Congregation Agudas Achim
Tour of Poland
Led by Rabbi Neil Blumofe
March 8-18, 2020


Tour Rates & Dates:

There are no Departure Dates available for this Package.
*Please note that all rates displayed are based on standard room double occupancy.
Upgraded room categories may be available to book later in the booking process.
If Land & Air price is displayed, the air portion includes tax and fuel surcharges, which are subject to change until ticketed.
GROUP FLIGHT OPTIONS ON LUFTHANSA & UNITED FROM AUSTIN:

POLAND ONLY - $778/person via Frankfurt
BALTICS & UKRAINE ONLY - $1,029/person via Newark & Frankfurt
FULL TOUR - $926/person via Frankfurt

 


Tour Overview:

Download a PDF version:


INCLUDED IN POLAND TOUR:
3 nights Mercure Old Town Stare Miastro, Krakow
1 night Grand Hotel Lublinianka, Lublin
3 nights Mercure Grand Warsaw, Warsaw
1 night Vienna House Andel's Hotel, Lodz
1 night Mercure Grand Warsaw, Warsaw
All touring and sightseeing in a deluxe air-conditioned vehicle with expert English-speaking guides
Tour director throughout
Breakfast daily
6 dinners, including Shabbat dinner in Warsaw
1 lunch
Purim celebration with the Krakow JCC
Chopin concert in Warsaw
Polish folk dancing & dinner (included above)
Mi Polin mezuza workshop in Warsaw
Train from Krakow to Warsaw
Transfer if arriving/deaprting with main group
Entrance fees per itinerary
Porterage

INCLUDED IN BALTICS/UKRAINE TOUR:

2 nights Hotel Minsk, Minsk, Belarus 
3 nights Hestia Hotel, Riga, Latvia
2 nights Alexandrovskiy Hotel, Odessa, Ukraine
2 nights Radisson Blu Hotel Kiev, Kiev, Ukraine 
All touring and sightseeing in a deluxe air-conditioned vehicle with expert English-speaking guides
Breakfast daily
4 dinners, including Shabbat dinner in Minsk
1 lunch
Internal flights from Riga to Minsk, Minsk to Odessa and Odessa to Kiev (pricing subject to change)
Transfer if arriving/departing with main group
Entrance fees per itinerary
Porterage

NOT INCLUDED:
Roundtrip international airfare, departure taxes and fuel surcharges
Border taxes or visa fees
Meals not listed above
Tips to guides, drivers and dining room waiters ($18 per person, per day; pre-collected)
Items of a personal nature
Travel insurance (highly recommended)


Tour Itinerary:

Day 1: Sunday, March 8, 2020: DEPARTURE

• We depart the United States on our overnight flight to Krakow.

Day 2: Monday, March 9, 2020: WELCOME TO KRAKOW!

• We arrive in Krakow, where we are greeted by an Ayelet Tours representative.
• We enjoy a light lunch.
• We begin with a meeting with Krakow JCC's Executive Director, Jonathan Ornstein, at the Krakow JCC
• We transfer to our hotel for check in and time to relax and freshen up, followed by a welcome dinner together.
• Next, we visit Isaak synagogue for a Megillah reading.
• We return to the JCC Krakow for a Purim Party with the local community and the children from the FRAJDA Day School.

Overnight in Krakow

Day 3: Tuesday, March 10, 2020: PURIM - WE REMEMBER

• Breakfast at our hotel.
• This morning, we drive to Auschwitz-Birkenau, the infamous Nazi concentration camp where over a million Jews and others perished in World War II. Here, we see the museum and pay tribute to the victims.
• Before Auschwitz became the ultimate symbol of the Holocaust, it was an ordinary Polish town known as Oswiecim with the majority of its citizens being Jews.
• We continue to the Oswiecim Jewish Center which includes the only one of the many pre-Holocaust synagogues. Here we will bring the spirit of Adar back to the synagogue with a Megillah reading.
• We return to Krakow for dinner together this evening.

Overnight in Krakow

Day 4: Wednesday, March 11, 2020: OLD KRAKOW

• Optional: Morning prayer, 7:30AM-8:30AM.
• Breakfast at our hotel.
• Today, we enjoy a Jewish heritage tour of Krakow. We begin in the old Jewish district known as Kazimierz, where we see the Old Synagogue (a massive fortress-like building erected in the 15th and 16th centuries), the "Temple," and the Remuh Synagogue.
• We continue to the Little Museum at the Drug Store inside the Jewish Ghetto.
• We pass by Schindler's Enamel Factory, famous for providing jobs for hundreds of Jewish people living in the ghetto and saving them from perishing in concentration camps.
• This afternoon, we stop at the former site of the Plaszów Concentration Camp constructed on the grounds of two Jewish cemeteries in a suburb of Krakow. The camp was populated by Jewish prisoners when the Krakow ghetto was liquidated in March 1943. A large, imposing memorial stands on a hillside marking the site.
• Evening at leisure and dinner on own.

