AACI Central Europe
18 June 2018 - 27 June 2018
Locations: Bratislava, Budapest, Prague, Vienna
Final Itinerary and Pricing Coming Soon
Budapest, Vienna, and Prague are considered to be three of Central Europe’s most culturally splendid cities. Abounding in Jewish history, Central Europe is a favorite destination for the Jewish tourist. From fascinating Prague, the city that created Kafka, to Budapest, the sensuously rich capital of Hungary and to the old-world sophistication, music and coffeehouse culture of Vienna, you will feel elevated by the delights in every destination. Jewish Heritage is strong here, woven like a golden thread throughout this part of the world. You will have the feeling of being somewhere you have visited before, and find a charm only rarely experienced in the modern world.
Budapest, Vienna and Prague.
Day 1: Tel Aviv – Bratislava – Prague
We leave Israel early for our flight from Tel Aviv to Bratislava, Slovakia.
Upon arrival we will visit the most important Jewish symbol of Bratislava – the grave and mausoleum of the Chatam Sofer.
Jews from the world over travel to Bratislava to learn about the great rabbinic scholar the Chatam Sofer, Rabbi Moshe Schreiber (1762 – 1839). Born in Frankfurt, he became Chief Rabbi in Bratislava in 1806, leading the community for the next three decades. The halachic authority of his time, his grave and the mausoleum created around it -the haunting underground Chatam Sofer Memorial- receive a steady stream of visitors.
We will have lunch and then proceed on to Prague.
On the way we will stop in Brno which is the capital of South Moravia and the second largest city of the Czech Republic. The whole region indeed has been an important center for Jewish settlement since the historical Kingdom of Bohemia. Dinner in Kosher restaurant?
Hardly any other city has been adorned with words of praise to the extent Prague has; it has often been called golden and incomparable. Resting on the sloping banks of the Vltava River, the main artery of Bohemian waterways, Prague’s cobblestone streets are connected by arching and ancient stone bridges contrasting with the cosmopolitan atmosphere of modern Prague. Jewish community life in Prague has been continuous since the Middle Ages. The oldest synagogue of the city, the Alteneuschul, built during the last quarter of the 13th century, bears witness of the medieval Jewish community. Despite several periods of expulsion, an autonomous intellectual life was flourishing in the Jewish Quarter in the Golden Age (between the 16th and 18th centuries) of Prague’s Jewry. Some of the legendary Jewish personalities who lived in Prague are Rabbi Loew (the Maharal) and Rabbi Avigdor Kara, a member of Prague’s Beth Din, as well as other historians, scientists and philosophers. Today, the Jewish quarter of the city is completely restored.
Itinerary: In Prague, we will enjoy a walking tour of Vaclav Square, founded by Charles IV in 1348. Then, continue toward the old city surrounded by walls and fortifications. This lovely area has been declared a world heritage site. We will view the Powder Gate, the old town square, the “clock square”, the famous astronomical clock and the Church of Tyne. We will continue toward the Vltava River, the longest river in the Czech Republic, and enjoy a leisurely cruise on the river.
Dinner at a local kosher restaurant.
Day 2: Prague
We will tour the Jewish Quarter which is part of Prague’s Old Town and forms a self-contained area that can easily be covered on foot. The district was named Josefov after Emperor Josef II and was added to Prague’s historical center in 1850. Prague’s Jewish population has lived in this area for centuries but was nearly wiped out during World War II. We will visit the Jewish cemetery and a number of synagogues – the Maisel Synagogue, the Pinkas Synagogue, that serves as a memorial to the victims of the Holocaust with almost 80,000 names inscribed on its walls, and the Spanish Synagogue. All of the synagogues have been beautifully restored and house priceless exhibits collected throughout the past. We will visit Kafka’s House. We will walk across the Charles Bridge which represents the interesting history of this oldest preserved connecting line between both Prague embankments. Special attention will be given not only to its beautiful sculptural decoration, but also to the Old Town and Lesser Quarter bridge towers.
Dinner at a local kosher restaurant.
Day 3: Prague – Vienna
After leaving Prague we will drive to Vienna
Vienna’s eminent role in European history, architecture, art and music combine to embody the phrase “Old World Charm”. The city, once home to the Hapsburg Empire, claims Mozart, Schubert, Bruckner and Freud, whose lives and accomplishments are documented and celebrated in Vienna. In European Jewish history, too, the Jewry of the city played an immeasurable role, especially in the cultural life in 19th century. In the Middle Ages, from the 10th century on, there was a fluctuating Jewish presence in Austria. The first document mentioning Jews in Vienna dates back to the late 12th century. After turbulent centuries of expulsions and pogroms, the Patent of Tolerance (1782) by Emperor Joseph II marked the starting point of a development that brought about the equality of Jews. In modern times, too, the founder of Zionism, Theodore Herzl developed his ideas in Vienna and initiated his campaigns from there. Besides him, the activity of many outstanding Jewish personalities (e.g. composer Karl Goldmark, writer Arthur Schnitzler, psychiatrist Sigmund Freud, etc.) bears witness of the Viennese Jews’ contribution to Austrian intellectual and scientific development.
