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Jewish Tour in Moscow

Jewish heritage in Moscow over centuries on private tour

$117 — 3 hours
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Jewish tour to Moscow

Have an authentic Jewish experience in Moscow, both personable and educational.

This tour will give you an idea about Jewish Heritage in Russia and take you into all main sites of Jewish community in Moscow.

Private Moscow Jewish tours:

  • 7-hour tour $197: Jewish Museum & Tolerance Center, Museum of the Jewish History in Russia, Moscow Choral Synagogue, Bolshaya Bronnaya Synagogue, Holocaust memorial synagogue, Kosher Lunch, Coffee break in Art Café in Jewish Community Center (optional)

  • 5-hour tour $157: Jewish Museum & Tolerance Center, Museum of the Jewish History in Russia, Kosher Lunch

  • 3-hour tour $117: Moscow Choral Synagogue (or Bolshaya Bronnaya Synagogue), Holocaust memorial synagogue, Kosher Lunch

  • If you are interested in a 5- or 7-hour tour, you can pay the difference in cash. 

Highlights of Jewish Tour:

  • Set out on an entertaining journey through the many centuries long history of the Jewish people in Russia and beyond, getting to know its history and religious tradition;

  • Engage in interactive discussions about Jewish and Chassidic traditions, culture, and lifestyles with onsite guides in Jewish Museum & Tolerance Center and Museum of Jewish History of Russia;

  • Visit the oldest Moscow Choral Synagogue consecrated almost 110 years ago, the main synagogue in Russia and in the former Soviet Union;

  • Take a tour of the Museum of the Jewish History;

  • Visit the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center – they say it is the largest Jewish interactive museum in the world. The project is meant to convey a powerful message to Jews whose ancestors fled or emigrated: Russia wants you back.

  • Track the history of Russia starting from the period of Catherine II the Great down to our days through the examples of the culture and everyday life of the Jewish people in the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center. Unlike many traditional historical museums, this museum is interactive, and allows you to literally touch history in its 12 themed halls;

  • Visit Bolshaya Bronnaya Synagogue, built as a private synagogue by pre-revolutionary millionaire Lazar Solomonovich Polyakov;

  • See a monument to the Jewish writer Sholom Aleichem;

  • Visit the Holocaust Memorial Synagogue that was built in 1998 to complement an Orthodox church and a mosque that are also part of the outdoor museum dedicated to Russia’s victory in World War II;

  • Explore Kitay Gorod, the oldest part of Moscow after the Kremlin, emerged in the 14th century;

  • Climb up Poklonnaya Hill in Victory Park, devoted to WWII, and get lovely panoramic views of Moscow;

  • Enjoy a delicious Kosher Lunch (not included in the cost);

  • Coffee break in an urban art café in one of Jewish community centers (optional, not included in the cost).

Itinerary: (for 7-hr tour)

  • Hotel pickup

  • Jewish museum & Tolerance Center

  • Museum of the Jewish history in Russia

  • Moscow Choral Synagogue

  • Bolshaya Bronnaya Synagogue

  • Holocaust memorial synagogue

  • Kosher Lunch

  • Coffee break in Art Café in Jewish Community Center (optional)

  • Finishing at any place you wish or return to the hotel

  • ***Two museums are located quite far from metro. We can wait for a bus or take an inexpensive taxi

Some details about the Museums: 

  • Jewish museum & Tolerance Center: 

Entrance fee – 400rub. If you want a private onsite tour of the museum, it is paid separately: 250 rubles per person if it’s a scheduled tour, or for the group of max 7 people-2000rub; 7-20 people-2500. The tour lasts for about 1,5 hours.

11 Obraztsova str, bld 1A

Museum Hours:

Sunday – Thursday 12: 00-22: 00.

Friday 10: 00-15: 00.

Saturdays and Jewish holidays closed

 

  • Museum of the Jewish history in Russia:

  • Both the tour and the entrance are free, the tour lasts for 1,5 hours.

