Baltic Jewish heritage trail (Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia)
Baltic Jewish Heritage Trail
2017: May 5 – 13/ June 2 – 10/ July 28 – August 5/ August 25 – 2 September
Baltic Jewish heritage trail (Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia)
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9 days/ 8 nights
DAY 1 Friday VILNIUS.
Arrival to Vilnius. Private transfer to the hotel. Accommodation. Friday night dinner. Overnight in 4* Amberton hotel or similar.
DAY 2 Saturday VILNIUS.
Free morning to visit synagogue service or stroll around beautiful street of Vilnius. Afternoon Vilnius Old Town tour. Vilnius used to be a very important Jewish center in Europe. From the 14th century onwards Jews settled in the city, and by the 18th century Vilnius had become the world center of traditional Talmudic learning, eventually becoming known as the Jerusalem of the North. In Vilna Gaon Jewish State Museumyou will learn about Jewish life, art in Lithuania and Shoah, in Vilnius university – about Yiddish institute. Vilnius Choral Synagogue, Cathedral square, Gediminas castle tower, gothic corner awaits for you as well as Medieval Jewish quarter, its lanes and courts, Gaon and Jewish streets, the history of Great Vilna Synagogue, the personality of Gaon of Vilna. Ghettos of Vilna where more than 40.000 Jews were concentrated in 1941- 1943, the building of Judenrath of the Rudininku street. Overnight in 4* Amberton hotel or similar.
DAY 3 Sunday VILNIUS – PONAR – TRAKAI – VILNIUS.
Morning departure to the ancient capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania – Trakai. En route stop at Ponar Forest and Memorial to payrespect to the thousands of Jews, shot in the early days of the war – but (as proved by your visit) never forgotten. Learn about escape tunnel, which location was recently discovered. Later continue to Trakai, famous for the medieval insular castle and heritage of karaites ethnic minority. Get to know how it is related to Judaism.
Return to Vilnius. Visit Vilna Gaon’s grave in the Vilna cemetery (many come here to ask for a blessing). Overnight in 4* Amberton hotel or similar.
DAY 4 Monday VILNIUS – ZIEZMARIAI – KAUNAS
Morning departure to Kaunas. En route stop at unique wooden synagogue of Ziezmariai. Afterwards continue to the Ninth Fort Museum, a former death site of thousands of Jewish nationals during the World War II. Arrival to Kaunas - second largest city of the country and the capital of Lithuania between the World Wars. During the sightseeing tour of Kaunas Old Town, you willpass by castle ruins, the Town Hall Square, Cathedral and Perkunas House. Visit former Kaunas Jewish ghetto, Kaunas Choral Synagogue, striking for its black and golden colors, as well as its Children's Memorial. Learn about Leah’s Goldberg life in Kaunas and great things Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara has done to save around 6000 jewish people when Holokaust started. Overnight in 4* Europa Royale hotel or similar.
DAY 5 Tuesday KAUNAS –KEDAINIAI – RUNDALE – RIGA
Morning departure to Riga (Latvia). En route stops in Kedainiai and Rundale Palace. Kedainiai 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. The new synagogue. Later trip to Rundale palace in Latvia, created by legendary architect B. Rastrelli, with Baroque rose garden. Afternoon arrival in Riga, the capital of Latvia. Accommodation in 4* Europa Royale hotel or similar.
DAY 6 Wednesday RIGA
Day to get acquainted with charming Old town of Riga, while strolling through the cobble-stone, picturesque streets. Visit the chic "Art Nouveau" district, where many prominent Jewish Latvians, among them the philosopher Sir Isaiah Berlin, once lived. Riga has one of the world's most impressive collections of authentic Art Nouveau architecture, and uniquely offers streets whose buildings are preserved almost entirely in this early 20th Century style. In the museum “Jews in Latvia” you will learn about life of Jews in this part of the world. Pass by the site of Jewish Ghetto and visit the only remaining Synagogue, which today serves as the central meeting place for the Jews of Latvia. Standing since the beginning of the 20th century, the synagogue was most likely spared from burning due to its fortunate location in the Old Town, where fires could be devastating to the surrounding buildings. Overnight in 4* Europa Royale hotel or similar.
DAY 7 Thursday RIGA – TURAIDA- PARNU – TALLINN
Drive alongside the Riga Bay to Estonia’s capital city - Tallinn. Pass by part of Gauja National park and stop at Medieval Turaida castle. Another short stop at Estonia’s resort town – Parnu. Late afternoon arrival to Tallinn. Accommodation in 4* Vana Wiru hotel or similar.
DAY 8 Friday TALLINN
This morning, enjoy a tour of the charming city of Tallinn, rated as one of Europe's best-kept secrets by several travel and placed on UNESCO's list of World Heritage sites. Drive to the Old Town on top of the hill, to find breathtaking views of the tiled roofs and colorful houses below. Stroll the beautifully preserved Medieval streets and become a part of Tallinn's thousands year-old history. Walk past the impressive Alexander Nevski Cathedral to the Town Hall Square. Continue to the intimate Tallinn Jewish Center for coffee, tea, and cake and learn about Jewish community life in Estonia. Synagogue visit. Free afternoon to enjoy cafes, bars and get beautiful souvenirs. Overnight in 4* Vana Wiru hotel or similar.
