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We Are Joining Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel’s Jewish Heritage Tour of Exotic Morocco Led by – RABBI LANCE J. SUSSMAN Ph.D. February 28 – March 11, 2021 | Israel Tour
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Israel Tour / We Are Joining Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel’s Jewish Heritage Tour of Exotic Morocco Led by – RABBI LANCE J. SUSSMAN Ph.D. February 28 – March 11, 2021

We Are Joining Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel’s Jewish Heritage Tour of Exotic Morocco Led by – RABBI LANCE J. SUSSMAN Ph.D. February 28 – March 11, 2021

per person

From the arid highlands to the royal cities, Rabat, Casablanca, Fes, and Marakech, Moroccan Jews cling to their culture and identity in a very friendly African country.


Day 1: Sunday, February 28th

Departure from USA. an overnight flight to Casablanca, Morocco.

Day 2: Monday, March 1

  • Arrival at Casablanca Mohammed V International Airport, to be met and assisted by ITC staff (today's program depends on arrival time)
  • Cosmopolitan Casablanca has roots dating to the Roman settlement of Anfa. The port became a key trading post for 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.
  • Upon arrival, we begin our tour by visiting the massive Mosque Hassan II. Completed in 1993, the Mosque can accommodate up to 25,000 worshippers, making it the second largest in Islam today. This is the only mosque in Morocco that allows non-Muslims entry to the inner chambers. The mosque is a masterpiece of architecture and artisanal craftmanship!
  • Lunch: Rick's Café
  • After lunch, we tour the Museum ofMoroccan Judaism, or El Mellah Museum,the first Jewish museum in a Muslim country. The exhibits tell the story of a community that once numbered 250,000 strong. The museumdocuments over two millennia of Jewish heritage. It encompasses the Imperial Cities, as well as the lesser-known Berber Jewish communities which are spread through the Atlas Mountains and the Sahara. We will be given a guided tour of the museum by the museum’s curator.
  • Speaker: Museum Curator Zhor Rhehil. (Upon availability)
  • Check-in at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. The hotel is located in the heart of Casablanca and set on beautifully landscaped grounds with gardens and palm trees.
  • Meet in the lobby, then departure to the restaurant for dinner.
  • Dinner at Le Petit Rocher
  • Overnight: Hyatt Regency Hotel – Casablanca

Day 3: Tuesday, March 2

  • After breakfast at the hotel, we check out and start our touring.
    • ITC Touch: Begin your day with a visit to Neve Shalom School.
    • In 1961 OZAR HATORAH had 15,000 students in Morocco. It was on this date and under the leadership of a young Rabbi, just 30 years old, Rabbi Aharon Monsonego that the present Névé Shalom school was built.
    • In all these decades, Neve has worked tirelessly despite budget cuts, year after year, for the well-being and development of its students, who are now, for the most part, eminent Rabbis, Rachei Yéshivot, community leaders, doctors, engineers, university professors, and business leaders. The quality of the teaching they received, allowed them later to flourish in their professional life.
      • Speaker: Rabbi J. Sebag • After our visit to the Neve Shalom School, we head inland to Rabat (Approximately 1-hour drive on the highway). Upon arrival, enjoy your lunch. • Lunch: Le Cercle • After lunch, we start exploring the main attractions and highlights of the city. • Visit Hassan Tour (AKA Hassan Tower) - Rabat's iconic landmark is the half-finished minaret of a planned mosque, whose remnants attest to its ambitions. Drive by the Royal Palace, the residence of the current reigning King Mohamed VI, and see the luxury of this sprawling palace. • We next visit the Kasbah des Oudaias. It was built by the Almohad Dynasty in the 12th century and is worth serious exploration. Stroll the narrow streets to the Andalusian gardens that sit on the site of the former palace and are something of a town square –especially in the summer months. • Check in to The View Hotel, Rabat. With a breathtaking view, from its 17 floors, The View Tower offers services and facilities for a top- class trip! • Take the rest of the day at leisure • Dinner on your own. Your guide or hotel staff will be happy to make suggestions! • Overnight: The View Hotel

Day 4: Wednesday, March 3

  • After breakfast at the hotel, we check out and head inland to Fes. (approximately 2 1⁄2 hour drive) Along the way we will make the following stops:
• Meknes - the Imperial capital of Sultan Moulay Ismail, founder of the ruling Alaouite Dynasty. Explore Meknes' massive granaries and stables, ornate city gates and the grand Place El Hedim. • Next we see the Bab Mansour, one of the most amazing gates in the world. It was built at the beginning of the 18th century and completed in 1732 by Moulay Abdallah, son of Sultan Moulay Ismail. It was to be the grand entrance to the Imperial City of Meknes. • Lunch on your own. Suggested restaurant: La Grilladiere Meknes. • After lunch, we continue on to 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. Visit the Triumphal Arch, Basilica, Diana and the Bathing Nymphs. • Continue on to Fès • Upon our arrival, take in a panoramic view of the Medina from high above at Borj Sud Fortress, a prominent fortress built in the 16th century. Visit the Jewish Cemetery • Check in at Hotel Sahrai Fes. which captivates from the moment you arrive. This airy retreat is a marvel of light and space, bringing together a modern look with a time-honored feel. Inside and out you’ll find traditional Moroccan features, from Taza stonework to Fassi ceramics It features a luxury spa center. Rest and refresh at your hotel before dinner.
  • Dinner: Hotel Sahrai
  • Overnight: Hotel Sahrai, Fes

