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TRAVELODZER 2017


TRAVELODZER 2017

JOIN US ON THE LODZER INAUGURAL TRIP WITH RABBI ELI


August 7-16, 2017

An in-depth view of the Baltic States: Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia

10 days (9 nights), with the option for an extra day in Helsinki

Seize the opportunity!


Itinerary



August 7-16, 2017

An in-depth view of the Baltic States: Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia

10 days (9 nights), with the option for an extra day in Helsinki


Sunday, August 6 –

Depart Toronto to Vilnius via Warsaw

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Monday, August 7 –


Landing in the early afternoon in Vilnius.

After getting settled in the hotel, we will walk around the old city of the “Lithuanian Jerusalem”, learning about the old Jewish community. We are going to see the Jewish street and the street of HaGRA – the Gaon of Vilna. Later, we will recount the heroic tale of the Ghetto in the days of Abba Kovner and Yitzchak Wittenberg, visit the Judenrat court, see the famous Breite Gas, Shulhof, and the city’s main square. In the evening, we return to the hotel for dinner.

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Tuesday, August 8 –

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Ascend Grand Duke Gediminas’s mountain for the best view of the city one could hope for. Visit the only active synagogue in the city “Taharat ha-Kodesh”, attend the site of the terrible Ponary massacre, see the old Jewish cemetery with the burial sites of the Gaon and Count Potocki (Avraham ben Avraham). We’ll end the day with a walking tour in the area of the Gate of the Dawn; the only remaining gate of the Old City. Here, we can talk about HaGRA, discuss the Lithuanian Orthodoxy, and recount the life story of Rav Chayim Ozer Grodzinski.




Wednesday, August 9 –

Today, we are leaving for Kaunas (Kovno), the first capital of the Republic of Lithuania. On the way, we will stop in another old Lithuanian capital, Trakai, to enjoy the impressive castle and pay a visit to the local Karaite synagogue. Learn the fascinating story of the Karaites, from Baghdad to Crimea to Lithuania.

In Kovno, we will visit the old city, take a stroll down Independence Avenue, visit the only remaining synagogue, enjoy the panoramic view of the meeting point between two local rivers, and stop by the houses of the poetess Leah Goldberg and the Japanese consul Sugihara, who saved thousands of Jews from death camps at the ultimate cost to his own career.

From there, we turn to the streets of the old Jewish quarter, the famous Slobodka. Yes, Slobodka Yeshivah was founded here. We will bring up the heritage of R. Yitzhak Elchonon Spektor, who was the chief Rabbi here, and revisit the story of R. Nota Hirsch Finkel, the Alter of Slabodka, and the renaissance of Mussar movement.


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The quarter contained the ghetto in the years of the Holocaust. We will see the notorious Ninth Fort, and pay tribute to the Jews murdered there.

On our way from Kovno to Klaipeda, we will stop in the town of Kedainjai which once enjoyed a lively Jewish community. Among others, the local yeshivah raised the youth who later became known as the Gaon of Vilna. We will visit the restored synagogue that serves as a museum today.

From there, we will continue to Klaipeda, the big port of Lithuania. We’ll be just in time for Maáriv, then a hot and sumptuous dinner and a restful night in our hotel.




Thursday, August 10 –

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We will start the day with a walking tour of the old city, known as Memel in the Prussian days. The East-Prussian architectural style is evident here in Fachwerkhausen; the neat timber-framed buildings abundant throughout the neighbourhood.

A short ferry crossing will take us to Neringa, at the tip of the Curonian Spit. This long (about 60 miles) and narrow (a few hundred yards) parcel of land stretches along the western coast of Lithuania and Kaliningrad Oblast in Russia.

Our program includes a walk in the dunes, a visit to the Witches’ Town decorated with wooden figures of characters from Lithuanian folk stories, and the picturesque fishing village Nida where we will see the ethnographic cemetery and the house of Thomas Mann where the celebrated author liked to spend his summers.

We will return to Klaipeda for the night. On the way, we can discuss the life and teachings of Rav Yisroel Salanter, tying it in with what we already know of the Mussar movement.




Friday, August 11 –

In the morning, we will start our way north-east, towards the Latvian border.

On the way, we will stop in Šiauliai, with its rich history and Jewish community of the past; one of the most famous prisoners in the ghetto here was Dov Shilansky, later an Israeli politician and speaker of the Knesset. 

We will visit the Frenkel palace, next to the fur factory founded by this wealthy Jewish entrepreneur.

