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Philadelphia’s Jewish History and Culture

Program Number: 16529RJ
Start and End Dates:
10/20/2013 - 10/25/2013;
Duration: 5 nights
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Price starting at: $1,049.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Jewish Studies
Meals: 12; 5 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 4 Dinners    
Meal Options: Low Fat; Vegetarian; Low Salt; Gluten Free    

Jewish pioneers were active in Pennsylvania before the arrival of William Penn. Join us to trace Philadelphia’s Jewish roots, historic achievements, and cultural legacy from Colonial days to the present.


• Explore Jewish landmarks and study the lives of heroes and heroines from Haym Salomon, Rebecca Gratz, and Nathan Levy to the modern Annenbergs and Guggenheims.
• Venture into the heart of Philadelphia to explore the Museum of American Jewish History as well as Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, the National Constitution Center and Society Hill — a vibrant Jewish immigrant neighborhood in the 1900s.
• Enhance your appreciation of Jewish achievements in the arts including outstanding painters, art dealers, and the aesthetics of temples including Beth Sholom, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright; Rodeph Shalom with its Byzantine-Moorish architecture; and Mikveh Israel, the oldest Sephardic congregation in America (1740).

Activity Particulars

Some walking and standing.

Date Specific Information


Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.

Coordinated by The Philadelphia Society For The Preservation Of Landmarks.


An appealing and walkable metropolis, 300-year-old Philadelphia is steeped in the beliefs that founded the American Revolution and today is a vibrant city of diverse neighborhoods and internationally recognized cultural institutions.

European-style hotel near Rittenhouse Square.
Meals and Lodgings
   Club Quarters Hotel
  Philadelphia 5 nights
 Club Quarters Hotel
Type: Boutique Hotel
  Description: Club Quarters is a private hotel available to members only. It is housed in an architecturally significant building constructed in the 1920s in the then-popular Georgian Revival style, for Provident National Bank. Our meals are in Davios restaurant (one of Philadelphia's finest). This stylish, upscale restaurant offers a variety of Northern Italian specialties. Philadelphia Magazine "Best of Philly" Award 2000, 2004, 2005. Wine Spectator Magazine "Award of Excellence" 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006. The hotel is ideally located in the Rittenhouse Square District and close to, the Pennsylvania Convention Center, and centered around world-class dining restaurants and shopping, and all the unique historical sites that make Philadelphia a national treasure. With easy access to I-95, Philadelphia International Airport is only 20 minutes from our hotel. Located in the heart of the city's Business District at 1628 Chestnut Street and within walking distance of most cultural, historical, and family oriented attractions including Rittenhouse Square, Antique Row and the Academy of Natural Sciences. Adjacent to Liberty Place with over 70 unique boutiques and restaurants and easily accessible to the convention Center, 30th Street train station, and major universities. It’s restaurant/bar, Davio's, is a famous Northern Italian style restaurant.
  Contact info: 1628 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103 USA
phone: 215-282-5010
  Room amenities: Free wireless Internet access, 2 line speaker phone, voicemail, HDTV cable television, hair dryer, tea/coffee/maker, iron, room service. Mini refrigerator and microwave available in some rooms. Please contact Road Scholar Customer Service if you will need a mini refrigerator.
  Facility amenities: Instant check-in/fast check-out, 24-hour Member Service Desk, free purified chilled bottle water on all floors, fitness room and delivery of exercise equipment to room free of charge, automatic Gold Status on your first stay, complimentary coffee and snack station, restaurant, bar, and meeting rooms.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: 2013 $116 + 15.5%tax Additional nights- pre and post cost for 2013 $116 + 15.5% tax; for 2014 $119 + 15.5% tax. Advance reservations required.
  Check in time: 3:00 PM
  Additional nights after: 2013 $116 + 15.5%tax Additional nights- pre and post cost for 2013 $116 + 15.5% tax; for 2014 $119 + 15.5% tax. Advance reservations required.
  Check out time: 12:00 PM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
4:00 PM You will be staying at Club Quarters Hotel that night.
  End of Program:
11:00 AM You will be staying at Club Quarters Hotel the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required.
  Parking availability:
Valet or self parking hotel garage attached to hotel- cost $34 per 24 hrs. Patriot Parking garage directly across street from hotel- attendant parking 24 hrs $24. rates June 2012
To Start of Program
  Location:  Philadelphia
  Nearest city or town:  Trenton and Camden, NJ, Wilmington, DE
  Nearest highway: Interstate 95, turnpike 276 and PA 76 and PA 676
  Nearest airport:  Philadelphia International Airport
  From End of Program
  Location: Philadelphia
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details