10, Petrovsko-Razumovskaya alley, bld.3

Museum Hours:

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday & Friday: 12:00 – 19:00;

Thursday: 12:00 – 21:00;

Sunday: 12:00 – 18:00

Saturdays and Jewish holidays closed

  •  

Moscow Choral Synagogue

Opening Hours:

Sunday – Thursday from 9.30-23.00

Friday 9:30 am – 2 hours before the ignition spark (in December – up to 15.00)

Lunch in Kosher restaurant Rimon in Moscow Choral Synagogue (Or Jerusalem)

  •  

Bolshaya Bronnaya Synagogue

Lunch in Jerusalem Restaurant located at the Bolshaya Bronnaya Synagogue or Coffee break in art cafe at Jewish Community Center at 47, Bolshaya Nikitskaya St., bld. 2

  •  

​Holocaust memorial synagogue

Interesting Facts from our Jewish Tours: 

The first mention of Jews in Moscow belongs to the XV century. One of first Jews in Russia was the personal physician of the Grand Duke Ivan III, a Venetian Jew named Leon. Over the next 150 years, the documents recorded only isolated cases of Jews staying in the capital, because at that time there was an acting ban on persons of Jewish faith living in the city and in the country as a whole.
The number of Jews increased in Moscow during the Russian-Polish War 1632 -1667 years. Most of them were forcibly deported peaceful inhabitants, especially the residents of Belarus.

 

In the XVIII century there were almost no Jews in Moscow. The only exceptions were a few merchants staying in Moscow from time to time.
Only after the first partition of Poland in 1772 the Jews again began to settle in Moscow. The first settlers came from Shklov. The legal status of these migrants remained uncertain for some time. Some traders interpreted this uncertainty in a favorable for them way. 

 

In 1788-1789 three Jews entered the Moscow society of merchants of the first guild. In response, in early 1790, local merchants sent a complaint to the governor-general stating that Jews undermine trade because of their low prices. The efforts of merchants led to success and the government of Catherine II decided to forbid Jews to settle on a permanent basis, not only in Moscow but also in the entire territory of the Russian Empire. Since then, the Jews could remain in Moscow only temporarily.

 

Since the beginning of the XIX century the Jews who came to the city on business, stayed mainly in the territory of the inn known as Glebovskoe courtyard in Zaryadye neighborhood. This is probably due to the fact that the owners of Hlibovsky monastery managed to host the preparation of kosher food. Apparently, it was the only place in Moscow, where such food was served, and Zaryadye quickly became the main Jewish community. For example, in 1827 there lived 56 of total 72 Jews in Moscow.

 

It should be noted that during the year the number of Jews in Moscow significantly changed. During spring and autumn, as well as the big holidays (Passover and Sukkot), most of them left Moscow and went to their home towns and villages to their families.

 

In the 1860s, there is the first major influx of Jews in Moscow, resulting in a record number – eight thousand people. The bulk of illegal migrants consisted of small traders, who could not live in Moscow legally. Most of the Jews who came to Moscow at that time, as in the previous period, were natives of Belarus and Lithuania.

The influx of Jews in Moscow in the 1860s was accompanied by a significant change in the pattern of their settlement. Pyatnitskaya and Yakimanskaya streets were mainly occupied by artisans and retired soldiers. Poorer, outlying areas such as the Marina Roscha were popular among illegal immigrants. This was due to the fact that it was easier to hide from the police surveillance.

 

The main trend in the movement of the Jewish population in the city was moving from poorer to richer areas. So, if in 1864 in the poor parts of the city (City, Lefortovo, Pyatnitskaya, Yakimanskaya, Meschanskaya Basmanny and Sushchevskaya) lived up to 85 percent of the Jews, and in the more affluent (Myasnitskaya, Tverskaya, Arbat, Yauzskaya and Prechistenskaya) only about 15 percent, we see a big change in 1882: 51.6 percent of the Jews living in poor neighborhoods, and 42 percent in the richest.

 

We can say that the average level of welfare of Jews in Moscow at that time is constantly growing.

The revolution of 1905-1907 and liberalization of public life made it possible for a new influx of Jews in Moscow. By 1912, the number of Jews in the capital rose to 15 000. Many of the newcomers had higher education, some belonged to the middle medical staff.

