moving Memorial to the former Great Synagogue, which burned to the ground. You will also stand by the wall honoring the Righteous among the Nations. Learn the fascinating story of Jannis Lipke, a heroic Latvian who saved many Jewish people. You will also enjoy a museum exhibit on the history of Jews in this part of the world. Next, a visit to Riga’s Jewish Community Center, splendidly housed in a former theatre, museum “Jews in Latvia”. Afterwards continue to chic "Art Nouveau" district, where many prominent Jewish Latvians, among them the philosopher Sir Isaiah Berlin, once lived. Overnight at the hotel Gallery Park 5* or similar.
DAY 3 Wednesday RIGA - RUMBULA - RUNDALE - JONISKIS - KEDAINIAI - KAUNAS. Breakfast at the hotel. Departure from Riga with en route stop at Rumbula memorial, honoring the Jews of Latvia, Germany, and Czechoslovakia. Further –Baltic baroque masterpiece – Rundale Palace. Afterwards – arrival to Lithuania. First site is a small town of Joniskis, where you will see complex of 2 synagogues, built in classicism and neo gothic style. Continue to Kedainiai. It is a citadel of Radzivil family, one of the most powerful nobility in late middle age Lithuania and also a town where the Vilna Gaon lived and worked and where 3 synagogues have remained. Visit Kedainiai multicultural center, established in one of the synagogues. Trip to Kaunas. Visit Sugihara house. Sugihara was a Japanese diplomat who (like a Shogun Schindler) bravely saved hundreds of Jews. Overnigh at the hotel “Daugirdas” 4* or similar.
DAY 4 Thursday KAUNAS - TRAKAI - VILNIUS. Breakfast at the hotel. Get to know Kaunas - second largest city and the capital of Lithuania between the World Wars. Tour of Kaunas, including the notorious Ninth Fort, where 30,000 Jews were murdered. You will also visit the former Kaunas Ghetto and Monument, as well as the splendid Chorale Synagogue. Continue to Trakai - the capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, a majestic insular castle of 15th century. Enjoy the panoramic view of the castle and learn about local ethnic minority – karaites. Their religion is reformed version of Judaism. Try their traditional dish – kybyns and liqueur at one of karaites restaurant “Kybynlar”. Travel to Vilnius for overnight. Hotel “Stikliai” 5* or similar.
DAY 5 Friday VILNIUS. Breakfast at the hotel. Day to get acquainted with rich history and heritage of the Northern Jerusalem Vilnius. Vilna boasted dozens of packed synagogues and prestigious Jewish schools. First visit to the Choral Synagogue, the sole survivor out of more than 100 pre-war Jewish prayer houses in Vilnius. The term Choral Synagogue relates to the inclusion of a choir section, a feature considered by some to be a revolutionary form of modernization and assimilation at the time it was built. Later continue to the beautiful Vilnius Jewish museum and art gallery. Visit Ponar Forest and Memorial nearby Vilnius. Amidst the delicate rustling of the poplar leaves, you will feel the presence of thousands of Jews, shot in the early days of the war – but (as proved by your visit) never forgotten. Pay respects at the Vilna Gaon’s grave in the Vilna cemetery (many come here to ask for a blessing). The Vilna Gaon is the personification of what makes the Litvishe heritage so precious; his attribute, “Gaon,” is Hebrew for sage. Friday night dinner at “Felicie” Overnight “Stikliai” 5* hotel or similar.
DAY 6 Saturday VILNIUS. Breakfast at the hotel. Today is a day of rest, and your morning is at leisure to stroll around the city, or perhaps join in local Shabbat services. In the afternoon, embark on a walking tour through Vilna’s charming, cobblestoned Old Town. You will also see the place of Great Vilna synagogue, old Jewish Quarter, with its narrow streets and courtyards. Visit Vilnius University – which offers courses in Yiddish, both to Lithuanians and visitors from around the world. Lithuanian Yiddish is said to set the classical standard. Its speakers created YIVO, an organization which honors this irreplaceable heritage, born in Vilna and now in New York City. Overnight.
DAY 7 Sunday VILNIUS - MINSK. Breakfast at the hotel. Private transfer to the airport. Flight Vilnius - Minsk. Private transfer to the hotel to drop off things. Full day to explore the secrets of Minsk. Minsk was one of the destinations in Eastern Europe where the Nazi relocated the Jews from Western Europe for extermination in the years of WWII. Visit the museum of history and culture of the Jews of Belarus, ghetto area, choral synagogue, Jewish community center (upon availability), “Hole” memorial, old Jewish cemetery. Learn about concentration camp “Small Trostenets”, where in 1941 – 1944 more than 200 000 Jews from Belarus and Western Europe were destroyed. Overnight “Europa” 5* hotel or similar.
DAY 8 Monday MINSK – RAKOV – VOLOZHYN – IVENETS – KHATYN – MINSK. Breakfast at the hotel. Morning departure for Volozhin to see the yeshiva established by Rav Hayim Volozhiner, a disciple of the Vilnya Gaon in 1803 (it existed until 1942, when the Nazis killed the last sixty-four students). Visit to the Jewish cemetery with the tomb of the great Hayim Volozhiner. Another little town is Rakov, where you’ll find yourself in the atmosphere of Jewish settlement of the end of the 19th century. There is a restored ancient Jewish cemetery. The town became a witness of mass executions of Jews during WWII. Ivenets - a building of a synagogue of 1912, a place of destruction of 800 Jews of city, an ancient Jewish cemetery of 1712, city block of a ghetto Transfer to Khatyn - deeply-affecting memorial that commemorates all innocent victims of the Great Patriotic War. The village of Khatyn was burned down and the entire population was massacred by the Nazis in 1943. Today it is a symbol of the tragedy of the Belarusian nation. Return to Minsk for overnight, 5* hotel “Europa” or similar.
DAY 9 Tuesday MINSK - MIR - NESVIZH - MINSK. Breakfast at the hotel. Morning departure to Mir. Here you will find medieval castle of the Dukes Radzivilas. Moreover – world-known yeshiva, established in 1815 with a number of about 500 students from all over the world; four synagogues, Old Jewish cemetery, impressive memorial complex erected to commemorate the Jewish families, killed during World War II. Later continue to Nesvizh – one of the oldest and most mysterious cities in Belarus. Visit Nesvizh castle - UNESCO sight and one of the oldest surviving castles in Belarus and local history museum. Learn about Jewish life before the WW2 and hear about one of the first ghetto uprisings. Return to Minsk for overnight. Hotel “Europa” 5* or similar.
DAY 10 Wednesday Breakfast at the hotel. Private transfer to the hotel. Departure.