Jewish roots run deep in Belarus which borders both Poland and Lithuania. Over 600 years ago, Judaism became one of the area’s traditional religions (eventually there were 50 synagogues in Minsk alone). Today few Jewish visitors think of visiting this area – and we hope to change that.
For Belarus is a vital part of Jewish history and in particular – of Holocaust history. You will learn about the bravery of Masha Bruskina and later about the Bielski brothers and beyond at the unique Resistance Museum. You will also gain a sense of the unsung kindness of Belаrusians, who refusing to surrender their Jewish neighbors and fighting vigorously with the Nazis suffered massive destruction.
Many Israeli heroes stem from Belarus— leaders such as Peres, Begin, Weitzmann, Shamir and Shazar. Within the realm of art, here was home to Marc Chagall and other Jewish artists of the 20th century Parisian School. This area also gave rise to writers such as Moshe Kulbak, Mendele Moicher Sforim, S. Ansky — author of “the Dybbuk” — and Eliezer Ben Yehuda, founder of modern Hebrew and author of its first official dictionary.
Let a heroic story inspire you, with its roots in the land of Belarus!
Belarus Jewish tour
Minsk -Volozhin – Vishnyeva – Ivye – Radun – Grodno – Novogrudok – Mir – Baranovich – Pinsk – Naliboki – Rubezhevich – Salu – Minsk
Minsk, 2 nights Europe Hotel
Grodno, 2 nights Apart Semashko Hotel
Baranovich, 2 nights Marinskiy Hotel
Minsk, 1 night Europe Hotel
7 breakfasts (B)
Other meals as specified) (L-lunch D-dinner)
Your land tour includes:
Private arrival / departure transfers
Private touring and sightseeing
Luxury Hotel in Minsk
First Class hotel in Grodno and Baranovich
Breakfast daily at the hotels
Complete program with insights to the Jewish history
All taxes and fees
Your land tour does not include:
Airfare to and from Minsk
Departure taxes, fuel surcharges and airport improvement fees
Porterage at airports and hotels
Meals and beverages not mentioned
Early check-in/late check-out
Travel insurance though not included is required to enter Belarus (we strongly recommend the purchase of a quality insurance)
Gratuities of a purely personal nature such as laundry and valet service
Tipping to guide, driver and hotel staff
E. & O.E.
These departures are guaranteed (2 travelers minimum)
No deposits are required!
We can accommodate pre/post tour arrangements in conjunction with this departure. Choose to include Marc Chagall’s Vitebsk or continue to Lithuania, Poland or Ukraine.
Passport & Visa
No visa is required for travel to Belarus when entering and leaving via Minsk Airport. Always make sure your passport is valid for at least 6 months after the tour ends.
For information or reservations please contact Janice Snider.
Day 1 Wednesday Arrival to Minsk
Arrival in Minsk airport. Welcome to Belarus! Meet your Tour Director and transfer to your hotel to rest and unwind. In the evening celebrate your arrival with a Welcome Dinner. Europe Hotel. (D)
Day 2 Thursday Minsk
Minsk is the capital of Belarus. Jews once represented over half of its population. See the former Ghetto, the Ghetto Memorial, Jewish Museum and former Hospital of Infectious Diseases used by the Resistance as a headquarter. Pay respect at “Yama” where 5,000 Jews were shot by the Nazis in one day. Visit the JCC and the thriving new synagogue (Chabad). After Lunch stop at the “Litvak” Synagogue before continuing to the memorial dedicated to Masha Bruskina, a Jewish teen who joined the Resistance and who was caught, publicly paraded and hanged by the Nazis. Later visit Maly Trostenets Extermination Camp. The Memorial attests to the extermination of virtually all the Jews of Minsk as well as Jews from Austria, Czechoslovakia and Germany. Belarusians by and large did not betray the Jewish people, in fact Minsk was honored in 1974 for its heroic resistance to Nazi oppression. Europe Hotel. (B/L)
Day 3 Friday Minsk – Volozhin – Vishnyeva – Ivye – Grodno (Grodne)
