Magical Morocco DHJC Adventure with Rabbi Howard Buechler
October 22–November 2, 2023
Optional Rome Extension November 2 – 6
Day 1: Sunday, October 22, 2023
Depart JFK Airport on and overnight flight to Casablanca.
Day 2: Monday, October 23, 2023
Arrival at Casablanca Mohammed V International Airport.
Cosmopolitan Casablanca has roots dating to the Roman settlement of Anfa. The port became a key trading post of the Sultan in the 18th century and was greatly expanded during the French protectorate. Recent years have seen efforts to restore the once crumbling medina. Nearby, you will see various art deco facades. Casablanca is Morocco’s largest metropolis and home of the largest Jewish community in the country.
Visit to the Hassan II Mosque. Completed in 1993, the Mosque can accommodate up to 25,000 worshippers making it the second largest in Islam today.
Lunch at the Rick’s Café (Included). All group meals are either dairy or at Kosher certified restaurants.
After lunch, guided visit through the Museum of Moroccan Judaism, for a glimpse into the rich and colorful world of Moroccan Jewry. It is the first Jewish Museum in a Muslim country. The museum tells the story of a community that once numbered 250,000 strong. It documents two millennia of Jewish heritage, both in the Imperial Cities as well as in the lesser-known Berber Jewish communities spread throughout the Atlas Mountains and the Sahara.
Then head in land to Marrakech (approximately 2.5 hour ride). Check into The Sofitel – Marrakech.
Dinner at Al Fassia Agdal (included).
Day 3: Tuesday, October 24, 2023
Breakfast at the Hotel.
This morning after breakfast, visit the Jardin Majorelle. The garden was a gift to Marrakech from Yves–Saint Laurent. Purchased from the painter Jacque Majorelle, the garden is adorned with Majorelle blue, the color named after him.
Continue to the Yves–Saint Laurent Museum, opened in October, 2017. The museum highlights the life work of the designer and his connection to Marrakech.
Lunch at Mamma Mia Restaurant (included).
After lunch, break up into smaller groups with guides to explore the endless souks of Marrakech. Each trade and specialty clusters together over the alleyways and squares. We will be hosted
by Richard DeMayo, an American designer who has called Marrakech home for almost 20 years. We will have access to local workshops and wholesalers that are closed to the public, but are special contacts of your host. Along the way you may want to stop in one of the Argan cooperative shops. Argan oil is gaining notoriety for its cholesterol reducing qualities and use in beauty products.
Make a stop at Djemaa el Fana, the main square at the heart of Marrakech’s medina. In the
late afternoon, food stalls appear next to rows of escargot sellers, snake charmers, musicians and story tellers. See the Koutoubia Minaret as it dominates the skyline of Marrakech. The 12th century monument is a masterpiece in Moorish architecture.
Dinner with members of local Jewish Community at Mrs. Ohayon’s home. (included). Overnight: Sofitel
Day 4: Wednesday, October 25, 2023
Breakfast at your hotel, and then we head towards the Atlantic coast to Essaouira: city of Mogador (Total drive 3 hours with stops).
A former Portuguese town on the Atlantic Ocean that has become something of an artists’ colony, the enchanting streets of this fortified town were the setting for Orson Welles’ 1952 Othello. Explore the picturesque street of the Thuya workers. Essaouira is renowned for its skilled artisans turning fragrant Thuya wood, the Oceanside ramparts, and the numerous art galleries and boutiques scattered about. Most recently it was the location for several episodes of the Game of Thrones series!
On route, you might see goats climb Argan trees in search of the tree nuts.
We will make a stop at one of the Argan oil cooperatives on the road between Essaouira & Marrakech. They produce the best argan oil, where the highest standards are used to produce the finest cosmetic and culinary oils. The company’s oil is also certified organic based on international standards. Argan oil has gained notoriety in the USA & Europe for its cosmetic qualities as well as the cooking oil which is extremely healthy and adds a pine nut flavor to any fresh salad.
Upon arrival, enjoy Lunch at M Gallery restaurant (included).
