IKAR is Going to Central Europe!

Germany | Poland | Slovakia | Hungary

June 24 – July 7, 2022

Join us for a community discussion via Zoom on Thursday, December 2 at 7:30pm about the trip.

Watch a special message from our trip co-chairs Zuzana & Gosia.

A different kind of journey:

  • Discover vibrant & beautiful cities, historic architecture, hidden corners, town squares, and open space by plane, train, bus, bike, & foot.
  • Bear witness to the tragedies, trials, & transformations of Jewish, democratic, & not-so democratic societies.
  • Encounter Jewish experiences and perspectives at once foreign and familiar.
  • Create new relationships with community builders and civic activists whose challenges are not so different from ours.
  • Ride in the 2022 Ride for the Living and across bike-friendly cities.
  • Revel in the sights and sounds of the Jewish Culture Festival and enjoy contemporary art & music throughout the trip.
  • Weave new connections between past, present, and future.

Questions: Email [email protected]

Click into each of the tabs below to learn about this exciting opportunity.

  • Reserve Your Spot!
  • FAQs
  • Registration & Pricing
  • Trip Itinerary

Click here to calculate your 25% deposit. Deposits are not required to register below, we will contact you separately with payment options.

*Final total trip fees and program details are subject to change. The calculator does not include exchange rate fluctuation, travel to/from the trip, travel insurance, transaction fees, or other meals or activities not included in the trip description. We will be in touch about any remaining balances or credits.

Registration form: December 15, 2021
25% Depositpaper check payment: December 17, 2021
25% Depositwire or credit card payment received by: December 24, 2021

Traveling Separately: If you are traveling solo, but intend to share a room with another traveler, please fill out the below form separately from that person. We will collect your roommate’s name so we know you are staying together.
Traveling Together: For families or others planning to travel and stay together as one group, please select the number of people and fill out the form one time answering questions for each participant in your party. The first participant should be whose name will be on the room booking.
Payment & Travel Documents: After you have submitted your registration form, we will confirm availability and send you payment instructions for your deposit. Please keep in mind filling out the registration form below does not guarantee a spot, as we have limited capacity for this trip; but we will do our best to accommodate everyone.

Please fill out the entire registration form (2-step process) in a single sitting. The form cannot be saved, nor can the page be closed and reopened prior to submission, or your entry will be lost. Once you have completed the initial questionnaire, you’ll be taken to a second form where you’ll be asked, among other steps, to upload current vaccination records, a current passport, and a recent photo for each traveler. You may find it easier to assemble those files all at once before you start the registration process. Your trip application is not complete unless both forms are submitted.

What does my payment cover and who are our partners?
We are proud to be working with experienced local providers with strong ties to Jewish communities in each city. Your payment includes 13 nights’ lodging, all group transportation (including air travel from Berlin to Warsaw, train travel from Warsaw to Krakow, and travel by luxury coach everywhere else – as indicated in the itinerary), and trip materials. It also includes all breakfasts; we expect it to cover four-five lunches and six dinners, including Shabbat meals. All group programming, group entry fees, tour guides, bike rentals, and luggage transfers are included. Your payment also includes a contribution to support the communities we’ll be visiting.

Your payment does not include early arrival, late departure, room upgrades, meals not specified, or programming not specified (including any individual programs you may choose to arrange on your own). It also does not include travel insurance (required) or any COVID testing as may be necessary at the time.

Where does the trip begin? How do I get there?
Our trip starts with hotel check-in and Kabbalat Shabbat in Berlin on June 24 and ends with our morning program and hotel check-out in Budapest on July 7. There may be an optional program on the morning of June 24 – details pending.

All participants will need to make their own independent travel arrangements to arrive to Berlin and depart from Budapest. Our travel provider may offer a shuttle service option from/to the airports and/or train & bus stations but details & pricing are TBD. Proof of travel insurance (arranged independently) will be required for all travelers.

What will we eat? Will food be kosher?
All IKAR-organized group meals will be vegetarian/dairy (some may include a fish option), which is to say kashrut-compatible but not hechschered. Shabbat meals in Berlin will be vegetarian; Shabbat meals in Krakow may have (kosher) meat options but we will ensure vegetarian choices. Hotel breakfasts will vary but will always include vegetarian items.

For meals on your own, we will provide restaurant lists including kosher and vegetarian/vegan options in each city. Plant-based cuisine is rapidly gaining popularity across Central Europe and there are some exciting culinary innovations out there. We also know that private dietary practices at IKAR vary widely, and there will be plenty of opportunities to eat local (whatever that may mean to you).

We will do our best to make sure hotels & partners are aware of medically significant food allergies & restrictions but ultimately it will be up to individual travelers to make their own decisions. Central European hotels & restaurants are far more sensitive to these needs than in the past but nowhere near what we have come to expect in California; however, most mid-sized (and larger) markets have gluten-free and vegan (“bio”) sections. Please be sure to indicate your medically significant allergies & restrictions in your trip application.

