Jewish Renewal Tour of Italy 2016

The Great Synagogue, Rome photo © Andrea Matone

March 28 – April 11, 2016

with
Rabbi Leila Berner, Ph.D.
Rabbi Marcia Prager
Hazzan Jack Kessler
and YOU!

Wow! In the very first week in which we advertised this trip 20 of you registered! We have already met our minimum number of participants. We’re a “GO!” We know that more of you are already planning to be in the group and on this trip, SO — if you want to come, register now and immediately send your full payment (now is the time – we’re going!) The address to send your check is All Ways Travel/9200 Oaklyn Terrace/Potomac, MD  20854. Click Here. We have room for only a few more participants!! Questions? Email Wendy Epstein at Allways Travel wendy@allwaystvl.com

Register Now.

When you register you are “IN!” and standard cancellation policy terms will apply. However, for safety and peace of mind, trip insurance is included in the cost of the trip. (That is a good deal that we negotiated, as in our general age-bracket trip insurance is very expensive.)

Last year when we went to Spain we had a waiting list and had to turn people away. So if you want to be with us, please act now to ensure that you have a spot reserved. Cost of trip with insurance, is $6,499 per person, double; (single supplement $1,191). We got a great deal from our airline. Add only $120 for ROUND TRIP airfare from your home city to Philly to meet the flight and get home (details from Wendy Epstein at Allways Travel wendy@allwaystvl.com ) This is a deluxe trip – fabulous hotels, gourmet food, tours, lectures, two Shabbat celebrations… just the best of the best for YOU! The pace is gentle, the content rich!

 

Photo: The Great Synagogue, Rome © Andrea Matone

Itinerary

Sunday March 27, En Route

Depart your home city and then depart from Philadelphia International  airport on an overnight transatlantic flight.

Day 1 · Monday, March 28 · Arrival & Rome

Arrival at Rome airport.  After clearing immigration and customs formalities, you will enjoy an escorted tour of one of Europe’s most beautiful cities. We are taken on a panoramic BUS TOUR through the Roman Forum & Titus’ Arch, Circus Maximus, Palatine hill, the Marcellus theater. We’ll stop at the Roman Forum and Imperial Forums for a walking tour and a much hoped for “after-flight stretch!”.Then we will have a short lunch at a lovely café with a beautiful view of the Coliseum,  We’ll check into our Hotel Ponte Sisto, known for its views, roof gardens, and comfort.  Relax, then enjoy our first group welcome gathering, group welcome dinner, and R’ Leila’s lecture on the Jewish history of Rome. http://www.hotelpontesisto.it

Day 2 · Tuesday, March 29 · Rome

Wakeup! Every day begins with short, sweet shacharit morning blessings, always optional but do take a chance! These became a much loved morning treat.

Buffet Breakfast: Our daily buffet breakfast is fabulous.

Today we embark on a guided visit to the Great Synagogue of Rome on the banks of the Tiber, near isola tiberina which dates back to the early 20th century and was designed by the architects, Armanni and Costa. The Synagogue was built in memory of the Ghetto that was created under the orders of Paolo IV in 1555, and where Rome’s Jewish population was forced to live until 1870. Roman Jews have been living in this neighborhood for 22 centuries, giving birth to the only Jewish community to be continually residing in the same place since before the Diaspora. We will visit the Jewish Museum and the site of the Ghetto. After lunch on your own, we gather for a guided tour in the Jewish catacombs in Vigna Randanini one of just two Jewish catacombs in Rome that are open to the public. We’ll explore the vaults, mortuaries and narrow walkways, as we learn the history, read ancient Latin and Greek inscriptions on the marble tombs, and learn the differences between the Jewish catacombs and those of the Christians and pagans.

Overnight in Rome

Day 3 · Wednesday, March 30 · Rome

Wakeup! Morning Blessings: Jewish Renewal style, a short dip into morning blessings to start our day

Buffet breakfast.  

Today we reach the Vatican for a guided tour in the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica the most world renowned work of Renaissance architecture and one of the two largest churches in the world. It is believed to be the site of the simple grave of Shimon Peter, one of the talmidim of Jesus, who went to Rome to preach and was killed there in the year 64 AD during the reign of the Roman Emperor Nero. After lunch we’ll explore Rome with a guided walking tour of the historic center, squares, Pantheon and churches. The Jewish community in Rome dates back to 161 BCE when proto-Maccabean representatives sought help against Antiochus IV. Many Jews settled in Rome because it was a prosperous trade center. After Titus destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 A.D., the community expanded and prospered. Learn more as we explore together. Our day ends with R’ Leila’s special lecture on the Ostia Antica, the magnificent archaeological site of what was once the famed port city of ancient Rome.