Our first stop after crossing the Latvian border will be in the town of Bauska. A walk in the rooms and gardens of the posh Rundale, once the summer palace of the Grand Dukes of Kurland, can be justly seen as one of the highlights of the journey. It was built by the great architect Rastrelli – the creator, most notably, of the Winter Palace of the Czars (Hermitage) in St Petersburg.

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We will also pause in the city centre of Bauska. 112 years ago, the rabbi of this community, Rav Avraham Yitzhak Kook, made aliyah from here to assume his first rabbinical post in the Holy Land, in Jaffa. The story will also give us a glimpse into an earlier story - that of Rabbi M. Eliasberg.

We will continue north all the way to Riga, with sufficient time to get settled and organized for Shabbat. After Kabbalat Shabbat at the Synagogue, we will enjoy a festive seudah in the kosher restaurant nearby.



Shabbat, August 12 –

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In the morning, following prayers and a meal, we are going on a walking tour of Riga.

We will see the old city, the great Cathedral Square, the Swedish Gate, the barracks, the old Parliament building, City Hall Square, and the House of Blackheads, the exclusive merchant club dating back to the Hanseatic League.


We will also learn of the period that ties Riga to the 6th Rebbe of Lubavitch, R. Yosef Yitzhak Shneersohn, who lived in the city after being finally released from Soviet imprisonment in 1928.


Through the line of green parks surrounding the old city, we will drop by the Bastion Hill, note the famous Statue of Liberty (yes, New York does not have the only one!), and find ourselves in the new city centre. Modern Riga is real eye candy, with its 19th c. streets built in the local art nouveau style.


In the afternoon, we will have free time to rest or go for another walk prior to the Seuda Sh’lishit.




Sunday, August 13 –

In the morning, we will visit the Jewish Museum and Jewish Theatre (today, Community Centre) whose stage boasted performances by Chayim N. Bialik and HaBimah Theatre on the way from Moscow to Israel.

See the Riga ghetto with a new Ghetto Museum, stop by the cheder that served later as the place of council for the ghetto aldermen.

In the afternoon, we will visit the open-sky Riga ethnographic museum, spread over significant territory in the forest on the bank of Lake Jugla. The museum boasts dozens of old wooden houses, brought here from all over Latvia.

We part from Riga and carry on west, to Sigulda, known as the Baltic Switzerland. We will visit the gorgeous national reserve Turaida, walk through the ruins of the old Teuton fortress, climb to the tower top to be rewarded by the spectacular view of the area, and venture on a short walking trip to the famous Gutmanis cave.

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Then, we bid farewell to Latvia and carry on to the Estonian “summer capital” Pärnu for a night in a spa hotel in the city.




Monday, August 14 –

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We will dedicate the morning to the downtown and old historic center of Pärnu. Then, board the ferry to the large island of Estonia; Saaremaa. Upon disembarking, visit the scenic village Koguva, admire the houses of the farmers, and visit an old restored farmhouse.

As a special treat, we will also visit a crater created by a meteor about 4,000 years ago.

From there, our path leads to Angla, a village famous for its windmills. Then, we will visit Kuresaare, the largest town on the island, enjoy a guided tour of the big and beautiful Teuton castle located there, and stay for the night in one of the cozy hotels in town.




Tuesday, August 15 –

Early morning, we will leave for the capital, Tallinn.

The old city of Tallinn is surrounded by a magnificent wall. It is from there that we will start our walk. We shall visit the Lower Town, the Market Square surrounding the City Hall, the old apothecary dating back to 1422, and continue to the Upper City with its magnificent Toompeaa fortress, boasting a view of the entire old city and, on a bright day, the Baltic Sea all the way to Finland.


See Kik In De Kok tower, return to the Lower City by the way of tower known as “Fat Margaret”, and set out for a journey through the tunnels under the old city. There will be ample opportunities for souvenirs as we pass the souvenir market downtown on our way to the workshops of the local tradesmen.

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In the evening, we will go to the new synagogue and the Jewish Museum nearby. We will do our best to arrange a meeting with the Rabbi, as long as he’s in town.

This is our last night in Tallinn, folks. After the farewell dinner at the shul, we retire to the hotel and call it a night.




Wednesday, August 16 –

We say goodbye to Estonia and the Baltic states with a stroll in Kadriorg Park with its remarkable palace, and the Singing Field famous for a huge festival held here every 5 years. Around noon, the bus will take us to the airport.

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If planning to continue to Helsinki, see the optional extra day program in the Extras section.


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Extras



  • Extra day/night in Helsinki.

Wednesday, August 16 –

Take the afternoon express ferry to Helsinki, the Finnish capital situated right across the Gulf of Finland. It should not take much longer than 90 minutes.

