Jewish Heritage in Poland
Jewish Heritage Tour in Poland
Discover main sites of the Jewish heritage in Poland:
- Lodz – “a Polish Promised Land”
- Warsaw – the biggest Jewish community in Europe before the War
- Lublin – “Jewish Oxford”
- Zamosc – Icchak Lejbus Perec’s town (he was the father of the Yiddish language and of Roza Luksemburg)
- Krakow and Kazimierz – the best-preserved Jewish zone in Europe, including many “shtetls” on the way – small villages and towns dominated before the War by Orthodox Jews and Chassidim.
Discover different Jewish worlds
The world of political discussion, of Jewish political parties; the world of the wealthy and that of the poor. The world of Yiddish culture in Lublin and Zamosc. The world of religious culture. Worlds that have disappeared along with their inhabitants. What is left are cemeteries, empty synagogues, old shtetls, workers’ zones and palaces in the process of restoration. The journey is an attempt to rebuild these diverse worlds; their culture, customs, social and political conditions, taking into account the complicated history of Polish-Jewish relations.
Discover Jewish literature
Our “literary guides” will be famous writers such as Isac Bashevis Singer, Icchak Lejbus Perec, and Szymon An-ski.
Discover and contemplate Holocaust sites
The journey includes the ghetto in Warsaw and concentration camps at Treblinka, Sobibor, Belzec, Majdanek, and Auschwitz. We will learn of the steps and logic of the camps as well as the history of the Jewish underground resistance movement.
On our itinerary: Warsaw, Lodz, Treblinka, Lublin, Zamosc, Rzeszow, Tarnow, Krakow, Auschwitz.
- Visit to the Jewish Historical Institute to view its exhibition concerning the Warsaw ghetto uprising
- Visit to the to the Memorial Place in Treblinka
- Visit to the 16th-century cemetery with a grave of the famous wonder rabbi Yaakov Yitskhok ha- Levi Horowitz called “The Seer of Lublin”
- Visit to Zamosc, a home town of Jizchak Lejb Perez, one of the originators of the contemporary Yiddish literature
- Visit the Galicia Jewish Museum
- Visit to Auschwitz- Birkenau - the world’s largest Nazi extermination camp
1st day Warsaw
Arrival in Warsaw and check-in. A sightseeing tour in the afternoon, including the Old Town with the Royal Castle, the Nowy Swiat (New World) Street, main street of the old Warsaw, the Lazienki Park with Chopin’s monument, the Wilanów Royal Summer Palace (called the “Polish Versailles”, the Palace of Culture and Science towering over the city - a symbol of the communism in Poland and dependency on the Soviet Union. Dinner at one of the Old Town’s restaurants.
2nd day Warsaw
Before World War II, Warsaw had the largest Jewish community in Europe and the second-largest in the world. It nearly disappeared after the Holocaust, less than 10% of Jewish inhabitants of Warsaw survived. Visit to places commemorating the life and extermination of the Warsaw Jewish commune. Tour begins with the Nozykow Synagogue, the only one that survived, proceed to the Jewish Historical Institute to view its exhibition concerning the Warsaw ghetto uprising. From the museum move to the Monument of the Ghetto Heroes, and further on to a former bunker of the uprising leaders at 18 Mila Street, as well as buildings in Stawki Street where the SS headquarters were situated, and then to Umschlagplatz where transports for the Treblinka extermination camp were formed. We next stand in front of Janusz Korczak’s monument in the very spot where the Jewish orphanage was in the ghetto times. The tour ends in the massive Jewish cemetery in Gesia Street where you can read the rich, dramatic history of the Warsaw Jews throughout the last 200 years from the tombstones. In the evening dinner and a Chopin concert.