Overnight in Rome

Day 4 · Thursday, March 31 · Rome & Ostia Antica

Wakeup! Morning Blessings: Jewish Renewal style, a short dip into morning blessings to start our day

Buffet breakfast

Today we explore the Ostia Antica and ancient synagogue, one of the oldest synagogues in the world, the oldest synagogue in Europe, and the oldest mainstream Jewish synagogue yet uncovered outside of Israel. The synagogue building dates from the reign of Claudius (41-54 CE) and continued in use as a synagogue into the 5th century CE. We enjoy a hearty group lunch and continue on a guided visit to one of Rome’s richest and most interesting villas, the Borghese Gallery and Museum, which houses a vast and diverse collection of sculptures and paintings produced by masters such as Bernini, Canova, Caravaggio and Titian. Our guide will lead us through the gallery’s breathtaking rooms and reveal the secrets, stories and techniques behind the masterpieces. Our day closes with R’Leila’s lecture on Pitigliano & Montepulciano.

Overnight in Rome

Day 5 · Friday, April 1 · Rome, Pitigliano & Montepulciano

Wakeup! Morning Blessings: Jewish Renewal style, a short dip into morning blessings to start our day

Buffet breakfast

Today we depart from Rome and arrive for a guided experience in Pitigliano. Located north of Rome in Tuscany, Pitigliano is known for its Etruscan cave-tombs and fine wine. You will see the 16th century aqueduct and the narrow streets of the old Jewish ghetto. Jews settled in Pitigliano in the 15th century. The Jewish population continued to grow as Jews sought refuge there when they were forced out of the Papal State, after the Catholic Church’s counter-reformational campaign was launched to segregate and humiliate Jews. After Pope Paul IV’s 1555 bull cum nimis absurdum, which demanded, among other restrictions, ghettoization, some Jews fled the papal states to independent duchies where the atmosphere was freer. Pitigliano was particularly attractive because it was not far from Rome and because of the laissez-faire social policies of the Orsini, the aristocratic family in charge of this part of Tuscany. Protected by the Orsini family, the Jewish community flourished and the city became known as La Piccola Gerusalemme or “Little Jerusalem.”  After a short lunch we will check into our hotel, Terre di Nano (http://www.terredinano.com/index.asp?lang=eng) in Montepulciano. Terre di Nano is a 19th century country estate surrounded by vineyards, olive groves, rolling hills and woods, which offers spacious charming accommodations in one of the most desirable areas of southern Tuscany. There we can relax and prepare for KABBALAT SHABBAT led by Rabbi Marcia and Hazzan Jack, followed by our festive Shabbat dinner.

Overnight in Montepulciano

Day 6 · SHABBAT/ Saturday, April 2 · Montepulciano

Buffet breakfast.

Shabbat morning greets us with a song-filled, participatory service, including our fabulous Hazzan Jack’s Torah service and teachings by R’ Marcia.

If possible we’ll locate our service in a the beautiful patio gardens or in view of the rolling hills,

After our group Shabbat lunch you will have free time to rest, relax and explore the paths and hillsides on your own.  In the late afternoon enjoy a dip into the experience of  “Contemplative Torah,” with R’ Leila based on her forthcoming book!  In the evening enjoy a festive group dinner, celebrate a musical havdalah and enjoy some sharing and social time with the group

Overnight in Montepulciano. Superb!  Weather permitting, the terrace with its view and sunshine is exquisite here.

Day 7:  Sunday, April 3 · Montepulciano

Wakeup! Morning Blessings: Jewish Renewal style, a short dip into morning blessings to start our day

Buffet breakfast

Standing high atop a hill in southern Tuscany not too far from Siena, Montepulciano is a medieval town of rare beauty, full of elegant Renaissance palaces, ancient churches, charming squares and hidden corners, and vast panoramas all over the wonderful Val d’Orcia and Val di Chiana valleys that surround it. It is the ancient Etruscan city of Nocera Alfaterna, which in 308 B.C. made an alliance with Rome against the Samnites. In the Middle Ages it was under the control of Florence, but was conquered by Sienna in 1260. We will have a leisurely and scenic day in an ancient place of exquisite beauty. The evening will feature a lecture by R’ Leila on Jewish Siena.

