About Us

These Religious Heritage Tours are the creation of me, Michael Strmiska, professor of World History at Orange County Community College in Middletown, NY, in partnership of Vytis Tours of Douglaston, NY and Jerulita Tours of Vilnius, Lithuania, both companies run by tried and trusted friends. I have Lithuanian and Czech ancestral heritage and have been visiting Eastern Europe since February 1996. I conduct research on religious history and modern-day religious movements in the Baltic States and have many contacts in the region.  I find the complex history of the region, especially its religious diversity, which embraces early Pagan traditions centered on nature-gods, Christianity from Catholic to Orthodox to Uniate to Lutheran,  Judaism from Orthodoxy to Hasidism to the Haskalah, and also the Islam of the Tatars and still more besides, fascinating and inspiring, even though this history also has its dark periods such as the Holocaust.  I organize these tours as a sideline to my regular teaching job and run them at very low cost because I am not seeking to make massive profit from them, but to make the cultural and religious riches of this region available to people of modest means such as college students, working-class families and non-millionaire senior citizens, who cannot afford the kind of deluxe trips run by such organizations as The New York Times or the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. At the same time, my trips provide top-quality service, staying in very good if not luxury hotels, focus on the most important historical, cultural and religious sites in each country we visit, and make use of native guides with deep knowledge of their countries’ history and heritage. This is all possible due to the expertise and kindness of  my excellent partners, the Jerulita and Vytis Tours companies. The most special feature of these trips is that we visit the sites associated with DIFFERENT religious traditions, seeking to build bridges between religions and break down barriers of ignorance and prejudice. If you believe in the value of interfaith exchanges and cross-cultural understanding, have curiosity about history, culture and religion of this region, have ancestral roots in Eastern Europe or know others who do, THESE TRIPS ARE FOR YOU! I personally accompany all trips, have complete confidence in my travel industry partners,  and can assure you of a very personally meaningful experience exploring Eastern Europe.