Ayelet Tours Traveling University
Jewish Heritage Tour of Eastern Europe
with Professor Stephen Berk
June 18-30, 2023

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Tour Overview:

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Explore the Jewish heartland with insight from world renowned scholar Dr. Stephen Berk!

Jewish history in Europe neither begins nor ends with the Holocaust. Together we will explore 1,000 years of Jewish history. We'll confront the horrors of the past, experience the nascent Jewish renewal of the present and discuss the challenges that face a Jewish future in Europe.

3 nights Kings Court Hotel, Prague
3 nights Kempinski Hotel, Budapest
3 nights Holiday Inn City Center, Krakow
2 nights Hotel Bristol, Warsaw
All touring and sightseeing in a deluxe air-conditioned vehicle with expert English speaking guides
Enlightening lectures by Professor Berk throughout
Encounters with local Jewish leaders and community members
Professional Tour Director throughout
Breakfast daily
Welcome dinner at Prague hotel
Boxed lunch en route from Krakow to Warsaw
Shabbat dinner in Budapest
Dinner with JCC Krakow Executive Director, Jonathan Ornstein
Dinner at a Krakow restaurant (June 26th)
Visits to Terezin & Auschwitz-Birkenau
Culinary tour of Krakow's Kazimierz (Jewish Quarter)
Chopin concert in Warsaw
Internal flight from Prague to Budapest
Entrance fees per itinerary
Whisper headsets


Roundtrip airfare, departure taxes and fuel surcharges
Border taxes or visa fees
Tips to guides, drivers and dining room personnel ($20 per person, per day; pre-collected)
Meals not listed above
Items of a personal nature
Travel insurance (recommended - group policy available)
Any costs associated with Covid-19 testing or vaccination

Tour Itinerary:

Day 1: Sunday, June 18, 2023: DEPARTURE

• We depart on our overnight flights to Prague.

Day 2: Monday, June 19, 2023: ARRIVAL IN PRAGUE

• We arrive in Prague, the Czech capital, also known as "the City of One Thousand Spires," with its Baroque churches, promenades, parks and ancient city walls.
• Transfer on own to our hotel (private transfers available at additional cost).
• This afternoon, we tour Golden Prague, including the Charles Bridge and the Astronomical Clock.
• We return to our hotel with time to check in and freshen up.
• Tonight, we enjoy an orientation lecture and welcome dinner with Professor Stephen Berk.

Overnight in Prague

Day 3: Tuesday, June 20, 2023: JEWISH PRAGUE

• Breakfast at our hotel.
• This morning, we enjoy a lecture with Professor Berk, then set out for a visit to the State Jewish Museum.
• Next, we set out on a sightseeing tour of Jewish interest sites, with a visit to the Old City to view the Josefov, Prague's Jewish town with its Old Town Hall, the Alt-Neu Synagogue, the Pinkas Synagogue, the Maisel Synagogue, the Spanish Synagogue and the Jewish Cemetery.
• We also visit the 1,000-year-old Hradcany Castle and St. Vitus' Cathedral.
ENGAGING ENCOUNTER: This afternoon, we meet Rabbi David Maxa, the first Czech-born rabbi to return to Prague and founder of the local Congregation Ec Chajim, Prague's progressive Jewish community, and take inspiration from their dedication and hard work to revitalize Judaism in this great city.
• Enjoy dinner on own this evening.

Overnight in Prague

Day 4: Wednesday, June 21, 2023: TEREZIN

• Breakfast at our hotel.
• Today, we travel to Terezin, the former "model" Nazi concentration camp.  Lecture with Professor Berk before visiting the prison fortress and the Jewish cemetery, the hidden synagogue and the museum filled with the artwork of former prisoners. We stop by the memorial monument and pass through the town itself. We'll also hear stories and see photos of some of the great rabbis imprisoned here, including Leo Baeck and Regina Jonas, the first woman ordained a rabbi.
• We return to Prague for an evening at leisure and dinner on own.

