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Jewish Heritage Tour of Turkey

The history of the Jews in Anatolia started many centuries before the migration of Sephardic Jews. Remnants of Jewish settlement from the 4th century B.C. have been uncovered in the Aegean region... More Details

Day 1 - ARRIVAL IN ISTANBUL - We welcome you at the airport, transfer you to your hotel and give an orientation.

Day 2 - ISTANBUL - Start tour in centuries-old Jewish neighborhood, Galata, with its tower built by the Genoese. From the panorama balcony. See the stunning views of old Constantinople, Bosphorus, Golden Horn.and the Jewish quarters. Enjoy refrehments in this historical atmosphere. Afterwards see Neve Shalom Synagogue & Ashkenaz Synagogue, drive to Balat along the Golden Horn where the Star of David appears on the facades of some buildings. See Ahrida Synagogue, built in the 15th century. See the Jewish Cemetery, where the martyrs of Neve Shalom are buried. Last stop at Ortaköy, first disembark point of Sepharads, welcomed by the Ottoman Sultan, and visit to Etz-Ahayim Synagogue. After lunch proceed to Zulfaris Synagogue, a 19th century synagogue which houses a mueum. Here learn about the Turkish Jews who were welcomed by the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century. There is an opportunity for rich collection of history books and novels about Turkish Jewry as well as CDs of Turkish Jewish folk music and lithurgical music, selection of souvenirs including Mezuzahs, Hamsa keyrings....

Day 3 - ISTANBUL - Today we visit the Blue Mosque built in 1616 with Iznik tiles and stained glass. Adjacent is the site of the Hippodrome with the Obelisk from Egypt, Serpentine Column from Delphi and fountain of Willhelm II. Next we admire Saint Sophia, built during the reign of emperor Justinian in 535. Afterwards we tour the Ottoman Empire's Topkapi Palace, walk through its rooms full of exquisite art and view its priceless treasures. Later we visit the dazzling Grand Bazaar which houses many artisans and is a shopper's paradise with over 4,000 shops selling precious handmade rugs, jewelry, leather goods, souvenirs, etc. (B, L)

Day 4 - ISTANBUL - In the morning we visit the Spice Bazaar where the five senses are stimulated and merchants offer a variety of natural remedies. Next we take a wonderful cruise on the Bosphorus, passing the Dolmabahce and Beylerbeyi Palaces and many historical and modern mansions. We disembark near the Black Sea village of Sariyer and drive along the strait to visit the Ethnography Museum. (B)
After breakfast drive to airport for your flight to Izmir. Upon arrival drive through the many centuries old Jewish neighborhoods: See Beth Israel & Signora Synagogues, lively and colorful Havra & Dario Moreno Streets.  Afterwards drive to Sardis, the ancient capital of Lydia, once the world's richest city. The first coins were made here. Sites include temple of Artemis, Roman stadium, Roman baths, theater, one of the world’s oldest synagogues with some intact mosaic pavements. Next drive through villages to Pamukkale. Dinner and overnight in Pamukkale.
Day 6 -  PAMUKKALE - Hierapolis - Aphrodisias - KUSADASI
After breakfast drive to the ancient city of Hierapolis. Meaning 'sacred city', has been a continous healing center since 2nd century BC. A majot Jewsih settlement is noted, aproximately 50.000 jews lived in the city in its peak time in 2nd and 3rd centuries. After visiting the ancient city of Hierapolis drive to Aphrodisias, the city of the godess of love: Aphrodite. From the inscriptions it is noted by the archeolgist that there was also a jewish population in Aphrodisias and a synagogue. Synagogue is not being excavated today. Visit the ancient city see the theather, city council, temple of Aphrodite, breathtaking stadium and many more. Dinner and overnight in Kusadasi.

Day 7 -  KUSADASI - EPHESUS - IZMIR - air ISTANBUL - After breakfast drive to Seljuk. Visit Ephesus, the most important and best preserved antique city. Here we walk on marble paved roads and see the sites: Celsus Library, Great Theater, Roman Baths, Agoras, fountains and temples including one of the Seven Wonders of the World, Artemis Temple. Afterwards drive to izmir aiport for flight back to Istanbul. Dinner and overnight in Istanbul

Day 8 - Departure or Extension - After breakfast we transfer to the airport for the trip back home or if arrangements are made we go on another tour or a yacht cruise or a holiday resort. (B)

RECOMMENDED DVD : Desperate Hours by Shenandoah Films, reveals little known stories of Turks, Christians, and Jews cooperating in saving lives during the Holocaust. Turkish diplomats put their lives at risk to save Jews being shipped to concentration camps. As Germany began excluding Jews from university and professional positions, Turkey welcomed them. The film also explores how Monsignor Angelo Roncalli, apostolic delegate in Istanbul during the war and ordained as Pope John XXIII from 1958-1963, worked with future leaders of Israel in the rescue. Pope John XXIII called the Second Vatican Council which issued Nostra Aetate, the declaration on the relation of the church to non-Christian religions. Desperate Hours won the Grand Jury Award and the Audience Award at the 2003 D.C. Independent Film Festival. The film has been honored with diplomatic screenings in Geneva and Rome and a special screening at the Library of Congress. Barrett was recognized for creative excellence as director of the film at the International Film and Video Festival and was recently honored with the Global Excellence in the Arts Award from B'nai B'rith Canada. The film had its North American broadcast premiere on PBS in Mountain Lake, New York recently.


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