 

The First World War (1914-1918) led to significant changes in the life of the Jews. As a result of military operations in their territories and mass expulsions, a huge number of refugees flooded the east. The central region of Russia faced a lot of Jews for the first time in its history, many of whom did not speak Russian and were alien to Russian culture in their appearance and behavior.

The February Revolution of 1917 opened the possibility for Jews to live in Moscow without fear of eviction. Already in 1917, the Jewish population in the city has risen sharply (by the end of the year – 60 000 people).

 

In 1923, the Jewish population of Moscow has already reached 86,000. The proportion of Jews in the general population of the city now was equal to 5.6 per cent. By 1926 the number of Jews increased even more, reaching 131,244 people (6.5 percent of the total population). A significant proportion of migrants are young people 20-30 years. In 1926, 16.7 percent of the Jewish population of Moscow were people from 25 to 29 years, and 13.8 – youth from 20 to 24 years.

 

Moscow Jews had a high level of literacy. In 1926, 86.6 percent were literate Jewish population of Moscow. This figure is significantly higher than the same data on both the Moscow population as a whole (75 per cent literate), and the Jewish population of Ukraine (70) and Belarus (68.8). It is worth noting that most of the Jews of Moscow were literate in Russian.

 

What happened to Jews in Moscow? The young age of the migrants, high level of education and employment peculiarities, the lack of family, as well as the overall situation in the country (including the all-out struggle against religion) led to the weakening of the continuity of religious tradition. Young people who have been unable to obtain a traditional Jewish education, sought to realize themselves outside the world of the Jewish town. In moving to Moscow, they saw new opportunities for higher education and professional growth.

Even those Jews who have tried to keep in touch with tradition, were forced to move away from a Jewish lifestyle once they arrived in Moscow or other major city. This was especially true of people employed in state enterprises, working hours usually did not allowed to observe the Sabbath and other Jewish holidays.

 

Many of them came to get lost in a big city; they tried to conceal their origin and for that resorted to various means, including a change of name.  As a rule, they were brought up in the post-revolutionary anti-religious atmosphere, and most of them have moved away from religion. Even those who did not want to completely abandon Judaism in the 1930s had to strongly demonstrate its complete indifference to the faith of their fathers. Few of the settlers remained faithful to the traditional way of life.

 

In 1933 in Moscow lived about 225 000 Jews, representing 6.6 percent of the population of the city. Most Jews in the 1930s lived in the north of the city.

Quite a lot of Jews lived in the west and southwest of the city: the area of Kievskaya,  Krasnaya Presnya, Bolshaya Bronnaya.

At the beginning of World War II, many Jews left Moscow. After huge losses suffered by the Jewish people during the war, the reduction of the migration of the Jewish population in Moscow was significant.
Children of mixed marriages were generally recorded as non-Jews.

 

In the 1950s, science becomes one of the main fields where the Jewish excelled.

Today, small family sizes and high rates of assimilation and intermarriage result in shrinking of the Jewish population. The majority of Russian Jews live in Moscow and Saint Petersburg.

Info

Extra costs (per person):

Entrance fees

Lunch/Dinner

(150-1500 rub, depending on your preferences)

Activity Level:

moderate

Maximum travelers:

10

Meet up & End location:

lobby of your hotel

Start time:

any time

Extra hours:

If you are having a good time and want your tour last a little bit longer, you are welcome to do that. Please note: You will be charged 20 USD per an extra hour.

Tipping suggestions:

If you feel like you had a good experience, your guide would appreciate a tip. It's not mandatory. It's your decision whether you want to give your guide a tip.

What you get:

  • + A friend in Moscow.

  • + Private & customized Moscow tour.

  • + An exciting pastime, not just boring history lessons.

  • + An authentic experience of local life.

  • + Flexibility during the walking tour: changes can be made at any time to suit individual preferences.

  • + Amazing deals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the very best cafes & restaurants. Discounts on weekdays (Mon-Fri).

  • + A photo session amongst spectacular Moscow scenery that can be treasured for a lifetime.

  • + Good value for souvenirs, taxis, and hotels.

  • + Expert advice on what to do, where to go, and how to make the most of your time in Moscow.

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Jewish tour to Moscow

$117 — 3 hours

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