DAY 9 Saturday
End of the tour. Private transfer to the airport. Departure.
- Accommodation with breakfast in centrally located 4* hotels
- Private car service as per itinerary including arrival/ departure transfers
- Sightseeing tours with car and English speaking guide as per itinerary
- Friday nights dinner
- Admission fees: Gaon Jewish State Museum, Vilnius university, Trakai castle, Ninth Fort Museum, Kaunas synagogue, Sugihara house, Rundale Palace, Jews of Latvia museum, Riga’s synagogue, Turaida castle, Estonian Jewish center and synagogue.
- Info package
4* hotels / price: 1300 EUR/ if minimum 2 people travelling
Single room suplement - 250 EUR
5* hotel upgrade/ sales price: 1750 EUR/ if minimum 2 people travelling
Single room suplement – 550 EUR
Hotels as bellow or similar:
Vilnius – “Stikliai” 5* hotel
Kaunas – “Daugirdas” 4* hotel
Riga – “Gallery Park” 5* hotel
Tallinn – “Telegraaf” 5* hotel
1 Day tour “Jews in South of Lithuania & SPA resort Druskininkai”
Vilnius – Valkininkai – Degsnes – Druskininkai – Vilnius
Morning departure to Lithuanian SPA resort Druskininkai with en route stop at Valkininkai and Degsnes towns to learn about life of Jews and unique activities they were doing. Although not much left, the history has a lot to tell. In 18th century Valkininkai could be proud of one of the most outstanding synagogues of Jewish Lithuania, the so called Lita. The importance of Valkininkai Jewish community can be confirmed by the fact that in 17th century Lithuanian Vaad (institution uniting Jewish autonomous governance institutions) has convented in Valkininkai. Degsnes - a former Jewish farmer’s village. There were not too many Jews farmers in Europe due to many reasons. While strolling in the village, pay attention to a slightly different arrangement and the unusual architecture. Alongside the rare occupation of farming the land, the Jewish inhabitants of Degsnes inhabitants were involved in another highly unusual activity – providing care of people with mental disabilities (second half od 19th century). Later on this occupation became the source of income for most of the villagers. Afterwards drive to Lithuanian mineral water resort – Druskininkai, where world famous sculptor Jacque Lipchitz was born and lived till he turned 17. His father opened one of the first hotels of the resort. Get to know more about his early life and achievements. Free afternoon to spend in SPA or Druskininkai aquapark (reservations will be done according to your preferences). Evening return to Vilnius.
Sales price: 140 EUR/ if minimum 2 people traveling
Tour price includes:
- Transportation throughout the tour
- English speaking guided tours according to itinerary
- SPA services booked on request
LUXURY JEWISH TOUR BALTICS & BELARUS
10 days/ 9 nights
DAY 1 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 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 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. Lunch at “Audruvis” restaurant. 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. After this special visit awaits dinner in restaurant “Senieji rusiai” together with representative of Kaunas Jewish community. Overnigh at the hotel “Daugirdas” 4* or similar.
DAY 4 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 “Kempinski” 5* or similar.
DAY 5 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. Unlike Poland, source of the transcendent revolution of Chassidism, the “Litvak” or “Litvishe” mentality is thought to be utterly rational, based on textual analysis, precedent, and Talmudic (or legalistic) reasoning. 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 modernisation and assimilation at the time it was built. Later continue to the beautiful Vilnius Jewish museum and art gallery as well as holocaust exposition. 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. In the evening, let the joy of Shabbat lift your soul as you enjoy Friday Night Dinner. As is often said, “more than the Jewish people have kept the Sabbath, the Sabbath has kept the Jewish people.” Yes, it has kept them strong, united, and filled with an eternal sense of peace – Shabbat Shalom. Overnight “Kempinski” 5* hotel or similar.
DAY 6 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 VILNIUS - NOVOGRUDOK - MIR - NESVIZH - MINSK
Breakfast at the hotel. Morning departure to Belarus to visit the famous yeshivas that existed here before the Holocaust. Stop at Novogrudok. There is a museum and a memorial exhibition devoted to the Jewish resistance in the area of Novogrudok during the Holocaust. It is housed in one of the buildings of the vocational school # 193 which was used as a barracks for ghetto prisoners during the war. The memorial exhibition includes two rooms with the reconstructed barracks interior and an exhibition with the reconstructed tunnel entrance. Later continue 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. 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. Trop to Minsk for overnight. Hotel “Europa” 5* or similar.
DAY 8 MINSK
Breakfast at the hotel. Full day 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, “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 9 MINSK - PINSK - MINSK
Breakfast at the hotel. Travel to Pinsk. City tour includes visit to the Jewish Community center, Hassidic functioning synagogue, Old Jewish cemetery and the site of execution of Jews. See the places related to scientist and Zionist leader, first president of Israel – Khaim Weizman and first Pime-Minister of Israel – Golda Meir, who lived in Pinsk. Overnight “Europa” 5* hotel or similar.
Breakfast at the hotel. Private transfer to the hotel. Departure.
Price: upon request
Price: upon request
- 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;
- Admission fees: Museum Jews in Latvia, Riga synagogue, Rundale palace, Kedainiai multicultural center, IX fort, Sugihara house, Kaunas synagogue, Holocaust exposition, Tolerance center, Vilnius University, Jewish museum in Minsk.
- Info package.