Overnight in Krakow

Day 5: Thursday, March 12, 2020: LUBLIN

• Breakfast and check out of our hotel.
• Today, we travel to Majdanek, an extermination camp in operation from July 1942 to October 1943 as part of the Final Solution. Somewhere between 700,000 to 900,000 Jews were killed here, more than at any other Nazi extermination camp apart from Auschwitz. We hear the stories and visit the memorial, remembering our ancestors who perished here.
• Next, we drive to Lublin, a city that once served as one of the most important centers of Jewish life, commerce, culture and scholarship in Europe.
• Upon arrival, we begin with a tour of the Old Town, offering a glimpse of what life was like here in the seventeenth century. Here, we will see the Dominican church, fortifications and various city gates.
• We continue our tour in Lublin's Jewish quarter and take in the pulse of the neighborhood, including the main square, Grodzka Street and the old Jewish gate, as well as the Jewish retirement home marked by a commemorative plaque. Small alleyways run off the main street, leading to Lubartowska Street and the Ghetto Square, host to a monument in memory of the murdered Jews of Lublin.
• This evening, we check into our hotel and refresh before dinner at Olive Restaurant.

Overnight in Lublin

Day 6: Friday, March 13, 2020: MAJDANEK TO WARSAW

• Optional: Morning prayer, 7:00AM-8:00AM.
• Breakfast and check out of our hotel.
• This morning, we travel to Warsaw.
• Upon arrival, we enjoy a Jewish heritage tour encompassing the Nozyk Synagogue (the only surviving synagogue in Warsaw, founded in 1900), the Jewish Historical Society and parts of the Warsaw Ghetto. We make a special stop at the Jewish Cemetery, where the grandfather of one of our group was buried.
• We check into our hotel and freshen up.
• Early this evening, we join together for Shabbat services with Ki Tov congregation, followed by Shabbat dinner with the community members.

Overnight in Warsaw

Day 7: Saturday, March 14, 2020: SHABBAT SHALOM!

• Breakfast at our hotel.
• Enjoy the morning at leisure to attend Shabbat services at one of the local congregations (options will be provided) or relax.
• Following services, we join together for a group study session.
Optional: This afternoon, we set out on a walking tour of the Palace of Culture and Science housing cinemas, theaters, libraries, sports clubs, university faculties and more.
• As we count three stars visible in the sky, we join together for Havdalah, marking the end of Shabbat and the beginning of a new week.
• We enjoy an elegant Chopin concert, followed by dinner on own.

Overnight in Warsaw

Day 8: Sunday, March 15, 2020: JEWISH WARSAW

• Optional: Morning prayer, 7:30AM-8:30AM.
• Breakfast at our hotel.
• This morning, we visit the astonishing, newly constructed POLIN Museum (The New Museum of the History of the Polish Jews) located on the site of the former Warsaw Ghetto. The museum provides a unique learning environment with a wide range of media, documents and artifacts. We will see the amazing architecture of the ancient synagogue in the main hall and hear from their excellent docents.
• Lunch on own.
• This afternoon, we begin our walking tour at Nathan Rapoport's Monument to the Ghetto Heroes, just outside the POLIN Museum.
• Next, we walk to the Jewish Resistance Bunker at Mila 18 and the Stawski Street buildings (where the SS had their headquarters), continuing to the Umschlagplatz where thousands of Warsaw Jews were gathered for final transport to Treblinka.
• Along the way, we stop to admire the Warsaw skinniest house in the world created by Israeli writer and artist, Etgar Keret, and see the place of the infamous and iconic Warsaw Ghetto Bridge.
• Tonight, we participate in an evening of Polish folk dancing and cuisine.

