Jewish Heritage Tour Moldova&Romania.Searching Jewish roots.
Highlights of the tour:
10 days/9 nights
Day 1: Arrival at Chisinau International Airport. (D)
Meet ESG and transfer to the city. Check-in the hotel in Chisinau. Afternoon at leisure.
Evening walk for the welcome dinner at restaurant “Vatra Neamului” with live music. Overnight Chisinau.
Day 2: Chisinau – Orhei Jewish Community – Cricova Wine Cellars (B, L)
Chisinau– the capital of the Republic of Moldova was a flourishing Jewish center in the 18th century and had witnessed many events connected with the Jews since then. By the end of the 18th century the Jews were owners of most of the factories of those times with Jewish employees.
Jewish tour of Chisinau
The Jewish Cemetery (Buiucani district) – one of the oldest cemeteries in Chisinau with the burials of the 19th century. There can be found the unique pre-burial synagogue (half-ruined). It contains more than 20,000 graves, which date back to the 17th century.
The Memorial to the Victims of the pogroms in Chisinau in 1903 and 1905 situated in the area of the Jewish cemetery. The inscription is in Hebrew, Yiddish, and Romanian.
Synagogue of the “Glaziers” – today, the only functional synagogue in Chisinau built at the end of the 19th century and funded by the Jewish Society of Glaziers and Bookbinders.
Museum of Jewish History and House of the Jews “KEDEM” – the building of the former Synagogue “Wooden” built in 1835. The museum was established by the Jewish community and exposes a rich collection of Jewish documents, books, personal objects from many Jewish families.
The ruins of the Synagogue Rava Tsirelsona and former Almshouse (1910) the two-storied Jewish hospital and home for the elderly known as the Almshouse is now a ruin. Two brick buildings, one for men and one for women, accommodated about 60 people.
“Choral Synagogue” – founded in 1812 in Chisinau the synagogue represented the biggest and the most beautiful temple of the period. The synagogue was the most important Jewish house of worship in Chisinau in the period 1913 – 1940.
Monument to the Victims of the Chisinau Ghetto– erected in 1992 on Jerusalim Street in Chisinau. Chisinau Ghetto was, in fact, a place where the Jews were concentrated before their deportation in 1941.
General tour of Chisinau: Central Square Stefan the Great and Saint with Monument to Stefan the Great and Saint; the Bell Tower; Lord Nativity Central Cathedral; the Triumph Arch; the Parliament; the Presidency; the City Hall; the Memorial Eternity; the Souvenir’s shop and market; the Alley of Classics with sculptures of Romanian Classics; National Museum of History and Archeology.
Lunch at local restaurant in Chisinau.
Drive to Orhei town to learn about Jewish life of the region, both the past and the present.
Meet the local representative who will reveal the Jewish history of the area, visit to the Jewish cemetery (it’s considered to be the oldest Jewish cemetery in Europe-more than 400 years old with unique monuments to Jewish soldiers and victims of Holocaust and monument to the victims of Nazism), and the synagogue built in the 20th cent.
Visit the winery Cricova. You’ll take a train around the underground wine city and enjoy an informative wine tour about wine production, winery collection and wine storage, as well as sample some of the best Moldovan wines.
CRICOVA winery lies under the town of Cricova and partially under the capital of Moldova, Chisinau. The cellars represent 60 km of labyrinths and galleries having constant temperature +10 – +12 C and the relative humidity of 97-98 %.
Evening at leisure. Overnight in Chisinau.
Day 3: North of Moldova: The Jews in Soroca town. Jewish community in Balti town. (B, L)
This day you’re supposed to visit the northern locality of Moldova and learn about the Jews and their life of that region over the centuries.
Jewish settlement in Soroca is first recorded in 1657 when the Jews came to this region escaping the persecution of the Polish and the Germans and searching a new life. An organized community, however, dates back to the 18th century. A synagogue in Soroca was established in 1775.
Stop at the monument to the victims of Fascism and Jewish cemetery
Synagogue – one floor building built in 1804, a functional synagogue.
The first recorded mention of Soroca fortress dates back to 1499. The fortress had captured many dramatic events including the invasions of the Tatars, Cossacks, Polish King Ian Sobesky troops, military actions of Bogdan Hmelnitskyi, anti-Ottoman campaign of the Russian Monarch Peter the Great.
Take a lunch at local restaurant “Cetatea Veche”/Old Fortress
Drive to another Jewish community in Balti/Beltsy town.
Jewish tour of Beltsy with visit to the Jewish community and Jewish cemetery.