30th Street


From Train Station




Any Taxi


Per Person/One Way:


$9.00 per cab
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


10 minutes 


Taxis are available at the 30th Street entrance. The fare is based on the cab and not per person. The cab holds up to 4 persons.




From Airport




Commercial Van/Shuttle
Lady Liberty
phone: 215-724-2222


Per Person/One Way:


Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


20 min to 1 hour, depending on number of hotel en route drop-offs and rush hour. 


After retrieving your luggage from the baggage claim, go to the transportation desk and call Lady Liberty's extension and they will send a shuttle to your airport terminal.




From Airport






Per Person/One Way:


$28.00 per cab flat rate
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


20 min to 30 min depending on traffic and rush hour 


Flat rate for the total cab. Up to 4 persons can share a cab.

Driving Directions
  From North- South- East - West Take I-95 to 676 WEST to BROAD STREET exit which feeds into 15th STREET. Turn RIGHT onto JFK BLVD, then LEFT onto 17th STREET. Continue to cross Chestnut St, Sansom, Walnut St. The Radisson Warwick hotel is on the the right hand side before Locust Street. From North/West: PA 476 SOUTH to 76 EAST to 676 EAST to BROAD STREET... From East: I-95 SOUTH to 676 WEST to Broad Street...
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Registration/orientation/dinner/evening lecture
(Sunday, October 20)

Note: Walk to restaurant for welcome dinner: 1.5 blocks

 Afternoon: Registration begins at 4:00 with orientation to follow. Electronic Board by Lobby elevator lists the lecture room name and floor
 Dinner: Dinner tonight is at a nearby Restaurant.
 Evening: Evening lecture on Early Philadelphia Jewish History- Part 1
Accommodations: Club Quarters Hotel
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Lecture on Philadelphia Jewish History/Independence Hall & Liberty Bell/evening lecture
(Monday, October 21)

Note: Walking two blocks around the historic landmarks. Center City Philadelphia is 2 square miles.

