Phone: (607) 756-8676
Our Experience, Your Discoveries
We want to show you the world, and to have you truly inspired by it - exploring its breathtaking diversity. Our enthusiasm is stronger than ever to reach out and expand your horizons.
We hope you accept this invitation and join us on one of our journeys so that our experience becomes one of your many discoveries.
The Jewish Spirit of Morocco ~ February 6-15, 2011
If you wish to discover the rich Jewish culture and take a sneak peek back into time, then this is the Moroccan Tour for which you have been looking. Explore Moroccan Jewish culture and know more about their rich culture, traditions, and heritage. This adventurous journey will make you experience the rich Jewish and Arab cultures along with Berber, Spanish, Roman, and other influences.
In a short visit to Morocco, the importance that Jews once played in the country is not readily apparent. Much of Jewish Morocco is hidden from view, but with the right guide, a tourist can gain both a rich understanding of the role Jews play in Moroccan society, and also of the fascinating role of Moroccan Jews in the Jewish world. Jews and Arabs lived a symbiotic existence until the middle of the twentieth century. Moroccan kings protected the Jews from harm and helped some of them develop the wealth that sustained the monarchy for many years. Today, no more than 5,000 Jews remain in Morocco, compared to 300,000 in 1950. They have preserved their ancient traditions and customs. As of 2004, Marrakech had an aging population of about 260 Jews, most over the age of 60, while Casablanca has between 3,000 to 4,000. The younger generation prefers to continue its higher education abroad and does not return ; thus, the community is in process of aging.
Meanwhile the State of Israel is home to nearly 1,000,000 Jews of Moroccan descent, around 15% of the nation's total population. Before his death in 1999, King Hassan tried to protect the Jewish population, and, at present, Morocco has one of the most tolerant environments for Jews in the Arab world. Moroccan Jewish emigrants, even those with Israeli citizenship, freely visit friends and relatives in Morocco. Moroccan Jews have held leading positions in the business community and government. The major Jewish organization representing the community is the Conseil des Communautes Israelites in Casablanca. Its functions include external relations, general communal affairs, communal heritage, finance, maintenance of holy places, youth activities, and cultural and religious life. Jewish schools and syangogues receive government subsidies.
We invite you, the inquisitive traveller, to join tour leader and photographer Ron Rosenstock on this special tour of Morocco. We will have a cordial welcome in this country with its brilliant colors, compelling architecture, irresistible allure, and warm hospitality.
Day 1: Home - Depart States February 6
There are overnight flights from the U.S. to Casablanca, Morocco. We recommend flying Royal Air Maroc/Delta in order to land in Casablanca on time to begin our adventure. Arrival and departure times to be provided.
Day 2: Casablanca - Land in Casablanca February 7
After your arrival in Casablanca, you will be welcomed by your expert guide and be driven to the center of Casablanca. Begin your day with a visit to the Jewish Museum in Casablanca. Although its collection is still quite formative, this is the first Jewish museum in a Muslim country and is a good introduction to the fascinating history of this community.
Visit the ‘new mellah’, home to most of Morocco’s Jewish community. Visit the cultural center and the stained glass of the Bet El synagogue. Conclude your morning at the Mosque Hassan II, dramatically situated at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. Built by the late King Hassan II at the end of his 40-year reign, this astounding edifice is larger than Saint Peter’s in Rome and is capable of holding 80,000 worshippers.
After lunch, take a tour of Casablanca including the monumental colonial architecture of Place Mohamed V, the French-built Quartier Habous, the Gates of the Royal Palace, and the Marabout of Sidi Abderrahman (a holy shrine built on a rocky outcropping in the Atlantic Ocean to which women travel from all over Morocco in search of miracles). Overnight Hotel Sheraton (D)
Day 3: Casablanca – Rabat – Meknes - Fes
After breakfast, you will be escorted east to the city of Fes (approximately 3 ½ to 4 hours). On your way you will explore the extensive Roman ruins at Volubulis and tour the capital of the ancient Roman province of Mauritania. Volubulis has some outstanding mosaics.