What about COVID, COVD testing, and quarantines?
All participants must be fully vaccinated and all eligible individuals (currently all adults 18+) must be fully boosted.  If the CDC expands booster shot eligibility to under-18s, we will ask that they be boosted as well.

We continue to monitor COVID in Central Europe, including the emergence of new variants of concern. Region- and country-specific forecasts for Berlin, Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary anticipate much more normal spring and summer seasons.  Vaccination rates continue to rise across all four areas and are much higher among the cities and populations we will be visiting.

As of late 2021, entry to Germany, Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary is quarantine-free for vaccinated travelers from the United States. (Slovakia currently requires free pre-registration prior to entry.) Vaccinated U.S. citizens and permanent residents can return to the U.S. from Europe with a 24-hour COVID test (PCR or antigen). Of course these restrictions and permissions are subject to change at any time. Proof of vaccination and testing are the responsibility of every individual traveler. If these requirements still are in place next summer, we will look into arranging a mobile testing option at our hotel in Budapest for travelers departing overseas.

Is it safe where we’re going?
Yes! While the political landscape there is changing and instances of antisemitism are on the rise in Europe generally, it is still considered safe to travel to Central Europe. We’ll also be traveling while the days are longest, so most of our group activities will be during daylight hours. We recommend taking the same precautions as any tourist ought to take in an unfamiliar city: stay with a buddy, protect your valuables, and don’t pull out a map in the middle of a busy sidewalk while asking loudly, “Where’s the McDonalds?”

Is the trip open to IKAR from Afar members?
Absolutely yes! We can’t wait to meet you in real life. This journey offers an ideal in-person opportunity to spend quality time with our LA-based community, staff, and clergy.

Is this trip open to people who aren’t (yet) members of IKAR?
Maybe! We will be prioritizing IKAR members and their fellow travelers. The trip is subject to capacity limitations, but there may be space available. Please fill out the interest form and add a note in the “Questions” box that you’re interested. Or just join already – what are you waiting for?

Will there be enough free time to explore on my own, in addition to spending time with my beloved community?
Yes! We are making sure to build enough time into the program for you to be able to explore on your own or with your family. With a few exceptions, our all-group programs will take up only part of the day; the remainder will include a choice of activities, or you can duck out on your own. There will be free time in every city.

Will we have an opportunity to explore our ancestry while there?
We recommend starting preliminary research now. You can hire someone to do some of it for you and depending on what you’ll find, we can talk about the possibility of visiting the site where your ancestors lived or helping you find someone local with whose help you can visit the place before or after our program. Please email [email protected] and we can send you some recommendations.

What happens if there is a surge in COVID cases there and we have to cancel or postpone the trip?
That’s (in part) why we require everyone to have travel insurance for the duration of the trip. We also encourage you to insure your travel to and from Europe. In the unlikely event of a cancellation, all uncommitted funds will be returned to the extent possible; please note that certain fees and administrative costs are non-refundable, pursuant to the payment schedule (see IKAR 2022 Central Europe Trip Pricing Information tab). IKAR reserves the right to postpone the trip to 2023.

How do you recommend I select travel insurance?
Some credit cards provide automatic travel insurance, but remember that if you choose to pay for the trip by credit card you will need to bear the 3% transaction fee yourself. You may choose to pay by check or wire and purchase insurance separately. Some people have had success with insurance comparison sites like Squaremouth.com, InsureMyTrip.com, and/or TravelInsurance.com. Our travel provider and her insurance broker recommend the Patriot International Insurance available here (brochure here).  Whatever you choose, be sure to include your flights to/from home on the same policy as the trip or emergency travel/evacuation home may not be covered. We recommend you choose a policy with generous provisions related to delayed & lost luggage (3- to 6-hour minimums for claims rather than 12- to 24-hour minimums). If you are cycling with us, you may or may not need to purchase add-on coverage; most policies include on-road cycling as part of the standard package and only require an additional fee for off-road mountain biking (which we won’t be doing as a group). Some policies require purchase simultaneously with or shortly after the date of first trip payment or deposit in order for pre-existing conditions to be covered. However you decide to insure yourself is up to you but you must upload your proof of insurance for all travelers in your party no later than the deadline for your final payment (April 1, 2022).

Can we support the communities we will be visiting?
Yes – before, during, and after the trip! The Ride for the Living is the JCC Krakow’s major fundraiser and we’ll be helping to support their efforts. IKAR will set up a Central Europe Fund so contributions can go directly to the communities we visit. Following the trip, IKAR hopes to stay connected with the activists we meet and we hope you’ll maintain individual ties, too.

How can our family, friends, and fellow IKARites support and participate in this journey, even if they can’t travel with us?
We know not everyone will be able to join us in person. This spring we’ll be creating an opportunity for IKARites to share their memories of family history from the region and to offer blessings for us to carry with us. We’ll also be raising funds as part of the Ride for the Living and we hope you’ll invite everyone you know to support the Ride (whether or not you yourself get on a bike) as well as IKAR’s special fund for the other communities we visit.

