Jews have always played a prominent role in Germany. Despite the many persecutions from the 14th century up to the Second World War, Jewish communities have always called Germany their home. Presently, there is estimated to be 112,000 Jews living in Germany. To understand Jewish history, it is necessary to travel to Germany to understand the full breath of it, not only in the modern times but also further into the ancient past. The German tour offers highlights of Jewish history in Germany: starting from our arrival in Frankfurt to the historically significant sites in the cities of Worm, Rothenberg, and Augsburg. The tour continues with stops in Munich, Nuremberg, Furth, Dresden, and ends in Berlin.
We depart on our overnight flight to Frankfurt. Enjoy kosher meals and in-flight entertainment during your journey, or read some of our suggested books about Germany
Upon arrival in Frankfurt we are met by our Deluxe Kosher Tours escort who will familiarize us with the city. As we make our tour around the city, take notice of some popular attractions including Romerberg (“Roman Mountain”), the old centre of Frankfurt, which has buildings that date back to the 1300s, and the Alte Oper (or “Old Opera”) with its stunning architecture and stone fountains to complement. The Main Tower, named after the river that runs through the city, may not be the tallest, but it is open to tourists and offers amazing views of the city. Goethe (1749-1832), German’s most prominent, has a museum (Goethe House and Museum) devoted to the author with furniture, paintings and his works on display that have been fully-restored since the Second World War.
The tour continues with visits to famous Jewish sites in Frankfurt. It begins at the Judengasse Jewish Museum, once the home to the Rothschild family, who ran one of the world’s most powerful financial banks. Mayer Amschel Rothschild, the founder was born here, once the Judengasse (The Jewish ghetto) of Frankfurt which existed from 1462 until 1796 and housed the largest Jewish community in Germany during that period. Nearby, surrounding the medieval Jewish cemetery, we find the Holocaust Memorial Wall with names of over 11,000 Jewish citizens who were killed in the Holocaust, including Anne Frank, who was born in Frankfurt. The Old Frankfurt Jewish Cemetery dates back to 1180 and through time, most of the headstones were destroyed, leaving only a small part of the cemetery in its original condition. From there, we will have an opportunity to see one of the most famous plazas in Frankfurt, the Hauptwache (“Main Guard”), which contains a building in the baroque style, once served as a police station, but now houses a café. Take in the great view of the Main River and the cityscape as we walk down Shaunmainkai, which has an open flea market every other Saturday along the banks of the river. Next, we will have a chance to see the Jewish Museum Frankfurt, which opened in 1988, 50 years after the Kristallnacht. The permanent collection includes works from the expressionist artist Ludwig Meidner among others. The building was purchased by Mayer Rothschild in 1846 and became to be known as the Rothschild Palace.
Next, we will take a short trip (about an hour) south of Frankfurt to see the city of Worms which is rich in Jewish history as it had the earliest Jewish communities in Germany dating back to 1034 as well as having the first Jewish mayor in Germany.
Here, we will visit the synagogue, the first one in Germany, consecrated in 1034. Later, additions were made, including the mikvah in 1186; a women’s synagogue in 1212; and finally, the yeshiva, also called the Rashi Chapel. The synagogue was later destroyed during the War, but rebuilt in 1960.
The Jewish Museum, also known as Rashi House in honor of the great Talmud scholar bearing his name, contains priceless ceremonial instruments and manuscripts, including a copy of a prayer book, the Worms Mahzor, dating back to 1272. Nearby is the Jewish Cemetery, also known as the Holy Sands Cemetery and considered the oldest surviving cemetery in all of Europe. In fact, the date, 1058, on the oldest tombstone can still be read.
As we depart from Frankfurt and onto Munich, we will have an opportunity to see Rothenberg and Augsburg enroute, both cities rich in Jewish history.
In Rothenberg, evidence of the first Jewish community goes all the way back to 1190. It was there where the renowned Talmud scholar Rabbi Meir ben Baruch von Rothenburg taught and studied at the yeshiva on the Kapellenplatz, making it the centre of Talmudic studies in Europe. The Jewish thrived here evident from a community hall, known as the “Jewish Dance House”, built next to The White Tower, used for defense in the 12th century. Surrounding the Rabbi Meir ben Baruch Garden is a wall with ancient tombstones that date back to the 13th century. Nearby is the Judengasse, the only one of its kind from Medieval Europe that is still in existence, and the Imperial City Museum which contains 19th century Judaica and medieval tombstones.
From Rothenberg, we depart for Augsburg. Here we will visit the Synagogue and the Jewish Culture Museum housed within. The museum has on display a range objects from the Middle Ages to the present. The permanent exhibit, newly installed in 2006, showcases a variety of themes, including migration, integration, assimilation, and the changes in religious practices of the Augsburg Jewish community. The Synagogue, built in the early 1900s, stands prominently as one of the most historically significant buildings in the area. Inside, take note of the 95-feet high dome, the detailing of the windows, the brass lamp-globes, and the iconographic decorations.