After lunch, visit the old Jewish cemetery and synagogue. Rabbi Haim Pinto (1748–1845) was the leading rabbi in the seaport city of Essaouira, Morocco, known in his lifetime as Mogador, Morocco. Rabbi Pinto, himself born into a distinguished rabbinic family, had four sons, Rabbi Yehouda also known as Rabbi Haddan, Rabbi Yossef, Rabbi Yehoshiya and Rabbi Yaacov. Annually, on the anniversary of Rabbi Pinto’s death, (26 Elloul 5605, in the Hebrew calendar) Jews from around the world come on pilgrimage to pray at the rabbi’s grave.
Return to Marrakech.
Rest and refresh at your Hotel.
Dinner at La Masion Arabe Trois Saveurs Restaurant (included). Overnight: Sofitel
Day 5: Thursday, October 26, 2023
Early this morning there is a Hot Air Balloon Option Experience.
We promise you almost the moon! the discovery of the fabulous landscapes of Marrakech in your hot air balloon. We guarantee you an “impregnable” view on the most beautiful sites of the red city (desert, Berber villages and oasis, mountains and cased gorges…) and a unique sensation in the Moroccan azure as you travel through the sky on your private Hot Air Balloon. Approximately 1 hour flight time. Upon landing, a gourmet breakfast will be served, and you will receive your own flight certificate for your successful flight!
Breakfast at the hotel. Then we head to Dchiera Aghouatim (“Big Family”), a small Berber village. (about 40 minutes) Here we will have a private, outdoor Kosher Cooking Class hosted by a famous local chef. Prepare your own traditional Moroccan dishes and enjoy them for lunch! Learn about Moroccan spices, including Ras al Hanout, the definitive spice of Moroccan cuisine. Bake bread the traditional Moroccan way using an earthen, wood-fueled stove. The organic vegetables used in your dish are grown in the garden on site! While your tagine is cooking over the fire, take a walk (about 20 minutes) across a wide valley, where sheep graze, wild cactus fruit grows, and the days go on seemingly untouched by modern life. We will wander through the village and visit with the local villagers who are happy to talk about the history of the village and their daily life.
After lunch, say your farewells to the cooking class staff and villagers and head back to your hotel in Marrakech.
Make a visit to the Berber Pharmacy and Spice Shop located in the Kasbah region of the old city, not far from your hotel. Here you will learn about all of the natural remedies and cooking spices used by the Berber Culture for centuries. This is a fun stop with a bit of unique education.
Stroll through the 16th century Jewish quarter and Visit the Rabbi Hanania Hacohen cemetery, the burial place of Rabbi Mordekhai Ben Attar and Rabbi Pinhas Hacohel. Continue to the Bahia Palace.
Visit the Salat El Azama Synagogue and the Rabbi Hanania Hacohen Cemetery. It is also the burial place of Rabbi Mordekhai Ben Attar and Rabbi Pinhas Hacohel. We will be received by Chazzan Issac Ohayon, the individual responsible for the cemetery’s maintenance. He will hold an informal discussion on Life in Morocco.
Rest & refresh before dinner.
Dinner on your own and evening at leisure (there are many good local restaurants). Overnight: Sofitel
Day 6: Friday, October 27, 2023
Breakfast at the Hotel and check out 8:00am early departure to Fez.
Lunch on route. Upon arrival, you will take in a panoramic view of the Medina of Fes from Borj Sud, a
towering fortress overlooking the city. Your guide will give you a brief introductory to Fes.
Check in at Palais Medina – Fes.
Rest, refresh and get ready for Shabbat.
Shabbat Services and dinner at The Centre Maimonides with members of local Jewish Community who will join the group to discuss their life in Fes (included).
Overnight: Palais Medina
Day 7: Saturday, October 28, 2023
Breakfast at the hotel.
Shabbat Morning Services at Ben Saadoun Synagogue.
Shabbat Lunch at the Kosher Dragon Restaurant at the Palais Medina Hotel (Included).
After lunch take a walking tour through the Mellah (Jewish Quarter) of Fes. Visit the 17th century Ibn Danan Synagogue, the oldest existing synagogue in the city. The synagogue underwent a restoration as part of a UNESCO project in 1999.
