*Subject to change

Download the printable itinerary.

Day One: Monday, August 31, 2015 | DEPARTURE

  • Depart from Chicago O’Hare to Krakow, Poland
  • Overnight Flight


Day Two: Tuesday, September 1, 2015 | ARRIVAL IN KRAKOW

  • Arrive at Krakow International Airport
  • Welcome by Gil Travel Group representatives and assist with arrival formalities.
  • Boxed lunch on route.
  • Guided visit to the Galicia Museum.
    • Opened in 2004, the Museum exists to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust and celebrate the Jewish culture of the Polish Galicia, presenting Jewish history from a new perspective. The objectives of the museum are to challenge the stereotypes and misconceptions typically associated with the Jewish past in Poland and to educate both Poles and Jews about their own histories, while encouraging them to think about the future.
  • Check in to the Sheraton Hotel.
  • Welcome dinner.


Day Three: Wednesday, September 2, 2015 | HONORING & REMEMBERING

  • Breakfast at the hotel.
  • Guided visit to Podgorze, where the Jewish Ghetto was located during the Holocaust, including
    • The Ghetto Heroes Square, the point of departure for thousands of Jews from the Ghetto to the camps. The 70 empty chairs made of bronze represent the possessions discarded by the deported Jews in 1943.
    • The “Pharmacy” gateway to the Ghetto and the Jewish Ghetto. In 1947, Tadeusz Pankiewicz, a Polish proprietor, declined the Germans’ offer to relocate to the Aryan side. His pharmacy became the only pharmacy for Jews and became a meeting place for Jews in the ghetto where they could get food and information from the underground press. It was also a hiding place for Jews.
    • The Oscar Schindler Factory Museum, a branch of the Historical Museum of the City of Krakow, was an enamel factory that employed around one thousand Jews at its peak in 1944. His heroism protected his Jewish workers from deportation and death in the concentration camps. He spent his entire fortune on giving bribes of luxury items only obtained on the black market to Nazi officials to protect his workers.
  • Boxed lunch on route.
  • Visit Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest and most notorious complex of the Nazi extermination camps. Approximately 960,000 Jews died at the camp, which were approximately 1 in 6 Jews killed in the Holocaust. Survivors such as Primo Levi, Victor Frankl and Elie Wiesel wrote memoirs of their experiences and Auschwitz became a dominant symbol of the Holocaust. In 1947, Poland founded a museum on the site of Auschwitz I and II, and in 1979, it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Dinner at the Temple.
  • Evening Speaker: Konstanty Gebert. Gebert is an international reporter and columnist for Polish and international media; associate fellow for the European Council on Foreign Relations; and media consultant for the Media Development Investment Fund. Gebert was a democratic opposition activist in the 1970s, and underground journalist (pen name: Dawid Warszawski) in the 1980s. He has covered the Polish Round Table negotiations in 1989, the wars in Bosnia, the Middle East, and the aftermath of the genocide in Rwanda. Gebert was also co-founder of the underground Jewish Flying University and the Polish Council of Christians and Jews, and founder of the Polish Jewish intellectual monthly Midrasz. He is author of eleven books, in Polish, about Poland’s Round Table negotiations in 1989, the Yugoslav wars, Israeli history, commentaries on the Torah, and a panorama of the European twentieth century. Gebert has served as Visiting professor at UC Berkeley, Grinnell College, and Hebrew University.


Day Four: Thursday, September 3, 2015 | DESTRUCTION OF EUROPEAN JEWRY

  • Breakfast at the hotel.
  • Walking tour of Kazimierz Old Jewish Quarter.
  • Visit the Altshul, the oldest synagogue in Poland, built in 1553.
    • The Rema Synaogue, the synagogue of Rabbi Moses Isserles the “Rema”, the great codifier of Jewish law.
    • The Rema Cemetery, where many great rabbinical leaders of Polish Jewry are buried.
  • Boxed lunch on bus.
  • Dedication of Mass Grave.
  • Return to hotel.
  • Dinner on own to reflect.