Overnight in Montepulciano

Day 8 · Monday, April 4 · Montepulciano & Siena

Wakeup! Morning Blessings: Jewish Renewal style, a short dip into morning blessings to start our day

Buffet breakfast

Today we continue on to Siena for a guided tour of its historical center, synagogue, and former ghetto. Located in the southern end of Chianti Classico, Siena is known for its rich artistic heritage and unchanged medieval churches and architecture. The city was founded by the Etruscans, colonized by the Romans and ruled by various other leaders, including the Medicis. Siena is divided into three parts, San Martino, Citta and Camolia, named after the three hills it is built upon. By 1229, a Jewish community had been established in Siena. We will see the synagogue that was designed by Giuseppe del Rosso in 1786. Inside there are a number of rare fabrics called “Indians,” as well as Jewish ritual items of the Guadagni family. Outside the synagogue, there is a plaque commemorating the deportees of World War II and another plaque remembering those who died in World War I.  Via degli Archi, the ghetto fountain is located opposite the synagogue, this fountain was famous throughout the ghetto. Il Campo delli Hebrei, the Jewish cemetery is outside the San Viene Gateway.

In the afternoon, we will be treated to a dairy/fish/vegetarian cooking class. Jewish Italian food is not dramatically different from Italian food of the region, though of course its ingredients would be kosher, and milk and meat separate. The results of our cooking class will be featured in our dinner!

Overnight in Siena

Day 9 · Tuesday, April 5 · Montepulciano, Chianti Classico & Florence

Wakeup! Morning Blessings: Jewish Renewal style, a short dip into morning blessings to start our day

Buffet breakfast

The expression Chianti Classico suggests the oldest and most genuine area in the Chianti region. In this small wine-region is produced one of the best-known and appreciated wines: the Chianti Classico Wine. It’s included in the Super-Tuscan wines and has been produced here for over 2000 years, since Etruscan time. This Tuscan region was named Chianti and recognized as a wine-region since 13th century and its borders were defined in 1716 by an edict issued by Gran duke Cosimo III de’ Medici. We will enjoy a customized tour of the winery and our own wine-tasting, followed by a special group lunch. After lunch, we visit the olive presses and check into our hotel to relax though the late afternoon and evening. We stay at the famous Hotel Pierre – a fascinating Gothic style residence, showcasing the splendid artistic and architectural context that has made Florence one of the world’s capitals of culture.  http://www.hotel-pierre-florence.com . Our evening lecture by R’ Leila will be on Florence.

Overnight in Florence

Day 10 · Wednesday, April 6 · Florence

Wakeup! Morning Blessings: Jewish Renewal style, a short dip into morning blessings to start our day

Buffet breakfast

Today we embark on a guided visit in former ghetto, synagogue, Jewish Museum, Academy Gallery and an introduction to history of Florence. We will see the beautiful Synagogue Templo Israelitico and the Jewish Museum, located on the second floor of the synagogue. In 1872 David Levi, donated enough money to build a synagogue “worthy of Florence.” The construction was assigned to architects Treves, Falcini and Micheli and lasted eight years, between 1874 and 1882. Because the Florentine Jews were Sephardic, the design of their synagogue recalls the Muslim art of Moorish Spain. It was dedicated October 24, 1882.All the internal walls were decorated between 1882 and 1890 by a local painter: Giovanni Panti, who made use of gold-plating to highlight the Moorish designs.The synagogue has successfully withstood wars, barbarism and floods. The Germans tried to blow up the structure during WWII, but the main building withstood their efforts. Bayonet marks are still visible on the doors of the Holy Ark which the Nazis used as a warehouse and stable.

The Museum opened in 1987 (recently refurbished)and displays an extraordinary collection of kiddush cups, prayer shawls, silver ornaments and embroidered vestments dating from the 16th to the twentieth century, with illustrative panels of the communities history, together with a carved model of the old ghetto and pictorial displays. Later, through a walking tour to the city center, we will discover the unexpected presence of Jewish history across the Arno River and in the present Piazza della Repubblica, where the ghetto once stood. The afternoon will be yours to stroll, explore, and enjoy.  In the evening we re-gather for informal conversation and music with Hazzan Jack.