You will cross through an area known for its goldsmithing, and continue across the street to Fes Jadid passing ancient homes to the entry called Bab Semmarine. The entryway was built by the Marinid Dynasty in the late 13th century. Continue through the famous public Jnane Sbil Gardens to the Blue Gates of the old city, known as Bab Bou Jeloud.
Follow a different route back to enjoy the scenery. Return to your hotel, and enjoy the rest of the day at leisure.
Havdalah with Rabbi Buechler to conclude Shabbat
Dinner on your own and evening at your leisure
Overnight at Palais Medina Fes.
Day 8: Sunday, October 29, 2023
Breakfast at the hotel. visit the Jewish Cemetery. Enjoy a walking tour through the Mellah of Fes. We will visit the historic 17th century Ibn Danan Synagogue. The oldest existing synagogue in the city, Ibn Danan underwent a restoration as part of a UNESCO project in 1999.
Discover the secret of medieval medina-city of Fes El Bali (old Fes), founded in the 9th century. See the University of al-Qarawiyyin – also written Al Quaraouiyine or Al-Karaouine. According to UNESCO and Guinness World Records it is the oldest existing, continually operating educational institution in the world. They also name it as the first degree-awarding educational institution.
Pass the Blue Gate, and the Shrine of Moulay Idriss, and peek through the many entrances of the massive Al Quaraouiyine Mosque. As you explore, you will wind in and out of a variety of souks – from vegetable markets through the street of butchers, alleys of harira soup cafes, weavers, carpenters and so much more. As we stroll, you can see the communal bread ovens that are very much a part of daily medina life!
Lunch at Nejjarine Restaurant (included).
After lunch, visit the Al-Attarine Madrasa near Al-Qarawiyyin. It was built by the Marinid sultan Uthman II Abu Said (r. 1310–1331) in 1323–5. The medrasa takes its name from the Souk al-Attarine, the spice and perfume market. The Medersa (Koranic college) is a jewel of Hispano–Moorish architecture.
Next, we will learn a bit about the Moroccan leather industry as you continue to the iconic Chouara Tannery. Chouara Tannery is one of the three tanneries in the city of Fez. Built in the 11th century, it
is the largest tannery in the city and is located in the Fes el Bali, the oldest medina quarter of the city. Since the inception of the city, the tanning industry has been continually operating in the same fashion as it did centuries ago. It’s best to head up to the balconies of one of the shops that will welcome you with a sprig of mint and a memorable view.
Return to the hotel to rest and refresh.
Dinner at the Kosher Dragon Restaurant (included). Overnight: Palais Medina Fes Hotel
Day 9: Monday, October 30, 2023
Breakfast at the Hotel and check out. Today departure to Rabat.
Before leaving Fez, visit the famous tiles and ceramic factories. Moroccan ceramics and tile production are, and have been, world famous for centuries. This is partially due to the unique soil composition of Fes, which is perfect for the production of these artistic creations. The other part of course, is talent! See from start to finish how these wonderful mosaic tile creations are made, and have an opportunity to bring home a beautiful handmade ceramic Kiddush cup, tagine (a customary Moroccan cooking vessel), or another amazing souvenir.
Head towards the coastal capital city of Rabat. Stop at the ruins of Volubilis, the ruins of the late Roman era capital of the province of Mauritania. A UNESCO World Heritage site, Volubilis overlooks the fertile plains of the Meknes region near the foot of Mt. Zerhoun. Intact mosaics, restored arches and olive oil presses give one a sense of the importance of this outpost on the fringes of the empire. At Volubilis, your expert guide will arrange for a local guide to take you through the site. This is required by local regulations.
After the visit of the ruins of Volubilis, depart for Rabat, the most extensive medieval city in the Arab world, and the home of Jewish scholars and rabbis for hundreds of years.
We will continue on to Meknes.
The city of Meknes has winding narrow medina streets and grand buildings. These features bring Meknes a title as an imperial city and a one-time home of the Moroccan Sultan. Remnants of no less than three sets of fortifications are ingeniously incorporated into the city’s road networks and make it clear how important this city once was. The king’s tomb sits at the heart of what remains of the original imperial city, flanked by a royal granary, the magnificent entry door “Bab- el-Mansour” is easily seen.