Day 5: Thursday, March 4

  • After breakfast at the hotel, start your day by with a visit to the Mellah of Fes. 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. Continue on to Al Fassyine Synagogue.
  • Then, head to 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: Nejjarine Restaurant
  • After lunch, visit the Al-Attarine Madrasanear near Al-Qarawiyyin. It was built by the Marinid sultan Uthman II Abu Said (r. 1310-1331) in 1323- 5. The madrasa takes its name from the Souk al-Attarine, the spice and perfume market. 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. ITC Touch: Visit one of the famous tile 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 other amazing souvenir.
  • Return to the hotel to rest and refresh.
  • Dinner on your own. Your guide or hotel staff will be happy to make suggestions!
  • Overnight: Hotel Sahrai, Fes

Day 6: Friday, May 5

  • Breakfast then early check-out from the hotel • We will be driven to Marrakech through the highway. (Approximately 6-hour drive)
  • Lunch on route
  • Upon arrival, visit the Mellah of Marrakech, considered to be one of the largest in Morocco. It never ceases to surprise and impress its visitors!
  • Rest and refresh at your hotel. Then meet in the reception for Shabbat dinner.
  • Shabbat Dinner: TBA
  • Overnight: Sofitel Marrakech Lounge and SpaVisit 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.
  • Check-in at Sofitel Marrakech. Designed with a contemporary style, the 5-star Sofitel Marrakech Lounge & Spa hotel is an oasis of calm in the heart of a beautiful garden with views of the Atlas Mountains.
  • Shabbat Dinner: TBA
  • Overnight: Sofitel Marrakech Lounge and Spa

Day 7: Saturday, March 6

  • 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 Tanjia Restaurant
  • After lunch, head to the Dar el Bacha Confluences Museum in Marrakech. Dar el Bacha Confluences Museum is located in Marrakech Palace Pacha Glaoui, one of the most beautiful palaces of the red city. Also called “the governor’s palace”, or Dar el Glaoui, it was built at the beginning of the 20th century. We will visit the lovely gardens, see the zellige mosaic tilework of this opulent palace, and enjoy exhibitions focused on Moroccan culture.
  • ITC Touch: 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 which 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.
  • Return to the hotel to rest and refresh then meet in the lobby for departure to dinner.
  • Dinner at Al Fassia Aguedal
  • Overnight: Sofitel Marrakech Lounge and Spa

Day 8: Sunday, March 7

  • Breakfast at your hotel, and then we head towards the coast to Essaouira (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.
  • You may want to 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 your lunch
  • Lunch: Le Medina Hotel. (Entertainment with Gnaoua Music)
  • 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 Elul 5605, in the Hebrew calendar) Jews from around the world come on pilgrimage to pray at the Rabbi's grave.
  • After the visits in Essaouira, we return to Marrakech
  • Rest and refresh at your Hotel
  • Dinner at leisure. Your guide or hotel staff will be happy to make suggestions!
  • Overnight: Sofitel Marrakech Lounge and Spa

Day 9: Monday, March 8

  • Breakfast at the hotel
  • ITC Touch: Then we head to Dchiera Aghouatim (“Big Family”), a small Berber village. (about 40 minutes) Here we will have a private, outdoor 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.
  • Rest & refresh at your Hotel
  • ITC Touch: When you are ready, head to the Desert of Agafay for the evening.
  • The Desert of Agafay is an arid, rocky area that is ideal for a taste of Moroccan desert culture. Located just an hour’s drive from Marrakech, it is literally untouched by development. Agafay offers quite the contrast from the hustle and bustle of Marrakech. You will be welcomed with Moroccan wine and a scarf like those worn by Saharan nomads.
  • Enjoy a Sunset Camel Trek
  • Rest & refresh before dinner
  • Enjoy a festive dinner under the tents.
  • After dinner, head back to the hotel.
  • Overnight: Sofitel Marrakech Lounge and Spa

Day 10: Tuesday, March 9

  • Breakfast at your hotel. This morning, get away from the hustle-bustle of Marrakech and head in land to the Atlas Mountains with its plush, green fields and peaceful Berber Villages to admire the traditional Moroccan life. It’s a 1-Hour ride by bus.
  • Visit the famous Saint’s gravesite, the well-known miracle worker, Rabbi Solomon Bal Chehnch the master of the snake, meet locals who will display their famous hospitality: learn their culture and lifestyle. This is the last opportunity to experience the Berber lifestyle.
  • After the visits in Ourika, head back to Marrakech.
  • Lunch at Café Arabe
  • In the afternoon, visit the Secret Garden, which is one of the largest and most ancient palaces of the medina of Marrakech. It is a place that has kept ancient structures intact that are of an extraordinary cultural value, linked to the art of gardens, architecture and Arab hydraulics. The Riad rises up in the Mouassine quarter and comprises two large gardens and one of the highest towers of the medina. The museum provides you with a wealth of historical information about Marrakech's architecture, water, and gardens.
  • Rest and refresh at your hotel
  • Farewell dinner at Sofitel
  • Overnight: Sofitel Marrakech Lounge and Spa

Day 11: Wednesday, March 10

  • Breakfast at the hotel and then we will be driven to Casablanca, about 3-Hour ride. Upon arrival, we will walk through the Casablanca Artisanal Center, where you can shop at leisure for any last-minute gifts of handy crafts items.
  • Lunch on your own. Your guide or hotel staff will be happy to make suggestions!
  • After lunch, you will be escorted to Casablanca Mohammed V International Airport for your departing flight back to the USA.

Land Only Package $4295 Discounted rate payment by check; prices are per person, double room
Land and Air Package $5395 Discounted rate payment by check; prices are per person, double room
Single Room Supplement $1395 Discounted rate payment by check;
Land only Package $4467 Full cost for credit card payment; prices are per person, double room
Land and Air Package $5610 Full cost for credit card payment; prices are per person, double room
Single Room Supplement $1450 Full cost for credit card payment

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