Morocco Winter 2010 Vacation

Day 1: Thursday, December 23, 2010

We meet at JFK Airport at 3:45 p.m. sharp for our 5:45 p.m. flight # AT 201 early evening departure DIRECT to Marrakech (via Casablanca), arriving @ 8:40 am with the reliable Royal Air Maroc Airlines. We actually arrive at Mohammed V, Terminal I in Casablanca @ 6:25 a.m.,enough time to daven Shacharit there (latest time for Kriat Shma is 10 am ), followed by a very nice breakfast upon our arrival in Marrakech .

Day 2: Friday, December 24

We will take a panoramic tour of this amazing city after breakfast and then check into our beautiful five-star hotel. After a quick check-in and some snacks, we will not waste time but explore the Djamaa el-Fna Square, the heart of this magical city and perhaps, do our first Morocco shopping. Shabbat preparation (Candle-lighting @: 5 pm) and Kabbalat Shabbat (sundown 5:35 pm ) at the Central Synagogue in the Gueliz . Seudat Shabbat (1); Dvar Torah: Ha’Rav Dr. Nathan Dovid Rabinowich. Oneg Shabbat with Chief Rabbi Gabbai shlita, his Rebbetzin and some of the locals. Overnight: Marrakech

Day 3: Saturday(Shabbat kodesh) , December 25

Late Shacharis , (it is a pleasant 45 minute walk) to the Slat Laazama (synagogue )in the Mellah, probably the oldest existing synagogue still in use every day in the entire Diaspora ! This will be followed by a sermon given in Hebrew by Ha ’Rav Dr. Rabinowich, Kiddush, Parsha class, Seudat Shabbat (2); Guest speaker: Yitzchak Ohayon, the esteemed Gabbai of this special synagogue and caretaker of the cemetery, probably the largest and best-preserved in Morocco. Take a well-deserved shluf or explore this fascinating city on your own. Mincha, Seudah Shlishit (3). On Saturday night (Motzoei Shabbat), discover the city’s nightlife on your own: try the famous casinos, join us for an exciting evening program or may we recommend a romantic evening -stroll through the world famous Djamaa el-Fna Square — the heart of the city — with its storytellers, snake charmers, fire eaters and non-stop entertainment. Excellent swimming and exercise facilities are also available at our gorgeous 5 star hotel. Join us at 11:30 p.m. for a grand banquet Melava Malka with the wonderful Chabad Shaliach in Marrakech and his dear Rebbetzin,

Overnight: Marrakech

Day 4: Sunday, December 26

Early morning rise ; Shacharit at the amazing Slat Laazama synagogue in the Mellah Begin our guided tour of this fascinating city with many visits to its monuments including but not limited to the Gardens of Agdal, the Menara, the Koutoubia, the Palais el-Badi and the Palais dela Bahia. Much time will be spent strolling through the colorful souks with their enticing array of spices, carpets, jewelry, and crafts. Towards the end of the day, we’ll make an excursion to Ourika Valley in the high Atlas Mountains with its plush, green fields and peaceful Berber villages. We will visit another famous saint’s gravesite: the well-known “miracle worker,” Rabbi Solomon Bal Chehnch — the “master of the snake,” and will daven Mincha at the nearby synagogue. A delicious dinner with exotic Moroccan delicacies awaits us. Ma’ariv

Overnight: Marrakech

Day 5: Monday, December 27

Late Shacharis once again with Rabbi Gabbai at the local shul, hearty breakfast and an enjoyable swim in the hotel’s exquisite indoor pool. We then embark on a very pleasant 110-mile trip directly westward to the popular 200 year-old coastal city of Essaouira, formerly known as Mogador, and once populated by many Jews. Walk along its famous ramparts, explore the Skala du Port, the Ile de Mogador and the famed Purple Isles. Visit the synagogue and grave of the Holy Saint, Rabbi Chaim Pinto, of blessed memory. After a pleasant picnic lunch on the beach, we take leave of “serene” Essouira and embark on a fascinating bus ride , a 350 km  trip due northeast to Casablanca .We will pass through the ancient Almohad cities of Safi, El Jadida and,of course, Azamour, where we will visit the holy gravesite of Rabbi Avraham Moul Niss (the Performer of Miracles) and end our remarkable day in Casablanca. Ma’ariv at the local Chabad House, a delicious dinner and free time to enjoy our wonderful hotel and the happening “night life” all around our hotel .

Overnight: Casablanca

Day 6: Tuesday, December 28

At 9:00 am we will enjoy a thorough exploration of the magnificent Mosque King Hassan II – the second largest Mosque in the world ! We then take a short, 90km. ride, the entire trip on the coastal road, towards Rabat. Rabat, the modern capital of Morocco, is also known as the “white imperial city”, and covered with its neatly laid out gorgeous flowers. We will also tour Sali, birthplace and early home of the saintly Or Ha’Chaim Ha’Kadosh and pay our respects to the many saints buried in Sali’s Jewish cemetery. Afterwards, we take a tour of the splendid Mohammed V Mausoleum (and that of the late King Hassan), the Chellah, followed by a picnic lunch and splendid walk along the “Ramparts” and the Walls of Mechouar that surround the impressive Royal Palace. We board our bus for the last leg of this long journey, another 198 kilometres to our wonderful hotel in Fez.

