The New Jewish Cemetery is a historic necropolis situated on 55 Miodowa Street in Kraków, Poland. Located in the former Jewish neighborhood of Kazimierz, it covers an area of about 11 acres. Since 1999, the cemetery is a registered heritage monument. The grounds also feature a well-preserved mortuary. The New Jewish Cemetery was founded in 1800 on grounds purchased by the Jewish Qahal from the Augustinians. It was enlarged in 1836 with additional land purchased from the monks. Following Poland's return to independence, the New Cemetery became nearly full. From 1932 on, burials were directed to a new plot bought in 1926 by the Qahal along Abrahama Street and the one at nearby Jerozolimska Street, both in the Wola Duchacka neighborhood (now part of Podgórze district). These two other cemeteries formed the site of the Kraków-Płaszów concentration camp during the Holocaust and no longer exist. The Jews from the Kraków Ghetto were sent there. Following the Nazi invasion of Poland in World War II, the New Cemetery was closed to outsiders and the Germans sold the most valuable stonework to local masons. Other headstones, as well as slabs, were turned into construction material and used for paving the supply road to the camp, including the courtyard of commandant Amon Göth, who is known for having insisted that the Jews pay for their own executions. Meanwhile, the old bones at the cemetery were often left uncovered and scattered around in what looked like an open-pit mine. Caretaker Pina Ladner, who used to live on premises, was sent to Płaszów and shot. Soon after the war ended, a local civil engineer identified only as Mr. Stendig, likely Jakub Stendig, a camp survivor, recovered many tombstones from the Płaszów camp site, and arranged to have them reinstalled at the New Cemetery. In 1957, the grounds were renovated with funds from the Joint Distribution Committee. After the collapse of communism on March 24, 1999, the cemetery, including the 1903 mortuary, were entered into the register of historical monuments of Kraków. The New Jewish Cemetery features a renovated brick mortuary hall from 1903, as well as the postwar lapidary memorial fitted with old headstones and crowned with a block of black marble. The cemetery contains over 10,000 tombs, the oldest dating from 1809. There are many monuments commemorating the death of Jews killed during the Holocaust.
As an unmaintained site, the quarry is rather overgrown with nature and has become somewhat of a sanctuary for several types of bird such as waterfowl and pheasants, among other critters. The rusted refinery lies surrounded by steep limestone cliffs, covered with a thick forest of pines. The original fence posts and barbed wire can still be found hidden within the shrubbery that surrounds the quarry. There is a slightly eerie feel to the quarry, given its lack of use and derelict state, but it hosts a wealth of history nonetheless. Established by two Jewish industrial families from Podgórze in 1873, the quarry was connected to a railway line for easy transportation of materials. The quarry was active until the Nazi occupation, where it was then used as a labor camp for young Polish prisoners from 1942 until 1944. When the camp was liquidated near the end of the war, 21 inmates were executed and a small, overgrown memorial lies on the cliffside towards Za Torem. Although it is quite possible to find and explore the Liban Quarry on your own, a guide can provide an enhanced visit and a deeper insight into the history and nature of this unique site. Image attribution: Mateusz Giełczyński, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
The Tempel Synagogue is a synagogue in Kraków, Poland, in the Kazimierz district. Tempel Synagogue is not only a major place of worship, but also a booming center of Jewish culture, which hosts numerous concerts and meetings, especially during the Festival. The main room is spacious and airy, with a high ceiling and inner balconies that are matched in golden floral decor. The Tempel Synagogue is adorned with beautiful mosaic work of gold foliage, pale blues and burgundy. The bimah sits in the middle of the main hall, along with a white marble and golden-crowned Aron Kodesh that is detailed with houses resembling Polish folk art, as opposed to the Moorish designs found in the rest of the building. During World War II, the Nazis stored ammunition in the synagogue, which had many elements destroyed during that period. However, soon after the war, Tempel was reopened for prayers and in 1947 the synagogue saw the addition of a mikvah. The synagogue was used for prayer until 1985 and in the 90s it saw a massive renovation that brought it to the state it is in today. As one of the active synagogues in Kazimierz, the Tempel Synagogue hosts many celebrations and festivities throughout the year but does not host regular prayer sessions. For this, community members head to the Remuh Synagogue. Nonetheless, a visit to this beautiful worship space is highly recommended. Image attribution: Jakub Hałun, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons Photo: Marcin Konsek / Wikimedia Commons