The day begins with a tour of Munich. What better place to start than in the heart of the city, the Marienplatz, to enjoy the amazing architectural achievements that were fully restored to its 1800s likeness. At the New Town Hall, the glockenspiel chimes to offer music to life-sized figures that portray significant events in Bavarian history. Nearby, we can get a glimpse of the National Theater with its neo-classical design, home to Bayerische Staatsoper, the world-renowned opera company. Nearby, we can explore the Museum District, which consists of three main museums, including the Alte Pinakothek, one of the oldest galleries in the world with over 800 masterpieces dating from the Middle Ages and onwards; the Neue Pinakothek, which highlights art and sculpture from the 18th to the 20th century; and the Pinakothek der Moderne, the largest museum of modern art, including photographic and video media. For a nice peaceful stroll in nature, we can explore the English Garden, situated close to the main center. We welcome in Shabbat with the Jewish community in Munich where we also shall enjoy a Shabbat meal.
Start the day with services at the Ohel Jakob (“Jacob’s Tent”) Synagogue, located at the Sankt-Jakobs-Platz and inaugurated in 2006, on the 68th anniversary of Kristallnacht. It is part of a complex which includes the Jewish Museum and a Community Center. The museum covers an historical overview of Jews in Munich as well as focusing on Jewish religion, festivals, and rites of passage.
After lunch we take a walking tour of e nearby markets with our tour escort.
Our tour continues from Munich to Nuremberg where Hitler conducted his annual rallies because of the city’s historical association with the Roman Empire. The first prominent attraction we see is the Kaiserburg, the castle that was home to Emperors during the Roman Empire and royalty in the Middle Ages. At the Dokumentationszentrum Reichsparteitagsgelaende (“Documentation Center Nazi Party Rallying Grounds”), we will witness how the Nazi party came to power. One of the most famous museums and memorial in Nuremberg was home of Albrecht Dürer, widely regarded as one of the greatest artists of the Renaissance.
Next, we depart from Nuremberg and head to Furth, where we will visit the Jewish Museum. Furth once had the largest Jewish community in southern Germany and the museum chronicles the history of Jewish life in the area, from the Middle ages up to the present. Next, we visit the Old Jewish Cemetery, established in 1607 and one of the oldest in Germany. Restored in 1949, the cemetery is now considered the best preserved Jewish cemetery.
Our tour continues onto Dresden.
The Jewish community has a presence in Dresden for 160 years and had 6,000 members at its height in 1933. Dresden has two significant Jewish sites: the New Synagogue and the Old Jewish Cemetery. The Synagogue was completed in 2001. The slanted architectural design was intended to reflect the cultural disparity of the Jewish community within Dresden. The Cemetery was set up in 1751 and closed in 1867. A five-minute walk away, we can enjoy a pleasant stroll along Brühl's Terrace, a terraced promenade along the Elbe River and see the beautiful historical buildings, including the Royal Art Academy and the Albertinum Museum. Check out the Zwinger Palace nearby to see the finest late Baroque architecture in Germany, which was completed in 1728.
What better way to finish our tour of Germany than in Berlin, its capital, with two whole days of sightseeing. First, we start off at The Brandenburg Gate, a neo-classical triumphal arch, commissioned by Frederick William II of Prussia in 1791 as a sign of peace. It became almost an icon for freedom when the two Germanys united. Just a block south of the Gate, is the Holocaust Memorial, also known as the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. 2711 concrete slabs or “stelae” are arranged in a slightly skewed manner to give the viewer an uneasy feeling. It represents how an ordered system can easily lose touch with human reason. Next, we visit the Reichstag, a historical building that housed the government of the German Empire from 1894 to 1933. A glass dome with a roof terrace was added in 1993 to commemorate Germany’s unification and offers spectacular city views. Potsdamer Platz, once a considered a no-man’s land during the War by the allies, is now one of the most visited public squares in Germany. Tens of thousands of people come here daily to enjoy art exhibitions, shopping, entertainment and culture. Next, make our way along the remains of the Berlin Wall towards Checkpoint Charlie, the famous crossing point between East and West Germany. Next, check out the Checkpoint Charlie Musuem, also known as Mauermuseum, which has on displays related to successful escapes into West Germany. In the grand square named Gendarmenmarkt, a statue of Germany’s famed poet Friedrich Schiller stands
On our second day in Berlin, we start off our day in the Mitte district of Berlin, particularly at the Bebelplatz, infamous for the book burning by the Nazis that took place in 1933. Now, there is a memorial set into the cobblestone ground with a glass plate in which we can see empty bookshelves. The inscription reads: “That was only a prelude; where they burn books, they will in the end also burn people." Walk down Oranienburger Strasse to see the numerous shops and restaurants, popular with both Germans and tourists. On the same street, The New Synagogue, built in 1866, is the main place of worship for the Jewish community in Berlin. In fact, in 1933, with 160,000 Jewish citizens, Berlin was one of the most prominent centers for liberal Judaism. Though mostly destroyed during the War, it was rebuilt and opened to the public in 1991. Finally, take a stroll down August Strasse and enjoy the many art galleries, including the famous Kunst-Werke Institute for Contemporary Art.
Cost Per Person : Based On Double Occupancy (two to a room)
- Round-trip airfare from New York, London or Tel Aviv
- All domestic airfares within Germany
- An English-speaking, experienced tour guide/chauffeur
- Full board accommodations for entire trip
- 3 Kosher meals daily
- All admissions as per itinerary
- Visa fees as required
- Health and Travel Insurance
- Budget for extra snacks, gifts, or other expenses of a personal nature
- Any other services not specified