This is a journey to the regions of Jewish heritage; with "Jerusalem of Lithuania" at its heart, and the vistas of the lands of the north. It's an experiential voyage, including the beautiful cities of Vilna, Kaunas, Riga, Minsk, Volozhin, Mir, Ponevezh, and little villages that look like they come from one of Chagall's paintings. The fiddler is no longer on the roof here, but the wooden houses and Jewish life is still spread over the forests and alongside the rivers. In the past, hundreds of thousands of Jews of all types lived in these towns and hamlets. This was the Jewish world – and it's no more. The passage through Lithuania and Latvia is one that encompasses nature's spectacular and the landscapes of Jewish tradition; it's a journey to the events and characters of Jewish history.
Scholar in Residence - Shlomo Tikochinski - Scholar and Guide
Day 1 Wednesday July 11, 2012: Tel Aviv – Riga – Siauliai
Arrive Riga airport; we will have a panoramic tour followed by transfer to Joniskis – an example of a pre-war shtettle in Lithuania to visit the town and synagogues. Continue to Hill of Crosses near Siauliai, a symbol of Lithuanians’ resistance against foreign rule, with more than 50.000 crosses. After checking in at our hotel, we will have a short city tour including Hayim Frenkel’s Synagogue, tannery and residence given to the Hebrew school, the former “Trakai” and “Caucasus” ghettoes in Siauliai.
Day 2 Thursday July 12, 2012: Siauliai – Telsiai – Kedainiai – Kaunas
Drive to Telsiai (Telz) to see the former renowned Yeshiva and other sites of the town including a short visit to Kedainiai (Keidan), a citadel of Radziwil family, one of the most powerful nobility in Lithuania and also a town where the Vilna Gaon lived and worked. The buildings of three synagogues have remained in Keidan. Departure for Kaunas (Kovna), the second large city, an interim capital of pre-war Lithuania En route a stop at the Ninth Forts - death sites of thousands of Jews from Lithuania and other countries. We will visit the museum and have a short memorial ceremony. After dinner we will walk along the main street, Laisves aleja, boulevard, with its 2-3 storey buildings, restaurants, shops, as they looked before the war.
Day 3 Friday July 13, 2012: Kaunas – Zezmariai – Vilnius
Full day tour of Kaunas, including Slobodka, a Jewish suburb of Kaunas and ghetto during World War II, the Old Jewish cemetery. The Great Action at Demokratu square. The Holocaust museum. The Synagogue and the Children’s Memorial in its courtyard. The house where Leah Goldberg, the prominent Israeli poetess, lived. On the way to Vilnius we stop at Zezmariai (Zhezhmer), where a remarkable Jewish community settled before the war with its surviving wooden Synagogue building. After our tour we'll check in to our hotel and prepare for Shabbat.
Day 4 Shabbat , July 14, 2012: Vilnius
After breakfast and Shabbat services we'll take a walking tour to the old Jewish quarter to see the narrow streets and courtyards of the middle-age Ghetto, the Great Vilna Synagogue and the shulhoyf, Vilna Gaon - the great Jewish scholar; Vilna - a centre of the struggle between mitnagdim and Hasidim, the famous Jewish sculptor Mordekhai Antokolsk and the world-renowned Strashun library, that numbered over 6000 volumes at the end of the 19th century.
Day 5 Sunday July 15, 2012: Vilnius – Radin – Grodno
We start the day at Ponar Forest near Vilnius, where more than 100.000 people, mostly Jewish were murdered by the Nazis and visit the Jewish State museum. We return to Vilnius the Jewish cemeteries of Vilna, their past and present; the grave of the Vilna Gaon and of other prominent Jewish figures. In the afternoon we will pass the border to Belarus and drive to Grodno via Radin where Chafetz Chayim founded the Yeshivah of Radin in 1869. One can see the impressive building of the Synagogue. Visit the Jewish cemetery with the mitzvah of Chafetz Chayim and the memorial for the Jews murdered in the WWII. Arrival in Grodno for overnight.
Day 6July 16, 2012: Grodno – Slonim - Brest
Sightseeing of Grodno, once a residence of Great Duke of Lithuania Vytautas. Here in 1389 he issued a "Permit of Residence" that regarded with favour the arrival of Jews into Lithuania. Walking tour in the old part of Grodno, including the medieval castle, , the streets of the Jewish quarter before the war, buildings of the various Jewish public institutions, the Great Synagogue of Grodno, the territory of the Jewish Ghetto and the old Jewish cemetery. Continue to Slonim and see the Slonim Synagogue, which survived the Holocaust and is now being caringly restored. Arrive Brest for overnight.
Day 7 July 17, 2012: Brest – Novogrudok – Mir – Minsk
Sightseeing tour of Brest (founded in 1019) which was the center of Jewish communities of Great Lithuanian Principality (14th-17th centuries). The first Belarusian stone synagogue was built there. You will learn the history of Brest Kaghal. Visit to the Brest Fortress Memorial, famous for the unparalleled feat of its defenders in World War II. Later on the fortress received the title of Hero-fortress. Continue to Novogrudok – once the centre of the Great Duchy of Lithuania. The ruins of the ancient castle could be seen up to date. Visit to the area of the Jewish ghetto and the places of the mass murder. Visit the Museum of Adam Mitskevich. Drive to Mir. Here a worldrenowned yeshiva that numbered about five hundred students from around the world was established in 1815. One can see in the same area the buildings of the yeshiva and of three synagogues. The old Jewish cemetery in Mir. An impressive memorial erected in memory of the Jewish inhabitants murdered during WWII. Visit to the medieval Dukes’ Radziwill castle of Mir built in 1495. Arrive Minsk for overnight.
Day 8 Wednesday, Julyt 18, 2012: Minsk – Khatyn – Volozhyn – Vilnius
After breakfast sightseeing of Minsk. “Yama” – a memorial for the Jews perished in Minsk during the Nazi occupation. The obelisk was built on the exact spot where five thousand Jews were slaughtered. Visit Minsk Synagogue. A walk in the small part of the Old Town the only one survived of the pre-war Minsk. The site of the Minsk ghetto. Examples of Jewish architecture, including a building with an ornate wooden door that still has the imprint of a large mezuzah. Continue to Volozhyn via Khatyn to visit the memorial complex and to learn about Belarus’ tragic recent history. Arrive Volozhyn and see the renowned yeshiva established by Rav Hayim Volozhiner, a disciple of the Vilna Gaon in 1803 (it existed until 1942, when the Nazis killed the last sixty-four students). See the Jewish cemetery with the tomb of the great Hayim Volozhiner. Cross the border to Vilnius for overnight.
Day 9 Thursday, July 19, 2012: Vilnius – Panevezys – Riga – Tel Aviv
A morning tour of Panevezys (Ponevezh), including the building of the former world famous Ponevezh Yeshiva, Synagogue, the Jewish ghetto, common grave of the Holocaust victims in the outskirts of the city. Depart to Riga for sightseeing and lunch followed by transfer to the airport.
|Start date||End date||Days||Price Land Only||Price with flights From Tel Aviv||Single supplement||Pre/Post Hotel Night|
|11/07/2012||19/07/2012||9 days||€1,550||€1,960||$280||€130 twin share €260 per single|
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