NEW YORK -- Tours combining Germany and Israel are the result of a
partnership of TAL Tours, an operator that focuses on Israel, the
German national carrier Lufthansa, the German National Tourist
Office North America and the Israel Government Tourist Office.
Destinations figuring prominently in the program are Jerusalem
and three German cities with especially strong Jewish histories and
thriving Jewish communities: Berlin, Frankfurt and Munich.
For Jewish-Americans who experienced the Holocaust or have
relatives who did, the tours could help bring about some degree of
reconciliation, said Stuart Katz, president of TAL Tours, Valley
Germany & Israel, a 16-page brochure, includes city and spa
packages in both countries as well as escorted tours of historical
and cultural interest to Jewish Americans.
Much like the brochure, the title of one of the escorted tours,
Contrasts and Similarities of Germany and Israel, is meant to
engage the Jewish-American market, Katz said.
"Many Jewish people have been brought up with the attitude that
they should avoid German products," Katz said. "We've gotten a lot
of negative response from Jewish leaders around the country."
Asked how he has responded to the negative criticism, Katz said,
"It's not something to contest, but something about which to
educate. I myself had that attitude before I started to go to
Katz said he started traveling to Germany about two years ago,
and that it "definitely" took some convincing on the part of the
German National Tourist Office to get him to go. His impressions
changed during his second trip, he said, several months later.
"Germans of today are embarrassed about the Holocaust," Katz
said, "but [they] feel we must never forget and that we have to
learn from the past to ensure something of this magnitude never
The German National Tourist Office initiated the program with a
mainly Jewish tour operator, a spokesman said, in an effort to
reach out to the Jewish-American market.
It is an ongoing initiative, as the brochure follows the tourist
office's publication of a 36-page guidebook titled "Germany for the
Mainly because of immigration from Russia, the spokesman said,
Germany has the fastest-growing Jewish population in Europe.
The U.S., according to Katz, has a Jewish community that
maintains a widely negative perception of Germany, something that
Lufthansa is very eager to change.
"There's a lot of reluctance among American Jews to go to
Germany," Katz said. "What many people don't recognize is that
there are a lot of similarities, both between [the U.S.] and
Germany and Germany and Israel."
Both the U.S. and Germany are "modern countries, with growing
Jewish communities," Katz said, "and at the same time, you have a
certain level of assimilation."
He said the tours are most likely to appeal to open-minded
travelers interested in exploring their roots and to
multigenerational family travelers such as grandparents traveling
with grandchildren, as well as Jewish-Americans of eastern European
For more information, contact TAL Tours at (800) 825-9399 or
(516) 825-0966; fax: (516) 825-0980, or e-mail [email protected].