Admire the Senate Square embracing the University and the Cathedral, roam the traditional farmers market in the old port, stroll down the majestic Esplanada Blvd towards the Swedish Theatre, pass by the Parliament building and pay a visit to the synagogue established by the discharged Cantonists; we will learn about those underage boys drafted to the Czar’s army for a 25-year long service, and hear the stories of their life, traditions, and customs.

Stay the night in Helsinki. After breakfast, go on a walking tour of the City Centre, or have some free time for a stroll, shopping, and R&R. Our coach will take you to the airport. Additional nights in a Helsinki hotel are available at cost. See the Pricing section for details. Subject to minimum of 10 participants.


  • Lunches; upgrade from half-board to full-board is available for additional CAD $360 for the whole trip. Subject to a minimal number of orders.


  • Flights; we are offering flight tickets with LOT to/from the Baltic via Warsaw.


  • Special diet; vegetarian, vegan, and some other special diets can be accommodated at no extra charge.


Pricing and payment schedules



Non-Member Prices:

Option A: Includes transatlantic flights Toronto-Vilnius/Tallinn-Toronto with stopovers in Warsaw CAD$4,090

Option B: Includes ground services only, buy your own flight CAD$2,670

All prices include $250 donation to Lodzer congregation, tax-receipt issued


Lodzer Member Prices:

Option A: Includes transatlantic flights Toronto-Vilnius/Tallinn-Toronto with stopovers in Warsaw CAD$3,770

Option B: Includes ground services only, buy your own flight CAD$2,350


All prices include $250 donation to Lodzer congregation, tax-receipt issued


All prices shown are per person at double occupancy


Other Extras:

  • Single occupancy CAD$1260 (+ $100 if going on to Helsinki)


  • Extend your trip by one day/night trip to Helsinki: CAD$320 members/390 non-members (extra nights in Helsinki available from $90 pp/night at double occupancy)


  • Upgrade from half-board to full board: CAD$360; requires minimum of 18 participants


  • Fly with the group; LOT flight, economy class, Toronto-Vilnius/Tallinn-Toronto, with stopovers in Warsaw: CAD$1420 (we have only a limited number of seats)


Early bird discount:

Register by December 7, 2016, and get an additional $180 off!


Payment schedule:


  • 50% payment due upon registration

  • Payment in full is due by April 6, 2017


Cancellation refunds:


The CAD$250 tax-deductible donation is not refundable. Of the balance,

  • Before February 16, 2017 – full refund (minus administration fee $105 for non-members)

  • Cancellations up to 90 days prior the beginning date – 75% refund

  • 90 to 61 days prior the beginning date – 50%

  • 60 to 51 days prior the beginning date – 30%

  • 50 days or less before departure – non-refundable


FAQs



  • Do I have to stay kosher during the tour?

Your levels of kashrut observance are up to you. All our organized meals take place either in kosher facilities, or restaurants offering ample choice of food satisfying every participant’s kosher demands. We are not going to judge you by what you eat.


  • Will Rabbi Eli be with us all of the time during the tour, or will he just do the lectures/workshops and leave us to the local guides otherwise?

Absolutely, at all times. When we do anything as a group, Rabbi Eli is with us, and one of us. He may choose to guide parts of the trip himself, but even when a local guide comes into the picture, be assured Rabbi Eli is with us to offer his insight.


  • I have special dietary/sleeping arrangements/other needs. Can you help me?

Please talk to Rabbi Eli. We are proud of our flexibility, and happy to do our best accommodating needs ranging from dull to surreal.


Fine print



The price includes:

-           High quality 4* hotels in prime locations

-           Half-board meals (breakfast and dinner), starting first night dinner and ending last morning breakfast

-           Full 3 meals on Shabbat

-           All buses, boats, and transfers throughout the trip

-           Entry to all the sites included in the itinerary

-           All tours and programs as described, guided in English

-           Rabbi Eli's full-time guidance, stories and lectures

-      $250 donation to Lodzer Centre, tax-receipt issued


The price does not include:

-           Transatlantic flights (unless Option A purchased)

-           Insurance (personal health, flight, luggage etc.)

-           Gratuities for the ground service staff (optional)

-           All personal goods and service purchases, including laundry, souvenirs, excess baggage etc

-      Anything not included in the trip description

Itinerary arrangements may be subject to change in case of unforeseen circumstances. In case of changing any part of the itinerary, we will work to replace it with one of equivalent or better quality.

If purchasing your own flight, please wait with booking it for the confirmation that the trip has reached the minimum number of participants required, or purchase cancellation insurance.




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