Regional authorities in the south-central Świętokrzyskie Voivodship (region) will use EU funding to finance the restoration of the synagogue in the town of Chęciny, Poland and transform it into a Memorial Center for Jewish Culture.
Chęciny Mayor Robert Jaworski told Echo Dnia newspaper that the town “would first of all like to renovate the building, repair the roof, and renew the walls. We will create a Memorial Center for Jewish Culture there. There will be various showcases and exhibits. Jewish heritage is an important part of Chęciny’s culture. We want to remind people about it.”
It was reported already in 2016 that the mayor had signed an agreement to this effect with the Jewish community in Katowice, which in turn renounced claims to the building. The report said that while the ownership of the building was unclear, the city was not able to use EU funds for restoration.
The announcement from the Voivodship on Feb. 20 said the town of Chęciny will receive more than PLN 5 million, or around €1,160,000, in EU funding from the Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship’s Regional Operational Program. That represents around 95 percent of the total cost of the project. The rest will be covered by local authorities.
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 offices. Its condition has seriously decayed in recent years.
“People of Jewish origin from all over the world come to us; they are looking for traces of their ancestors,” the mayor told Echo Dnia. “I was ashamed in front of them, the synagogue was in such bad shape.”