According some historical sources, first Jews had settled in this region of Moldova in the beginning of Xth century. Before the WW II the Jewish community of Beltsy (Balti) was a vibrant population of trade, industry and culture, Zionism and Yiddsih, political parties and youth movements.
Beltsy (Belz) was the second largest populated city in Bessarabia, with the second largest number of Jewish inhabitants after Chisinau, and the economic center of region. According the census of 1930 Beltsy had 14229 Jewish residents.
In September 1941 the last Jews, some 2800 people were expelled to the Marculesti Camp, and the Jewish population of the city ceased to exist. Today Jewish Community of Beltsy is consisted of Beltsy and neighborhood towns, and since 1989 is ranked 2nd place by the Jewish population of Moldova.
Evening drive back to Chisinau. Free dinner. Overnight in Chisinau.
Day 4: East of Moldova – Transnistria: Dubossary Jewish community, Rybnitsa town, Tiraspol, Bendery (B, L)
Today, we’ll explore Transnistria – self-proclaimed independent Pridnestrovian-Moldavian Republic and find out what events had this country witnessed during the WWII and how Jewish community is developing in the region.
Dubossary-established in 1792 as a Russian military settlement. The city lies 42 km from Chisinau and belongs to Transnistria. During the World War II there took place a mass destruction of the Jews living in Dubossary and nearby villages.
Sites to be visited:
Memorial to the Victims of Holocaust with a mass grave. The largest mass burial of the victims of Holocaust took place at the outskirts of Dubossary. More than 3000 names of the victims are engraved on the granite slabs. The Memorial has 11 beds of honor with thousands of victims each.
Jewish Cemetery in Dubossary.
Rybnitsa – another important city in Transnistria that witnessed many horrible events referred to the Jews. The first mention of Rybnitsa dates back to 1628 and the first Jews had appeared in Rybnitsa toghether wth the rest of population. Nowadays there are living only 1% of the Jews from the total population. Before the World war II the Jewish population in Rybnitsa was around 30%. During the Holacaust period on the territory of Rybnitsa and the surrounding area perished more than 6000 of the Jews, both locals and immigrants from Bessarabia and Bukovina.
Learn the story of the Jewry in Rybnitsa and visit the Memorial and a Bed of Honor for 48 Jews prisoners of the Ghetto in Rybnitsa; Jewish cemetery with a Bed of Honor for more than 500 Jews – Ghetto Prisoners;
Monument to the Martyrs and Victims of Holocaust in Rybnitsa
The Ghetto in Rybnitsa lasted 936 days – from September 7, 1941 till March 29, 1944. There were around 3000 people subjected to the Ghetto. More than 2700 were killed, their bed of Honor lies on the cemetry. The Monument in their honor was set up in 2006 in the shape of a sarcophagus.
Have a lunch in a local restaurant in Rybnitsa.
Further, we continue to explore the region southern of Rybnitsa and drive to the capital of Transnistria – Tiraspol.
Tiraspol – is the second largest city in Moldova. The city is located on the Eastern bank of the Dniester River. It was founded by the Russian general Alexandr Suvorov in 1792 whose statue is rising on the central square in Tiraspol.
Since the 19th century, this city has always had a thriving Jewish presence. The Jews came here from different Russian localities as well as from Bessarabia. Tiraspol had a significant grain trade, concentrated almost exclusively in the hands of the Jews.
Before the war, in 1926 Jews accounted 6398 people. The city had several synagogues and two Jewish schools.
During the Holocaust, nearly the entire Jewish community perished in Nazi concentration camps. After World War II, the Jewish community began to grow once again and, by the 1960s, there were nearly 1,500 Jews. Today, Tiraspol has its Jewish community that counts 1700 people and “The Charity Cultural Center”.
Sites to be visited in Tiraspol:
Central Area “Suvorov” with the Monument to Alexander Suvorov
House of Sovjets
Square with bust to Ekaterina II
Glory Memorial (1972)
Jewish Synagogue and community
Museum of Holocaust
Monument of the Victims of Fascism and the Bed of Honor
Later, we’ll head for the town of Bendery for visit to Tighina fortress and a Jewish tour.
The city Bendery was founded in 1408 as the Tighina Fortress of the Ottoman Empire. The first documents proving the Jews presence there date back to the beginning of XVI c. when a synagogue was built on the territory of the fort. By 1930 the city counted 8000 Jews and by the end of 1980 the Jewish population was 6000. Today, in Bendery and its suburbs live around 1000 Jews. In 2001 a Jewish community was founded in Bendery as well as the Jewish Agency “Sohnut” and the Synagogue.
