Jewish history in Moldova dates back several centuries. The Jews living on the territory of Moldova and Bessarabia had left a very significant mark in the history of the country. They were always considered a great people having rich knowledge in almost all spheres, showing the good deeds and playing an important role in the economy of the area.
They contributed much to the history and way of life of the Moldovan people and were always causing envy in people by their success and prosperity. According the Census, at the beginning of the 19th century the Jews were living in 24 Moldavian cities, as well as in many towns and villages having 16 Jewish schools and 70 synagogues. The region has become a center of literature written in Hebrew and Yiddish.
By the beginning of the 20th century economic differences between Jewish and other communities had been evident. Some Jewish young people joined the revolutionary movement, and an anti-Semitic newspaper called “Bassarabets” had appeared causing horrible pogroms and victims among the Jews.
During the World War II the Jews in Bessarabia had faced and suffered even more violent events as “Bessarabia’s Clean-Up” resulted in a massacre of the Jews in the villages and to the concentration of the city’s Jews into a ghetto. In July, August 1941 about 150000 of the Jews were exterminated by the so-called “special train” created by the German Army and Romanian Dictator aiming to murder all the Jews.
Moldavian Jews played a significant role in the anti-Nazi resistance movement.
After the war, Jewish cultural life of Moldova did not revive. Many Moldova Jews suffered from the Soviet Union anti-Semitic campaigns, culminated by the Doctors case; many Jewish physicians were arrested in Moldova.
Since the late 1960s Moldovan Jews played an active role in the struggle for repatriation to Israel. According to the Census 1979, 80,000 Jews (two percent of the total population) were living in Moldova.
In the period 1989 – 2002 there was a mass immigration of the Jews from Moldova to Israel, Germany, U.S. and other countries.
Nowadays, around 18 thousand of the Jews are living in Chisinau, 3 thousand in the northern Moldova, and more than 2 thousand in Tiraspol (Transnistria).
Large Jewish communities are situated also in the cities Rybnitsa, Beltsi, Bendery, Soroca, Orhei.
After lunch in Iasi (or any other city) drive to the Republic of Moldova in search of new discoveries (around 3 h).
Crossing the RO-MD border (at Albita) and drive to Chisinau-capital of Moldova. Upon arrival in Chisinau, check-in the hotel. Time at leisure.
Welcome Dinner at restaurant “Propaganda” placed in an old one-floor apartment building of one of the Jewish families-it’s a restaurant that offers some relaxing art atmosphere with cute decoration.
Back to hotel and overnight in Chisinau.
Chisinau– the capital of the Republic of Moldova was a flourishing Jewish center in the 18th century and had witnessed many events connected with the Jews since then. By the end of the 18th century the Jews were owners of most of the factories of those times with Jewish employees.
09:00 – 13:00 – Jewish tour of Chisinau
Sites to be visited in Chisinau:
13:00 – 14:30 – Lunch at restaurant “La Taifas” offering nice traditional Moldavian cuisine.
15:00 – 18:00 – Tour of Chisinau to be continued. Tour to Jewish sites to be followed by other Moldavian sites and peculiarities: Central Square Stefan the Great and Saint with Monument to Stefan the Great and Saint; the Bell Tower; Lord Nativity Central Cathedral (from outside, no enter); the Triumph Arch; the Parliament; the Presidency; the City Hall; the Memorial Eternity; the Souvenir’s shop and market; the Alley of Classics with sculptures of Romanian Classics; National Museum of History and Archeology /or Ethnography (enter).
18:30 – 20:00 – Dinner at restaurant of traditional cuisine “Acasa la Mama” in Chisinau.. Overnight in Chisinau.
09:00 – After breakfast morning drive to the town of Orhei.
10:00 – 12:00 – Visiting the Jewish community in Orhei. Meet the local representative who will reveal the Jewish history of the area, visit to the Jewish cemetery (it’s considered to be the oldest Jewish cemetery in Europe-more than 400 years old with unique monuments to Jewish soldiers and victims of Holocaust, monument to the victims of Nazism), and the synagogue built in the 20th cent.
13:00 – 14:00 – Lunch in traditional style in a typical Moldavian village – Butuceni, Orhei Vechi area. Enjoy Moldavian cuisine in a local boarding house “Eco-Resort Butuceni”, dishes prepared from eco-products of local farmers. Feel the real Moldavian atmosphere.