Itinerary: Upon arrival in Vienna we will start with a tour of the Old City and see the Hofburg Palace which is the former imperial palace of Vienna. Part of this stately palace forms the official residence and workplace of the President of Austria. Built in the 13th century, the palace has housed some of the most powerful people throughout European and Austrian history, including monarchs of the Habsburg dynasty, rulers of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It was the principal imperial winter residence. From there we continue to Maria Theresa Platz, which is flanked by magnificent buildings. We will see city hall, the Parliament building, and stop by the grandiose Opera House. The highlight of our day will be a visit to the magnificent Schönbrunn Palace. This Baroque summer residence of the Hapsburgs, known as the “Versailles of Austria,” greets us with an opulent and impressive interior, including the magnificent ceremonial rooms in the central part of the palace.
Day 4: Vienna
Jewish History of Austria. Vienna is a good place to have a closer look at the marks left of centuries of Jewish settlement in the country′s capital. After an almost complete extinction of Jewish life in Austria in the course of discrimination, persecution and ultimately the Holocaust, some 20,000 Jews mostly from Eastern European countries now populate Vienna, reviving the Jewish aspect of the city.
The Jewish community is concentrated around the Leopoldstadt, the Second District, which was first a ghetto and later a Jewish district. For tourists, however, the Jewish Museums in the Dorotheergasse and at the Judenplatz Square in the First District are more rewarding destinations.
The Jüdisches Museum in the Palais Eskeles was founded in 1896, which makes it the oldest museum of its kind in the World. Not surprisingly, though, it was closed by the Nazis in 1938 and not re-opened until 1989 – so the claim for its record age is somewhat dubious. The exhibition is arranged on four floors. On the ground floor, there is a lecture hall that has several items of Judaica on display.
Return to hotel to prepare for Shabbat in Stadttemple Synagogue and dinner with the community
Vienna Tefillot in Stadttemple Synagogue Seudat Shabbat with community. Walking tour
Day 6: Vienna – Budapest
After breakfast we will leave Vienna and drive to Budapest
Budapest is definitely one more pearl strung on the Danube necklace, a vibrant, cosmopolitan metropolis with rich Jewish history.
This beautiful city is considered the most sophisticated of Central European capitals. Here you will find the third largest community of Jews in Europe, approximately 100,000. Jewish history dates back to Roman times, and Jews have always played an outstanding role in the city economic, political and cultural life. Today, Budapest has many fine synagogues, kosher restaurants and Jewish schools. The unique Dohany Street Synagogue, the most impressive and biggest in Europe, stands next to the moving Holocaust Memorial, dedicated to over 600,000 Jews who perished during the Nazi reign of terror. The Jewish Museum has a wealth of artifacts and documents relating to Jewish history in Hungary.
Itinerary: Upon arrival in Budapest we will check in to our hotel and then go out for a tour including a visit to the old Jewish Quarter in the heart of Pest, the impressive Dohany Street Synagogue, the newly re-opened Rumbach Street Synagogue, the memorial statue dedicated to Carl Lutz (the Swiss Consul who saved thousands of Jews) and the beautifully restored Kazinczy Street Orthodox Synagogue.
Day 7: Budapest – through the Jewish roots to Bratislava
We will stop in Miskolc, the fourth largest city in Eastern Hungary. We will visit the functioning 19th C. synagogue (designed by Ludwig Förster, the architect of the Dohány Street Synagogue in Budapest) and take a walk through the beautifully restored old town.
We continue on to Mad to see one of the finest surviving examples of Baroque synagogue architecture in Hungary. The Mad synagogue (built in 1795) is one of only four surviving synagogues of the period. Mad is exceptional because not only is the synagogue intact with all of its rich decoration, but the attached structure which once housed a yeshiva and the rabbis’ residence is also intact. The entire complex is dramatically sited, overlooking much of the town and the surrounding vineyards.
Our next stop is in Tokaj, the capital of the most famous Hungarian wine region and former center of a prosperous Jewish community that lived in the area before the Holocaust. We will visit the synagogue of Tokaj, built in the late 19th century, the biggest and most impressive one in the region, and also explore old wine cellars and taste some of the excellent kosher wines.
We continue on to Satoraljaujhely, the town of Reb Ismach Moshe Teitelbaum who founded the Hassidic movement in Hungary in the early 19th century. Under the leadership of Rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum, a Hassidic center emerged in Satoraljaujhely, where he was the rabbi from 1808. He was famous for his knowledge as well as for his yeshiva. Many people pilgrimaged from great distances to see him. His son and descendants were Hassidic rabbis in Maramarossziget (Sighetu – Romania), and after his death his grandson became the rabbi of Satoraljaujhely. We will visit the tomb of Reb Ismach Moshe in the old cemetery.
Travel to Bratislava for dinner
After vegetarian fish dinner we transfer to the airport for our flight back to Israel
June 18-LY 2365 TLV-BUDAPEST 06:45-09:10
June 27-LY2525 PRAGEU-TLV 22:15-03:05