Explore the 16th century Tighina fortress-Turkish fortress and visit the on-site museum and the War Memorial in the city of Bender. In 1941, when the Red Army had left Bendery, it caused the occupation of the city and creation of Ghetto, thus a number of Jews were murdered in a ditch near the Tighina fortress. In June 2001, a memorial plaque was established at a spot where more than 600 Jews were executed between July and September 1941.
Jewish Sites in Bendery:
The Synagogue in Bendery and Jewish community “Habad Liubavich”– the only functional synagogue in Bendery at present. Initially and till 1939 it was Clerk’s Synagogue, since 1989 after reconstruction there has been activating the synagogue of the Jewish religious movement “Habad Liubavici”.
Monument to the victims of Holocaust set up on the bank of the river Dniestr in Bendery in 2002, 1,000 Jews were killed at that place and then thrown into the river.
Coopers Synagogue (1914), now the building is used for the sport school, and Former Hasidic Synagogue of 1814 “Sadigurer Kloiz”
Choral Synagogue and MANUS Bank (today the center for the youth development)
Old Jewish Cemetery in Bendery – Bendery’s large Jewish cemetery contains over 5,000 gravestones. The earliest gravestones date from 1913. There is also a monument to the victims of the Holocaust.
In the evening, return to Chisinau. Free dinner. Overnight in Chisinau.
Day 5: Farewell to Moldova. Explore Jewish Heritage in Romania. City of Iasi. (B, D)
In the morning, after check out, we say good bye to the Republic of Moldova and leave for Romania in search of new discoveries.
Transfer to the city of Iasi. Time for lunch.
After lunch, visit Iasi, the largest and most sophisticated Jewish community in Romania, headquarters of Hacham Bashim in the 17th century, one of the great European Centers of Jewish learning during the 19th century and the birth place of Yiddish Theater.
Afternoon Jewish Heritage tour of Iasi:
Visit the Jewish Community and meet its president.
Visit the Great Iasi Synagogue, built in 1670 and the oldest surviving Synagogue in Romania.
Holocaust Memorial of the Iasi Pogrom in 1941.
Visit inside the Palace of Culture.
The Palace of Culture, acknowledged as the effigy of the city of Iasi, was built in Neogothic style and as such was one of the last expressions of Romanticism in the official architecture.
The construction, started in 1906-1907, was partly built on the old ruins of the mediaeval Princely Court of Moldavia. (1434).
Visit the University of Iasi and the Museum of the University.
Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iaşi is the oldest higher education institution in Romania.
The groundbreaking ceremony of The University Palace took place on May 23rd 1893, in the presence of Prince Ferdinand of Hohenzollern- Sigmaringen and in the same place where The National Theatre had functioned until 1888.
Visit the famous Copou Park. The Copou Park or Copou Gardens is the oldest public park in Iasi, Romania.
Its development started in 1834 making the park one of the first public gardens in Romania and an Iaşi landmark. This visit is followed by a visit to the Jewish Cemetery, in Pacurari district.
The Iasi Jewish Cemetery, in the back of the Pacurari, has more than 150,000 tombs. In the cemetery we can find the Memorial to the Jewish Soldiers who fought in the First World War for the restorations of Romania.
Welcome dinner at local Restaurant with Romanian authentic folklore.
Overnight in Iasi.
Day 6: Iasi – Podu Iloaiei – Piatra Neamt. (B, D)
We say good bye to Iasi, departure Piatra Neamt with a break in Podu Iloaiei . Visit the Podu Iloaiei Cemetery.
The Jewish community in the village of Podu Iloaiei appeared in the second half of the 18th century and the first half of the 19th.
Only the Jewish cemetery has remained with tombstones dating from 1829 and 1830.
Visit the Tailor’s Synagogue in Roman.
The Tailor’s Synagogue is a medium type edifice erected in 1898. The Jewish Community in Roman is at least four centuries old, as is demonstrated by the tombstones and documents. There were 16 synagogues in Roman at 1887 and a total of 15 synagogues and prayer houses in the 1930’s.
Arrive Piatra Neamt. Time for lunch.
Piatra Neamt – a big Jewish community, with approximately 200 Jewish people.
Sites en route:
The Great Temple, known as Leipziger Bet ha-Midrash Temple, is a big, newer, synagogue, dating from 1839.
The Piatra Neamt Cathedral synagogue, a historic monument, is the oldest wooden synagogue still standing in Romania.
Its design is strongly influenced by local architectural tradition, sharing an evident family resemblance to the timber synagogues of Poland and Bohemia.
The present wooden building was founded in 1766. Some specialists believe that the old building made from stone was founded in the 15th century. The golden altar is 250 years old, with the original ritual objects in fine condition.
