Belarus - Ukraine - Poland

Jewish heritage cross-border tour

May 18-31, 2017

The area of Eastern Poland, Western Ukraine and Western Belarus - Polish borderline district until the war - was once a flourishing centre of Jewish life. Many influential communities rose in cities, towns and shtetls located in those lands, making it an important area for the development of Jewish Poland - its culture, heritage and myth. On this tour, we will take you on a journey to a few of the most important cities along the Borderlands such as Zamosc, Grodno, Minsk and Lviv, as well as to small towns like Mir, Zhovkva or Jozefow. Throughout the visit, you will learn about different streams in Judaism, as well as about communities such as Haskalah, Hasidism, and the unique Sephardic community of the former Kingdom of Poland. This trip will also give you an unforgettable experience of the border area multiculturalism, tasting traditional cuisine, meeting local guides and participating in local culture events.

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Day 1, May 18, Arrival to Warsaw, Bialowieza

05.05  Departure from Tel Aviv, Ben Gurion Airport (LO152)

08.20  Arrival in Warsaw, breakfast

10.30–15.00  Transfer to Bialowieza

15.30–19.00  A walk in Bialowieza Forest – a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Shared by Belarus and Poland Bialowieza Forest is a national park which is home to a rare species of European bisons and 450-year-old oaks.

Visit: A walking tour for the nature lovers through the protected part of the oldest and wildest forest in Europe.

19.00  Check in, dinner

Night in Bialowieza

Day 2, May 19, Belarus - Grodno

07.30–08.30  Breakfast and check out (Bialowieza, Poland)

08.30–10.30  Transfer to the Polish/Belarusian border in Bobrowniki

10.30–14.30  Crossing the border in Bobrowniki, transfer to Grodno

14.30–19.00  Sightseeing in Grodno

Grodno (a.k.a. Hrodna) is a good place to start your visit in Belarus. The city experienced a significant expansion in size and played a central role during the times of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Every third session of the general Sejm (parliament convention) of the Commonwealth took place in the city, placing it as the unofficial third capital after Warsaw and Vilnius. Hrodna is known to have the most preserved historical centre among all Belarusian cities with landmarks of different architectural epochs.

Visit: A walk around the city centre and the Niemen river banks, the old and new castles, the Great Synagogue and the Museum in the synagogue, the 12 c. Kalozha church of Sts. Boris and Gleb.

19.00  Check-in followed by dinner and a concert of traditional Belarusian folk music.

Night in Grodno

Day 3, May 20, Belarus - Navahrudak, Mir

7.30–8.30  Breakfast and check out (Grodno, Belarus)

8.30–11.00  Transfer to Navahrudak

11.00–17.00  Sightseeing in Navahrudak

Navahrudak is rich with some of the most important architectural sights of Belarus, among them the ruins of the ancient castle. During WWII, Navahrudak region was the area of activity of the Bielski brothers partisans movement. Traces of the partisan camp can still be seen in the heart of the Naliboki Forest.

Visit: The main square, ruins of the castle on a hill, the Jewish Resistance Museum, Naliboki Forest -  wildlife woods where the Jewish partisan team of the Bielski brothers operated.

17.00–18.00  Transfer to Mir

18.00–19.30  Mir sightseeing

Mir is a small town with a castle complex built in the 16th century. Its architecture represents a harmonious mixture of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque styles that embodies the volatile history of the region, located at the crossroads of cultures. In the 19 c. Mir was famous in the Jewish world for its great yeshiva.

Visit:  The castle – a UNESCO Heritage Site (view from outside), synagogue complex

19.30  Dinner, check in

Night in Mir

Day 4, May 21, Belarus - Minsk

07.30–08.30  Breakfast and check out (Mir, Belarus)

08.30–9.30  Mir – visit to the regional museum and the exhibition dedicated to the Jews of Mir

09.30–11.00  Transfer to Minsk

11.00–19.00  Minsk sightseeing,

Minsk, the capital of Belarus, despite its thoroughly dreary-sounding name, a progressive and modern place quite at odds with its own reputation.  Razed to the ground in WWII, Minsk has almost no buildings remaining from the pre-war times, and there are relatively few traditional sights in the city. Instead, there are myriad places of interest to anyone fascinated by the Soviet period.

