My Visit To

Our Roots Jewish Information and Tourist Bureau

Although I ended up taking this trip to Poland by myself, my original intention was to travel with a cousin – who, unfortunately, had to change her plans. But before
Jerzy "George" Malenczyk
in the Our Roots Office
she realized that she was not going to be able to go, she had undertaken a great deal of the planning process that goes into a trip like this. One of the most valuable tasks she had performed was to track down and evaluate organizations that might be able to provide drivers, guides, and/or translators for various portions of our journey. And after considering various options, she reached the conclusion that the services offered by Our Roots Jewish Information and Tourist Bureau in Warsaw would be the best match for our requirements.

Our Roots not only provides tour guides, they provide a full range of travel-planning services, including travel arrangements, reservations, and consistently helpful advice. I corresponded with them largely by fax (although there was one voice phone call mixed in); they always replied promptly and thoroughly. And they speak excellent English, which came in handy, as I speak not a word of Polish.

In the end, I decided to make many of my own arrangements and I undertook a lot of independent travel – but I did decide to hire one of their guides to take me on a three-day excursion into northeastern Poland to visit some of the areas where my ancestors once lived. For this service, Our Roots charged me $150/day – which turned out to be perhaps the best $450 I've ever spent. The guide they provided, Jerzy "George" Malenczyk, was incredibly knowledgeable, extraordinarily helpful, and an excellent travel companion. And because he served as driver (in his comfortable Mercedes) and translator as well as guide, his services were actually quite reasonably priced, as the other organizations I had contacted wanted me to hire different people to perform those functions. (In some instances, they even wanted me to pay to rent a car for the trip). So not only did George perform the work of several people, I have a hard time imagining that anybody could have performed any of those services better than he did.

If you want to contact them, here's the information you'll need:

    Our Roots Jewish Information and Tourist Bureau
    6 Twarda Street
    00-105 Warsaw, Poland
    Phone/Fax: (48-22)620-0556
    Email: our-roots@jewish.org.pl

Our Roots also publishes a series of books that are excellent guides to areas of Poland that are of Jewish interest. I made extensive use of two of these books:

  • A Guide to Jewish Warsaw by Jan Jagielski and Robert Pasieczny (1995)
  • A Guide to Jewish Cracow by Eugeniusz Duda (1990)

Not only did Our Roots publish these invaluable guides, they even gave me their permission to quote from them in this website, an act of generosity for which I am enormously grateful.

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