Overnight in Warsaw

Day 9: Monday, March 16, 2020: WARSAW TO LODZ

• Breakfast and check out of our hotel.
• We begin our day at the contemporary Jewish design studio, Mi Polin. The company was founded by a young Polish couple, Helena Czernek, a designer, and Alexander Prugar, a photojournalist. They met while living in the Warsaw Moishe House and both discovered an interest in Judaism in their twenties and are active members of the Warsaw Jewish community. Mi Polin marked the first time Judaica objects were designed and produced in Poland after WWII. We hear the special story of how Helena and Alexander met and create their “Mezuzah from this home” project at their workshop (pending availability).
• We continue to the Jewish cemetery, the largest in Europe. About 230,000 Jews are buried here. During the war, an estimated 45,000 people were interred in the so-called Ghetto Field.
• This afternoon, we drive to Lodz. Upon arrival we see Radegast Station, a small historic railway station. During World War II, the station was situated just beyond the boundary of the Lódz Ghetto, one of the biggest Jewish ghettos in Nazi-occupied Europe. Radegast was the main railway link of the ghetto to the outside world, used predominantly for Holocaust transports organized by German Nazis.
• We check into our hotel and spend the evening exploring the city and enjoying dinner on own.

Overnight in Lodz

Day 10: Tuesday, March 17, 2020: RETURNING TO WARSAW

• Breakfast and check out of our hotel.
• This morning, we visit and hear the story of Poznanski Palace, built in the nineteenth century by successful Jewish merchant and entrepreneur Izrael Poznanski, who built a textile empire.
• We continue to Poznanski's factory, the largest factory in the Kalisz-Mazowiecki industrial district. The Poznanski story helps illustrate the opportunity for success afforded to Jewish citizens of the region in the 19th century.
• We return to Warsaw to check into our hotel and enjoy an afternoon at leisure to explore the city and do last-minute shopping.
• This evening, we enjoy a festive farewell dinner, recalling all that we have experienced together on this journey.

Overnight in Warsaw

Day 11: Wednesday, March 18, 2020: DEPARTURE

• Breakfast and check out of our hotel.
• We transfer to the airport for our flight back to the United States, arriving home later today.


AND/OR JOIN US FOR A TOUR OF
The Baltics & Ukraine!

Day 11: Wednesday, March 18, 2020: THE ROAD TO MINSK

• Breakfast and check out of our hotel.
• We transfer to the airport for our flight to Minsk.
• Time permitting, we will visit Kurgan Slavy, a man-made hill with obelisk to mark the spot where the Soviet Army completed the liberation of Minsk and Belarus from the Nazi occupation in 1944.
• This afternoon, we enjoy a city tour of Minsk, including Independence Square with the Government Building and Victory Square's Eternal Flame, commemorating the heroes of World War II, the “Yama” Monument and Pravednikov Lane (lane of Righteous Among the Nations) and visit the old Jewish Cemetery on Subaia Street.
• We check into our hotel and refresh.
• This evening, we join together for dinner.

Overnight in Minsk

Day 12: Thursday, March 19, 2020: MINSK

Optional: Morning prayer, 7:30AM-8:30AM.
• Breakfast at our hotel.
• We travel a short distance to the Khatyn complex, a memorial to victims of World War II.
• This afternoon we visit a nearby park to enjoy a leisurely walk amidst ancient trees and wildlife.
• Optional: Enjoy a walking tour near our hotel, including Lennon Square, the Lennon monument, the Government Building, the beautiful “Main Post Office” and Gorky National Academic Drama Theatre.
• We visit Beit Simcha Center for Progressive Judaism. It is here that we will meet with Irina Belskaia, Jewish educator of the Religious Union for Progressive Judaism in Belarus, and Michael Kemerov, Executive Director of the Religious Union for Progressive Judaism in Belarus, who will guide us through the center.
• Dinner on own tonight.

Overnight in Minsk

Day 13: Friday, March 20, 2020: JUDAISM IN RIGA

• Breakfast and check out of our hotel.
• This morning, we travel to Volozhin to visit the local yeshiva and Jewish cemetery.
• We return to Minsk and board our flight to Riga, a significant Ashkenazi (mixed German and Litvak) port city from where emigrants set sail for the West.
• Upon arrival, we visit Salaspils to visit the memorial site of the concentration camp.
• This evening, we check into our hotel and refresh before join together for Kabbalat Shabbat, followed by Shabbat dinner together at a local restaurant.