Visit imperial Meknes—its spectacular city gates are among the finest in the Arab world. Here is the tomb of the once-feared Moulay Ismaïl, who modeled his capital of Meknes in the image of Versailles. Other sites of interest are the underground granaries and the vast imperial stables, which once held 12,000 horses. Meknes was once home to a thriving Jewish community. You may wish to visit the aging Talmud Torah in the Jewish Quarter and the new mellah (Meknes had two of them: the original and the 20th century new mellah). Continue to nearby Fes. Overnight Riad Yacout (B, L)
Days 4 - 5: Fes
Step back six centuries into the medieval world of Fes, whose cobbled streets are filled with ancient mosques, towering green-glazed minarets, and crumbling fondouks (hostels for travelers and their animals). Narrow doorways peer into private worlds, revealing peaceful courtyards filled with carved cedar, brilliantly colored mosaic tiles, and delicately carved stucco ornament. In Fes, veiled women hurry through the winding streets and proud artisans craft objects much as their forefathers did centuries ago.
Highlights of your days in Fes include the Bou Inania Medersa (Koranic University), the Foundouk Nejjarine (which has an excellent museum), the shrine of Moulay Idriss II, countless souks, and Fes’ famous tanneries. Visit the Dar Batha Museum, with a particularly impressive pottery collection dating back to the sixteenth century.
Spend a memorable afternoon taking a special look at the Jewish history and culture of traditional Morocco. Explore Fes’ mellah, founded in 1438 and situated immediately adjacent to the Royal Palace; it was once home to tens of thousands of Jews. The community included forty synagogues, the Bet Din, communal ovens, ritual baths, and many schools. Visit the vast Jewish cemetery opposite the gates of the Royal Palace, its whitewashed tombstones restored by the French. Visit the restored Ibn Danan Synagogue – the oldest extant synagogue in Fes. Its restoration is part of a comprehensive UNESCO project to preserve the monuments and fabric of medieval Fes. (B, L; B, L, D)
Day 6: Fes - Marrakesh
We will start early this morning after breakfast for our drive to Marrakesh. Driving south through the scenic cedar forests of the Middle Atlas Mountains. There will be various stops along the way. Overnight Hotel Tichka Salam (B, L, D)
Days 7 - 8: Marrakesh
Begin your day at the tropical Majorelle Gardens (once owned by Yves St. Laurent, one of the many expatriate celebrities who called Marrakech home). We may have time to visit the small, but excellent, Islamic Art Museum located in the home of painter Jacques Majorelle, and the opulent Saadien Tombs, a mausoleum of a great dynasty which once ruled North Africa. This treasure was lost until the beginning of the twentieth century when aerial photographs of the medina revealed its existence.
Explore the colorful souks (marketplaces) of Marrakech. Each trade—spices, carpets, jewelry, enamel, copper, brass and cedar—is situated in its unique quarter. You might see villagers bringing in their hand-made rugs to sell to merchants, or observe artisans hand-tooling crafts the way it has been done for centuries. Wander through the Dar Si Said Museum of traditional crafts housed in a nineteenth century palace, and the nearby Maison Tiskiwin, a private collection of indigenous crafts started by a Swiss collector and now open to the public.
Visit the ruins of the vast Badi’a Palace. Here you will find the 800-year-old wooden minbar (pulpit) from the Koutoubia mosque restored by New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. The New York Times writes that the minbar "originally consisted of more than a million differently carved pieces of bone and colored woods, some pieces the size of sesame seeds." The mellah of Marrakech contains narrow streets, ancient synagogues, and an extensive Jewish cemetery.
