Belarus used to be the Motherland for thousands of Jews for 600 years. Lots of them were forced to leave the country in the XXth century, but every Jew honors his family roots, and visiting lands of his forefathers is an important task.
That is why Belarus is a destination for travelers from Israel, the USA and Europe.
Arrival in Minsk. Check-in at hotel. Jewish Minsk tour
We warmly welcome you in Minsk – the capital of the Republic of Belarus, its political and cultural centre. It was first mentioned in the chronicles of the XIth century. Today, it is a dynamic city with expansive boulevards, modern and historical buildings, endless parks and well-developed infrastructure. Being an impressive example of the Soviet planning on a grand scale, Minsk however has a number of outstanding historical sights, proving city’s rich history.
Sightseeing tour of Minsk includes architectural and cultural monuments of the XVIIth –XXth centuries (the (
Upper Town with the City Hall, Holy Spirit Church and the Cathedral of Blessed Virgin Mary, old streets of the Trinity Suburb), as well Jewish heritage sites ( Yama memorial Complex , Minsk Synagogue, Rakovsky Suburb (Minsk ghetto) etc).
Overnight in Minsk.
Minsk – Volozhin – Vishnevo – Rakov – Ivye – Minsk
Transfer to Volozhin to see the yeshiva established by Rabbi Hayim Volozhiner, a disciple of the Vilnya Gaon in 1803 (yeshiva existed until 1942, when the Nazis killed the last sixty four students). Visit to the Jewish cemetery with the tomb of the great Hayim Volozhiner.
Visit to Vishnevo, the former property of several Polish/Lithuanian magnates and also a birthplace of Simon Peres, and to Rakov, where the atmosphere of Jewish settlement of the XIXth century could be felt. There is a restored ancient Jewish cemetery. The town became a witness of mass executions of Jews during the WWII.
Visit to Ivye – the site of Ivye ghetto during the World War II.
Return to Minsk. Overnight in Minsk.
Minsk – Slutsk – Lahva – Pinsk
Transfer to Slutsk, which used to be one of the five leading Jewish communities in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the XVIIth century. After town’s annexation by Russian Empire in 1793, the Jewish community still numbered 77% of Slutsk population. It was in Slutsk that tragic Slutsk Affair took place (the massacre of thousands of Jews in October 1941).
Transfer to Lahva, which is considered to be the location of one of the first Jewish ghetto uprisings during the World War II.
Transfer to Pinsk. The town used to have lots of schools where subjects were taught in Yiddish and Hebrew. Pinsk is a native land for M.Kol, I.Naidin, G.Galperin, S. Roenbaum. Pinsk city tour includes Jewish Community Center, Hassidic functioning Synagogue, Old Jewish cemetery, the site of Jews execution, the gymnasium where Chaim Weizmann (scientist and Zionist leader, the first President of Israel) studied. You will also see the Jesuit Collegium (XVIIth century), the Catholic Church (XVIth – XVIIth centuries), the Franciscan Monastery (XVIth – XVIIth centuries).
Overnight in Pinsk.
Pinsk – Motol – Ivanovo – Brest
Transfer to Motol – the birthplace of Chaim Weizmann, Israel's first President. Motol was a Shtetl and also suffered a lot during the WWII events and Nazi occupation. The book containing memoirs and describing events that led up to the destruction of the Jews of Motol in 1942 (“The Destruction of Motele”) was published in Hebrew by the Council of Motol Immigrants in Jerusalem in 1956.
Transfer to Ivanovo, site of the Ivanovo ghetto. During the German occupation most of the Jewish inhabitants of the area perished in the Holocaust.
Transfer to Brest, which used to be the main Jewish city of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania during the XIVth – XVIIth centuries. By the end of the XIXth century Jewish community accounted for more then 65% of the total population of Brest. Brest is the birthplace of the Israel Prime-Minister Menachem Begin and famous rabbi and Talmudic scholar Chaim Soloveitchik.
Brest city tour includes visits to the
Brest fortress, famous for its prolonged defense against the Nazis in 1941, several former ghettos and other sights.
Overnight in Brest.
Brest – Ruzhany – Slonim – Grodno
Transfer to Ruzhany. The earliest mentioning of Ruzhany dates back to the XVIth century. After the First World War the town used to be the part of Poland until 1945. Almost the entire pre-war population of 3500 Jews was killed in the Holocaust, mostly at Treblinka extermination camp. Today there is an ancient Jewish cemetery, as well as a ruined synagogue in Ruzhany.
Transfer to Slonim, a typical old Belarusian town where the Jewish population prevailed before the WWII (75 %). Tour of the town includes the XVIIth century synagogue – the only one in Belarus where the whole interior has been preserved. You will also see another Synagogue (XVIIIth – XIXth centuries), Jewish housing areas and the restored Jewish cemetery with the graves of local tzaddiks. The tour also includes visits to three sites of execution of 41000 Jews in Slonim.
Transfer to Grodno. Overnight in Grodno.
Grodno city tour
Sightseeing tour of Grodno, once the main residence of the Grand Duke of Lithuania Vitaut. In the XIVth century here in Grodno he issued the “Permit of Residence” that regarded with favour the arrival of Jews in Lithuania. The first Jewish community was founded in Grodno at the end of the XIVth century.
The most interesting sights of Grodno include Jesuit
Farny Cathedral, Kolozhskaya Church of St Boris and St Hleb, Old Castle and New Castle, Sovetskaya Street and others, as well as Jewish Heritage sites: Great Choral Synagogue, streets of the pre-war Jewish quarter, buildings of various Jewish public institutions, territory of the Jewish Ghetto, old Jewish cemetery.
Overnight in Grodno.
Grodno – Radun – Lida – Novogrudok – Mir – Minsk
Transfer to Radun, famous for being the home of Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan, known as the Chofetz Chaim, and his Radun Yeshiva.
Transfer to Lida. Jews first settled in Lida in the middle of the XVIth century, by 1817 the Jewish Community of Lida numbered nearly three-quarters of the total population. During the WWII Lida was occupied by the German troops who created a ghetto in the suburbs of Lida. Today in Lida there is a memorial commemorating thousands of Lida Jews that perished in the Holocaust.
Transfer to Novogrudok that used to be the center of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Today the town is dominated by a hill on which the ruins of a XIVth century castle stand. The main sights of Novogrudok include Farny Transfiguration of the Lord Church and St Boris and St Gleb Church. There is also a museum devoted to the history of the region, with excellent and moving exhibits relating to the fate of the Jewish community, Jewish resistance and the activities of the partisans during the World War II. Visit to the area of Jewish ghetto and the places of mass murders.
Visit to Mir. The tour around town includes world-known yeshiva which was established in 1815 and numbered about five hundred students from around the world, four synagogues, the Old Jewish cemetery, impressive memorial complex erected to commemorate the Jewish families murdered during the WWII. Visit to the XVth century
Mir Castle, included into the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Transfer to Minsk. Overnight in Minsk.
Transfer to the airport. Departure.