Back to the world of Lithuania and Belorussian Jewish Communities

Sophia’s Travel AKA Jewish Travel Agency is proud to present our Back to the world of Lithuania and Belorussian Jewish Communities. Jewish Heritage tour 7 nights /8 days Day 1...

Sophia’s Travel AKA Jewish Travel Agency is proud to present our Back to the world of Lithuania and Belorussian Jewish Communities. Jewish Heritage tour 7 nights /8 days

Day 1. Minsk

Arrival to Minsk. General sightseeing of Minsk. “Yama” – a memorial for the Jews perished in Minsk during the Nazi occupation. The obelisk was built on the exact spot where five thousand Jews were slaughtered. Visit Minsk Synagogue. A walk in the small part of the Old Town the only one survived of the pre-war Minsk. The site of the Minsk ghetto. Examples of Jewish architecture, including a building with an ornate wooden door that still has the imprint of a large mezuzah. In the evening: a ballet performance.

Day 2. Minsk-Volozhyn-Vishnevo-Holshany-Kreva-Minsk

Morning departure for Volozhyn to see the renowned yeshiva established by Rav Hayim Volozhiner, a disciple of the Vilna Gaon in 1803 (it existed until 1942, when the Nazis killed the last sixty-four students). See the Jewish cemetery with the tomb of the great Hayim Volozhiner. Next stop is Vishnevo, the former possession of several Polish/Lithuanian magnates and also a native country of Shimon Peres. Another little town is Holshany, where the whole streets of a Jewish shtettle of the 19th century have been preserved. A short visit to Kreva. Here next to the ruins of Kreva castle, where the Union between Lithuania and Poland was signed, there is a Synagogue in a modern style of the beginning of the 20thcentury. Return to Minsk. Dinner at the Belorussian folk restaurant.

Day 3. Minsk-Mir-Novogrudok-Lida-Grodno

Drive to Mir. Here a world-renowned yeshiva that numbered about five hundred students from around the world was established in 1815. One can see in the same area the buildings of the yeshiva and of three synagogues. The old Jewish cemetery in Mir. An impressive memorial erected in memory of the Jewish inhabitants murdered during WWII. Visit to the medieval Dukes’ Radziwill castle of Mir built in 1495. Next stop is the Novogrudok – once the centre of the Great Duchy of Lithuania. The ruins of the ancient castle could be seen up to date. Visit to the area of the Jewish ghetto and the places of the mass murder. Visit the Museum of Adam Mitskevich. En route visit Lida, where in 1905 Rabbi Reines established the Yeshiva of Lida. The founding conference of the Mizrachi movement was held in Lida in 1902.  Late evening arrival to Grodno.

Day 4. Grodno-Radin-Vilnius

Sightseeing of Grodno, once a residence of Great Duke of Lithuania Vytautas. Here in 1389 he issued a “Permit of Residence” that regarded with favour the arrival of Jews into Lithuania. Walking tour in the old part of Grodno, including the medieval castle, the brilliant example of Baroque architecture – the Roman-Catholic Cathedral, the streets of the Jewish quarter before the war, buildings of the various Jewish public institutions, the Great Synagogue of Grodno, the territory of the Jewish Ghetto, the old Jewish cemetery. A meeting with the members of the local Jewish community. Departure for Vilna. En route visit Radin, where Chafetz Chayim founded the Yeshivah of Radin in 1869. One can see the impressive building of the Synagogue. Visit the Jewish cemetery with the matzevah of Chafetz Chayim and the memorial for the Jews murdered in the WWII. Arrival in Vilnius.

Day 5. Vilnius

Sightseeing tour of Old Town of Vilnius. Gediminas Castle and Cathedral square – the historical center of Vilnius; the history of Lithuanian Capital. The President’s Palace and the historical events, connected to that place. Vilnius University ensemble. A walking tour to the Jewish quarter of the “Lithuanian Jerusalem”: narrow streets and courtyards of the middle-age Ghetto; the Great Vilna Synagogue and the shulhoyf; Vilna Gaon – the great Jewish scholar; Vilna – a center of the struggle between mitnagdim and hasidim; the famous Jewish sculptor Mordekhai Antokolski; the territory of the Large Ghetto; the courtyard of the Judenrat; the fight of the Ghetto prisoners against the Nazis. Visit Ponar Forest near Vilnius, where more than 100.000 people, mostly Jewish were murdered by the Nazis. Visit to the Jewish State museum. Chabad Liubavitch Center in Lithuania.

Day 6. Vilnius

Visit to the only functioning Vilna Synagogue. Meeting at the Jewish Community Center located in the former Hebrew “Tarbut” school. The Jewish cemeteries of Vilna, their past and present; the grave of the Vilna Gaon and of other prominent Jewish figures. Visit to the Jewish Sholom-Aleichem secondary school. The “Cheap Houses” – big dwelling houses built by baron Hirsch for Jewish poor people after the great flood. Building of the world famous printing house “Widow and Brothers Romm”. Afternoon tour of the Christian places in Vilnius: the Cathedral, St. Peter and Paul’s Church, St. Anne’s Church, the Gate of Dawn, the Orthodox Church of the Holy Spirit. Dinner in the country-style Lithuanian restaurant.

Day 7. Vilnius-Kaunas-Vilnius

Full day tour of Kaunas (Kovna), the second large city, the interim capital of pre-war Lithuania includes Slobodka, a Jewish suburb of  Kaunas and the ghetto during WWII, the Old Jewish cemetery. The Seventh and the Ninth Forts – death sites of thousands of Jews from Lithuania and other countries. The Holocaust museum and the Memorial in the Ninth Fort. The Synagogue and the Children’s Memorial in its court. The house where Leah Goldberg, the prominent Israeli poetess, lived. On the way back to Vilnius visit the country life open-air museum in Rumsiskes representing Lithuania’s major ethnographic regions’ 18-19 century way of life, architecture, traditions and crafts.

Day 8. Vilnius-Trakai-Vilnius

A tour of Trakai, the ancient Lithuanian capital and the residence of Grand Dukes of Lithuania, located 28 km from Vilnius, famous for the lakes and sights of the area. There is a 14th century red brick insular castle with a museum of Lithuanian history and the mode of life of different estates and different ethnic groups. Visit the Karaite museum and the story of this small ethnic group confessing Judaism, brought by Vytautas the Great from Crimea 600 years ago. Trakai National Park with its beautiful sights. On the way back to Vilnius visit the former partisan base in the Roudnicki forest, where the Jewish fighters and those Vilna ghetto prisoners that succeeded to escape, among them Aba Kovner, fought against the Nazis. Departure from Vilnius.

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