The travels of Benjamin of Tudela | (c)


Kosher riverboat cruises will head on to the French Rhône valley in the region of Provence to discover and explore not only the beautiful sights, but as well as the development of Jewish history. In preparation for the kosher river cruises, we will be discussing a traveler to Provence named The Great Benjamin of Tudela. Benjamin traveled to Provence between the years 1159 – 1167, and returned around 1173 which was a century before the famous adventurer and merchant, Marco Polo, started traveling.

Massa’ot Binyamin Mi Tudela

Benjamin of Tudela had a travel log, that was called the “Massa’ot Binyamin Mi Tudela,” that was written in rabbinic Hebrew about his travels. Sadly, the copies that have survived today are not that accurate as there have been errors due to constant reproduction. Nonetheless, the version that exists today has a ton of information. This vital piece of literature has since then been translated to numerous European languages because of the amount of information these travel logs held. The length and distance of this particular travel was rare during this century since this could only be done by crusaders or an army.

Travel Records About Jewish Communities

For the case of Benjamin of Tudela, he was able to travel at this length by communicating to the Jewish communities all around Europe. Though the reason for his travels has not been identified, there are a lot of references to coral. This suggests that he was part of the precious gems trade. Other than his apparent interest in corals, he also dutifully notes the Jewish communities he has encountered during his travels. This includes the population of each community, the distance between communities, unusual customs, famous Jewish individuals, and so much more.

Historical Value

This 12th century document holds a tremendous amount of historical value. Benjamin of Tudela has provided a wide range of information about trade and ethnography that have never been shared before. He was also able to write the very first account of the Druze people as well as the first ever European reference to China. At some point, he was the only one who was able to supply information about different unheard of topics.

If you’re interested in Jewish travel or a glatt kosher cruise, consider joining us on our trips to all around the world. Enjoy fine kosher cuisine and see beautiful sights while learning more about our jewish history. Book a trip with us soon!