Mother of Israel -Land Tour
The presence of Jews in Greece goes back to ancient times. Our tour is a tale of three distinct communities: The Romaniotes , the Sephardim and the Ashkenazi . The Romaniotes constitute one of the oldest Jewish communities in the world today. They have survived the rise and fall of many empires and often flourished in their Greek homeland. During the 9th-12th centuries, many Central European Ashkenazi Jews who were scared by the Crusaders’ persecutions found refuge in Northern Greece, in Thessaloniki .
The Sephardim came to Greece in large numbers as a result of their expulsion from Spain during the late 15th and early 16th centuries, and were a major cultural and religious force, especially in the city of Thessaloniki, which at one time was even proclaimed by the poet Samuel Usques to be “The metropolis of Israel, the city of Justice, the mother of Israel, Ir veem beisrael -same as Jerusalem itself!
We will explore in depth the various cities with an historical Jewish presence combining touring with several lectures by leading experts in the field. Thessaloniki and Athens, as well as smaller cities such as Beria and Ioannina and the island of Corfu, all once had thriving Jewish communities. In addition, the cruise of the Ionian Islands on our small yacht will also give the opportunity to experience the natural beauty of Greece!
Day 1 – Athens
Arrival in Athens and transfer on own to the hotel Astor, Syntagma Square
Reception with guide/lecturer and, short introduction to the program
Welcome Dinner in Plaka
Day 2 – Athens
9:00 am: City tour with private coach and/or Metro to the Acropolis, Parthenon, Propylaea, Erechtheion. Temple of Athena Nike
Continue coach tour or the university, the Academy, the Parliament building as well as the Panathanaic Stadium.
Lunch in local taverna.
Day 3 – Athens
Bus/Walking tour from the hotel to the area of Thission. The Romaniote Synagogue, the Sephardic Synagogue, the Holocaust Memorial and the Jewish Musuem
National Archaeological museum
7 pm: Dinner
Day 4 – Chalkis + Volos Thessaloniki
Leave Athens by private coach and drive to Chalkis on the Island of Euboea
Walking tour in Chalkis: Romaniote Synagogue, cemetery, the Old Town, the Archeology Museum.
Walk to the Karababa Castle, Emir Zade Mosque
Transfer to Volos. Lunch on the bus
Visit the town’s synagogue, which serves the 100 member-strong community, and to see the Holocaust memorial
Transfer to Thessaloniki
Shabbat services and dinner with community TBC (Shabbat starts at 6:35 pm)
Day 5 – Thessaloniki
Lecture: Salonica as the Center of Sephardi Culture”
Walking tour: Yahudi Hamam, the Modiano Market, monuments of Bedesten and the Hamza Bey Mosque.
Bus/Walking tour: the banks of Modiano and Allatini, Acheiropoietos and Hagia Sophia churches. The Museum of Byzantine Culture
Havdalah and dinner (with the community)
Day 6 – Thessaloniki
Bus/Walking tour the Trigoniou Tower (30 mins from the hotel), the gate of Anna Paleologina, Monastiriou Synagogue, the Ministry of Macedonia and Thrace, to St. Demetrios Church, the Roman agora, the house of Kemal Attaturk, the Jewish Memorial in the Aristotelian University.
Lunch by the port
Coach and walking tour of Villas Casa Bianca and Mordoh, Yeni Mosque, the White Tower, the Baron Hirsch area.
The Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki
Day 7 – Veria + Vergina
Depart hotel to Veria
Walking tour in Veria. Barbouta, the synagogue.
Drive to Vergina
Walking tour to Royal Tombs in Vergina
Return to Thessaloniki
Day 8 – Thessaloniki
Morning lecture: “The Holocaust in Greece”
Walk to the Jewish Museum, meeting with a Holocaust survivor.
Visit the Yad Lezikaron Synagogue
Walking tour to the Rotunda and Gallerius Gate
Day 9 – Departure
End of the program