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JEWS IN A GREEK WORLD: A STUDY TOUR

Shalom is pleased to announce that it will be hosting its first time tour of Jewish Greece in 2020. The tour will be led by Paul Forgasz. Paul is a lecturer in the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation at Monash University where he teaches about Jewish–Christian-Muslim relations in the Middle Ages. For the past several years, Paul has led Jewish study tours to various European destinations on behalf of Shalom and the Jewish Museum of Australia

What is special about this tour?

As with any tour, you will visit various towns, cities, and sites of both Jewish and general historical interest.  Local guides will be on hand to explain the features of these sites, whilst under Paul’s expert guidance, you will actively engage and interact with these places through the reading and analysis of texts and group discussions. At the same time, a series of study sessions will provide opportunities for in depth explorations of key issues and themes that have defined the Jewish-Greek encounter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tour operators

 

The local travel agent is FBI Travel. At the Greek end, all land arrangements will be handled by RTB Travel Group, a Thessaloniki-based Jewish tour operator.

 

Greek land package

 

The price per person 4700€uros per person twin share and 700€uros for a single supplement.

 

NOTE: As reservations have not yet been made for the internal flights to Rhodes and Athens, the projected cost of both flights has been based on a “guesstimate.” Should the price at the time of booking be higher than expected, there will be a slight increase in the cost of the tour.

 

All AUD payments will be tied to the EURO exchange rate. In order for this tour to proceed on the basis of the above price, we will need firm commitments from a minimum of 20 people. You are therefore advised not to make any flight bookings until you are advised that the tour is definitely proceeding.

 

The following are included in the land package:

  • Four and five star hotel accommodation (14 nights) and buffet breakfasts
  • 6 evening meals and 1 lunch
  • Full time tour escort and guide
  • Experienced English speaking local guides
  • Whisperers [personal audio systems]
  • Entrance fees to itinerary sites
  • Motor coach travel, tips for tour escort, local guides and bus drivers
  • Internal flights from Thessaloniki-Rhodes and Rhodes-Athens
  • Study sessions as per the itinerary and study materials

Not included in the price:

  • Airfare, airport taxes and travel insurance
  • Hotel transfers to and from the airport
  • Tips for hotel staff (at your discretion)
  • Hotel extras such as mini bar, room service
  • Meals other than breakfast and meals designated above

 

If you need any help with booking of flights, organising travel insurance, or pre and post tour arrangements, Tamara Menachem of FBI Travel, would be more than happy to assist. She can be contacted on 8573 0915 or via email: tamaram@fbitravel.com.au

 

Tour registration

 

You will need to complete the online registration form which can be accessed via the following link.

(NOTE: If you cannot activate the link directly, cut and paste it into your browser).

 

https://asp.tramada.com.au/ttms/fbitravel/client/client-online-registration.htm?clientDebtorToken=MThlMzUyMTEtMDFlYi00MmNmLTkyMzItMzBjY2ExZjlhNWU5&clientDebtorId=774

 

Upon registration, you will be required to pay a $2500 deposit per person in order to secure your place on the tour.

 

Further payment instalments will follow on dates to be advised. Payment of single supplements will be added to the final instalment.

 

For each instalment you will be invoiced for the equivalent Australian dollar amount based on the exchange rate at the time of invoicing. FBI Travel reserves the right to slightly vary the equivalent Australian dollar amount, as a buffer for any increase in the exchange rate from point of invoice to paying the Greek tour operator.

 

Deposits will be held by FBI Travel until the first instalment is transferred to RTB Travel Group in Thessaloniki, after which time deposits and subsequent payments will not be refunded if you wish to cancel your registration. You are therefore strongly advised to take out adequate and appropriate travel insurance to cover any unforeseen circumstances which might result in you not being able to participate in the tour. Also, as noted above, you should not make any flight bookings until you are advised that the tour is definitely proceeding.