18.00–20.00  Free time in Minsk

Visit: Minsk Old Town, today's Freedom Square, Independence Avenue Independence Square, A walking tour of “Jewish Minsk” - the area of the Jewish ghetto in Minsk (second largest in the USSR, existed between 1941 and 1943) including the Pit Memorial and other sites commemorating the once thriving Jewish community in Belarus.

19.00  Dinner, check in

Night in Minsk

Day 5, Belarus - Minsk, Ukraine - Lviv

7.30–8.30  Breakfast and check out (Minsk, Belarus)

8.30–10.30  Continuation of Minsk sightseeing

Visit: The Jewish Community Centre and Museum. Meeting with Vadim Akopyan, the director of the Museum.

10.30–11.00  Transfer to the airport

13.10–14.30  Flight to Lviv

15.30–19.00  Tour around the centre of Lviv

Lviv is a city with more than 700 years of history. Traces of its Polish, Jewish and Austro-Hungarian heritage are evident in its architecture, which blends Central and Eastern European styles with those of Italy and Germany. The old city of Lviv is a monument listed by the UNESCO Heritage comity.

Visit: The historical city centre, main square, Prospekt Svobody.

19.00  Check in, dinner, nightlife tour in Lviv

During the night tour, we will get to explore the best pubs and cafes in Lviv, try local cuisines and sense the vivid spirit of this modern city.

Night in Lviv

Day 6, May 23, Ukraine - Lviv

07.30–08.30  Breakfast

08.30–19.00  Whole day tour around Lviv

Visit: The main square, remains of the former “Golden Rose” Synagogue, Suburban Jewish District and area of the ghetto (Zamarstynovska street) with the former Hasidic Synagogue, the area of the former Old Jewish cemetery (nowadays Krahivsky market), the building of the former Jewish hospital and the monument for the victims of the Jewish Ghetto, Kleparow station and The New Jewish cemetery.

19.00  Dinner

Night in Lviv

Day 7, May 24, Ukraine - Zhovkva, Poland – Belzec, Zamosc

07.30–08.30  Breakfast and check out (Lviv, Ukraine)

08.30–09.30  Transfer to Zovkva

09.30–11.00  Zovkva sightseeing

Zhovkva. Established as a private town at the end of the 16th century, it was founded by Stanislaw Zolkiewski to look like an ideal renaissance town. Jews lived in Zhovkva from the very beginning and the community became independent at 1620. For a time, king Jan III Sobieski owned the town and granted its Jews the right to establish a Hebrew printing house, which later became famous all over the Polish Kingdom.

Visit: the main square, castle and the synagogue.

11.00–13.30  Transfer to the Ukrainian/Polish border in Rawa Ruska, crossing a border.

13.30–16.00  Visit to the Belzec Museum Memorial Site

Belzec. The death camp in Belzec, established in March 1942, was the first place where stationary gas chambers were used for the mass killing of Jewish people. Within only a few months of its functioning, until December 1942, around 400 thousand people were murdered in this camp.

Visit: the memorial on the area of the camp, museum and the commandant’s building.

16.00–17.00  Transfer to Zamosc

17.00–19.00  Zamosc sightseeing

Zamosc. A UNESCO World Heritage site. Zamosc was established in the 16th c. as an ideal renaissance town. Jews settled in Zamosc shortly after its establishment and within a few decades, they became an important and influential community in the town. Among the many famous names that originate from its Jewish community, you can find the important Yiddish author I. L. Peretz.

