the lost israel of the SOVIET far east
Khabarovsk – Birobidzhan – Birofeld – Obluchye
DAY 1 - Khabarovsk
Our tour guide will meet you in the arrival hall of Khabarovsk International Airport (exact meeting time will be communicated well in advance per email in accordance to your flight schedule).
Introductory briefing about the region, the route and the set of rules to observe while travelling in the Soviet Far East.
Khabarovsk sightseeing: Lenin square, Lenin stadium, Amur cliffs, Holy Transfiguration Cathedral, Komsomol Square, State Drama theatre and plenty of socialist monuments and Soviet architecture.
Lunch, dinner and overnight in Khabarovsk.
DAY 2/3 - Birobidzhan
Today we'll move west driving along the Trans-Siberian line and head to the Jewish Autonomous Oblast, also known as the Soviet Zion or Israel of the Far East, the one and only Autonomous Oblast within the Russian Federation.
Although Judaism as a religion ran counter to the Bolshevik party policy of atheism, Lenin wanted to appease minority groups to gain their support and provide examples of tolerance; Joseph Stalin, who took over from Lenin in 1924, initially continued this policy: with the goal of getting Jews to work to be more productive members of society, the government established Komzet, the committee for the agricultural settlement of Jews.
The Soviet government dreamed then about the idea of resettling all world Jews to the USSR, in a designated territory where they would be able to pursue a lifestyle socialist in content and national in form: the location that was initially considered in the early 1920s was Crimea, which already had a significant Jewish population, however, an alternative scheme, perceived as more advantageous, was put into practice and, eventually, the settlement of Birobidzhan and the surrounding region were chosen by the Soviet leadership as the site for the new Jewish state: at its height in the late 1940s, the Jewish inhabitants in the region peaked at around 46,000-50,000, around 25% of the entire population.
We'll spend two full days in the Jewish Autonomous Oblast, codenamed JAO, exploring both the capital Birobidzhan and little traditional settlements scattered around the Taiga.
Highlights of your stay in the JAO will be the city of Birobidzhan itself, with its curious fair share of synagogues, churches and Soviet monuments, and the rarely visited early Jewish settlements of Birofeld, Nayfeld, Valdgeym and Obluchye.
During your time in the region you'll also have the unique chance to meet with local rabbis and other representatives of the Jewish population, who will share with you their food, their stories and the secrets of their endangered culture.
Dinners and overnights in Birobidzhan.
DAY 4 - Flight back home or transfer to further destinations
After enjoying a last Yiddish-style breakfast together we'll take care of your transfer to either Khabarovsk International Airport or Khabarovsk Train Station for your trip back home and/or your connection to yet another exciting destination in the region such as Mongolia, Manchuria or Yakutia.
End of the tour.
3 to 9 participants: 690 € per person
Regular monthly departures
The price includes: double/twin room accommodation (breakfast included; single supplement: 18 euros/night), private transport in the region (jeep or minivan), entrance fees for the attractions listed in the itinerary, guiding and translation service.
The price does not include: international flights, meals, drinks and tips, visas if required, entrance to attractions not listed in the itinerary, insurance.