Overnight: Fez

Day 7: Wednesday, December 29

Late Shacharis. Embark upon a full day tour of Fez, the most complete medieval city in the world and home to the Rif (R’Yitzchak Al-Fasi, 11th Century) and the Rambam (1160–1165). We the visit the Em Ha’Banim and Ibn Danan Synagogues, the “supposed” “house” of the Rambam, the very important large Jewish cemetery, opposite the Royal Palace (where “Solika the Righteous Woman,” the most famous woman in Jewish-Moroccan history, is buried) and the Nejjarine Fountain. We explore one of the most fascinating and famous Souks in the Moslem world with its narrow, medieval, maze-like streets and absorb the mystique of this remarkable eighth-century city, the most ancient of the Moroccan Imperial cities, founded in 790 C.E. by Moulay Idriss II. After a brief rest, towards the end of this exciting day, we continue on our way to pray Mincha before sundown (5: 35 pm) at the Tzion of the great “Miracle Worker” — the most famous Jewish marabout in Morocco – Rebbe Amram Ibn Diwanne, located  9 km northwest of Quezzane. After ma’ariv in the quaint synagogue of the cemetery, an immediate return trip of about one hour to Fez, a delicious late dinner and plunk into bed for a well-deserved rest after a very trying day! 

OVERNIGHT:   Fez

Day 8: Thursday, January 30

Another late Daf Yomi and Shacharis and then travel 60 km southwest to Meknes, the Versailles of Morocco, once home to thousands of Jews. We will take a very interesting walking tour of bustling Meknes, in its heyday coined “the Jerusalem of Morocco,” exploring all of its major attractions, paying our respects at its unusually large cemetery and then have a Kumsitz lunch in front the most beautiful, preserved gate in Morocco – the 17th century Bab El Mansour. This is followed by an afternoon excursion (on our return to Fez) 33 km northward to the city of Volubilis, founded in pre-Roman times, to properly explore the second- and third-century Roman ruins, some of the best preserved in the world!  Time-permitting, we will visit the town of Moulay Idriss, about 4.5km from Volubulis This town is named after Morocco’s most revered saint, the founder of the country’s first real dynasty. We will not stay there too long because non-Muslims are prohibited to stay there overnight. Dinner, Ma’ariv and free evening time in our last night in the Middle Atlas.

OVERNIGHT:  Fez

Day 9: Friday, January 31

At 8:00 am sharp we embark on our last long bus ride, a fantastic 289 km return trip due southwest to Casablanca. Once we arrive in Casablanca, time –permitting, our driver will take us on a relaxing panoramic drive through this bustling city and dropus off at our wonderful hotel with plenty of time for Shabbat preparation. (Candle-lighting is about 5:05 pm with sunset @ 5:34 pm). Mincha and Kabbalat Shabbat @ the Central Synagogue of Casablanca, a few minutes from our hotel. Seudat Shabbat (1) with Rabbi Edelman, the Chief Chabad Shaliach in Morocco as our guest speaker.

Overnight: Casablanca Day 10: Shabbat Kodesh (Saturday), January 1

Shacharit, again @ the Central Synagogue. Long walking tour of the interesting areas of Casablanca including Place Mohammed V, Avenue Hassan II and Place des Nation Unies with Idriss, our wonderful guide. Seudat Shabbat (2) @ 1:30 pm and then to the Chabad Center on Ziraqui Boulevard for Mincha and Shalosh Seudot (3) and a good opportunity to meet with some of the locals. Free time Motzoei Shabbat to visit the Anfa on the coast with its lovely villas, cafes and clubs. A very nice Melava Malka/Banquet will be served @ our hotel at 11:30 pm. Overnight: Casablanca

Day 11: Sunday, January 2

Late wake-up call at 8:30 a.m., followed by breakfast, then off to the airport @ 10 am for our Royal Air Maroc Flight 200, leaving Casablanca at 12:25 p.m., returning directly to JFK Airport (NYC), at appx 4:45 p.m.

Please note that all prayers,shiurim and lectures are optional. 

Lectures and Shiurim: Rabbi Dr. Nosson Dovid Rabinowich will serve as Rav and deliver short lectures throughout the bus rides and at the hotels. This is all in addition to his daily Daf Yomi shiur, his Hashgacha duties, a major lecture on Shabbat and his insightful comments at all the Jewish historical sites. **************************************************************

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About Nathan David Rabinowich

Nathan David (Nosson Dovid) Rabinowich is an author of thirteen critically acclaimed scholarly books and hundreds of articles. He is an expert on Jewish History with extensive teaching experience at the high school and university levels. Nathan has lead as a CEO and Scholar in Residence in such as ventures as the Jewish Heritage Tours to Western Europe, Canada, and Africa.
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