Overnight in Riga

Day 14: Saturday, March 21, 2020: SHABBAT IN RIGA

• Breakfast at our hotel.
• This morning, we enjoy shabbat services.
• Afternoon and evening at leisure.
• Options for the evening at leisure (additional cost, subject to availability):
o Ballet
o Opera House

Overnight in Riga

Day 15: Sunday, March 22, 2020: BEAUTIFUL RIGA

• Breakfast at our hotel.
• We begin our day with a panoramic tour of the city, including the Old Town, the Castle of Riga, the Dome Cathedral, Swedish Gate, and St. Peter's Church.
• Next, we see the Freedom Monument honoring soldiers killed during the 1918-1920 Latvian War of Independence and Riga's Art Nouveau district.
• We visit Riga's Jewish quarter, including the memorial for the burnt Great Synagogue, destroyed by the Nazis in 1941.
• We continue to the Jewish cemetery, and the Peitav Synagogue, built in 1905 and Riga's only surviving synagogue.
• Next, we visit the Jewish community museum “Jews in Latvia”, the Jewish cemetery, and the Jewish memorials in Rumbula and Bikernieki.
• We continue to the Memorial of the Burnt Synagogue destroyed by the Nazis in 1941.
• We return to Riga for an evening to explore and have dinner on own.

Overnight in Riga

Day 16: Monday, March 23, 2020: TO ODESSA

• Breakfast and check out of our hotel.
• Early this morning, we transfer to the airport for our flight to Odessa, Ukraine, which is known as “little Paris”, “little Vienna” or “mother Odessa”. The city was part of the Pale of Settlement, and it welcomed Jews from all parts of the Russian empire.
• This afternoon, we set out to see Odessa's Jewish sites, featuring the Potemkin Steps, famous due to the Sergei Eisenstein movie “The Battleship Potemkin”, Statue of Duc de Richelieu, Deribasovskaya Street, Evreiskya (Jewish) Street and Odessa Seaport, through which the city opened the gates to Palestine.
• We check into our hotel and spend the evening at leisure discovering Odessa and enjoying dinner on own.

Overnight in Odessa

Day 17: Tuesday, March 24, 2020: JEWISH ODESSA

• Optional: Morning prayer, 7:30AM-8:30AM.
• Breakfast at our hotel.
• We begin our day with a visit to the Old Jewish Quarter, where the first Odessa pogrom was organized in 1821. We see the “Jewish” hospital, the old Haskalah Centre, the houses where famous writers and founders of Zionism used to live and the Holocaust memorial. You will feel the atmosphere of the city, where on the eve of WWI, one third of the population was Jewish and spoke Yiddish. Odessa was often branded a “Jewish City”. Much like their counterparts in New York and Warsaw, Odessa's Jews played a fundamental role in the city's demographic makeup, economic life and culture. It is hard to overestimate the contribution of Odessa's Jews to world Jewish history.
• We continue with a tour of historic Jewish Odessa, including Brodsky Synagogue, Sholem Aleichem House, Jabotinsky House and sites related to the early 20th century Zionist movement.
• We enjoy lunch at Rosmarin, a kosher Israeli-style restaurant.
• This afternoon, we take a tour of modern Jewish Odessa, including the Reform Congregation building, the Jewish Community Center, Chabad and Ohr Sameach Synagogue.
• We return to our hotel for time to refresh, before dinner this evening with members of the local community.

Overnight in Odessa

Day 18: Wednesday, March 25, 2020: TO KIEV

• Breakfast and check out of our hotel.
• We transfer to the airport for our flight to Kiev.
• Upon arrival, we set out on a city tour, including Jewish sites and a memorial stop at Babi Yar, a site where a series of devastating massacres were carried out during World War II.
• We check into our hotel, followed by an evening at leisure and dinner on own.

Overnight in Kiev

Day 19: Thursday, March 26, 2020: JEWISH KIEV

• Optional: Morning prayer, 7:30AM-8:30AM.
• Breakfast at our hotel.
• Today, we enjoy a city tour called “Kiev Through Jewish Eyes”. Along the way, we visit Podol, the center of Jewish life in Kiev, and Central Synagogue for a tour of the building by a local resident.
• This afternoon, we visit the Sholem Aleichem Museum, the museum of the great Jewish writer and one of the founders of literature in Yiddish, including children's stories. At the age of 15, inspired by Robinson Crusoe, he wrote his own Jewish version of this story and decided to become a writer, taking the pseudonym Sholem Aleichem, meaning “peace unto you”, which has become a traditional Jewish greeting.
• Tonight, we enjoy a farewell dinner together, recalling all that we have experienced on this journey.

Overnight in Kiev

Day 20: Friday, March 27, 2020: DEPARTURE

• Breakfast and check out of our hotel.
• We transfer to the airport for our flight back to the United States, arriving later today.



THE MEMORIES LAST FOREVER!!
Itinerary subject to change*