3rd day Lodz
A day-trip to Lodz - Prior to WWII, the city was the second biggest Jewish community in Poland, a place associated with the textile industry, and its Jewish citizens were among the representatives of the richest industrialists, bourgeoisie, middle managerial class as well as factory workers. The 19th-century industrial landscape of the city has been preserved to a great extent until now, which is a phenomenon on the European scale. Lodz ghetto was the one which operated for the longest time as the prisoners were the workforce for the production of military equipment. Our tour is marked by the following sights: two palaces, Sheiblers’ and Poznanskis’, with an exhibition about the pianist from Lódz Artur Rubinstein, a synagogue, the Old Town, Baluty, district of the Jewish poor and the site of the Nazi ghetto, Radegast train station where transports destined for extermination camps were formed, and a huge cemetery.
4th day Treblinka
A day trip to the Memorial Place in Treblinka, a hundred kilometers from Warsaw to the Northeast, a death spot for approximately 800-900 thousand Jews from Poland and many countries of Western Europe, including about 250 thousand Warsaw ghetto Jews with Janusz Korczak (Henryk Goldszmit) and orphanage children who were under his care. The monument in Treblinka is considered one of the most distinguished commemorations of the Holocaust worldwide.
5th day Warsaw - Kazimierz - Lublin
Leaving Warsaw, we drive following the Shtetl route. The towns populated with Jews before WWII with synagogues in all of them. In many of those towns, Jewish inhabitants were the majority of the population. Our first stop is Kazimierz Dolny, a picturesque Renaissance town on the Vistula river, with a well-preserved synagogue and a Jewish cemetery. After that, we reach Lublin where Orthodox Jews prevailed and their pride was the Yeshivat Hakhmei Lublin renowned all over Europe. In the evening a discussion with a researcher from the Lublin University Institute of Jewish History and Culture on the topic of what remained of the Shtetl culture. Dinner and overnight in Lublin.
6th day Lublin
A tour of Jewish memorials in Lublin. The program comprises the former Jewish quarter, the 16th-century cemetery with a grave of the famous wonder rabbi Yaakov Yitskhok ha- Levi Horowitz called “The Seer of Lublin”, the new Jewish cemetery, and the Yeshivat Hakhmei Lublin. In the afternoon a visit to the premises of the former concentration camp in Majdanek one of Poland’s most important spots commemorating deaths of thousands of Polish Jews.
7th day Lublin - Leczna - Wlodawa - Sobibor - Chelm - Izbica - Zamosc
Leaving Lublin the first break is Leczna, a pre-war Shtetl, with a 17th-century synagogue and a museum. From Leczna we move on to Wlodawa, a typical town in Eastern Poland where Jews constituted nearly 70 percent of the population, apart from Poles, and Ukrainians who were numerous in the area. Each of the three nations has left fascinating mementos, with the most striking - synagogue complex comprising an 18th-century grand synagogue with an ideally preserved wooden Aron ha - Kadesh, a small synagogue with wall inscriptions, and a Bet ha-Midrash. One of the vastest extermination camps, Sobibór, was established near Wlodawa. The camp activity was halted by the prisoners’ uprising in October 1943. Nowadays, a monument and a small exhibition about the history of the camp are in the place of the institution. The next stop on our tour is Chelm - the legendary “Town of fools” recorded in the stories by Isaac Bashevis Singer and in Jewish anecdotes. Aaron Elijah ben Jehuda Aaron is known as Elijah Baal-Szem, a renowned rabbi of Chelm and the author of Golem stories was born there. Another person from Chelm was Szmul Mordechaj Zygielbojm, a representative of the “Bund”, Jewish Socialist Party, and a member of the Polish government on emigration, he committed suicide on 12 May 1943, as a symbol of his protest against the world’s indifference to the extermination of Jews. The last, brief stop is Izbica, a former Shtetl. We reach Zamosc in the evening, dinner and overnight in Zamosc.
