Bulgaria, Macedonia, Greece

Sephardic Balkans: Bulgaria, Macedonia, and Northern Greece

June 14-26, 2018

12 nights // 13 days

Travel program led by Dr. Joseph Benatov of the University of Pennsylvania

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.

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

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 medieval capital Veliko Turnovo, the Rhodope Mountains, and much, much more.

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 Bulgaria, 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 Bulgarian cuisine and winemaking, so be prepared for some fine wine-and-dining along the way.

LAND PRICE: $3260 per person in double room; SINGLE SUPPLEMENT: $640

For details, contact Joseph: benatov [at]gmail [dot] com  ♦   267-970-1817.