Jewish Bosnia Celebrates Bicentennial of ‘Sarajevo Purim’

Here is a recent article about what is probably the most notable event in the 19th-century history of Jewish Sarajevo — the so-called “Sarajevo Purim“:

Our Jewish heritage trip to Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia, and Trieste starts in Sarajevo and continues on to Mostar and Stolac, the burial grounds of Rabbi Moshe Danon.

For additional details about our trip: https://sephardicbalkans.com/croatia/

Expansion of the Jewish Museum in Thessaloniki

The Jewish Museum in Thessaloniki has expanded, adding a new wing with several new galleries. The official reopening took place a week ago, and Greek President Prokopios Pavlopouplos was in attendance. You can view a few images of the redesigned space here: https://www.snf.org/…/jewish-museum-of-thessaloniki-opens-…/. I’m really looking forward to seeing the new exhibit on our upcoming trip to Bulgaria, North Macedonia, and Greece. If you’d like to join us, let me know. https://sephardicbalkans.com/bulgaria/

Bucharest Jewish Museum

On June 7, the Jewish museum in Bucharest, Romania, reopened its doors. The museum is housed in the former Holy Union Synagogue, which was fully restored. The new exhibit offers a very rich and comprehensive presentation of the history and culture of Romanian Jews.
Our newly launched trip to Romania, Serbia, and Szeged (Hungary) will of course include a visit to the museum. https://sephardicbalkans.com/romania/

Here is a full schedule of our 2020 trips:

Jewish Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia, and Trieste, May 4-15, 2020

Jewish Romania, Serbia, and Szeged (Hungary), May 25-June 5, 2020

Jewish Bulgaria, North Macedonia, and Greece, June 11-22, 2020

Bulgaria Developing Jewish Heritage Route

BBC New reported that the Bulgarian tourism ministry and the organization of Bulgarian Jews are collaborating on the development of a tourism route through Bulgaria. The project is meant to encompass landmarks of Jewish interest in 13 countries.

Our annual Jewish Heritage Trip of Bulgaria, North Macedonia, and Greece is focused on the rich Jewish heritage, history, and tradition of the region. Our Jewish city tour of Sofia, for example, takes us to the sumptuous Sephardic Sofia synagogue, important Jewish monuments and memorials, the historic Jewish neighborhood of the capital, and the Jewish community center. Outside of Sofia, our itinerary includes a visit to Samokov, the historic home of the most affluent Sephardic dynasty — the Arie family. We also spend two nights in Bulgaria’s second largest city, Plovdiv, home to the country’s second largest Jewish community. The Zion synagogue in Plovdiv is the only other active one in Bulgaria, dating back to the late 19th century. In 2003, the Plovdiv synagogue was beautifully restored.

In western Bulgaria, we make a stop in the lovely mountainous town of Kyustendil, birthplace of Dimitar Peshev. Peshev was the Bulgarian politician who deserves the greatest amount of credit for his selfless actions in defense of Bulgaria’s Jewish community. It was in large measure due to Peshev’s March 1943 political intervention that the Bulgarian Jewish community survived.

The North Macedonian portion of our journey is also rich in Jewish heritage. In Skopje, the country’s capital, an important trip highlight is the Holocaust Memorial Center, which details not only the tragic fate of the Macedonian Jews, but also the long and rich Sephardic history of their presence on the Balkans. Before departing Skopje, we also visit the Jewish community center and the Bet Yaakov synagogue. Bitola, North Macedonia’s second largest city, is another important stop along our route. Bitola — or Monastir — was home to a sizeable and very active Jewish community, whose graveyard, the Bitola/Monastir Bet Haim Jewish cemetery, dates back to 1497, making it the oldest Sephardic cemetery in North Macedonia.

Further southeast, we spend three nights in Thessaloniki (Salonica / Salonikia), the second largest city in Greece, and the historic home of one of the most important and influential Sephardic communities in the Ottoman Empire. For centuries Salonica was a majority Jewish city, popularly knows by its moniker ‘Jerusalem of the Balkans’ and ‘Madre de Israel.’ Our Jewish city tour of Thessaloniki includes the 1927 Monastirli (Monastirioton) synagogue as well as the 1984 Yad Lazikaron synagogue, located on the ground floor of the Jewish community center. The latter synagogue underwent a recent renovation. The Jewish museum of Thessaloniki offers an excellent panoramic view of the long history of Jewish presence in the city. While in Salonica, we also take a scenic drive through the Upper City and appreciate a slew of architecturally stunning sumptuous villas, built by some of the most affluent Jewish industrialists.

Some historic Jewish communities in the region remain outside of the itinerary we travel, but we also speak at length about the Romaniot and Ashkenazi communities, the important Jewish presence in Bulgaria’s medieval capital — Turnovo, the Jewish communities of Russe (Ruschuk) — the main Bulgarian port town on the Danube, and much, much more.

Learn more about all our Jewish heritage trips here.

Western Balkans Trip Featured in International Travel News

The highly regarded magazine International Travel News (ITN) highlighted our trip to the Western Balkans in its October 2018 issue. Our Jewish heritage trip to Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia, and Trieste includes quite a few destinations. ITN mentioned the Sarajevo Jewish museum, housed in the 16th-century Sephardic synagogue, the Sarajevo Ashkenazi synagogue, the Radimlja necropolis outside of Mostar, the 16th-century Dubrovnik synagogue, the Trogir Cathedral, the fascinating port city of Split, rich with Jewish heritage, the Roman ruins in Zadar, the spectacular Plitvice Lakes, Slovenia’s lake Bled and the nearby Bled castle, the Postojna cave, and the Italian city of Trieste.

To learn more about this annual Jewish heritage tour to Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia, and Trieste, please visit: https://sephardicbalkans.com/croatia/