IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF THE POLISH JEWS — 10 DAYS

ITINERARY

Day 1 — Warsaw
Afternoon arrival in Warsaw. Upon  arrival meet and greet by Mazurkas Travel tour escort and transfer to the hotel.Check-in formalities and time to relax. Orientation walk along the Warsaw’s Old Town with its beautiful tenement houses, galleries and restaurants. Welcome dinner at a local restaurants located in the Old Town.

Day 2 — Warsaw
Historical background:
About 300,00 Jews lived in Warsaw in 1939; they made up one third of the city’s population. Generations of Jewish plutocrats, and intelligentsia lived here, as did industrialists, traders, craftsmen, and workers. Warsaw was the hub of the vibrant political, social, and cultural life of Polish Jews. There was rich cultural life: several Jewish theatres, three major temples and several smaller synagogues, as well as over three hundred houses of prayer.

         Nozyk Synagogue - devastated during the occupation and renovated after the war, serves all believers to this very day;
         Okopowa Jewish Cemetery – the largest one in Warsaw founded at the beginning of the 19th century. Many beautiful, richly ornamented, gravestones display lions, deer, plant life, and trees. Several eminent politicians are buried at this cemetery. This cemetery also has a section with graves of Jewish officers and enlisted men who lost their lives in the defense of Warsaw in 1939;
         Warsaw Ghetto area – including the site of the bunker on Mila Street, the place where the chief staff of the Jewish Combat Organization committed suicide, the monumental memorial of the Heroes of the Warsaw Ghetto located on the square which was once the site of one of the main bunkers of the Jewish Combat Organization and the Umschlagplatz.
         Jewish Historical Institute - the only institution in Poland focused entirely on the study of the history and culture of Polish Jews. It is the largest depository of Jewish-related archival documents, books, journals, and museum objects
Optional special visits and meetings:

1.        A meeting with a specialist in Jewish sites, Mr. Janusz Jagielski, who works  for the Jewish Historical Institute.

2.        A meeting with the Mr. Przemyslaw Isroel Szpilman, Director of  the Okopowa Jewish Cementary, who will tell about its history

3.        Tickets to a performance at the The Ester Rachel Kaminska and Ida Kaminska Jewish Theater in Warsaw (needs to be confirmed and depends on the theater’s program for June 2010 not yet available).

4.        Meetings at the Jewish Historical Institute with:

a.        the Director of the Jewish Historical Institute, Mrs. Eleonora Bergman

b.        one of the Institute’s scientists, Mr. Jozef Chajn, who will lead a special tour around the Institute

5.        A meeting at the Beit Warszawa - Jewish Cultural Association co-founded in 1999 by Severyn Ashkenazy, his son Adrian and five Polish and expatriate American Jews who wished to practice Judaism in a more liberal way than that offered by the only other Jewish spiritual center in Warsaw – the Orthodox Synagogue. Beit Warszawa takes into account that a vast majority of Jews living in Poland is only starting to discover their roots. Consequently, the association’s main goal is to familiarize them with the Jewish religion, history, tradition and thought.

Day 3 — Warsaw - Treblinka - Tykocin - Bialystok
Morning  departure for Bialystok.En route visit to Treblinka (half way between Warsaw and Bialystok), the site of the former Nazi concentration camp, where 800.000 Jews perished, a monument – mausoleum and a symbolic cemeteryWe continue to Tykocin near Bialystok to see a beautifully restored early Baroque masonry synagogue, typical example of Jewish religious architecture, now a Museum of  Judaics. Overnight in Bialystok.

Day 4 —  Bialystok - Lublin - Majdanek
Morning departure for Lublin, a place where Jewish community appeared in the mid-14th century, and grew so rapidly that some 200 years later the town had the third-largest Jewish population in Poland after Krakow and Lviv. In the mid-18th century Jews formed half of the city’s inhabitants.  Visits will include:          the synagogue where you will see a modest exhibition of old photographs, books in Hebrew and ritual objects.
         the old Jewish cemetery established in the first half of the 16th century with 30-odd readable tombstones. The oldest tombstone dates from 1641.
         the new Jewish cemetery founded in 1828, where, until 1942, about 52 000 Jews were buried
     stop in Majdanek,  a third largest concentration camp  after Treblinka and Auschwitz. Tens of thousands of people were shot here, gassed with Zyclon B, and incinerated; most were Jews. The tragic history of this camp is presented in a museum.

Another death camp to be visited, Belzec, located in the same province closer to the city of Zamosc, has a monument commemorating half a million Jews murdered by the Nazis who eradicated all traces of their crimes there.  The same is true for the camp in Sobibor (closer to Lublin), where 250,000 Jews from many countries were killed; this camp also has a monument.
Return to Lublin for overnight.
 

Day 5 —  Lublin - Kazimierz Dolny - Lodz
Morning departure for Lodz
En route stop in Kazimierz Dolny, a picturesque town, a considerable tourist attraction and one of the most beautifully situated little towns in Poland. It enjoyed its greatest prosperity in the 16th century and the first half of the 17th century, due to grain trade conducted along the Vistula River. It has become an economic backwater after that trade declined, and this halt in economic development enabled the town to preserve its Renaissance urban plan and appearance. From the 19th century it has become a popular holiday destination, attracting artists and summer residents. The history of Kazimierz Dolny is intimately linked with Jewish culture. From the town’s beginnings, Jews formed an important and expanding part of the community, becoming the majority during the 19th century. Before World War II they formed over half the town’s population.Overnight in Lodz.