Day Five: Friday, September 4, 2015 | JEWISH ROOTS & REBIRTH

  • Breakfast at the hotel.
  • Track 1 – Visit to the Forum for Dialogue programs in the region focused on rebuilding the Jewish Community.
    • The Forum’s mission is to foster Polish-Jewish dialogue, eradicate anti-Semitism and teach tolerance through education.
  • Track 2 – Day on own for those interested in traveling to sites important to their families, research genealogy, etc.
  • Track 3 – Visit Cloth Hall Gallery, an historic collection of late eighteenth and nineteenth century Polish paintings. In need of an overhaul but still worth it for several gems including Witkiewicz’s High Wind in the Tatras and Piotr Michalowski’s Somosierra Pass. The Cloth Hall itself is a wonderful building.
  • Visit MOCAK-The Museum of Modern Art in Krakow. MOCAK’s two most important aims are presenting the art of the two last decades in the context of the post-war avant-garde and conceptual art as well as clarifying the rationale of creating art by highlighting its cognitive and ethical value and its relationship with everyday reality.
  • There is an exhibit called Poland-Israel-Germany: The Experience of Auschwitz. It highlights the significant presence of the theme of Auschwitz in the historical, social and cultural discourse. It demonstrates how contemporary artists from Poland, Israel, and Germany interpret events from the past.
  • Optional Kabalat Shabbat Services at local synagogue.
  • Celebratory Dinner to honor Rich Edelman at Klezmer Hois, hosted by Lori and Bruce Gendelman. 7:00 dinner with a Klezmer band.


Day Six: Saturday, September 5, 2015 | SHABBAT IN KRAKOW/Walking Tour

  • Breakfast at the hotel.
  • Optional Shabbat services at a local synagogue. (Orthodox service)
  • Visit the Wawel Royal Castle, one of Krakow’s most famous landmarks. 
    • One of Krakow’s most famous landmarks, Wawel has a special place in Polish history where its kings and queens are buried. It is the Polish equivalent of Westminster Abbey. The castle, cathedral and State departments are open to the public.
  • Stroll through Planty Park, an attractive arboreal arcade that encircles the Old Town.
  • Visit the Old Market Square Old Town.
    • Also called the Rynek Glowny, it’s the largest medieval square in Europe and one of the most magnificent. This was the historic center of Poland’s political life from 1038 until King Sigismund III Vasa relocated his court to Warsaw in 1596. The entire old town is one of the first sites chosen for the UNESCO’s original World Heritage List.
  • Spend time in the Underground Museum of Krakow, which is located just below Market Square.
    • The Rynek Underground exhibition presents not only Krakow’s rich history, but also the connections between the city and medieval Europe’s chief centers of trade and culture. Moreover, it portrays the significance of the capital of Poland in the operation of the Hanseatic League. Historical objects on display include 14th-century coins, decorations, and pottery, and are proof of the European cultural and trade exchange that continued here for hundreds of years. The tourist route under the Main Market Square leads between the stone and brick walls of the cellars of former trading sites, including the Kramy Bolesławowe Stalls, Kramy Bogate Stalls, the Great Scales, and the Cloth Hall. One display shows the preserved stretches of transport routes, which provides an idea of what the medieval technology was of road building. The untouched layers in archaeological section explain how the surface of the Main Market Square has risen over the last few hundred years. 
  • Walk to the Vistula River which is the main river of Poland flowing through Warsaw
  • Lunch on own.
  • Free afternoon to explore.
  • Dinner on own.
  • Slichot service and dessert at the Temple.


Day Seven: Sunday, September 6, 2015 | SCULPTURE DEDICATION

  • Breakfast at the hotel.
  • Dedication of the Shofar Krakow sculpture by Rich Edelman.
  • Celebratory lunch at the Temple Synagogue/Jewish Community Center
    • Temple Synagogue in the Kazimierz district is located next to the Jewish Community Center. The Temple is Krakow’s Reform congregation and is not only a place of worship but a booming center of Jewish culture, which hosts numerous concerts and meetings during the year. It was built in 1860 but ruined during WWII by the German Nazis, who used the building as ammunition storage area. After the war, private donors helped rebuild the synagogue including a mikvah.
    • The JCC is a cultural and educational center that was created in 2008 following a visit by HRH the Prince of Wales when he was moved by a meeting with aging Holocaust survivors. He asked what the Jewish community needed and was told a senior center. Officials of World Jewish Relief suggested a facility serving the entire Jewish community would be more worthwhile. The Prince attended the opening celebration of the JCC, which was largely funded by WJR, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and the Prince.
  • Visit the Wieliczka Salt Mines.
    • Explore magnificent chambers chiseled out in rock salt, underground saline lakes and unique statutes sculpted in salt. The mine, built in the 13th century, produced table salt continuously until 2007, as one of the world’s oldest salt mines still in operation. Low salt prices and mine flooding discontinued commercial mining in 1996. In 1978 it was placed on the original UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.
  • Farewell dinner at the hotel.


Day Eight: Monday, September 7, 2015 | RETURN TO THE USA

  • Early check out of the hotel.
  • Transfer to Krakow International Airport.
  • Departure flight to the USA (arriving the same day).