14:30 – 16:00 – Sightseeing Orheiul Vechi Complex –Archeological Museum Complex (Old Orhei open-air museum) representing rich historical and cultural value situated between the villages Butuceni and Trebujeni. It’s an impressive monastery complex that presents the remains of different civilizations established between Nistru and Prut rivers. This is a complex comprising caves, grottos, churches, Geto-Dacian fortress and hermitages. The open air museum represents a true natural fortress inhabited since the ancient times. And nowadays attracts many tourists by its incomparable landscapes, rocky surroundings, historical monuments, and grottoes, ruins of the old town and medieval fortress Shehr-al-Jedid and Turkish baths. The highlight of the locality is the unique orthodox 13th cent cave monastery with one monk that was very good isolated from the outer world.
Another interesting place to be visited on the route is the Moldavian village Butuceni where the style and traditions of the Moldavian architecture of the 19th century are preserved and carefully maintained – ornamentally decorated houses, gates, fences, wells with potable water, old cellars and others.
17:00 – 19:00 – Drive to Cricova wine cellars for the underground tour, wine tasting and dinner.
Visit to the underground wine city and winery CRICOVA that lies under the town of Cricova and partially under the capital of Moldova, Chisinau. The cellars represent 60 km of labyrinths and galleries having constant temperature +10 – +12 C and the relative humidity of 97-98 %. Namely these natural and favorable conditions make possible the keeping and aging of wines. Cricova winery is proud for their excellent wines and famous for its collection, underground signs, streets having the names of the precious wines “Feteasca”, “Chardonnay”, “Cabernet”…..
Note: Dinner in Cricova cellars can be offered only fro the groups from 5 pax, for the individuals there will be offered only light snacks as traditional pies “Placinte”
19:30 –20:00 – return to Chisinau
Free time. Overnight in Chisinau.
After breakfast you’ll have some free time for the last purchases.
10:00 – check-out from hotel and drive southward of Moldova for visiting the old winery situated close to the Ukrainian border in the village of Purcari.
12:00 – 14:30 – visit to the touristic complex and winery Purcari. Purcari is the oldest wine-estate in Moldova that is a French-style castle with wine cellars established in 1827. This winery is famous all over the world for its legendary wines “Rosu de Purcari” and “Negru de Purcari” that is true masterpiece which Queen Elizabeth II preferred to savor.
Whilst there you’ll visit the production, grape processing and the wine storage areas, including bottle line. Walk into the cellars where the wine is matured in oak barrels and bottles, including the Purcari wine collection. Enjoy tasting Purcari wines and lunch in the estate.
15:00 – farewell to Moldova and drive to Odessa to learn the present and past Jewish heritage of that region
17:00 – arrival in Odessa. Check-in hotel. Meet the guide and follow to a restaurant for a dinner.
18:30 – 20:00 – Dinner in a kosher restaurant “Rozmarin” in Odessa
Overnight at hotel in Odessa.
09:00 – 13:00 – After breakfast at hotel you’ll get acquainted with the cozy city Odessa and find out interesting facts about the past and present Jewish heritage. Jewish Odessa is a phenomenon that attracts many historians, researchers, as well as ordinary travelers. And rightfully so, as the story of the Jewish Odessa is full of interesting facts and contradictions: local governors of the first half of the 19th century encouraged Jews to come and settle in the thriving city, yet the first in Russian Empire pogrom happened in Odessa. Among Odessa’s rich were the Ephrussi (ever read de Waal’s “Hare with Amber Eyes”?), the Brodsky and Ashkenazi families. On the other hand, 100% of the city tailors were Jewish. Jews made up a majority of small brokers, traders and porters. Odessa enthusiastically embraced Haskalah movement (Maskilim), and yet later became home to Sionism and Hasidism.
During the tour you will see the sights that have a particular meaning to the local Jewish community and the places, which are connected with such remarkable names as Isaac Babel, Meir Diezengoff, Shalom Aleihem, Vladimir (Ze’ev) Zhabotinsky, Hayim Nahman Bialik, Peter Stolyarsky, Emil Gilels, David Oistrakh to name a few.
Sites to be visited:
13:00 – 14:30 – Lunch at restaurant “Ukrainska Lasunka”
14:30 – 18:30 – Tour around Odessa to be continued
18:30 – 20:30 – dinner at restaurant “Klarabara”
Return to hotel for overnight.
Buffet breakfast at hotel. Free time for personal discoveries. Check-out at hotel before 12:00. Transfer to the airport with ESG for flight back home. Farewell Ukraine and Odessa.
Please ask for a quote.