 

Places on the tour are strictly limited and will be filled in order of receipt of registration forms and payment of deposits

 

DETAILED TOUR ITINERARY

(See maps of itinerary below)

 

Day 1 – Wednesday 6 May: Athens

After checking into your hotel in Athens, the program will begin in the late afternoon with an orientation and introduction to the tour, including a historical overview of the Jews of Greece. We will then gather for a welcome dinner. Overnight in Athens.

 

Day 2 – Thursday 7 May: Athens

The day will commence with a tour of the major political, social and cultural landmark institutions of the ancient world of Athens: the Agora, the Acropolis and Acropolis Museum, and the Panathenaic Stadium. In the late ate afternoon we will gather for a study session focusing on ancient Greek history, society and culture. The session will be conducted by Dr. Lynne Kvapil, an archaeologist specializing in ancient Greece and Aegean prehistory. Overnight in Athens

 

Day 3 – Friday 8 May: Athens-Corinth-Mycenae-Nafplio-Athens

Building on the previous day’s experience, on this day trip from Athens, we will visit a number of important sites connected to the ancient Greek world. Corinth was a prominent city in Greek, Hellenistic, and Roman times and was rarely out of the limelight in the ancient world. In the second millennium BCE, Mycenae was one of the major centres of Greek civilization; in fact the whole period of ancient Greek history from about 1600-1100 BCE is called Mycenaean. The area surrounding Nafplio has been inhabited since ancient times, but few signs of remain visible. Regarded as one of the most romantic seaport towns in Greece, Nafplio’s more recent claim to fame is that it was the first capital of the newly born Greek state between 1823 and 1834. This evening we will gather to welcome the Shabbat and enjoy a communal dinner. Overnight in Athens

 

Day 4 – Saturday 9 May: Athens

Today you will have free time to explore Athens, including its renowned Plaka and Monastiraki neighborhoods, as well as the city’s various museums. In the late afternoon, we will gather for a study session in which we will explore the first significant encounter of the Jews with Greek culture in the land of Israel, during the early Hellenistic period of Greek history. Overnight in Athens

 

Day 5 – Sunday 10 May: Athens-Distomo-Delphi-Makrinitsa-Volos

Departing Athens, we will stop at Distomo, where we will visit the memorial to the 228 Greek civilians who were massacred by SS troops on June 10, 1944, as savage reprisals for a partisan attack upon the unit’s convoy. We will then drive to the spectacular ancient site of Delphi, location of the Temple of Apollo where Pythia, the high priestess, also served as the oracle who was consulted about important decisions throughout the ancient classical world. In fact, the ancient Greeks considered the centre of the world to be in Delphi. Following a group lunch, we will continue on to our hotel in Volos, stopping at nearby Makrinitisa, nicknamed “the balcony of Pelion,” for the unparalleled views it offers, perched as it is on the edge of the mountain. After checking into our hotel, we will enjoy a group dinner. Overnight in Volos.

 

Day 6 – Monday 11 May: Volos-Portaria-Larissa-Kalambaka

The day will begin with a brief stop in the charming village of Portaria with its picturesque views of Mt Pelion. We will then visit two small but still active Jewish Greek communities, Volos and Larissa, each with a rich history stretching back into antiquity. We will then continue onto Kalambaka, gateway to the famous UNESCO World Heritage monasteries of Meteora, where we will have a group dinner in our hotel. Overnight in Kalambaka.

 

Day 7 – Tuesday 12 May: Kalambaka-Meteora-Ioannina

In preparation for tomorrow’s visit to the Jewish community of Ioannina, this morning’s study session will be devoted to the Romaniote Jews of Greece. Neither Ashkenazi nor Sephardic, they are one of the oldest Diaspora communities in existence. Their distinctive language was Judeo-Greek, a version of Greek infused with Hebrew and Aramaic. Romaniote Jews had their own religious traditions and prayer book and their synagogues had a unique layout. Much of the worship was in Yevanic, and the tunes, including for reading the Torah, were heavily influenced by Byzantine music.

