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Crystal’s New Jewish Heritage Excursion Takes Travelers into Istanbul’s Diverse Spiritual Identity

  • Published by Ozgur Tore

With continued growing interest in its Jewish Heritage excursions, Crystal Cruises is expanding its spiritual offerings ashore for 2014 luxury European cruises.

galata-towerIn Istanbul, a brand new Crystal Adventure ashore -- offered with Crystal Serenity’s May 7 and June 22 voyages -- explores the city’s storied Jewish history and some of the most enduring spiritual landmarks, including:

•         Centuries-old Jewish heritage, visiting Ahrida Synagogue – Istanbul’s oldest, dating back to the early 1400’s – boasting a refreshed splendor since its 1992 refurbishment;

•         Ashkenazi heritage, with visits to Eskenazi, the last remaining active synagogue of its kind in Istanbul; and the “Tailors Synagogue,” founded by a group of Ashkenazi Austrian clothiers in 1900 and now serving their traditions as a fashion art gallery and research center;

•         The city’s Jewish quarters, then and now, exploring the Balat quarter, where the Jewish culture began to thrive during the Ottoman Empire, and the Galata district, where a modern bustling Jewish community has increased since the 1950’s.

•         The juxtaposition of Turkey’s Jewish and Muslim cultures, with a visit to the Quincentennial Foundation Museum of Turkish Jews, celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Jewish odyssey from Spain to Turkey, along with exhibits of the country’s corresponding Muslim history.

“We continue to respond to the increasing popularity of spiritually-based experiences ashore with new opportunities to gain insights into the impact that faith has had on the world in which we sail,” says John Stoll, vice president of land programs. “Istanbul has been a religious mecca for centuries, as the home to sites and stories that are not only profound for our Jewish guests, but also historically relevant for non-practitioners.”

In addition to the new excursion in Istanbul, five other thoughtfully crafted tours explore Jewish history in Europe, aboard several 2014 Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity sailings, such as:

•         An intimate glimpse inside the lives and stories of a Jewish family in St. Petersburg;

•         Otto Weidt’s broom factory in Berlin, where many disabled Jews were employed and protected from deportation;

•         The Amsterdam house where Anne Frank hid and penned her famous memoirs;

•         Stockholm’s memorial to 8,500 Swedish Holocaust victims; and

•         One of the best preserved Jewish quarters in Europe, from Palamós, Spain.

Several excursions elsewhere in Europe also explore Christian heritage via exclusive experiences.

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