Lunch on your own (suggestions will be offered) Continue to the hotel for check-in at The View Hotel.
Dinner independently (there are several great restaurants just near the Hotel. Overnight at Rabat the View Hotel
Day 10: Tuesday, October 31, 2023
Breakfast at the Hotel.
Start your day, visit the infamous uncompleted Hassan tower. The minaret was projected to be the largest of its type of all-time, yet – unfortunately – the construction processes stopped suddenly following the death of al-Mansur in 1199.
Continue to the 11th-century fortress walls of Kasbah Oudaya. When you reach the Kasbah’s southern end, you’ll find the tranquil Andalusian Gardens, while at the district’s northern tip is a platform offering panoramic views over both the Atlantic Ocean to the west and Salé to the north.
Lunch in Le Dhow Restaurant on the river (included).
This afternoon, visit the Mohammed VI Museum of Modern and Contemporary arts. The Museum harbours four hundred works by Moroccan artists, established in Morocco or abroad, from the 20th and 21st centuries. It is Morocco’s first independent museum dedicated to national modern art, and the first major national museum integrated into Morocco since independence.
Continue down the coast to Casablanca (approximately 1 hour ride) Check in at Le Casablanca Hotel.
Dinner at The Kosher SOC Restaurant (included).
Overnight: Le Casablanca Hotel
Day 11: Wednesday, November 1, 2023
Breakfast at the hotel.
After breakfast, enjoy a day trip from the city of Casablanca to the coastal city El Jadida, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Discover the Portuguese style ramparts and buildings. In this city, you’ll discover the Jewish historical sites and take a walk in the medina. We’ll explore the mosque, the churches, and many other spots.
Lunch on your own (suggestions will be offered)
Enjoy your time in the city, and then head to a small city near El Jadida, Azemmour. Azemmour features a Portuguese medina, which has three parts, a Jewish mellah, a kasbah, and the old medina.
Return to Casablanca.
Rest and refresh at your hotel then meet for departure to restaurant.
Farewell dinner atthe Kosher Le Cercle de l’Union which includes Classical Moroccan and Jewish Moroccan music together with a Belly dancer. A really enjoyable last night! (included).
Day 12: Thursday, November 2, 2023
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel.
Your bus and Guide are available should you want to venture out before departure.
Check out of the hotel.
You will be escorted to Casablanca International Airport for your departing flight. Assistance with your luggage will be provided by Heirloom Team.
Departure flight to the U.S.A., arriving the same day.
Optional Rome Addition
Day 13: Thursday, November 2, 2023 – Rome
• Depart from Casablanca to Rome.
• Arrive in Rome at 4:15 and check into hotel.
• On the way to dinner stop by the Trevi Fountain, if time allows.
• Dinner for all included at Ba Ghetto Meat in Rome (in the Ghetto). • Optional cooking demonstration for dinner.
Day 14: Friday, November 3, 2023 – Ba Ghetto
- Visit the Vatican and St. Peters.
- Back for lunch on your own and then tour of the ghetto area Friday night as Shabbat begins, attend the Synagogue and then BaGhetto Shabbat.
- Dinner on site. Day 15: Saturday, November 4, 2023 – Shabbat • Optional Synagogue for Shabbat services and then Shabbat lunch included at BaGhetto. • Optional Saturday walking tours TBA.
• Havdalah with Rabbi Buechler.
• Free evening at your leisure, dinner on own.Day 16: Sunday, November 5, 2023 – The Piazzas
- Visit the Colosseum and Palatine Hill in the morning, then enjoy a walking tour of Piazzas: Campo de Fioro then to Piazza Navona and then to Pantheon and Piazza di Spagna.
- Lunch on own at a piazza.
- Then visit Villa Borghese and The Borghese Gallery (OPEN UNTIL 7:00pm).
- Farewell dinner at Kosher restaurant in Jewish Ghetto area (included) Day 17: Monday, November 6, 2023 • Depart midday from Rome to JFK.
St. Peter’s Bascilica
Morocco: October 22- November 2, 2023
Optional Rome Extension November 2-6