Overnight in Prague

Day 5: Thuesday, June 22, 2023: TO BEAUTIFUL BUDAPEST

• Breakfast and check out of our hotel.
• This morning, we transfer to the airport for our short flight to Budapest, the capital of Hungary. Situated on the opposite banks of the Danube River, the former cities of Buda and Pest are linked by a series of graceful bridges.
• We enjoy a panoramic bus tour of Budapest, including Parliament, the Royal Palace, the Castle Hill area, Fishermen's Bastion, Coronation Church, Hero's Square and Gellert Hill.
ENGAGING ENCOUNTER: We complete our touring today with the students of the Israeli Kulturalis Intezet (Israel Cultural Institute), an organization that aims to present and promote diverse Israeli culture in Hungary by providing educational, entertaining and inspirational programs and services.
• After checking into our hotel, we set out to explore and enjoy dinner on own this evening.

Overnight in Budapest

Day 6: Friday, June 23, 2023: JEWISH BUDAPEST

• Breakfast at our hotel.
• We begin our day with a lecture by Professor Stephen Berk.
• This morning, we view the Raul Wallenberg Memorial Statue and then visit the Dohany Synagogue, the 2nd largest synagogue in Europe, followed by the Jewish Cemetery and Museum.
• As the sun begins to set, we join together for Shabbat services at the Dohany Synagogue, followed by Shabbat dinner.

Overnight in Budapest

Day 7: Saturday, June 24, 2023: SHABBAT SHALOM!

• Breakfast at our hotel.
• This morning, we invite you to join us for optional Shabbat services.
• The afternoon is at leisure to explore this beautiful city at your own pace.
• Enjoy dinner on own this evening.

Overnight in Budapest

Day 8: Sunday, June 25, 2023: TO KRAKOW

• Breakfast and check out of our hotel.
• This morning, we depart for Krakow, driving through the lovely hills and countryside of Slovakia, past the Tatras and into the Great Plains of Poland. Professor Berk lectures on the bus.
• Upon arrival, we check into our hotel with time to refresh.
• This evening, we enjoy dinner together with Jonathan Ornstein, Executive Director of the JCC Krakow, who updates us on the many exciting projects they have undertaken in what is now a growing and flourishing Jewish community in the heart of Galicia.

Overnight in Krakow

Day 9: Monday, June 26, 2023: AUSCHWITZ-BIRKENAU

• Breakfast at our hotel.
• We begin our day with a lecture by Professor Stephen Berk.
• Later this morning, we travel to Auschwitz-Birkenau, the infamous Nazi concentration camps where many Jews and others perished in WWII. Here, we see the museum and pay tribute to the victims.
• We return to Krakow and have the remainder of the afternoon to reflect.
• We enjoy dinner together this evening at a local restaurant.

Overnight in Krakow

Day 10: Tuesday, June 27, 2023: THE SITES OF KRAKOW

• Breakfast at our hotel.
• We begin our day with a lecture by Professor Stephen Berk.
• Our morning city tour includes stops at Wawel Castle, St. Mary's Church, the Renaissance Cloth Hall and other ancient landmarks.
• This afternoon, we enjoy a Jewish heritage tour that includes the Old Jewish District of Kazimierz, where we see the Old Synagogue (a massive fortress-like building erected in the 15th and 16th centuries), the "Temple" and the Ramuh Synagogue. We continue to the Little Museum at the Drug Store inside the Jewish Ghetto, pass by Schindler's Factory, followed by the site of the Plaszow Concentration Camp.
ENGAGING ENCOUNTER: Savor the flavors of Poland on an optional food tour through Krakow's Polish cuisine scene, lifting our spirits with a delicious culinary tour of the Kazimierz Jewish Quarter, enjoying local delicacies such as pierogi, zapikanka and other treats.
• We enjoy dinner on own this evening.