Afternoon and evening time at leisure or shopping.
Overnight in Piatra Neamt.
Day 7: Piatra Neamt– Bigaz Gorges– The Red Lake – Gheorghieni – Miercurea –Ciuc– Brasov (B, L)
We say good bye to Piatra Neamt, departure top Transylvania, to Brasov.
We will make a stop in our way to Brasov in the region of the Red Lake, of Bicaz Gorges and Bicaz Lake, which offer a great panorama.
Lunch on the way to Brasov.
After a long day to get Transylvania time to rest.
Evening walking tour Brasov downtown.
Overnight in Brasov.
Day 8: Brasov – Sinaia – Bucharest (B, L)
We will visit the town of Brasov, which, according to documents dating from 1234 was called Corona. During the second half of the 14th century it was confirmed as the administrative and ecclesiastic center of Barsei Land “the free royal town,” one of the economic and cultural centers of Transylvania. It is one of the most spectacular cities in Romania.
Visit the Brasov synagogue and the local Jewish Community. We arrive at the famous Bran Castle situated in an old village of the same name. Visit the Famous Bran Castle, called the Dracula Castle.
Continue to Sinaia, visit the famous Peles Castle.
Peles Castle – is one of the best-preserved royal palaces in Europe and one of the most beautiful castles in all Europe. It was the final resting place for several Romanian monarchs including King Carol I, who died here in 1914.
Arrive Bucharest in the evening, overnight in Bucharest .
Day 9:Bucharest Jewish Tour (B, D)
Highlights of the tour:
The Jeshua Tova Synagogue; The Holocaust Memorial; The Great Synagogue & the Holocaust Museum; The Choral Temple; The Jewish Community center; The Jewish Theatre.
The Jewish community used to be the largest minority community in Bucharest.
Bucharest Jews are mentioned for the first time in a rabbinical correspondence dating back to the 16th century.
Jewish Quarter Bucharest 19c. The first documented evidence of a Jewish presence in Bucharest, from 1550, names 8 Jews, two of whom, Isac Rufus and Habib Amato, ‘have a shop’.
In 1930, 69.885 Jews lived in Bucharest, representing 11% of the population. The events of the second world war and then of the emigration to Israel caused a great drop in the Jewish population in Bucharest. Today it stands at less than 10,000 Jews. In the place of the old Jewish center today stands Bucharest’s commercial center. Even still, some of the houses are reminiscent of those that once stood in that area. A state-run Jewish theatre still shows productions today.
Visit the Romanian Holocaust Memorial unveiled on Thursday, October 8, 2009, in Bucharest.
The monument is a five-sculpture ensemble – “The Column,” “Via Dolorosa,” “The Roma”s Wheel,” “The Star of David,” and “Epitaph” arranged around a central memorial precinct.
The program for the creation of a Romanian Holocaust Memorial was initiated in 2006 upon the recommendation of the International Commission for Romanian Holocaust Studies, known as the Wiesel Commission, after talks with public luminaries, officials for the Federation of Jewish Communities in Romania, men of culture and artists as well as Holocaust survivors.
The Great Synagogue was raised in 1845 by the Polish Jewish community. It was repaired in 1865, redesigned in 1903 and 1909, repainted in Rococo style in 1936 by Ghershon Horowitz, then it was restored again in 1945.
This is certainly the most important Bucharest’s synagogue, it dates back from 1856.
Located downtown from 1827 and totally renovated in 2007, this is the city’s oldest synagogue. It still serves the local Jewish community.
Time for lunch. Continue to explore Bucharest.
The Civic Center and the Palace of Parliament
In 1971 Ceausescu visited North Korea and returned full of admiration for the grandiose avenues of Kim Il Sung’s capital city.
Thirteen years later, inspired by what he had seen in Pyongyang, Ceausescu set out to re-model Bucharest as “the first socialist capital for the new socialist man” and to create a new administrative center which was to be a “symbolic representation of the two decades of enlightenment we have just lived through.”
The Romanian Athenaeum – visit inside the building – a magnificent Neoclassical structure, built in 1888, hosting concerts all year round.
The Revolution Square: with the former Communist Party Headquarters, a Stalinist monolith, featuring the famous balcony where Ceausescu delivered his last speech.
Have a rest and refreshment at the Manuc Inn.
Farewell dinner at the Beer Cart in Bucharest, with folklore show.
Day 10 – Fly back home (B)
After breakfast at the hotel, time at leisure. Check-out before 12 am and transfer to Bucharest Airport for the flight back home.
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