 Breakfast: At Tavern 24 located off the lobby of the hotel
 Morning: Morning lecture on Early Philadelphia Jewish History Part 2. Through a stroke of genius or luck, or both, the impoverished Jews settled in the area formerly known as Society Hill. The area was center of Revolutionary social life during the period that Britain ruled the colonies. The east European Jews were not the first Jews to trod these streets, but earlier Jews were few in number. Rebecca Gratz may have attended the Dancing Assemblies in the area; and George Washington danced at the Powel House on S. 3rd Street, a city house that the Yidishe Velt, the most popular Yiddish newspaper ever printed in Philadelphia, mistakenly, but with much pride identified as the “First White House” in the country (from 1904 to 1931, the Powel House was owned by Wolf Klebansky, an immigrant philanthropist and communal leader) and now owned by The Philadelphia Society for The Preservation of Landmarks (sponsor of Landmarks Road Scholar). Text content attributed to Harry Boonin "The Jewish Quarter of Philadelphia"
 Lunch: Lunch included in today's activities at the hotel or at a Philadelphia eatery
 Afternoon: This afternoon we take a field exploration to the colonial city to visit Independence Historic National Park including the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. The Pennsylvania Assembly ordered the Bell in 1751 to commemorate the 50-year anniversary of William Penn's 1701 Charter of Privileges, Pennsylvania's original Constitution. It speaks of the rights and freedoms valued by people the world over. Particularly forward thinking were Penn's ideas on religious freedom, his liberal stance on Native American rights, and his inclusion of citizens in enacting laws. In 1752, the famous American Liberty Bell was brought over on the Myrtilla, a ship owned by the Jewish firm of Simon, Levy and Franks of Philadelphia. Independence Hall was built in 1732 as the Pennsylvania State House. It was a symbol of the nation to come. At the time it was the most ambitious public building in the thirteen colonies. The Provincial government paid for construction as they went along, so it was finished piecemeal. It wasn't until 1753, 21 years after the groundbreaking, before it was completed. It was the original "Philadelphia lawyer," none other than Andrew Hamilton that oversaw the planning and worked to guarantee its completion. Hamilton had won renown for his successful 1735 defense of Peter Zenger in New York that was to become a freedom-of-the-press landmark. Independence Hall is, by every estimate, the birthplace of the United States. It was within its walls that the Declaration of Independence was adopted. It was here that the Constitution of the United States was debated, drafted and signed. Jewish Political freedom and inclusion was not realized until well into the second half of the 19th century - long after the American revolution when the 14th Amendment was added to the U.S. Constitution. It was freedom of conscience and differing religious views that created the tensions that eventually resulted in toleration of Jewish religious expression.
 Dinner: Dinner is at a local restaurant
 Evening: This evening enjoy an evening activity to be decided at a later date
Accommodations: Club Quarters Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Beth Sholom- Frank Lloyd Wright Architect/Reading Terminal Market/Rodeph Shalom Synagogue/ Lecture on Jewish Artists
(Tuesday, October 22)

Note: Walking and sitting in sanctuary - low impact stairs to 2nd floor. Chair lift available to main sanctuary on 2nd floor at Beth Sholom. Elevator available at Rodeph Shalom.

 Breakfast: Breakfast at hotel restaurant
 Morning: This morning we will leave for Elkins Park (30 minutes outside of the city) to explore with an educator the outstanding architectural and spiritual landmark of Beth Sholom Synagogue. This morning we will leave for Elkins Park (30 minutes outside of the city) to explore with an educator the outstanding architectural and spiritual landmark of Beth Sholom Synagogue. Designed by the renowned American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, it was the only synagogue he ever designed.
 Lunch: A real treat is the Reading Terminal Market for lunch- great deli sandwiches! Today, the Reading Terminal Market, considered by many as the best farmers market in the U.S., blends together state-of-the-art systems technology without sacrificing its historical integrity. It’s not only a popular hometown attraction, but also the most popular Philadelphia tourist destination after the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. Eighty-six merchants offer patrons fresh produce, meats, fish, groceries, flowers, baked goods, crafts, books, clothing, as well as hard-to-find specialties and ethnic foods. Shopping and dining become a pleasure in this warm, inviting, and unique atmosphere. The Reading Terminal Market, like it did over a hundred years ago, is reminiscent of personal, neighborhood shopping, and still offers something for everyone. A trip to Philadelphia would not be complete without stopping here.
 Afternoon: Congregation Rodeph Shalom, located in Philadelphia, was founded in 1795, and is the first Ashkenazic synagogue established in the Western Hemisphere. In the last decade of the eighteenth century, a small group of Orthodox Jews from Germany, Holland, and Poland formed a minyan to worship in a manner consistent with their shared religious background. Inspired by the great synagogue of Florence, Italy, Rodeph Shalom is one of the only synagogues in this country that retains the Byzantine-Moorish style. It was designed by the firm of Simon and Simon in 1928. The sanctuary seats 1,640 people below star burst skylights. Its stained glass windows are one of the few remaining collections from the renowned D'Ascenzo Studio. The majestic bronze-and-enamel doors of the Torah ark grace the bima. The D'Ascenzo Studio also designed the sanctuary's walls, ceiling, and dome, along with the carpet and ornamentation. The Broad Street Foyer houses the Leon J. and Julia S. Obermayer Collection of Jewish ritual art. More than 500 ceremonial objects from around the world dating back to the 1700s are on display.
 Dinner: At a local restaurant
 Evening: Enjoy an evening lecture on the contributions of Jewish artists to the New York art world at the turn of the century. This lecture is given by John Giannotti a renowned sculpture who brings to life those not so well known Jewish artists but whose contributions were outstanding
Accommodations: Club Quarters Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Field Exploration of Society Hill Jewish Quarter/Society Hill Synagogues/Eastern State Penitentiary/Free Afternoon and Evening
(Wednesday, October 23)