Following the study session, we will visit the nearby spectacular and world renowned Meteora Monasteries. The Greek word Meteora means “suspended in the air,” a phrase which aptly describes these remarkable Greek Orthodox monasteries, perched on top of steep rocks and housing priceless artifacts and wall paintings. In the late afternoon we will continue to Ioannina and check in to our hotel. Overnight in Ioannina

 

Day 8 – Wednesday 13 May: Ioannina

This morning’s visit will take us to the Jewish community and synagogue of Ioannina, once the centre of Romaniote life. Today, it is one of a handful of small surviving Romaniote communities. We will then take a tour of Ali Pasha Island, located in the middle of Ioannina’s lake. A small museum on the island contains objects associated with the reign of Ali Pasha who was the late 18th/19th century Ottoman pasha or governor of Ioannina. In anticipation of tomorrow’s visit to two key sites connected to the Hellenistic phase of Greek history, this afternoon’s study session will continue the previous Saturday’s discussion of the Jewish encounter with Hellenism. In particular, we will focus on the impact of Hellenism on the Jewish Disapora, including an examination of Paul’s missionary activities in Greece. Overnight in Ioannina

 

Day 9 – Thursday 14 May: Ioannina-Vergina-Veroia-Pella-Thessaloniki

Today our journey takes us from Ioannina to Thessaloniki, via Vergina and Pella.  Pella was the historical capital of the ancient Greek kingdom of Macedon and birthplace of Alexander the Great. We will visit its monumental palatial complex and also see the largest agora of the ancient world. Vergina is best known as the site of ancient Aigai, the first capital of Macedon. It was there that in 336BCE Philip II was assassinated in the theatre and Alexander the Great was proclaimed king. Excavations of the ancient site unearthed the burial sites of many kings of Macedon, including the tomb of Philip II, father of Alexander the Great, which, unlike many other tombs, had not been disturbed or looted. On the way from Vergina to Pella, we will visit the synagogue and almost completely preserved mid-19th century Jewish quarter of Veroia. The Apostle Paul famously preached in the city, reputedly on the ancient site of the present day synagogue. Overnight in Thessaloniki.

 

Day 10 – Friday 15 May: Thessaloniki

Today we will visit various general and Jewish points of interest in Thessaloniki, including: the train station Holocaust memorial, university campus (Jewish cemetery), late 19th century Jewish mansions of Salonika, Jewish museum and synagogue. Thessaloniki was home to one of the largest and most important post-Expulsion Sephardi communities. In fact, the city was nicknamed la madre de Israel (mother of Israel) and under Ottoman rule, the community experienced a “golden age” during the course of the16th century. This evening we will come together to welcome the Shabbat and enjoy a communal dinner. Overnight in Thessaloniki.

 

Day 11 – Saturday 16 May: Thessaloniki

Today you will have free time to explore Thessaloniki at your leisure, and in the late afternoon we will gather for a study session focusing on the achievements of this most remarkable post-Expulsion Sephardi community which constituted a majority of the city for centuries. Overnight in Thessaloniki.

 

Day 12 – Sunday 17 May: Thessaloniki-Rhodes

You will have time to relax this morning prior to our early afternoon flight to Rhodes. After checking into our hotel, we will come together for refreshments followed by a viewing of Cloudy Sunday. Inspired by real events, and adapted from George Skarbadonis’ novel of the same name, the film is set in Thessaloniki, 1942, against the background of the Nazi occupation of the city. Overnight in Rhodes.

 

Day 13 – Monday 18 May: Rhodes

The day will be spent on the island of Rhodes touring sites of both general and Jewish interest, including the synagogue, Jewish Museum and former Juderia or Jewish quarter. Overnight in Rhodes.

