This lecture took place on September 14, 2021.

Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish year, does not commemorate a historical event, rather emphasizing personal repentance, atonement, and charity. As every Jew knows well, the day is characterized by a heavy mood, intensive prayers, spending most of the day in the synagogue, and a day-long fast. However, the holiday was not always celebrated in this familiar manner and scholars even doubt when and how it was formed, and what were its characteristics in biblical and Second Temple times. In the Middle Ages, Jewish poets imbued new meanings in the Day of Atonement, and artists of the splendid Machzorim in Ashkenaz created innovatively striking iconography for these piyyutim. Special customs that developed in the course of time, such as the Kapparot and flagellation, attracted the attention of Christian Hebraists, who wished to highlight the"superstitions" of European Jews. Aside from such images, some curious objects and items of clothing were created for the holiday in different communities. The solemnity of the day drove 19th cent. leading the Jewish artists, Moritz Oppenheim and Maurycy Gottlieb in particular, to create monumental paintings that became familiar icons of the holiday. More critical points of view are presented in modern and Israeli art.  

​​Shalom Sabar is a Professor Emeritus of the Dept of Art History and Jewish Folklore of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Shalom has been our amazing scholar in residence on many of our tours throughout many years. Shalom has introduced us all to the wonderful culture, art and folklore of so many Jewish communities throughout the world. His wonderful enthusiasm has rubbed off on everyone who listens to him!  Shalom is a wealth of information and we thought it would be wonderful to have him lecture at this time on the art and folklore of Yom Kippur in Jewish communities.


This lecture took place on September 23, 2021.

Tracing the route which had connected East and West over the millennia, we'll visit many Jewish Communities. Some of them have thrived in Asia Minor, at the foothills of the Caucasus Mountains and around the Caspian Sea for many centuries. They are not of Sephardi or Ashkenazi origin, and they present a unique kind of the Judaism. Let's hear their special story and learn about what has happened to them in the last few decades.


Our guide will be Jacob Shoshan. Born in Jerusalem, he is a licensed tour guide in Israel as well as a teacher and lecturer for The Tour Guide Colleges in Israel. He is also a Senior Tour Director and Lecturer for the Geographical Society, Israel. Jacob has visited 98 countries and led tours in 65 countries on all six continents and is fluent in 15 languages. He presents in-depth discussions on Jewish history, philosophy and culture and is deeply involved in Holocaust education.

PARIS – THE JEWISH VIRTUAL EXPERIENCE, Karen Reb Rudel.  This lecture took place on September 30, 2021.

Karen Rue Rudel will cover the history of the Jewish Community in Paris with stories from Holocaust survivors and their families, Rabbis, and Jewish friends in Paris. She will cover the history from the time when the Jewish community arrived in France until today with amazing photos of the past. We will explore the Old Jewish Quarter of Paris, the Marais as well as the Hotel de Sully, the oldest synagogue in Paris, the famous synagogue of Hector Guimard, the exterior of the Musée Carnavalet, the SHOAH Holocaust Memorial & Museum and much more.

Born and raised in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, Karen Reb Rudel grew up with the aspiration to be a comedian, a musician, or both. She went on to study drama at Temple University in Philadelphia and played in a series of bands. From the age of 30 until she got married, Karen was back and forth between Paris and Philadelphia, working on musical projects and touring (including being the flautist and singer in a Reggae band in Paris). One day her parents came to visit her and Karen, having learned a lot about Paris, was showing them around when her mother exclaimed, “Karen, you would make a great tour guide!” That was the light bulb moment, and as the French say, voila! Paris has been Karen’s stomping ground for over 20 years, and her company is in a unique position to give you the historical background and underground cultural scoops that most walking tours leave out.



In the Jewish tradition, the joyous practice of decorating the ketubbah expresses the happiness and festivity of the marriage ceremony. Over the ages this creative Judaic art form became more and more sophisticated, reaching its height in Baroque Italy. The art of ketubbah took a different path among the Jews of Islam, who were actually the first to espouse and develop this custom as early as the 9th-10th centuries. Over the ages, Iran became the unequaled center of ketubbah illustration outside Italy and Europe. Despite the poverty and harsh conditions of Jewish life in Iran, the major communities, such as Teheran, Isfahan, Yazd, Shiraz, Hamadan, the Kurdish community of Sanandaj, and the sister community of Herat in Afghanistan, developed each their own typical style and meaningful motifs that enriched their ketubbot with colorful decorative designs influenced by Iranian arts and crafts, such as illuminated Koran manuscripts or the luxurious Persian carpets. The decorations embody at the same time the Jewish identity of the community and its position as a proud religious minority in a hostile environment. This is especially the case with the intriguing ketubbot of the holy city of Mashhad, where the Jews were forced to convert to Islam but continued to keep their unique Jewish traditions staunchly,

producing for each wedding two parallel marriage contracts, one Muslim for the public ceremony, and one Jewish for the secretive ritual held in the circle of the close family.

Shalom Sabar is a Professor Emeritus of the Dept of Art History and Jewish Folklore of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Shalom has been our amazing scholar in residence on many of our tours throughout many years. Shalom has introduced us all to the wonderful culture, art and folklore of so many Jewish communities throughout the world. His wonderful enthusiasm has rubbed off on everyone who listens to him!  We thought this topic will be excellent since it’s an area we don’t travel to and via the various kettubot, we’ll be able to learn about these Jewish communities.


THE MEMORABLE HISTORY OF THE JEWS OF MEDIEVAL ENGLAND, Dr. Kathy Aron-Beller. This lecture took place on October 19, 2021


The Jews of England are the best documented national Jewish community in medieval Christendom. In 1066 when William the Conqueror, the new Norman king came to England he invited his Jews from his Norman possessions to settle there with him. Not only was he the most important conqueror and usurper in English history but he seems to have been the first medieval King who transported Jews with him to a new land. How ironic it is that just over two hundred years later, England was the first European land to exile its Jews  in 1290. Join me for a trip to medieval England, to encounter these Jews and their lives in the medieval period. We will travel to Canterbury, Cambridge,

Lincoln, London, Norwich, Oxford and York to visit their houses, their synagogue spaces and other public areas where important events happened.


Originally from London, Katherine Aron-Beller is lecturer of Jewish History in the Rothberg International School of the Hebrew University and at Tel Aviv University. Her areas of expertise are medieval Jewish history, early modern Jewish-Christian relations, the early modern Inquisition and Anti-Semitism. In 2007-8 she was a Visiting Assistant Professor at the George Washington University in Washington DC. At present she is a Visiting Scholar of the Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism and Racism. She is the author of Jews on Trial: The Papal Inquisition in Modena 1598-1638 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2011), the co-editor of The Roman Inquisition: Centre versus Peripheries (Leiden: Brill, 2018) and many other articles on the Catholic Inquisition, anti-semitism and the Jews of Italy. She is now finishing a book called "Christian Images and Jewish Desecrators: The History of an Allegation," 400-1700." Dr. Aron-Beller has been a scholar in residence on many trips with Jewish Historical Seminars including trips to Spain, Portugal, England, Sicily and Italy and the ones we were planning to Alsace and Provence.Jews.