Visit: renaissance main square, the Jewish quarter in the Old Town and the renaissance synagogue (today culture centre), the building of the mikvah

19.00  Dinner, check in

Night in Zamosc

Day 8, May 25, Poland - Zamosc, Szczebrzeszyn, Zwierzyniec, Jozefow, Lublin

7.309.00  Breakfast and check out (Zamosc, Poland)

9.009.30  Transfer to Szczebrzeszyn

9.3011.00  Szczebrzeszyn sightseeing

Szczebrzeszyn (Shebreshin). The oldest mention of a Jewish community there dates back to the 15th c. Within a few centuries, Jews dealing mainly with crafts and trade settled around the main square. In the 16th c., a cemetery was established on the outskirts of the town’s centre. Today, it is one of the oldest and biggest preserved cemeteries in Poland, holding hundreds of tombstones.

Visit: the synagogue building (today culture centre), Jewish cemetery and the memorial for the victims of mass execution on the site.

11.0013.00  Transfer to Zwierzyniec

Walk around Zwierzyniec, a charming town hidden in the woods of Roztocze National Park

13.0014.00  Lunch

14.0016.30  Transfer to Jozefow and sightseeing

Jozefow. The Jewish settlement there was established with the town, in the 18th c. In the 19th c., Becalel Waks established the first Hebrew printing house in Jozefow. Within the next few decades, the town became famous as the most active printing centre in the Lublin Region, having over half of its Jewish population working in printing and involved in selling books.

Visit: the synagogue building (today a library), Jewish cemetery, quarry, execution site and the memorial in the forest.

16.3018.30  Transfer to Lublin

18.3020.00  Check in, dinner

Night in Lublin

Day 9, May 26, Poland - Lublin

7.30–9.00  Breakfast  

9.00–13.00  Lublin sightseeing

Jewish District of Lublin. The oldest mention of the Jewish settlement in Lublin dates back to the 14th c. The Jewish city flourished for centuries around the royal castle and the Old Town, the centre of today's Lublin. The traditional community changed quickly at the end of the 18th c. with the settlement of Rabbi Yaakov Itzhak Horowitz, the Seer of Lublin, on the outskirts of the city.

Visit: the area of the former Jewish district in the Old Town.

The "Grodzka Gate – NN Theatre" Centre. The centre is a local government cultural institution which researches and collects data about the Jewish city of Lublin. In its activities, the Centre draws on the symbolic and historical significance of its residence, the Grodzka Gate, also known as the Jewish Gate.

13.00–14.00  Lunch

14.00–18.00  Lublin sightseeing

Yeshivat Chachmei Lublin. Opened in June 1930, Lublin yeshiva was the dream project of Rabbi Meir Shapiro, who became the first head of the school. Its impressive building survived the war and in 2006 a synagogue was reopened in its interiors.

​Old Jewish Cemetery. Known to be established as early as in 15th c., it is the oldest Jewish cemetery still existing in Poland. Destructed during WWII and neglected in the post-war period, it still holds some precious tombstones with the matzevah of Seer of Lublin among them.

18.00–19.00  Free time

19.00–20.00  "Stories from the Gate" (the NN Theatre’s show)

20.00  Dinner

Night in Lublin

Day 10, May 27, Poland - Lublin, Krakow

7.30–9.00  Breakfast and check out (Lublin, Poland)

9.00–13.30  Transfer to Krakow

13.30–15.30  Lunch and check in

15.30–19.00  Krakow sightseeing

Krakow. A UNESCO World Heritage site. The historical city of Krakow and its unique architecture survived World War II without a great destruction. The city rose to great European prominence thanks to King Casimir the Great, who in the 14th c. opened the University of Krakow, the third oldest academy in Central Europe. Krakow served as the capital of Polish Kingdom until the end of the 16th c., when the administrative centre was moved to Warsaw.

Kazimierz (Kuzmir). Founded by King Casimir the Great in the 14th c., the town quickly became an important centre of Jewish settlement. In the 15th c. the Old Synagogue was constructed there, and until today it remains the oldest preserved synagogue in Poland. Kazimierz became an important centre for Jewish religious studies since Moses Isserles, known as the Rema, established a yeshivah in the 16th c. The famous scholar was buried in the old cemetery next to his synagogue and his tombstone stands there until today.

Visit: The Rema Synagogue and the Old Cemetery, the Old Synagogue, the Izaak Synagogue, the Tempel Synagogue.