Can I add hotel nights in Berlin and/or Budapest for an additional fee?
Yes (on a space-available basis).

Can I upgrade my hotel room for an additional fee?
Yes (on a space-available basis).

What if I have to arrive late or leave early? Can I prorate my fee?
We are unable to prorate fees. In order for the trip to happen, we need a minimum number of people to participate in the entire experience. On an extremely limited space-available basis, we may be able to accommodate late arrivals or early departures on a segment by segment basis (e.g., joining from Warsaw or leaving before Budapest).

How can I best prepare for the trip?
We are so glad you asked! Your experience will be so much richer when you take some time to read and learn before the trip. We will offer pre-trip programs for participants and will have a list of articles, books, and films for you to review.

Effective December 2, 2021:

Registration deadline: 

Completed application & document uploads: December 15, 2021

Initial deposit deadline:

Paper check payment: must be received in IKAR offices by December 17, 2021

Wire or credit card payment: must be received by IKAR by December 24, 2021

We encourage you to complete your forms as early as possible in order for us to confirm your participation prior to payment.

All prices are based on 40 participants at current exchange rates as well as hotel and transportation estimates, and are subject to change and capacity limitations; IKAR reserves the right to require a minimum number of participants and/or to cap the headcount.

  •     -$5,400 per person double occupancy
  •     -$860 per person single supplement
  •     -$4,500 for 1st child 7-12 in same room with 2 adults
  •     -$4,400 for 2nd child 7-12 in same room with 2 adults & 1st child

14 days, 13 nights, all breakfasts, and approximately 11 lunches & dinners. Price includes hotel nights, ground transportation, air travel Berlin-Warsaw, train travel Warsaw-Krakow, and all group entry fees, tour guides, and bike rentals. Proof of travel insurance and full vaccination will be required; additional COVID testing, at the traveler’s expense, may be required per national entry requirements. A portion of the payment may be tax deductible; please review your final payment receipt for details.

Additional room nights (current pricing if booked by December 31; subject to change):

  • Early arrival in Berlin June 22 or 23:
    •    -Single occupancy room
      •      -Standard (1 person) – €160 per room per night
      •      -Upgraded (1 person – junior suite) – €230 per room per night
    •    -Double occupancy room
      •      -Standard (2 people) – €175 per room per night
      •      -Upgraded (2-4 people – junior suite) – €245 per room per night

  • Late departure in Budapest July 8 or 9:
    •    –Single occupancy room
      •      -Standard (1 person) – €119 per room per night
      •      -Upgraded (1 person – deluxe room, junior suite, or suite) – €176, €213, or €246 per room per night
    •    –Double occupancy room
      •      -Standard (2 people) – €151 per room per night
      •      -Upgraded (2-3 people – deluxe room, junior suite, or suite) –  €208, €245, or €278 per room per night

Minimum child age is 7. Child rate is applicable to kids 12 or younger as of July 7, 2022. Participating children will be required to be as vaccinated as the FDA permits them to be and to meet all vaccination requirements necessary to avoid quarantine upon entry to Germany, Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary. Child rates substitute all-day children’s programming in Warsaw in lieu of tours and in Krakow in lieu of Auschwitz visit and Ride for the Living bike ride. Children may join the Auschwitz visit  and/or the Ride for additional reduced-rate fees as follows:

  • -Child participation in Auschwitz visit – $100 per child
  • -Child participation in Ride for the Living – $200 per child

The initial 25% deposit is due by December 24, 2021 (December 17 if paying with a paper check). Another 25% payment is due by February 28, 2022. The balance will be due by April 1, 2022. All transaction fees, whether credit card, wire transfer, or otherwise, must be paid by sender.

Proof of travel insurance and full vaccination (including boosters for all eligible) of  all travelers is required by April 1, 2022. NB: we strongly recommend purchasing your travel insurance as soon as you make the first deposit payment in December.

Cancellation/refund schedule (all refunds subject to a $100 per person nonrefundable fee):

  •    -Through December 31, 2022: 100% of deposit
  •    -January 1 – February 28, 2022: 90% of deposit
  •    -March 1 – March 31, 2022: payments are non-refundable unless a replacement traveler is found (reissuing/transfer/name change fees may apply)
  •    -For cancellations after March 31, full payment is due and payable and the trip is non-refundable unless a replacement traveler is found (reissuing/transfer/name change fees may apply)

In the unlikely event IKAR must cancel the 2022 trip, IKAR will make best efforts to recover any deposits paid to trip providers, and all uncommitted funds will be returned to the extent possible. Please note that certain fees and administrative costs are non-refundable, reflecting time and effort already expended on our behalf by travel providers. IKAR reserves the right to postpone the trip to 2023.