Drive to Volozhin, famous for the yeshiva known as the “Mother of all Yeshivas”, only the building remains today. Next on to Vishnyeva, birthplace of Shimon Peres, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and 9th President of Israel. See his modest childhood home (a private house today) and the Shimon Peres Memorial Room. From here, travel to Ivye, a well-preserved shtetl and proud to be an ecumenical, broad-minded place. Its Tolerance Monument celebrating all the local religions is composed of four sections: Catholic, Russian Orthodox, Muslim and Jewish. Visit the interesting Tatar and Jewish Museum which celebrates the heritage of both the Muslim Tatars and the Jewish residents here. After lunch continue to Radun where Rabbi Israel Meir Pupko known as the Chofetz Chaim established a yeshiva. Visit the simple grave of Chofetz Chaim. Upon arrival in Grodno check-in at the hotel. Friday night Dinner. Semashko Apart-Hotel. (B/L/D)
Day 4 Saturday Grodno
Enjoy the morning at leisure and choose to rest or to join services at the nearby synagogue. The Great Choral Synagogue (under renovation) was built by Italian architect Santi Gucci at the height of the Renaissance. It ranks as one of the most stunning in Europe. After lunch tour the historic Old Quarter scattered with buildings which once functioned as small prayer houses (shtiebls), synagogues or homes to the city’s Jews. Semashko Apart-Hotel. (B/L)
Day 5 Sunday – Grodno – Novogrudok (Navederok) – Mir – Baranovich
This morning, drive to Novogrudok, epicenter of the Jewish resistance in Belarus. Today will open a door of understanding of the remarkable role played by our people in their battle against Nazism. Visit the Jewish Resistance Museum, established in 2006 by non-Jewish Belarusians. Based in one of the surviving ghetto buildings, it commemorates the 200 Jews who valiantly risked their lives to combat their enemies – from the very ghetto in which they were confined. You will learn about the tunnels they dug, the battles they fought and get to know the faces of these largely unsung and unremembered heroes. After lunch continue to Mir. There you will see Belarus’s best-preserved “Shulhof,” with several synagogues, former Mir Yeshiva and Mir Ghetto. Mir also boasts the impressive Mir Castle, which, sadly, served as a ghetto just before the extermination of the local Jews. Continue to Baranovich. Dinner. Marinskiy Hotel. (B/L/D)
Day 6 Monday Baranovich – Pinsk – Baranovich
Today drive to Pinsk in the southern part of Belarus. Pinsk once had a large Jewish population (according to a Czarist Russian census, 74%). Nearby is the birthplace of Chaim Weitzmann, first president of Israel who studied in the local gymnasium (Golda Meir spent two year of her youth here as well). While most of its Jewish population was murdered by the Nazis, Pinsk has experienced a spirited revival and is a current center of Jewish education in Belarus. It now boasts a boy’s and a girl’s boarding school (recognized as state orphanages), community outreach programs, a Chesed (charity) Fund, yeshiva, summer and winter camps, Holocaust memorial programs, Graduate Programs and even a Wedding Fund (which supports traditional simchas). Learn about these activities and enjoy lunch with members of the proud Pinsk community. In the afternoon return to Baranovich. Remainder of the day is at leisure. Marinskiy Hotel. (B/L)
Day 7 Tuesday Baranovich – Naliboki – Rubezhevich – Salu – Minsk
Today brings you in touch with another courageous moment in history. Visit the Naliboki Forest and Village – site of the anti-Nazi resistance of the Bielski brothers, a partisan band of heroes commemorated in film “Defiance.” Visit the site of the “Jerusalem” Camp in the forest where 1,200 Jews lived secretly. Next on to Rubezhevich to see a charmingly reconstructed model Jewish home (when completed it will feature a shop at the front). This modest Museum of Jewish Life was lovingly re-created by a Belarusian woman enriched with items from local Jewish families. See the nearby well-maintained cemetery located amongst scenic trees alongside a tranquil lake. Next to the Salu Open Air Museum. After lunch, see the traditional Jewish houses. Return to Minsk. Farewell Dinner. Europe Hotel. (B/L/D)
Day 8 Wednesday Minsk – Home Flights
Pending your flight departure, transfer to the airport for return flights or continue on a post-tour extension, “Beyond Belarus” experience.
B=Breakfast L=Lunch LL= Light Lunch D=Dinner