19.00–20.00  Free time

20.00  Dinner  

Night in Lublin

Day 11, May 28, Poland - Krakow, Auschwitz-Birkenau, Zakopane

7.30–9.00  Breakfast and check out (Krakow, Poland)

9.00–10.30  Transfer to Auschwitz

10.30–13.30  Visit Auschwitz Museum

Auschwitz-Birkenau. KL Auschwitz was the largest of the German Nazi concentration and death camps, and more than 1.1 million people lost their lives there. The museum, established in 1947, holds the historical exhibition, and the collections of the authentic items found in the camp. The Memorial consists of two parts, Auschwitz and Birkenau.

Visit: a tour of Auschwitz I-Main, the original camp buildings in Auschwitz II-Birkenau, the prisoner barracks, the unloading platform (ramp) and the ruins of the gas chamber and crematoria 2 or 3.

13.30–14.30  Lunch

14.30–17.30  Transfer to Zakopane, check in

17.30–20.00  Walk on Krupowki (tourist boulevard), Zakopane

Zakopane, often referred to as the winter capital of Poland, is a charming little town located in the Tatra Mountains.

20.00  Dinner with live folk music

Night in Zakopane

Day 12, May 29, Poland - Zakopane, Warsaw

7.30–9.00  Breakfast and check out (Zakopane, Poland)

9.00–11.00  Zakopane, Gubalowka viewpoint

11.00–15.00  Transfer to Kielce

15.00–16.00  Lunch

16.00–18.00  Kielce sightseeing

18.00–21.00  Transfer to Warsaw

21.00  Dinner and check in

Night in Warsaw

Day 13, May 30, Poland - Warsaw

Breakfast

09.00–13.00  Warsaw sightseeing

Warsaw. The capital of Poland, Warsaw is nowadays a modern metropolis. The city suffered a great deal of destruction during World War II, following the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (1943) and the Warsaw Uprising (1944). Reconstruction of the city, especially of the Old Town and the Royal Castle, took a huge national effort, rebuilding both the buildings and Polish national self-belief.

Visit: the area of the Old Town, Sigismund’s Column and the Royal Castle.

13.00 - 14.00  Lunch

14.00 - 19.00  Warsaw sightseeing

Jewish Warsaw. The oldest mention of the Jewish settlement in Warsaw dates back to the 15th c., and it grew to be the biggest Jewish centre of pre-war Europe. Before World War II the Jewish community of Warsaw accounted for over 30% of its population. During the war the Nazis established the biggest ghetto in occupied Europe there. Following the uprising of its inhabitants the Jewish quarter was almost completely destroyed by the Germans.  

Visit: the area of the former Jewish quarter and the ghetto, Nozyk synagogue, Mila bunker, Umschlagplatz, the Ghetto Heroes Monument.

19.00–20.00  Free time

20.00  Farewell dinner

Day 14, May 31, Poland - Warsaw, departure to Tel Aviv

7.30–9.00  Breakfast and check out (Warsaw, Poland)

09.00–13.00  Warsaw sightseeing

13.00–14.00  Lunch

14.00–19.00  Free time, shopping etc.

19.00  Transfer to the airport

22.55  Departure to Tel Aviv (LO 151)

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The tour is in cooperation with Eco.co.il

To sign up press here

PRICE:      3650$

Early bird discount:

150$ for signing up until February 25th!

 

PRICE INCLUDES:

  • flights TLV-WAW, WAW-TLV, Minsk-Lviv

  • accommodation in 3 or 4-star hotels

  • meals: full board

  • transportation with comfortable bus

  • Hebrew speaking guide for the whole tour

  • local guides in Ukraine and Belarus

  • two folk concerts (in Poland and Ukraine or Belarus), theatre show in "Grodzka Gate - NN Theatre" Centre, and klezmer band concert in Lubin

  • nightlife tour in Lviv

  • entrance tickets

  • travel insurance

 

The program is conducted in Hebrew

Guides: Tal Schwartz, Ronen Raz

 

Contact: info@rootkatours.com

 
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