Built in 1558, the Remuh Synagogue was named for Rabbi Moses Isserles, famed for writing a collection of commentaries of the Shulchan Aruch. The origin of the synagogue is somewhat up for debate: some believe that Isserles’ father, a royal banker and merchant, founded it for his son, whereas other evidence indicates it was built in memory of Isserles’ mother, Malka. The synagogue underwent many renovations over the centuries, thanks to fires and the constant changing of ownership. The building in its current state dates back to a restoration from the 1820s, although there were some improvements made after World War II. During the war, the German Trust Office took control of the synagogue and used it for storing equipment. Although the building remained intact, many historic, ceremonial finishes - the bimah, included - were ruined. The Remuh Synagogue underwent its last major renovation in 1957. When you visit the synagogue, you can find the Jewish Remuh Cemetery next door. Dating back to the mid-16th century, the Cemetery is renown for being the burial site of many notable Polish Jews, including Rabbi Moses Isserles. Once a year, on the anniversary of the Isserles’ death, many Jews from all around the world come and pay tribute to this important figure in Jewish history. Image Attribution: Yair Haklai, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons Zygmunt Put, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
Kazimierz is the historic Jewish Quarter of Krakow, now a jumble of indie galleries, quirky shops, vintage clothing stores and bars that range from hip cocktail dens to shabby-chic spaces. Established in 1335, and named after its founder, King Kazimierz the Great, Kazimierz was an independent city for many centuries. It was also home to one of the largest congregation of Jews in Poland and was seen by many as a hub for Jewish life in Europe. Situated just south of Old Town, Kazimierz thrived economically thanks to its many Jewish merchants and the cultural values of the community thrived alongside the businesses. The Jews of Kazimierz were a real part of Poland, they endured the invasions and political changes throughout the centuries alongside their non-Jewish neighbors. By the time World War II began, there were roughly 64,000 Jews living in Kraków, including 70% of Kazimierz’s residents. The Nazi occupation saw a systematic destruction of Kazimierz’s Jewish population and at the end of the war, less than 4,000 Krakówian Jews had survived in. Jewish life in Kazimierz would be forever changed. The period after World War II was not easy. The community was small and struggled to rebuild. During the communist era, Kazimierz became a seedy district that was derelict and full of despair. Many buildings and historically significant sites were simply left to fall apart. Just a few years after the communist era ended, the town of Kazimierz was rediscovered. Thanks to the fall of the communist regime and the global attention that Speilberg’s Schindler’s List brought to the region, Kazimierz entered a period of growth and revival. Kazimierz had long been the home of many Jewish synagogues and institutions. Although much of that changed since the war, today the town boasts seven synagogues and several buildings that were once used as private prayer spaces. There are also two Jewish cemeteries, one of which is the historically-significant Old Jewish Cemetery, the burial site to many famous Jews through history. Today’s Jewish community of Kraków is small but active and growing. Like in the past, it’s nestled in the heart of Kazimierz, and is filled with cafes, galleries, shops and a rich, vibrant culture and history. It is a huge tourist draw for non-Jews and Jews alike. Today, the entire town of Kazimierz is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The POLIN Museum is unique in that it’s creation involved the first public-private partnership of it’s kind in Poland. The main supporters of the museum’s creation are the City of Warsaw, the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland, and the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute of Poland. These three partners, along with much support of a widely established international network led to the birth of the museum. Thanks to the financial support of private donors and founders across Europe and the USA, the Museum of the History of Polish Jews officially opened its doors in 2005. In 2016, POLIN Museum won the title of the European Museum of the Year Award (EMYA 2016). POLIN Museum rose up to the challenge of creating an engaging and persuasive core exhibition without a substantial collection of artefacts. The programme of temporary exhibitions, educational activities, conferences, academic and artistic residences make the Museum a vibrant platform for dialogue and spreading the knowledge on Jewish history and heritage – reads the EMYA Jury statement. POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews is the first public-private partnership institution formed together by the government, the local government, and a non-governmental organization. In compliance with the signed tripartite agreement, the public partner covered, among others, the cost of the construction of the Museum building and its interior fittings. The Association of the Jewish Historical Institute of Poland was responsible for, among others, financing and organization of the process of creating the core exhibition (for details please go to: Public-Private Partnership). The Museum is a modern institution of culture - it is a historical museum which presents the 1000 years of Jewish life in the Polish lands. It is also a place of meeting and dialogue among those who wish to explore the past and present Jewish culture, those eager to draw conclusions for the future from Polish-Jewish history, and finally those who are ready to face the stereotypes and oppose xenophobia and nationalistic prejudices that threaten today’s societies. By promoting the ideas of openness, tolerance and truth, POLIN Museum contributes to the mutual understanding and respect among Poles and Jews.