 

Day – 14 Tuesday 19 May: Rhodes-Athens

On this final day of our tour we will board a flight for Athens. Upon arrival, we will take in the various Jewish sites of the city – the Jewish Museum and community centre, its two synagogues and the Holocaust memorial. In the evening we will gather for a farewell dinner. Overnight in Athens

 

Day 15 – Wednesday 20 May: Athens

Hotel checkout

  

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

Athens: Electra Hotel

https://www.electrahotels.gr/en/athens/electra-athens/

 

(NOTE: due to unavailability of rooms at the Electra, the final night of the tour in Athens will be in the Electra Palace Hotel)

 

Volos: Domotel Xenia Hotel

https://anatoliahospitality.com/thessaloniki/

 

Kalambaka: Amalia Kalambaka

http://amaliahotelkalambaka.gr/

 

Ioannina: Epirus Palace Hotel

https://www.epiruspalace.gr/en/

 

Thessaloniki: Anatolia Hotel

https://anatoliahospitality.com/thessaloniki/

 

Rhodes: Mediterranean Hotel

https://www.mediterranean.gr/en/

 

The above hotels may be subject to revision. If bookings will need to be made for alternative hotels, they will be of a similar standard to the above and might incur a small increase in the cost of the tour

 

TERMS AND CONDITIONS – ACCEPTANCE OF WHICH YOU WILL BE REQUIRED TO INDICATE UPON REGISTRATION

 

  1. Touring can involve a considerable amount of walking and stair climbing in places visited and it is important that tour participants have a level of physical fitness that allows them to take part in such activities without the need of assistance from others.
  2. RTB Travel Group (Thessaloniki) is responsible for making arrangements for the tour services offered here, including transportation, sightseeing, meals and hotel accommodation. FBI Travel acts only as agents for passengers in the making of arrangements with carriers, hoteliers, and others for the tour. Accordingly RTB Travel Group (Thessaloniki) cannot accept liability for any act of omission, whether negligent or otherwise of those carriers, hoteliers or others providing services in connection with the tour over whom we have no direct or exclusive control.
  3. SHALOM and FBI Travel do not accept responsibility for any damage to property or person(s) incurred during the course of this tour.
  4. SHALOM and RTB Travel Group (Thessaloniki) are not liable and accept no responsibility for any direct or indirect loss, financial loss, consequential loss, loss of enjoyment, pain & suffering, damage, injury, accident, delay or irregularity occasioned to the individual, whether caused by act, omission, negligence or otherwise while participating in this tour.
  5. SHALOM and FBI Travel strongly recommend that individuals insure themselves against medical expenses and loss of personal possessions, and any other foreseeable loss or expense.
  6. It is the responsibility of tour participants to obtain suitable advice from a recognised health authority regarding any vaccinations or applicable health precautions.
  7. Tour participants are responsible for ensuring that they have a valid passports, visa and permits which meet the immigration and governmental requirements of the country of travel. Passports must be valid for at least six months upon return into Australia from overseas travel.
  8. Before travelling overseas SHALOM and RTB Travel Group (Thessaloniki) recommend you to register your travel and contact details online or at the local Australian embassy, high commission or consulate once you arrive so you can be contacted in an emergency.
  9. Upon registration, payment will be required of a $2500 deposit per person. Payment of the single supplement will be added to the final instalment. For each instalment you will be invoiced for the equivalent Australian dollar amount based on the exchange rate at the time of invoicing. FBI Travel reserves the right to slightly vary the equivalent Australian dollar amount, as a buffer for any increase in the rate from point of invoice to paying the Lithuanian supplier.
  10. In order for this tour to proceed on the basis of the quoted price, we will need firm commitments from a minimum of 20 people. You are therefore advised not to make any flight bookings until you are advised that the tour is definitely proceeding.
  11. Deposits will be held by FBI Travel until the first instalment is transferred RTB Travel Group in Thessaloniki, after which time deposits and subsequent payments will not be refunded if you wish to cancel your registration. Deposits held by FBI Travel will be returned if the tour does not go ahead due to lack of numbers.
  12. Places on the tour are strictly limited and will be filled in order of receipt of registration forms. Successful applicants will be notified once the tour group is filled. Prospective tour participants should not make any flight arrangements until advised that the tour is definitely proceeding and that their registrations have been accepted.

Itinerary Maps