The ongoing restoration of the the magnificent 18th century synagogue in Przysucha, Poland has received a boost, with a 100,000 zloty(about €24,000) allocation earmarked for it in budget the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.
The Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland (FODZ), which owns the building and is overseeing the restoration, said the funds are specifically allocated for Phase Two of the restoration of the north exterior wall. (FODZ announced the grant in a post on its Facebook page).
Funds are still being sought for restoration of the interior.
The synagogue in Przysucha (yid. Parshishe vel Przishe) was built between 1774 and 1777. With an area of 650m², it is a massive limestone building towering over a small town (current population: 6800). The main prayer chamber is rectangular, with a vaulted ceiling descending in the middle towards a four-piered structure formerly framing the bima (reader’s podium). The aron ha-kodesh, framed by a portal topped with stucco griffins, has also been preserved. Some polychromies remain on the walls.
Jewish settlers arrived in Przysucha shortly after the town’s first location in 1713, establishing a community and founding a Jewish cemetery (still extant today). The town became a centre of Chassidism towards the end of the 18th c. and gained considerable renown for its tzadikkim (Chassidic religious leaders): Abraham of Przysucha (d. 1806), Jacob Yitzhak ben Asher (1766-1813), known as the Holy Jew of Przysucha and credited with being the first propagator of Chassidism in Central Poland, and the latter’s disciple Simcha Bunem (1784-1827). Their ohelot (mausoleums), constructed in the 1980’s at the local Jewish cemetery, are still regularly visited by Chassidim from all over the world.
On the eve of the World War II Jews constituted over 60% of the town’s population. The war brought total extermination of the Jewish community. Thus, an entire era of the town history, lasting over 200 years, was ended.
The Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland came into ownership of the site in 2007. In 2008, we carried out essential protective renovations, but the building still needs urgent repairs. In December 2009 we have completed the construction and conservation documentation, which gives us the ability to apply for the European Union funds necessary to start the restoration and adaptation works.