The Forward carried a very interesting article about this year’s Ladino Day celebrations at the University of Washington in Seattle — one of the main hubs of Sephardic culture in the USA.
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/
Lonely Planet just published its list of “Best in Travel 2020” top
destinations. North Macedonia appears in third place. Here is the full
If you’re looking for a chance to visit North Macedonia, join us on our June 11-22, 2020 adventure.
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/
If you have 30 minutes to spare, listen to this very interesting radio story about Ladino. The author is Jessica Marlowe, a British artist and musician of Sephardic/Bulgarian descent. She traveled to Bulgaria and interviewed Bulgarian Jews who still speak Judeo-Spanish.
Spain received 127,000 applications for Spanish citizenship from descendants of Iberian Jews. Here is the full story, as reported by the BBC.
In September, the Bulgarian Jewish community celebrated the 110th anniversary of the building of the Sofia Synagogue. Among the many local and foreign dignitaries attending the event was WJC president Ronald Lauder. While in Sofia, Mr. Lauder also inaugurated Bulgaria’s first private Jewish school in recent history. Follow this link for some images from the school opening.
Three of our May 2019 travelers wrote in the Jewish Journal about their experience on our Jewish heritage trip to Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia, and Trieste. They had their picture taken inside the sumptuous Trieste Synagogue — one of the special highlights on our trip.
Learn more about our annual Jewish heritage trip to Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia, and Trieste: https://sephardicbalkans.com/croatia/
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:
We were pleased and honored to see our trips featured in a special article in the Jewish Week focusing on high-end, boutique travel with a focus on Jewish heritage. Author Hilary Danailova highlighted two of our trips — our Jewish heritage tour of Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia, and Trieste, as well as our trip through Jewish Bulgaria, North Macedonia, and Greece.
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.
An interesting article in the Jewish Week by Hilary Danailova about the unique appeal of Bulgaria’s second largest city — and second largest Jewish community — Plovdiv. The town is also home to the only other active synagogue, outside of Sofia. The article highlights Plovdiv’s Zion synagogue and its Jewish memorial, dedicated to the March 1943 events that resulted in the protection of the local Jewish community.
The NBC News website published an interesting article on Ladino.
Our Jewish Heritage Trips to Eastern Europe were featured in the Jewish Journeys publication of the New York Jewish Week.
A new research project will be collecting and digitizing Slovenia’s Jewish heritage. You can read more about it here.
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/
Here is a very interesting piece on the Jews of Bosnia.
You may enjoy watching the documentary Saved by Language. It tells the story of Moris Albahari, a Sephardi Jew from Sarajevo, Bosnia, and also provides some beautiful shots from this fascinating city.
Here is a very interesting piece on the history of Jewish Thessaloniki. It was written by historian Devin Naar of the University of Washington, a leading world expert on Jewish Salonica.
Journalist Hilary Danailova wrote a wonderful article in the Jewish Week that focused on our Jewish heritage trips. It discusses Sofia, Plovdiv, Skopje, Thessaloniki, and the rich Sephardic legacy of the whole region.