Sephardic Balkans:

Trip 1: May 18-29, 2017

11 nights/12 days

Trip 2: June 15-27, 2017

12 nights/13 days

Trip 3: June 14-26, 2018

12 nights/13 days

Save $100: Register for Trip 3 by June 1, 2017

In 1943, Bulgaria complied with German demands and deported nearly 11,400 Jews from occupied territories in northern Greece and Yugoslavia (Macedonia). At the same time, Bulgaria resisted German pressures to deport the 50,000 Jews living in Bulgaria.
As we travel, we will analyze the historical context for these events and will experience first hand the rich Sephardic history and culture of these Jewish communities.

Photography © Stefan Galibov

Joseph Benatov holds a Ph.D. in comparative literature from the University of Pennsylvania, where he teaches Hebrew. He is originally from Bulgaria and a member of Sofia’s Jewish community. Joseph has over 15 years of experience leading travelers across the Balkans, including UNESCO representatives, 92nd Street Y visitors, JDC board members, and Anti-Defamation League officials. He also lectures regularly on the history of Jewish life in Bulgaria and has published on the fate of Bulgaria’s Jews during the Holocaust. Joseph takes a keen interest in Balkan cuisine and winemaking, so be prepared for some fine wine-and-dining along the way.

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Bulgaria, Macedonia and Northern Greece

Travel program led
by Joseph Benatov

Twelve overnights in Bulgaria, Macedonia, and Thessaloniki (Salonika), Greece, will allow us to:

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Explore Sofia and Plovdiv, Bulgaria’s two main cities, and meet their vibrant Jewish communities. Listen to the melodious Ladino (Judeo-Spanish) spoken – and sung! – by the older generation. Appreciate traditional Sephardi handiwork crafted by women of the "Blessed Hands" group. Savor a rich spread of classical Sephardic dishes, specially prepared for us.

Navigate the streets and bazaars of Macedonia's capital, Skopje, and visit the new Holocaust Memorial. Visit Bitola (Monastir) and its famous Jewish cemetery. Revel in the beauties of Macedonia’s most spellbinding city-on-a-lake – Ohrid.

Take in the splendor of the Royal Tombs of Vergina, including the Great Tumulus of Philip II of Macedon.

Enjoy the spectacular beauties of Thessaloniki – "the Jerusalem of the Balkans" – as we visit its two synagogues and the city’s cultural sites.

Visit Bulgaria's Rila Monastery, the unique Boyana Church, the Rhodope Mountains, and much, much more.


LAND COST: $2980
Trip 1

LAND COST: $3260
Trip 2 & 3
Save $100: Register for Trip 3 by June 1, 2017

Details: or 267.970.1817

We came back from our Sephardic Balkans trip with all hopes and expectations met and then some. The trip was meticulously prepared, and it unfolded without a glitch or a wrinkle. Joseph was the most informative, patient and attentive of guides, and accommodations, meals, local guides, the bus driver, the itinerary itself . . . all were completely excellent. Probably most memorable of all was the time spent with local Jewish groups in Sofia and Thessaloniki – communal meals with the direct descendants of the Jews who were expelled from Spain in 1492, in whose collective memory the expulsion still seems completely fresh and vivid. Their history (up through the Second World War and the Communist years) turned out to be so interesting and moving, and they were so warm and welcoming – these were encounters we will never forget.
Carol Sabersky and Stephen Lehmann, Swarthmore, PA
The Sephardic Balkans tour led by Joseph Benatov is an incredible and unforgettable experience. It presents Jewish and general history, geography, culture, and gastronomy in Bulgaria, Macedonia, and northern Greece. One learns what was and what is in a part of the world that is both familiar and exotic. The trip is immeasurably enhanced by its leader, Joseph Benatov, who is extraordinarily knowledgeable and caring for each participant.
Ann K. and Joseph L., Wynnewood, PA