8th day Zamosc - Belzec - Lezajsk - Lancut
Established in the 16th century as a private town, Zamosc is currently one of the most valuable architecture complexes in Poland. The Renaissance architecture of the Old Town remains under UNESCO protection. The Jewish community of Zamosc was a Sephardic one. Zamosc used to be a home town of Jizchak Lejb Perez, one of the originators of the contemporary Yiddish literature, and Rosa Luxemburg, an outstanding activist of the International Workers’ Movement. A beautiful 17th century synagogue adorned with attics matches the surrounding Renaissance buildings perfectly. The kahal house and a Mikvah have survived, too. Fifty kilometers further, on the way to Lviv, the grounds of the former extermination camp of Belzec can be found. Approximately 600.000 Jews, who were transported there from ghettos in Krakow, Lublin, Lviv and the surrounding Shtetls, were murdered there in gas chambers within less than a year. See the exhibition and a grand monument commemorating the Belzec victims. Via several former Jewish Shtetls, such as Józefów (synagogue, historic cemetery), Tarnogóra (17th-century synagogue), Sieniawa (scenic and historic cemetery with over 700 preserved tombstones, including tzadik Halberstamm’s ohel) drive to Lezajsk. The town of Lezajsk has become the most significant center of the Hasidic movement in Galicia thanks to rabbi Elimelech Lippman and his followers. The local cemetery hosts the ohel of the famous tzadik which attracts thousands of Hasidic pilgrims every year. Continue to Lancut. The town is well-known for its impressive and ideally maintained palace of the Lubomirski and Potocki families. In the vicinity of the palace, there is a synagogue with modest Baroque building treasures one of the most stunning synagogue interiors in Poland, adorned with diverse and multicolored ornaments. The local cemetery houses ohels of renowned Galician tzadiks, Naftali’s, Horowic’s, and Eleeazar Shapiro’s. Overnight in Lancut
9th day Lancut - Rzeszow - Tarnow - Krakow
Drive towards Krakow, passing some former Shtetls and two significant centers of Jewish life in the old Poland, that is Rzeszów and Tarnów. Rzeszów attractive historic Old Town features two 17th century synagogues. Tarnów deserves a closer look. Before WWII it was the fourth largest Galician Jewish community. The most eminent monument of the Jewish history of the city is the cemetery with more than 3000 preserved tombstones with inscriptions in Yiddish, Hebrew, Polish and German, and a mass grave commemorating 25.000 victims of executions which were performed in the cemetery. Jewish sights can be seen in the center, including an Oriental-style mikvah from which the first transport destined for the Auschwitz Concentration Camp was brought out in June 1940. We reach Krakow in the afternoon. Check-in at the hotel and the first guided walk around Europe’s largest Medieval Market Square with Gothic St. Mary’s Church and the Cloth Hall.
10th day Krakow
Sightseeing following the traces of the Jewish heritage includes Kazimierz - the best-preserved Jewish quarter in Europe, with numerous synagogues such as the 15th-century Old Synagogue, Remuh Synagogue with a 16th-century cemetery, and the delightful 19th century Temple Synagogue. Visit the Galicia Jewish Museum, the premises of the former ghetto and concentration camp in Plaszów, and Oscar Schindler’s factory. Dinner with Klezmer music at one of Kazimierz’s restaurants.
11th day Auschwitz
Trip to Auschwitz- Birkenau - the world’s vastest Nazi extermination camp, and the symbol of the Holocaust, where over a million people were murdered in gas chambers. Sightseeing in Auschwitz I - Stammlager with a crematorium and the wall of death, and Auschwitz II-Birkenau with barrack huts and ruins of gas chambers. Return to Krakow and time at leisure.
12th day Krakow
Transfer to the airport and a flight home.
- 4 night's accommodation in Warsaw in a hotel chosen by you on bed and breakfast basis
- 2 night's accommodation in Lublin in a hotel chosen by you on bed and breakfast basis
- 1 night's accommodation in Zamosc in a hotel chosen by you on bed and breakfast basis
- 1 night's accommodation in Lancut in a hotel chosen by you on bed and breakfast basis
- 3 night's accommodation in Krakow in a hotel chosen by you on bed and breakfast basis
- All transfers as per above mentioned itinerary
- Private English speaking guide as per the itinerary
- Entrance fees for all sightseeing
- Meals as per the itinerary
Services not included:
- The journey to and from Poland
- Tour guide
- Public transport
- Personal expenditure, tips, etc.
- All other services not mentioned in the itinerary
Price on request.