A Forgotten Krakow’s Synagogue.
In one of the magical courtyards of Krakow’s Jewish district Kazimierz stands a historic synagogue, which safeguards memories of a once vibrant community. Closed off by surrounding buildings, locked and forgotten, she was once a center of Jewish life. The life which thrived in multiple small courtyards of the Krakow’s Jewish District creating its unique atmosphere. The synagogue witnessed it all, from the joy of Brit Milah to the Mourner’s Kaddish, from the vibrant everyday Jewish life to the terror and emptiness after Shoah.
After the war the synagogue served different purposes and for the last few decades as a workshop for a glass blowing manufacture. Though the synagogue is in desperate need of renovation works to stay standing, it was able to avoid the fate of many other buildings like her in the district — of becoming gentrified and turned into a hotel or a restaurant. It is one of the last such buildings that still has a potential of being restored to the function of nurturing the emerging Jewish life in Poland.
The fact that the synagogue is located at Bridge Street” (Mostowa) is very symbolic.
The project of renovating the synagogue has been an unusual project since its very inception. It started from the letter to the Krakow’s City council written by Rabbi Tanya Segal, the first woman rabbi in the history of Poland, who is a co-founder of the Beit Krakow Jewish reform community and has served for the last 14 years as Polish rabbi. The subsequent discussions led to the City of Krakow consenting to the idea of bringing the synagogue back to its original use. The City authorities were impressed to learn about the rich history of the Progressive/Reform Movement in Judaism deeply rooted in Krakow, such as that before the war Krakow’s progressive rabbis have also been social activists, city officers and even members of Polish parliament (as rabbi Ozjasz Thon, the last rabbi of the Krakow’s Tempel synagogue). The process of this unique dialogue was covered by the local press and radio.
After this warm reception the efforts to renovate the building started in a form of social project – a project which everyone inspired by this vision can support. We are looking forward to good cooperation with the City’s institutions as well as educational, historical and artistic organizations, in making the synagogue a unique institution, which besides its liturgical function will serve all Krakow’s Citizens as a center for dialog, education and contemporary art. And at the same as commemoration of the people who once lived here – a place where the past connects to the present day.
The story of Chanukah.
The synagogue that miraculously survived to this day, now will become the 1st post-war active progressive synagogue. At the same time it will be the 8th surviving synagogue of Krakow. Like Chanukkah 8 candles, the synagogue will tell the story of Jewish life, struggle, war and survival – a miracle that happened in the past days, and is happening for us today.