Our second morning, enjoy a private shopping excursion with your well-known guide living in Marrakech. He knows the off-the-beaten path places and has personal relationships with Morocco’s top artisans and designers. He will plan the day around your special interests. This afternoon, continue touring in the medina. Visit the medieval Medersa ben Youssef (Koranic University)—one of the finest Islamic monuments in North Africa. Architecture aficionados will enjoy the delicate dome of the twelfth century Koubba. (B, L, D both days)
Day 9: Marrakesh - Casablanca
This morning we will have time at leisure before returning to Casablanca. This evening we will enjoy our farewell dinner at Rick’s Café. Overnight Hotel Sheraton (B, D)
Day 10: Home - Depart Casablanca February 15
After breakfast we’ll be transferred to the Casablanca airport for flights home. Departure time to be provided. (B)
All hotels are four and five star, in the heart of your cultural locations.
Your Tour Leader
Tour land cost: $2,795 US Dollars based upon minimum of 13 paying participants. There is a small group surcharge of $200 if 6-12 paying participants. All our program prices are based on double occupancy unless noted in exceptions.
Single room supplement: $595; single rooms are subject to availability and are not guaranteed. We try to accommodate travelers who request single accommodations, as well as travelers who are looking for a roommate. If a single room is requested, or if we are unable to find a suitable roommate, you will be required to pay the supplement.
Note: The land costs on international tours is based upon current exchange rates. Although the rate has been relatively stable, should it change, there may need to be an adjustment in the land cost.
Deposits, Cancellations and Refunds
A deposit of $750 ($500 on domestic programs) per person is required. Specific tours may require an additional deposit due to accommodation bookings or transportation requirements. If applicable these will be noted on your invoice. Payment in full is required when bookings are made less than 120 days before the departure date. Space is subject to cancellation by Strabo if payment is not received when due.
Group transportation for tour events in the tour van.
Domestic or International air fare; other airfare if noted in exceptions; air fare tax; airport departure tax; airport transfers; additional transfers or accommodations that may be required by those not traveling with the group; excess baggage charges; meals not included in itinerary; activities listed as optional, or those taken on your own; passport/visa expenses; personal medical or travel insurance; any expenses of a personal nature, such as room service, laundry, beverages not included with meals, medical expenses, film or processing, any activities not specified in tour itinerary or listed as optional, or any items not listed in what is included; upon the completion of your trip, modest gratuities to the local guides and the drivers are customary; tips for meals not included in itinerary.
Please note on your trip application form if you would like us to assist you with your airfare needs, a charge is added for this service. If making your own arrangements, it is important to discuss flight times with Strabo Tours before booking any airline tickets. This will avoid you having to pay airline cancellation penalties.
Please contact Strabo Tours for destination airfare estimates, specific flight time arrivals, and departures.
Fitness and Health
If you have any special needs or any physical condition that you feel might prevent you from fully participating, please contact Strabo Tours with your concerns (607-756-8676).
You should also be aware that medical services or facilities might not be readily available during all or part of your trip. This could include emergency medical care, presence of physicians, or adequate medication.
Each participant must be covered by medical insurance that is valid overseas.
Travel insurance helps to minimize the risk of monetary losses you would incur in the event of a delay of your departure due to weather, airline strike, missed connection, etc., your inability to travel for reasons such as illness, injury, unforeseen financial complications and other personal circumstances, or if you were required to cut your trip short for medical or any other reasons.
There are restrictions and limitations on any insurance program. For this reason, please read carefully the enclosed pamphlet, which outlines their program of trip cancellation, baggage, and medical insurance. Trained agents are available to answer your questions, so don’t hesitate to call the toll free number in their brochure. It is to your advantage to apply for insurance at the earliest possible time, so don’t delay in making a decision.
Subject to Change
This itinerary has been carefully constructed to assure participants the best this destination has to offer; however, should events arise that are beyond our control, activities and hotel arrangements are subject to change without notice. Above is a summary of typical areas you will explore. Since there is no possible way to visit all of them, your guides will plan each day considering the interests of the group and the weather at hand. Be assured that we will make substitutions that are as similar in quality and interest as possible.