Note: Walking three blocks around the Jewish Quarter. Steps to 2nd floor of Russian Synagogue. Walking and sitting at Easter State Penitentiary.

 Breakfast: Breakfast at hotel Restaurant
 Morning: We visit Eastern State Penitentiary which is a former American prison in Philadelphia and was operational from 1829 until 1971. The penitentiary refined the revolutionary system of separate incarceration first pioneered at the Walnut Street Jail which emphasized principles of reform rather than punishment.[5] Notorious criminals such as bank robber Willie Sutton and Al Capone were held inside its unique wagon wheel design. When the building was erected it was the largest and most expensive public structure ever constructed, quickly becoming a model for more than 300 prisons worldwide. In addition we will visit the newly restored synagogue. the penitentiary may have Protestant roots, but it also had a Jewish synagogue, which, along with its rich history, Though the Jewish prison population never numbered more than 80 at a single time, there was a strong Jewish presence at the penitentiary dating back to 1845. Local rabbis came to counsel the inmates and provide religious readings. The prison is currently a U.S. National Historic Landmark.
 Lunch: lunch on own today but we will be in an area where there are several eateries to choose from
 Afternoon: After lunch our field exploration showcases the never-before told story of the east European Jews who settled around South Street and in the area of Society Hill and Queen Village, an area known to the Jews as "the Jewish Quarter." In a few square blocks of colonial Philadelphia, the immigrants made a new home in their "adopted" country. Their arrival, viewed by the residents of the area in the 1880s and the 1890s as an "invasion," completely changed this charming remnant of Philadelphia’s past to a Jewish shtetl. Yiddish theatres (where Jacob P. Adler and Boris Thomashesky thrilled the immigrants), Talmud Torahs, mikvahs, catering halls, etc. quickly replaced oyster houses and beer saloons. "In New York's The Jewish Week for December 14, 2001, Gabe Levenson, the travel writer for the paper wrote: " I sallied forth to explore the streets of the former Jewish Quarter guided by Harry D. Boonin, author of "The Jewish Quarter of Philadelphia." "Boonin's is essentially a nostalgia trip, resonating with memories of an era when there was a vigorous Jewish life in the area [Society Hill], before most of today's 200,000-plus Jews had migrated to the suburbs. They come back now and again to reminisce over a hot pastrami sandwich with the likes of once-and-only Jewish mayor (present Governor) Ed Rendell at the 4th Street Deli (traditional, but not kosher), or to nibble Jewish Apple Cake at Roz Bratt's heimishe bakery on South 5th Street [ 510 S. 5th Street]."
 Dinner: Dinner is on your own this evening
 Evening: Enjoy a free evening to to attend a play or a concert
Accommodations: Club Quarters Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 5: Mikveh Israel Synagogue and Cemetery/National Museum of American Jewish History
(Thursday, October 24)

Note: Limited walking at Mikveh Synagogue and Cemetery. Lots of walking at Jewish Museum (4 floors). Wheelchairs are available.