 

Day 6 —  Lodz - Krakow
Tour of Lodz – one of the largest Jewish centers in Poland until the outbreak of World War II. Manufacturers of Jewish origin determined the character of 19th century Lodz. Their presence is recorded in the history of the city and its industry. Several large textile mills were in the hands of Jewish industrialists: the Poznanskis, Kohns, Ejtingons, Wislickis families.There is rich and beautiful architecture from this period. Its characteristics are magnificent Jewish palaces, which decorations were of fashionable extravagance.
A good place to find out how the barons of industry lived in Lodz, before World War II, is the “Ksiezy Mlyn” residence, awarded a honorary medal of the Europe Nostra Organization for the excellent reconstruction.Jewish contribution to the Polish culture was immense. The city’s most famous sons were: Aleksander Tansman, the world famous composer, the pianist Artur Rubinstein and the poet Julian Tuwim. Strongly represented is a  Jewish painter Jakiel Adler. Finally we will visit Jewish  „cemetery palaces” situated in the Jewish cemetery, the largest Jewish graveyard  in Europe. Afternoon departure for Cracow.

 

Day 7 —  Krakow
Tour of Krakow’s Old Town with the Main Market Square with its magnificent houses and palaces. There is a Cloth Hall in the middle of the Market Square, built before 1349 and altered in the 16th century. There are many shopping stalls inside the Cloth Hall. There is also a National Museum located on the first floor of the Cloth Hall, which has a collection of Polish sculptures and paintings from the 18th to the 20th century. Another characteristic element of the architecture on the Market Square is the magnificent extensive Gothic Church of Our Lady with its famous wooden altar created by Wit Stwosz.During the tour we invite you to a lecture with slides entitled: “Polish Jews before and after World War II”.  The tour also includes a visit to Kazimierz  - a former Jewish district town with its own Market Square, Town Hall and thriving culture. Watch a short movie about Kazimierz district in the of Center for Jewish Culture.See a magnificent Gothic Old Synagogue and the Remuh Synagogue with adjoining Renaissane cemetery. Visit the newest, renovated Tempel Synagogue built for progressive Jews, decorated with stuccoes, paintings and stained glass.
Optional special visits and meetings:

1.        A meeting with representatives of the Tzulent Society - an independent association of young Jewish men and women. Most of the members are still students. The youngest members are in high school and the oldest already have their own families and children. The basis of the membership in the Tzulent Society is Jewish identity, which, for them, means identifying with Jewish culture, tradition, history or religion.

2.        A guided tour of the Kazmierz district (full day guide available)

3.        A meeting with a specialist in Jewish sites, Mr. Robert Gadek, a former director of the Jewish Cultural Center, who now is one of the organizers of the Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow.

4.        A visit to the Galician Museum and a meeting with its director

5.        Visit to the Museum in the former Oscar Schindler’s Factory

 

Day 8 —  Krakow - Auschwitz - Krakow
We invite you to a lecture given by former Director of the Center for Jewish Culture in Krakow, Mr Robert Gadek, entitled: “History of Galician Chassidism”, a movement for religious renewal that had its genesis on Polish land under the leadership of the legendary Baal-szem-tov. Afterwards we recommend a field trip to the places connected with Oscar Schindler, including his factory and Plaszow death camp where the Nazis relocated many Jews. Most of the events portrayed in the film “Schindler’s List” took place there. We will also visit the moving museum called "Pharmacy under the Eagle". It’s located in the Podgorze district of Cracow, the actual site of Jewish ghetto during Nazi occupation. The museum tells the story of Tadeusz Pankiewicz, a Polish pharmacist who chose to remain in the ghetto for several years, dispensing free medicines to the suffering Jewish community. Heartfelt letters of gratitude sent after the Second World War and chilling photographs of ghetto life are interspersed with the mortar, pestles and vials of his pharmacy.Afterwards, transfer to Oswiecim to see the largest death factory in the history of humanity. The site of the camp now houses the Oswiecim State Museum, which displays exhibits and documents concerning Nazi crimes. See a short documentary movie.We will also visit the Auschwitz Jewish Center in Oswiecim. The New York-based Auschwitz Jewish Center Foundation Inc, established in 1995, and the Polish-based Fundacja Zydowskie Centrum Edukacyjne, founded in 1996, share the same mission: to establish and support a cultural center in Oswiecim that provides all visitors with an opportunity to memorialize victims of the Holocaust through the study of the life and culture of a former Jewish town. The Auschwitz Jewish Center is a place of understanding, education, memory and prayer. Together with Chevra Lomdei Mishnayot Synagogue, it offers opportunities for study, discussion, and archival research. Overnight in Krakow.
Optional special visits and meetings:

1.        A meeting with a Holocaust survivor, Mr.Kazimierz Smolen, at the Galician Museum or in the Auschwitz Museum

2.        A visit to a special exhibition of works of the Auschwitz prisoners

Day 9 —  Krakow - Tarnow - Rzeszow - Lancut - Krakow
Morning transfer to Tarnow to visit an old Jewish district and the Jewish Cemetery that dates from the 17th century and features about 3000 tombstones. The original gate to the cemetery is now on display at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington.  Continue to Rzeszow where we will see the 18th century New Town Synagogue, now an art gallery and the 17th century Old Town Synagogue, now the city’s registry and a center for studies on the history of local Jews. Travel onwards to Lancut, where you will see the biggest and the most beautiful synagogue in Poland built in 1760’s. It has retained much of its decoration and has been opened as a museum.
Return to Krakowfor the farewell dinner.
Overnight in Krakow.
 

Day 10 —  Krakow
Departure transfer.

 


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TOURS 2011
 
THE MAGIC OF POLAND
SOUTHERN ADVENTURE
JEWISH INTEREST
THE TREASURES OF POLAND
THE MANY FACES OF POLAND

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