Overnight in Florence

Day 11 · Thursday, April 7 · Florence

Wakeup! Morning Blessings: Jewish Renewal style, a short dip into morning blessings to start our day

Buffet breakfast

Today we visit the Uffizi Gallery and learn about Renaissance art and life style from a Jewish perspective. You will also see the little-known and surprising ways that Christian culture interpreted and assimilated aspects of Jewish religion and culture. The afternoon will be yours to relax, stroll, explore, and enjoy.  In the evening we re-gather for a lecture by R’ Leila on Jewish Ferrara & Venice

Overnight in Florence

Day 12 · Friday, April 8 · Florence, Ferrara* & Venice

 

Wakeup! Morning Blessings: Jewish Renewal style, a short dip into morning blessings to start our day

Buffet breakfast

After breakfast we’ll depart from Florence and head to Ferrara and then on to Venice! In the morning, if permitted, we will visit Ferrara’s synagogue (earthquake damage is still being repaired), Jewish Museum and former ghetto. The presence of a Jewish community in Ferrara dates back to at least the 13th c. The population grew after 1492 with the immigration of 21 families from Spain. A few years later more were to come from Portugal and German speaking Europe. In the 16th c.  Ferrara counted over 2,000 Jews, and ten synagogues! Due to lack of heirs, the Este family – who then ruled the city – were asked to leave Ferrara in 1598 and the state was returned to the Papal State. Jews lost patronage and a ghetto was introduced by the papal legates, thus forming a small ghetto city within the old medieval city, next to the Catholic Cathedral. Returning to normal life in 1859, Jews suffered another devastating experience with the introduction of the racial laws in 1938 and the deportation of many members of the community to Auschwitz. The tragic events became the subject of many of Giorgio Bassani’s works, of which the film The Gardens of the Finzi-Contini may be the best known. Today the Jewish population is of some 100 people, but the old 15th-century synagogue in via Mazzini 95 is still in use.

After a short lunch we will continue on and check into our utterly charming hotel in Venice, The LaGare Hotel Venezia located in the heart of Murano Island, famous for its glass works. The hotel is enclosed in the antique walls of an old furnace called “conterie” and overlooks the Grand Canal of Murano http://www.lagarehotelvenezia.com/en/.  We will have some time to settle in and then and prepare for candle-lighting, and KABBALAT SHABBAT led by Rabbi Marcia and Hazzan Jack, followed by our festive Shabbat dinner.

Overnight in Venice

Day 13 · Shabbat/Saturday, April 9 · Venice

Buffet breakfast.

Shabbat morning greets us again with an engaging, song-filled, participatory Shabbat service, including the final experience of Hazzan Jack’s Torah service and teachings by R’ Marcia. After our group festive Shabbat lunch you will have free time to rest, relax and explore on your own.  In the late afternoon enjoy another dip into the experience of  “Contemplative Torah,” with R’ Leila based on her forthcoming book! Then, in the evening enjoy another festive group dinner, celebrate a musical havdalah, and gather for some social time with the group

Overnight in Venice

Day 14 · Sunday, April 10 · Venice

Wakeup! Morning Blessings: Jewish Renewal style, a short dip into morning blessings to start our day

Buffet breakfast

Today we will embark upon a guided visit in the synagogue, former ghetto and Jewish Museum of Venice. Venice is considered one of the world’s most beautiful and romantic cities. Its canals and streets remain the same as they were hundreds of years ago. For Jews, however, Venice is also a place with a dark history; it is where the world’s first ghetto was instituted and the quality of Jewish life often shifted with the whims of the ruling power. Venice is the only Italian city where one can find an intact ghetto that has remained unchanged since its founding. Today Venice has a Jewish population of about 500 people, only 30 of whom live in the former ghetto, which houses all of the city’s major Jewish institutions.

Venice has five synagogues, a Jewish bookstore, a Jewish publishing house, a social center, a rest home, a museum, a yeshiva and a kosher restaurant. Three of the ghetto’s five synagogues come under the auspice of the Jewish Museum. The first of these is the Tedesca or German synagogue, the oldest synagogue in the ghetto, built in 1528. On the right side of the Museum is the Canton Synagogue, which was built in 1531 and served as the center for Jews from Germany, France and Switzerland. It features beautiful ark with carved and gilded doors. It has been restored and altered a number of times and is still in use today for wedding ceremonies. The Italian synagogue, built in 1575, served the Italians, the poorest group in the ghetto. This synagogue is quite simple reflecting its status among the communities. It was restored to its original appearance in 1970.

In the evening of this, our last day together, we celebrate our adventure and cap it off with an extraordinary tour of the canals of Venice by water-taxi followed by a gala group farewell dinner.

Overnight in Venice

Day 15 · Monday, April 11 

We depart from Venice to begin our trip home!

Buffet Breakfast

Water-taxi transfer to Marco Polo airport for return or further destinations