 Breakfast: Breakfast at hotel restaurant in the hotel
 Morning: we visit Congregation Mikveh Israel, which dates back to the mid-1740s, and is one of the first organized Jewish congregations in America. Benjamin Franklin pledged five pounds (worth approximately $800 in today’s dollars) along with other distinguished Christian gentlemen who also made donations in support of a synagogue for “the people of the Hebrew society in the city of Philadelphia.” The building was the first home of what is now known as historic Congregation Mikveh Israel. Mikveh Israel is known as the "Synagogue of the American Revolution."
 Lunch: Lunch at a Philadelphia eatery
 Afternoon: This afternoon we visit the National Museum of American Jewish History to leaarn about the first Jews who came to this nation came in search of freedom and in search for opportunity. It is fitting, therefore, that the primary theme of the Jewish American History Museum is freedom, especially the opportunities, the challenges, and the choices that come with it. Its chronological core exhibition begins in 1654 with the first permanent settlement of Jews in what was then colonial America and weaves its story up until the present day. The exhibit also highlights Jewish American ingenuity, leading to achievement in areas such as culture, the sciences and civil rights. Irving Berlin’s story in particular is remarkable because he was a Jewish immigrant from Russia who wrote “God Bless America” and “White Christmas.” Jews have been advocates for civil rights, civil liberties, for the extension of freedom not only to themselves, but to others as well. Whether it’s Abraham Joshua Heschel in the civil rights movement or Bella Abzug in the women’s movement, or the many people who came together for the movement for Soviet Jewry, here they are staking their claim to freedom and working tirelessly, energetically on behalf of the freedoms of others. One item that visitors will love to see is the typewriter from Schindler’s List, which Mr. Steven Spielberg made available to the museum for exhibition. And certainly who can forget the most colorful groups—the Jewish gangsters and criminals.
 Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant
Accommodations: Club Quarters Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Morning lecture/Program at 11:00 am. Noon hotel check-out.
(Friday, October 25)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at hotel
 Morning: The program ends at 11:00 AM after the lecture
 Morning: Morning lecture on Society Hill showing the area prior to its restoration in 1959. Lecture comes at the end of program after you have visited Society Hill in its present state.
 Morning: Thank you for attending this program to enhance your knowledge of Jewish history in Philadelphia, one of America's historic cities.
Meals Included: Breakfast

Free Time Opportunities
  Philadelphia Philadelphia
Philadelphia International Airport is located just 7.2 miles southwest of Central Philadelphia. The Ground Transportation System at the Airport is an extensive network of taxicab, car rental, shuttle-bus, limousine, and van operations working to get you where you want to go in a safe, courteous and efficient manner. In addition, the Airport also offers SEPTA bus and regional rail service to Downtown Philadelphia and points in between. Taxi services can be picked up at Zone 5 on the Commercial Transportation Roadway. All Taxi rates are based per trip not per person. Most taxis can accommodate up to 3 passengers. In some cases certain vehicle types can accommodate 4 passengers. $26.25 Flat Rate from the Airport to the Central Philadelphia Area. This area encompasses: Fairmount Ave (most Northern point), South Street (most Southern point) Delaware River (most eastern point) and University City/ 38th Street(most Western point) Any destination that falls within these boundaries are eligible for the Center City flat rate. To speak with a Ground Transportation Information representative regarding any information not addressed previously please call (215) 937-6958. Schedule RI High Speed Rail Line (Entrance on pedestrian bridges and commercial roadway) $7.00 • 30th Street Station (Amtrak)* • Suburban Station* (connections to regional rail lines) • MarketEast/The Gallery* (connection to Greyhound Bus Terminal) *All Wheelchair accessible rail stations for disabled travelers SEPTA to Greyhound Bus Terminal Connection to the Greyhound Bus Terminal (11th & Filbert Street) Take Septa's R1 to Market East/The Gallery Reservations: 1-800-231-2222 Web: SEPTA to Amtrak's 30th Street Station Take Septa's R1 to 30th Street Amtrak Reservations: 1-800-872-7245; TDD (within the U.S.) : 1-800-523-6590 (In PA) 1-800-562-6960 Web:
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

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