Jews in Present Day Poland

     Present conditions in Poland made the renewal of Jewish life and the cultivation of national traditions and cultural heritage possible. The Social and Cultural Society of Jews in Poland is active and may be found in its own building on Grzybowski Square. It has branch offices in all major cities of Poland, possess clubs which are the venue for various events and meetings, and publishes the Folks-Sztyme, a weekly in Yiddish and Polish. The Ester Rachel Kaminska State Jewish Theater shares the same address. The Union of Jewish Religious Congregations has its seat in Warsaw and branches in all cities with concentrations of Jews. The congregations care for Jewish cemeteries, synagogues and houses of prayer, and are involved in charity works including the provision of kosher meals in its cafeterias.

The Jewish Historical Institute

     The Main Judaic library was erected next to the Great Synagogue on Tlomackie in 1936. Construction was funded by donations of the Jewish population, and State and municipal subsidies. Its designer was the architect Edward Eber>, architect of many buildings in Warsaw (including the Adria Building). The building on Tlomackie suffered major damage during the war. It was restored afterwards and handed over to the Jewish Historical Institute in Poland. The building presently houses offices and research rooms, and boasts a large collection with about 12,000 exhibits - a pan of the Museum of Jewish Martyrology as well as an exhibition of Jewish art, religious objects, and mementos. Its archives possess an enormous collection of the ancient acts of Jewish communities on Polish lands, huge archives dating from the period of the Nazi occupation and a particularly large collection of acts and documents from the Warsaw Ghetto, including Dr. Emanuel Ringelblum's Underground Archives. The Institute's library has about 60,000 volumes relating to Jewish topics in Polish, Yiddish, Hebrew as well as many European languages, a large collection of old manuscripts dating from the 10th and subsequent centuries. The Jewish Historical Institute in Poland is funded by the State and acts under the auspices of the Polish Academy of Sciences. Research papers linked to the history of Jews are published as are both of the Institute's periodicals: a quarterly Bulletin of the Jewish Historical Institute in Poland, printed in Polish (with summaries in Yiddish and English), and the Bleter far Geshichte [Pages from History] published in Yiddish.

Synagogues in Other Cities

     Traveling through Poland, tourists may discover historical temples and synagogues in some cities which, due to a lack of Jewish inhabitants, no longer fulfill their religious functions. Many of those, which were not totally destroyed by the Nazi occupation, were painstakingly restored and designated for cultural purposes. They include:

A temple built during the first half of the 17th century as a result of a grant issued to Jews in 1588. Destroyed during the occupation, it was rebuilt in 1965 together with its original stucco work, polychrome, and ornaments. It stands in the neighborhood of Zamenhof Street and Pereca Street, the latter of whom came from Zamosc. It presently houses a library and reading room.
This Early Baroque masonry synagogue was built in 1642, and beautifully restored between 1974 and 1978. It is a typical example of Jewish religious architecture. It presently houses a museum.
This restored defensive synagogue from the 17th century stands on Moniuszko Street. An old Jewish cemetery with well presented tombstones is located nearby.
The old synagogue, originally built in 1761 and restored after the war, now houses the regional museum and an exhibition of Judaic. Also noteworthy is the Ohel (grave of the Chassidic rabbi Hurwitz).
The square known today as Zwyciestwa Square has two synagogues:
  • The Old Town Synagogue, known as the Small which was built at the beginning of the 17th century (it presently houses archives)
  • The New Town Synagogue, known as the Large erected in 1710 (it presently serves as an art center).
This town boasts a synagogue of great architectural value built between 1630 and 1634.
The local Jewish cemetery,the site of the murder of many Jewish children by the Nazis, was fenced off and cleaned up in 1987 thanks to the efforts of the Nissenbaum Family Foundation and the help of American Jews descended of families from Kielce. This cemetery now has a monument commemorating those who died their. The preserved synagogue contains archives; it is to be reconstructed as a museum.
Gora Kalwaria
This town was the seat of the famous Chassidic leader, Rabbi Majer Alter. His father's grave may be found in the cemetery. The Rabbi's manor house and synagogue are to be restored in the nearest future. A Jewish museum is being considered as a future function.
Other Localities
Several other towns have restored religious monuments, synagogues, and cemeteries. The synagogue in Kazimierz Dolny was rebuilt, a monument-mausoleum was erected in the Czerniawy cemetery, the synagogue in Siemiatycze was reconstructed (serving now as a culture center), as was the one in Piotrkow Trybunalski (now a library), and in Nowy Sacz (a museum). The synagogue in Szydlowiec is being reconstructed.