Lots continues to go on regarding Jewish heritage in Poland. Here are a few examples of recent news we find particularly interesting — we urge you to visit the News pages of Virtual Shtetl to find out other events and developments.
All Souls Day Initiative at Warsaw Jewish Cemetery
November 1 is the Catholic All Saints Day, when people traditionally visit cemeteries. It is not marked by Jews, but in Warsaw people are in fact encouraged to visit the main
Okopowa St. Jewish cemetery to take a guided tour of the vast burial ground — and also make a donation for its restoration and upkeep.
The donations will be collection by a number of leading Jewish and non-Jewish personalities, including a Roman Catholic priest and a former mayor of Warsaw, and the tours will be led by Jan Jagielski, a pioneer in Jewish heritage research one of the leading experts in the field.
The cemetery is overseen by the Jewish Religious Community in Warsaw, but its maintenance is a huge challenge that exceeds the community’s financial capacity. Every year, the plants that grow around this vast cemetery need to be taken care of and thousands of gravestones require conservation, including ones that are considered works of art by outstanding sculptors. Hundreds of matzevot are still lying overturned as a result of the destruction during the Warsaw Uprising and the following decades.
Former synagogue in Chęciny to become a Jewish museum/memorial center
Gazeta Wyborcza reports that the former synagogue in Chęciny in southern Poland will be renovated and made into a Jewish Museum and Memorial Center for Jewish Culture.
The report says that the mayor of the town signed an agreement to this effect with the Jewish community in Katowice, which in turn renounced claims to the building.
The synagogue, with its Polish-style double mansard roof, dates from the 17th century. Devastated by the Germans in World War II, it was long used as a cinema in the post-war period, and also as a culture center and officies. Its condition has seriously decayed in recent years.
The Gazeta report states that while the ownership of the building was unclear, the city was not able to use EU funds for restoration.
Former Jewish School Building in Płock Pulled Down
Virtual Shtetl reports that the grand building that had housed a Jewish school in Płock, built in 1859, has been demolished after its owned got it taken off the list of landmarked buildings.
Between 1916 and 1935, it housed the Jewish Coeducational Junior High School of Humanities. Later on, it was rearranged into apartments. Over the recent years, the building was vacant and derelict.
Quoting its bad condition, the new owner of the facility had it removed from the province’s historical sites register. The city conservation officer notified the Prosecutor’s Office of the case.
The prosecutor’s proceedings did not stop the investor from pulling the building down.
Volunteers Clean Up Jewish Cemetery in Jędrzejów
Virtual Shtetl reports that a group of volunteers from the Jewish Community Center in Krakow (known as “the Machers”) cleaned up the abandoned Jewish cemetery in the town of Jędrzejów. The initiative, at the end of September, was spearheaded by Klaudia Kwiecińska – a resident of Jędrzejów and a student of Jewish Studies at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow.
She started off by collecting information on the cemetery, talking to Jewish organisations and municipal authorities. She also reached out to The Machers – volunteers working for the Jewish Culture Festival in Kraków. Finally, she reached her goal.
A group of The Machers arrived to Jędrzejów on 23 September. Joining forces with employees of the Jędrzejów Town Hall, municipal sanitation services, and several residents of the town, they started to clean up the cemetery. They scythed the thicket, took out the rubbish and cleaned up all preserved matzevot. They also restored the old board and put up a new one. […]
People participating in the process of cleaning up also took part in a training on the protection of Jewish monuments and a guided tour around Jędrzejów, Szczekocin, and Lelów.