Overnight in Krakow

Day 11: Wednesday, June 28, 2023: WONDERFUL WARSAW

• Breakfast and check out of our hotel.
• Today, we depart Krakow for Warsaw, stopping along the way in the city of Kielce, the site of the deadliest pogroms against Polish Jews, taking place only a year after the end of the Holocaust.
• Lunch en route.
• Upon arrival in Warsaw, we check into our hotel and freshen up.
• After lunch on own, we drive through the Warsaw Zoo, where we visit the Zookeeper's House owned by the couple that saved many Jews during the Holocaust, now memorialized in the movie “The Zookeeper's Wife”.
• Next, we enjoy a guided visit of the POLIN Museum (The New Museum of the History of Polish Jews). The Hebrew word Polin means either Poland or “rest here” in English and is related to a legend of the arrival of the first Jews in Poland. The museums sits on the former site of the Warsaw Ghetto and features multi-media narrative exhibitions about the vibrant Jewish community that has flourished in Poland for a thousand years.
• Tonight, we meet with members of Beit Polska or Etz Chaim, one of the progressive congregations in Warsaw, and learn more about Judaism alive in today's Poland.
• This evening, we enjoy an elegant Chopin concert in an unforgettable setting, followed by dinner on own.

Overnight in Warsaw

Day 12: Thursday, June 29, 2023: JEWISH WARSAW PAST AND PRESENT

• Breakfast at our hotel.
• We begin our day with a lecture by Professor Stephen Berk.
• Today, we enjoy a city tour of Warsaw, including Chopin's Monument, the Royal Castle, the Jewish Historical Society and walk to Old Town Market Square and Lazienki Park.
• This afternoon, we participate in a Jewish heritage sightseeing tour encompassing Nozyk Synagogue (the only surviving synagogue in Warsaw, founded in 1900), the Warsaw Ghetto, the Jewish Resistance Bunker at Mila 18, Stawski Street buildings (where the SS had their headquarters) and the Gesia Cemetery (established in 1806, containing the graves of about 250,000 people and known as the largest cemetery in Poland).
ENGAGING ENCOUNTER: Visit the progressive institution Beit Polska and hear from the Director of the JCC Warsaw.
• As our day comes to an end, we delight in a farewell dinner with local community members and reminisce and reflect on our journey.

Overnight in Warsaw

Day 13: Friday, June 30, 2023: DEPARTURE

• Breakfast and check out of our hotel.
• We transfer to the airport for our flights home, landing later today.

The Memories Last Forever!
Itinerary subject to change

ABOUT PROF. STEPHEN BERK: Prof. Stephen M. Berk is a Professor of History at Union College in Schenectady, New York, Chair of the Department of History, Director of the Program in Comparative Communist Studies and Faculty Advisor to the Jewish Student Organization. He is author of Year of Crisis, Year of Hope: Russian Jewry and the Pogroms of 1881-1882 (Greenwood Press, 1985). At the present time Professor Berk is writing a book entitled, Our People Are Your People: American Jewry and the Struggle for Civil Rights 1854-1965. The book provides an interesting discussion of an extremely important chapter in the history of the civil rights movement and attempts to dispel the myths and misunderstandings that surround the Black-Jewish relationship. Professor Berk is also the author of many articles on Russian History, Russian Jewish History, anti-Semitism and American Policy in the Middle East. Professor Berk is frequently consulted by newspaper reporters and by television and radio stations including the BBC. He has lectured in numerous universities in countless cities and towns in the United States and Israel and is a primary speaker for the UJA, Israel Bonds and B'nai B'rith. Professor Berk is considered an absolutely superb lecturer and teacher. Touring with him has been compared to attending a “traveling university…his lectures are outstanding.” He is always informative, interesting and entertaining. He has lectured as scholar-in-residence for us on many trips to Russia, Spain, Italy, Cuba, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe and Israel. It is a privilege to have him with us!