Synagogues of Kraków

tocrightThe synagogues of Kraków are an outstanding collection of monuments of Jewish sacred architecture unmatched anywhere in Poland. Kraków was an influential centre of Jewish spiritual life before the outbreak of World War II, with all its manifestations of religious observance from Orthodox, to Chasidic and Reform flourishing side by side. There were at least ninety synagogues in Kraków active before the Nazi German invasion of Poland, serving its burgeoning Jewish community of 60,000–80,000 (out of the city's total population of 237,000), established since the early 12th century.

Main synagogues

The seven main synagogues of the Jewish District of Kazimierz constitute the largest such complex in Europe next to Prague. Among them, the Old Synagogue, the High Synagogue, Remuh Synagogue, Wolf Popper Synagogue, Tempel Synagogue, Kupa Synagogue and the Izaak Jakubowicz Synagogue; a unique on the European scale religious complex prescribed on the list of UNESCO world heritage sites along with the entire city district in 1978, as the first ever. The synagogues of Kraków represent virtually all architectural styles of the past, including Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Neoclassicism and Modernism. At present, only two of them are still active, and only one serves as a house of prayer, the Remuh Synagogue.Adam Dylewski, [ Where the Tailor Was a Poet...] website created under the aegis of the Adam Mickiewicz Institute, Warsaw; chief editor: Dr. Piotr M. A. Cywinski. Editorial assistance: Dr. Anna Marta Szczepan-Wojnarska, and Kaja Wieczorek from Jewish Historical Institute, Warsaw]

The Old Synagogue on Szeroka Street, is the oldest Jewish house of prayer in Poland, built in 1407. Nowadays, the synagogue serves as the Jewish History Museum, a Division of the Historical Museum of Kraków. The exhibits are divided into four sections: synagogue furnishings and paraphernalia, Jewish rituals and festivals, the history of Kazimierz District, and the Holocaust. The museum features numerous items related to religious ceremonies, for example, candle holders, Chanukah and menorot lamps, covers for the Torah, parochot Holy Ark covers, tallit prayer shawls, and kippahs or yarmulkes. The museum holds also a considerable collection of books including 2,500 volumes of Hebrew manuscripts and prints. On the walls, there are original oil paintings on display made by Maurycy Gottlieb, Józef Mehoffer, Tadeusz Popiel, Jerzy Potrzebowski and Jonasz Stern. [ Old Synagogue; A guide to Kazimierz, Krakow's Jewish Quarter] ]

The Remuh Synagogue ( _he. רמ״א) on the west side of Szeroka, currently the only functioning synagogue in the city, is perhaps the most interesting of all Kraków's synagogues, built along the old row houses ("kamienice"). [cite web| url =| title = Remuh Synagogue, A relic of Kazimierz's golden age| accessdate = 2006-12-11| publisher = [] ] It was founded in 1556 by a royal banker, Izrael (Isserl) son of Joseph, for his own son the great rabbi Moses Isserles also known as Remuh, who already in his youth was famed for his erudition. [cite web| url =| title = The Remuh Synagogue of Krakow, Poland| accessdate = 2006-12-11| publisher = [ Beth Hatefutsoth] ] There are also a Remuh Cemetery named after him, and the mikvah. Located further down on Szeroka Street is the Synagogue of Wolf Popper, the father of Joachim Edler von Popper. It serves as an exhibition house, with artists in residence.

Equally notable are the High Synagogue on Kupa Street, built in 1556-1563 in a Romanesque style, and the Kupa Synagogue, founded in 1643 by the Jewish district’s kehilla (a municipal self-government) as foundation for the local kahal.Hebrew University of Jerusalem, [ "Exploring the Synagogues of Poland"] ] The Isaak Jakubowicz Synagogue built in 1644, is located on Warszauera Street. [ [ Isaak Synagogue, Krakow, Poland] ] The Tempel Synagogue on Miodowa Street, was designed in the 1860s, on the pattern of the Leopoldstädter Tempel in Vienna, at a time when Kraków was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. [ A guide to Tempel Synagogue] as well as the Krakow's old Jewish quarter] On Józefa Street, there’s the Kowea Itim le-Tora House of Prayer built in 1810. It was once owned by the Society for the Study of the Torah hence its name.

Most synagogues of Kraków were ruined during World War II by the Nazis who despoiled them of all ceremonial objects, and used them as storehouses for ammunition, firefighting equipment, and as general storage facilities. The post-Holocaust Jewish population of the city had dwindled to about 5,900 before the end of 1940s, and by 1978, the number was further reduced in size to a mere 600 by some estimates. In recent time, thanks to the efforts of the local Jewish and Polish organizations including foreign financial aid from Akiva Kahane, many synagogues underwent major restorations, while others continue to serve as apartments.

Active synagogues

* Remuh Synagogue
* Tempel Synagogue

Inactive synagogues

* Old Synagogue, now housing a Jewish History museum
* Izaak Jakubowicz Synagogue
* Popper Synagogue
* High Synagogue
* Kupa Synagogue


List of Kraków synagogues by street name

"For list of Synagogues in alphabetical order, please use table-sort buttons."

ee also

* New Jewish Cemetery, Kraków
* Remuh Cemetery, Kraków



* [ List of synagogues and Betei Midrash in Krakow between the wars]
* Traces of the Past, [ Synagogues of Krakow]
* [ Engraving of synagogue interior]
* [ A guide to Kazimierz, Krakow's Jewish Quarter] including the [ Old Synagogue]
* [ Who's who in the Jewish World?]
* The Database of Jewish Communities, [ The Remuh Synagogue of Krakow, Poland]
* The Jews of Krakow and its Surrounding Towns, [ The "Old" (Remuh) Cemetery of Krakow]
* Michał Rożek, "Żydowskie zabytki krakowskiego Kazimierza", Kraków 1990, ISBN 83-85104-01-1
* [ Poland (2004): Online presentations]

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