The Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland (FODZ) has offered three former synagogues it owns in southeast Poland for use as hubs to aid refugees from Ukraine.
The synagogue building are in the towns of Zamość, Łęczna, and Przemyśl.
“Following the media reports with the utmost concern, FODZ has joined all people of good will in their support for the invaded country,” FODZ CEO Piotr Pucha told JHE.
We declared FODZ’s readiness to offer premises to the local authorities to be used as hubs of humanitarian assistance for refugees who arrive to Polish cities of Przemyśl, Łęczna and Zamość from Ukraine. This was also, from my point of view, the most obvious way of showing solidarity with all those that are today in need, irrespective of their nationality.
All three towns are near the frontier with Ukraine. Przemyśl is the main railway border town en route to Poland from Lviv, Ukraine.
It is estimated that a million refugees have left Ukraine since the Russian invasion a week ago. Jewish communities in Ukraine have been sheltering in some of their synagogues.
Puchta said that more refugees have arrived in Przemyśl in recent days that the entire 60,000 population of the town.
The 17th century Renaissance synagogue in Zamość, which long served as an archive, was restored by FODZ with funding within the framework of the EEA Financial Mechanism and the Norwegian Financial Mechanism and opened in 2011 as the Synagogue Center museum and a modern cultural center.
The 17th century Great Synagogue in Łęczna (which for years housed a Regional Museum) and the early 20th century Scheinbach Synagogue in Przemyśl (which long housed a library) were both returned to Jewish ownership in recent years, and both today stand empty awaiting restoration; a new Jewish museum is planned in Łęczna.
FODZ was established in 2002 by the Union of Jewish Communities in Poland and the World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO). It owns, administers, and works to preserve hundreds of Jewish heritage sites that have been restituted to Jewish ownership in places where there is no current Jewish community. That covers around two-thirds of Poland.