AACI Poland Jewish Heritage Tour
25 July 2019 - 05 August 2019
Locations: Krakow, Lodz, Lublin, Rzeszow, Warsaw
This is a journey of a lifetime. Our AACI group will spend seven days investigating, experiencing and encountering three essential strands which form the essence of our Jewish consciousness:
Tradition – for one thousand years, Poland was the cradle of Jewish religion and civilization.
Destruction – in a brief period of six years, this vibrant center of Jewish life, culture, and religion were destroyed during the Holocaust.
The Jewish Spark – in the past twenty years, Poland has been the locus of a significant Jewish Renaissance.
Monday, July 29: Departing Tel Aviv at 05:45; arriving 08:45 in Warsaw.
After meeting our local tour guide, we will encounter the rich and varied mosaic of Polish history through a bus tour of the Warsaw Jewish Cemetery. We will then confront the future of Polish Jewry at the Lauder Morasha Jewish Day School where we will have the opportunity to talk with the principal and some students. After a brief rest for lunch and an exclusive visit to the new Museum of Jewish History; we will explore the Warsaw Jewish Ghetto experiencing moments of triumph and defeat; sadness and inspired courage. Our first day in Poland ends with dinner at the kosher Galil Restaurant where we will meet some leaders of the contemporary Warsaw Jewish community and chat with them about contemporary Jewish life in Poland and their perceptions of its future. After dinner, we check into the Marriott Hotel.
Tuesday, July 30: After breakfast, we will complete the story of the Warsaw Ghetto by undertaking a pilgrimage to the Death Camp of Treblinka to which some 280,000 Jews from the ghetto were deported within only two months. We then take a journey of approximately ninety minutes to the east to visit the shtetl of Tikocyn where we will spend time in the stately synagogue, explore the shtetl and eventually head for the forest of Lupochowo where we will encounter the last chapter of a four hundred year saga. After visiting the controversial village of Jedwabne, where the local Poles massacred their neighbors without any German assistance we take a two-and-a-half hour drive back to Warsaw. At dinner in the same restaurant, we will have the opportunity to meet local Jewish students before heading back to the hotel for our last night in Warsaw.
Wednesday, July 31: After breakfast, we head southeast for a two-and-a-half hour drive to the city of Lublin, where we will pay a brief visit to the Jewish cemetery. We will continue on to Yeshivat Chachmei Lublin: the greatest yeshiva in pre-war Poland, and walk through the center of the city and the old city, uncovering a series of hidden and seldom told stories.
After a break for lunch at a picturesque promenade, we will take a frighteningly short bus ride to the Death Camp of Maidanek. We will spend a number of hours on a thorough encounter with Maidanek, discovering the stories that haunt the camp as we spiral through seven levels of hell. If there is time, we will make a quick visit to the more remote camp of Belzec. This is a death camp where over half a million Galicianer Jews were killed and is very seldom visited.
Then we leave the Holocaust behind for the day and travel to the town of Lejansk arguably the birthplace of Hassidut in Poland. We will visit the grave of Rabbi Elimelech of Lejansk who brought Hassidut to Poland. We then take a short ride to our hotel, The Hotel Bristol in the city of Rzeszow, for dinner and a well-earned rest!
Thursday, August 1: There were some Poles who at risk of death hid and saved Jews. We begin our fourth day in Poland by visiting a farmstead in the small village of Markowa where a local Polish family made the supreme sacrifice of hiding Jews. After this, we stop at the Rudno Forest, the site of the mass murder of the Jews of Rzeszow. We then head to the city of Tarnow where we tour the city square and former Jewish quarter. We then follow the trail of many of the leading citizens of Tarnow, Catholic and Jewish, who were taken out into the forest and killed near the town of Zbylitovska Gora. After visiting the site of this horrible massacre, we head for Krakow. Krakow is arguably the city with the strongest presence of Jewish heritage sites in Poland, and we will fully explore the charm of the Jewish quarter and other areas. We will eat dinner at a local kosher restaurant before checking into the Hotel Qubus.
