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A housing estate in Bilgoraj, in southeast Poland, is being constructed as something of a living "shtetl skansen" -- or open air shtetl museum, according to a local newspaper.

In an article reposted on Virtual Shtetl, Gazetz Wyborcza's Lublin edition writes that the project, part of which is to open in 2014, is financed by local entrepreneur Tadeusz Koźmiński -- who conceived of the project -- along with the Ambra alcohol producer and Black Red White furniture manufacturer, both of which companies operate in Biłgoraj. Application for EU funds were rejected.

According to the article, the new "shtetl" will be an active housing estate, with real tenants, but will look like a pre-World War II Polish country town.

Two market squares Polish and Jewish, with arcaded houses, will be built. The ground floors will serve as commercial space, upper floors will accommodate residential flats. The squares will be divided by ten-odd sieve makers’ houses. According to the plan, a palace which belonged to Stanisław Nowakowski, the former proprietor of Biłgoraj, with a park which was modeled on Warsaw Łazienki park, all of which were destroyed during World War I, will be reconstructed. Additionally, an Orthodox church, a Catholic church and an old mill, which was burnt in the 1980s, will form part of the town’s landscape once again. A synagogue will be rebuilt at the Jewish market square. The founding stone was placed by the Chief Rabbi of Poland Michael Schudrich a few years ago.  [...]  To meet all fire requirements, some parts of the buildings are brick but they will be covered with wood, which will make them more faithful to the originals.

The reconstructed synagogue will serve as a Jewish museum focusing on the history of Jews in the region, and there will be an "Isaace Bashevis Singer" house to commemorate the Nobel prize-winning author who lived for some time in Bilgoraj and wrote about it.

The article says work on the "Jewish square" is advanced, and tenants will be able to move in next fall.

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1 comment on “Shtetl “living skansen” being built in Bilgoraj, Poland

  1. My mother, Sonia, was born in Poland during WWII. I should like very much the chance to live in this shtetl with other Jews and lean better Polish and more about our history together. Thank you!

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