Touring seminar of Lithuania and Latvia

Guides: Prof. Motti Zalkin and R. Jeffrey Saks

Exploring the world of Jewish life, literature and learning with Agnon House


Experience the rich history of eastern European Jewry in the setting where it unfolded. Walk in the footsteps of Jewish writers, thinkers, and rabbis; hasidim, mitnagdim and maskilim – and study the texts and ideas with our outstanding scholars and guides. All tours and lectures in English.

Cost with roundtrip flights from/to Tel Aviv: US$2,690 person/double room
Cost (without flights): $2,320 person/double room
(Additional $390 for individual in room)
Kosher, Shabbat appropriate. Space limited!

This tour is sold out — to be added to the waiting list contact [email protected]

Updated Itinerary (subject to change) – Click here for Google Maps view!

• Wed July 24 (21 Tammuz):
Sightseeing in Kiev, Ukraine, during layover. Arrival in Vilna. After check-in and a short rest begin our touring from the scenic overlook from the old fortress in the heart of town; the cathedral and Bell Tower in the City Center. Lodging: Hotel Vilnia, Vilna.
• Thurs July 25 (22 Tammuz):
Paneriai Forest, site of the mass murder of Lithuanian Jewry. Trakai—Ancient capital of the Lithuanian royalty nestled amid breathtaking lakes; visit the castle, museum, and ancient Karaite cemetery. The Rudniki Forest – site of the underground Jewish Partisan camp. Lodging: Hotel Vilnia, Vilna.
• Fri July 26 (23 Tammuz):
Vilna—The Vilna Jewish cemetery: resting place of the Vilna Gaon and the “Righteous Convert” (Count Valentin Potocki), alongside famous authors, revolutionaries, underground fighters, and more. Vilnius University’s early renaissance campus (founded 1579; one of Eastern Europe’s oldest and most impressive institutors of higher education). Amber Museum-Gallery and Pushkin Park. Tour the Zarzecze neighborhood in the footsteps of Chaim Grade’s novel “The Aguna”. The monument to the Vilna Gaon, home of R. Chaim Ozer, and remains of the ancient Jewish cemetery. Visit the site of the most famous Jewish publishing house in history: the printing press of the Widow Romm. Celebrate Shabbat together. Lodging: Hotel Vilnia, Vilna.
• Shabbat in Vilna July 27 (24 Tammuz – Parshat Pinchas):
Morning: Shabbat services in Vilna’s Choral Synagogue (Taharas HaKodesh schul) and festive meal. Afternoon walking tour in Jewish Vilna: The Jewish theatre; “Herzl Corner”; monastery where Jews were hidden from the Nazis by a monk, one of the “Righteous Among the Nations”; Gaon Street, home of the Gra; Jews’ Street; Shulhoif, building complex of the old Great Synagogue, Talmud Torah, and center of the Mitnagdim in Vilna; home of the famous Jewish sculptor Mark (Mordechai) Antokolsky; learn about Dr. Zemach Shabad, Jewish physician and politician, and the renowned righteous woman Devora-Esther Gelper—among Jewish Vilna’s most famous figures. Lodging: Hotel Vilnia, Vilna.
• Sun July 28 (25 Tammuz):
Depart Vilna to the shtetl of Žiežmariai (Zhezhemir), site of an impressive wooden synagogue, to understand shtetl life. Afternoon: Arrival in Kovno (Kaunas). Tour from the scenic overlook to the Old Town square; encounter the Hebrew author Avraham Mapu, and Ludwig Zamenhof the father of Esperanto; Hebrew poet and author Leah Goldberg; the Hebrew Gymnasium; the Ninth Fort: stronghold used as a Holocaust-era site for deportation and execution. Lodging: Europa Royal Kaunas, Kovno.
• Mon July 29 (26 Tammuz):
Kovno’s old Jewish Quarter, home of the famous Slobodka Yeshiva, and Jewish Ghetto. Depart Kovno toward Kėdainiai (Kaiden; among Lithuania’s oldest cities); Šiauliai (Shavul), northern Lithuania’s largest and most important city, site of the Frenkel family estate, the wealthy Jewish industrialists; Hill of the Crosses pilgrimage site. Cross the border into Latvia. Lodging: Avalon Superior Hotel, Riga.
• Tues July 30 (27 Tammuz):
Explore the beauty of Riga—The Old City walls and the Swedish Gate; the architectural marvels: the Cat House, 14th century House of the Blackheads, and the Small Guild House; cathedral square; Freedom Monument; the Jewish school and Bikkur Cholim. Tour of Riga’s Art Nouveau masterpieces. Lodging: Avalon Superior, Riga.
 Wed July 31 (28 Tammuz):
Bikerneiki Memorial; Riga Central Market, Europe’s largest bazaar; Depart Riga on flight to short Kiev layover. Flight to Tel Aviv (arrive at Ben-Gurion Airport at 10:15pm).

Prof. Mordechai (Motti) Zalkin is a professor of modern Jewish history at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, specializing in the cultural and social history of East European Jewry. Among his publications are: The Jewish Enlightenment in the Russian EmpireModernizing Jewish Education in Nineteenth Century Eastern Europe; and Rabbi and Community in the Pale.

Rabbi Jeffrey Saks is the founding director of ATID and its program; Director of Research at the Agnon House in Jerusalem; Series Editor, S.Y. Agnon Library at the Toby Press; Editor of the journal Tradition.

Please note: Israeli, US and EU passport holders do not require travel visa for any of the countries on the trip. Citizens of other countries should check visa requirements for Lithuania, Latvia, and Ukraine. Contact local consulates to arrange for necessary visas (see listings at Traveler’s health insurance is strongly recommended for all destinations. Please consult your travel agent or insurance provider in your home country. In Israel, we recommend Shirbit: 076-862-2255.

Travel arrangements by Yehuda Chen and Shai Bar-Ilan Tours
For more information or to submit registration: Sivan Levi
Tel. 03-922-4410 x106 / [email protected]

Praise from past travelers (Agnon House English Tour, Ukraine 2018):
• “Eye-opening and educational.”
• “A good balance between general history, Jewish history, and related literature. It was very evident that the trip was well thought out in advance and it was executed beautifully.”
• “I loved the variety of historical, literary, secular and religious sites and sources. It reflected the diversity and vitality of Jewry at that time and place.”
• “ ‘Very Good’ is not good enough to describe the guides. Each of them exhibited vast knowledge and exceptional speaking and teaching ability. [Their] enthusiasm, warmth, helpfulness, and expertise was delightful.”
• “The meals and accommodations were far above our expectations.”
• “Transformative! Above and beyond other trips we’ve taken — like two university semesters in 9 days!”