Friday, August 2: Sadly, the most visited location in Poland is the infamous Auschwitz Death and Concentration camp. After a journey of approximately an hour, we will spend a few hours in Auschwitz. At the camp’s official museum, we will spend a couple of hours with one of the leading Polish Auschwitz specialists.
After a brief break, we will drive to the Judenrampe, the place where Jews sent to the camp initially disembarked, and take a brief silent march into Auschwitz Two -Birkenau. This visit is more of a pilgrimage as we visit the locations we heard about in the morning, once again encountering moments of pain and of supreme heroism. We leave Auschwitz to return to Krakow in enough time to prepare for Shabbat in the former center of Jewish life. We will attend a lively Kabbalat Shabbat service with the local community and enjoy a traditional Shabbat dinner at our kosher restaurant.
Shabbat August 3: The day begins with an optional Shabbat tefilla or some free time to recover from a hectic week or do some private exploring. We meet up as a group at about 12 noon for a brief tour of Kazimierz which will bring us to the kosher restaurant for lunch. We will first be privileged to meet a righteous gentile who will tell us her story and give ample opportunity to ask questions. We will also be joined by a small group of Polish students for lunch where we’ll have the opportunity to discuss various topics on Polish life with them.
We then return to the hotel for some downtime after which we will briefly explore the Krakow Jewish Ghetto. After Shabbat ends we will have some free time in the city square.
Sunday, August 4: We depart from Krakow after breakfast for the city of Lodz – the second largest city in Poland. We begin our tour there at the Jewish Cemetery and discover how a town with 11 Jews in 1790 grew to a city with 250,000 Jews before the war. We then head to the area of the former ghetto to encounter the story of the Lodz ghetto and its Jewish dictator. After tracing the path of the Lodz Jews to the railway station of Radegasz, we will spend some downtime at Manafaktura: the huge shopping center on the site of one of the factories of Poznanski – the Jewish textile tycoon who built Lodz.
We then end our week in Poland discovering a hidden synagogue in Lodz, and then making a brief visit to the Death Camp of Chelmno. After a special ceremony at Chelmno, we will head back to Warsaw for our last dinner in Poland and a final night at the Hotel Okecie near the airport.
Monday, August 5: After breakfast, we transfer to the airport to return home after a memorable week in Poland. Our flight home departs from Warsaw at 09:45 and arrives in Tel Aviv at 14:30.
The program in Poland has been planned and will be lead by Rabbi Yitzchak Rubenstein. Rabbi Rubenstein made aliya in 2002 after a long career in both formal and informal education in South Africa. He is currently an Instructor at the Shem Olam Institute for Holocaust Studies, and is also a senior educator in the Nativ Program which facilitates the conversion of non- Jewish soldiers within the IDF.
Rabbi Rubenstein is a student of Polish-Jewish relations and how they are taught in the Jewish world. He began educational work in Poland in 2007 and has guided over three dozen different groups for a number of schools and organizations.
He strives towards a balance between learning about the rich and diverse Jewish community that existed in Poland for centuries before the war and discovering what happened during the period of the Shoah. There is also a focus on contemporary Poland — both in terms of the re-emerging Jewish community as well as past and present Polish-Jewish relations — always stressing the complexity of the issues.
Click to read a testimonial letter: POLAND EXPERIENCE APRIL-MAY 2015
|Price: AACI members $2890 per person in a double Currency Converter
Non- AACI members $2965 per person in a double
Single supplement $400 Credit if not taking flights (Land only) $350
The trip includes:
Round-trip flights with EL AL Airlines
Good 4-star hotels
Meals: half board plus provisions for making sandwiches for lunch
Transportation by deluxe coach as per itinerary
Entrance fees: as per the itinerary
Tour Leader & Guide from Israel- Rabbi Rubenstein
Hotel porterage and tips for drivers, local guides, waiters and Israeli tour guide
Water on bus
Any items of personal nature
Items not mentioned above
Drinks during meals
Poland Registration Form 2019
FOR MORE DETAILS/RESERVATIONS PLEASE CONTACT firstname.lastname@example.org / 02-6220000 or Carole at AACI 02-5600910