The Cradle of Theater and Song
Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, and Turkey
- See the birthplaces of Yiddish theater in the taverns of the Romanian mountainside.
- Admire diverse architectural styles, from the glorious Belle Époque façades of Bucharest to the thatched roofs of hutsul huts in the Carpathian Mountains.
- Meet performers who keep the traditions of Jewish theater and music alive.
- Take in the sights and sounds of the Black Sea coast from Odessa to the Bosphorus.
Itinerary – 11 Days
Days 1 & 2 — U.S./Bucharest, Romania
Depart on an overnight flight. Arrive in Bucharest, the capital of Romania, known for its wide, tree-lined boulevards, ornate architecture, and reputation for the high life — the “Little Paris” of Romania. The city evolved from a 14th-century settlement, part of a chain of fortresses built across the Danube plain. Bucharest came into its own in the late 19th century when what had been a large village transformed into an imperial capital, complete with an Arc de Triomphe.
Hotel Athenée Palace Hilton (D)
Day 3 — Bucharest/Iași
This morning, explore Bucharest’s main historical and cultural sites, such as the National Museum of Romanian History, and musical and theatrical sites, such as the George Enescu Memorial Museum dedicated to the life and work of this prominent Romanian composer, whose most renowned pupil was Yehudi Menuhin. By special arrangement, we’ll meet at the Bercovici State Jewish Theater where classical Yiddish plays continue to be performed.
Grand Hotel Traian(B,L)
Day 4 — Iași
A university town, Iași served as the first Romanian capital until it was replaced by Bucharest in 1862. Today, Iași is considered Romania’s cultural and educational hub. Before World War II, Iași had 127 working synagogues, and the Great Synagogue founded in 1670 still holds daily services. Avrom Goldfaden established the first Yiddish theater here in 1876 at the Grădina Pomul Verde tavern. We’ll explore the city’s rich history and make a special visit to Teatrul Naţional Vasile Alecsandri, Romania’s oldest national theater, which continues to pay tribute to the Yiddish theater.
Grand Hotel Traian(B,L)
Day 5 — Iași/Chișinău, Moldova
This morning we’ll cross the Prut River into Moldova and continue to its capital, Chișinău (formerly, Kishinev). The city became the Jewish metropolis of Bessarabia in the 18th century and by the beginning of the 20th, there were 16 Jewish schools and 70 synagogues. Today there is one remaining working synagogue, in north-central Chișinău, which was originally built for the glassblowers’ guild. On our exploration of the city, we’ll visit the Itzik Manger Jewish Cultural Center and Municipal Library, the meeting place for the Jewish community.
Hotel Leo Grand (B,L,D)
Day 6 — Chișinău/Mileştii Mici
We spend today exploring Moldova’s picturesque countryside as we wend our way outside the city to the vineyards of Mileştii Mici. Its “Golden Collection” possesses 1.5 million bottles — the largest wine collection in Europe, stored in miles of tunnels. We’ll relive the classic song, “Romania, Romania,” with a traditional, local lunch at a private country home before we return to Chișinău.
Hotel Leo Grand (B,L)
Day 7 — Chișinău/Odessa, Ukraine
Today our coach continues overland into Ukraine to the charming Black Sea port of Odessa. After southern Ukraine and its coveted seacoast was ceded to Russia by the Ottoman Turks in 1792, Catherine the Great founded a naval base and strategic fort here, naming it Odessa after an ancient Greek city. Odessa quickly grew into a thriving merchant port as well. Always a cultural mecca, Odessa has produced some of the world’s finest classical musicians. After we check into the hotel we’ll take a walking tour to get to know the city.
Hotel Londonskaya (B,D)
Day 8 — Odessa
Discover Odessa’s rich Jewish heritage, beginning with the lavish 1863 Brodsky Synagogue, the first Reform temple in Eastern Europe. Built in Florentine Gothic style by emigrants from the Austro-Hungarian town of Brody, the shul gained renown as a center for composers and musicians from all over Europe. We’ll also visit the Museum of the History of Odessa Jews, before strolling down Deribasovskaya Street, a pedestrian walkway running through the heart of Odessa (named after Jose de Ribas, a Spanish Jew in the Russian service). We’ll walk down (or up) the famous Potemkin Stairs, immortalized by Sergei Eisenstein’s film Battleship Potemkin. Then, admire the neo-classical 19th century Vorontsov Palace and the Odessa Opera and Ballet Theater.
Hotel Londonskaya (B,L)
Day 9 — Odessa/Istanbul, Turkey
We’ll depart on a morning flight to Istanbul, then spend the afternoon exploring this amazing city, which leads a dual life, both ancient and contemporary. We’ll wander the narrow streets of the Sultanahmet district with its antique monuments leading to the modern district with towering office buildings and up-to-date shops. Discover the Grand Bazaar, one of the largest covered markets in the world, and the Spice Bazaar delighting the senses since the 17th century.
Legacy Ottoman (B,D)
Day 10 — Istanbul
After breakfast, continue exploring Istanbul on foot, as we visit the high-points of the city from the Hippodrome with its almost 2,500-year-old Serpentine Column, the Blue Mosque soaring upwards with its six minarets and layered domes, and the Haghia Sophia with its immense, 55-meter cupola, its interior adorned with 30 million tiny mosaic tiles. Then, descend into the sunken forest of columns of the Basilica Cistern. After lunch at a local café, sail on the Bosphorus, passing on the way two great palaces, the Dolmabahçe (on the European side) and the Beylerbeyi (on the Asian side), and under two of the world’s greatest suspension bridges. Admire the sunset from Galata Bridge before returning to the hotel. Tonight, we’ll make our last le’khayim at our farewell dinner.
Legacy Ottoman (B,L,D)
Day 11 — Istanbul/Home
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your return flight. (B)
August 14–24, 2012
|14 Aug: Bucharest||19 Aug: Chișinău|
|15 Aug: Bucharest||20 Aug: Odessa|
|16 Aug: Iași||21 Aug: Odessa|
|17 Aug: Iași||22 Aug: Istanbul|
|18 Aug: Chișinău||23 Aug: Istanbul|
*Hotels listed on this itinerary are based on availability. Should a particular hotel become unavailable, an equivalent hotel will be booked instead.
Dr. Rob Adler Peckerar
Rob Adler Peckerar is a pioneer of Jewish cultural travel throughout Europe. He is the author of several articles about Yiddish literature and cultural memory. He began leading tours to the sites of illustrious Jewish life as the director of education at the National Yiddish Book Center. As professor of Jewish literature and culture at the University of Colorado, he lectured on Jewish cultural history and world Jewish literature and created a residential study program on Jewish arts and literature in Venice, Italy. He is the executive director of Yiddishkayt.
|Cradle of Theater and Song||$5,095|
Prices are per person, double occupancy. For a single room, add $995. International round trip airfare from originating city is not included in the expedition pricing. Economy airfare from Los Angeles to Bucharest and return from Istanbul is from $850 (subject to change). Optional, personally-guided excursions to requested towns, cities, and villages can be arranged, in advance, at extra cost.
Click Here to download a reservation form or call Yiddishkayt for more details.