Krakow's Remu Synagogue
The Remu synagogue (acronym for Rabbi Moses Isserles) is located in Kazimierz, the Jewish quarter of Krakow, and was founded in 1553 by Israel Isserles. The Remu was considered to be the 'Maimonides of Polish Jewry' and was known for his universal outlook, his extensive Talmudic and secular knowledge, his manner of study, and his humility. His published works included treatises on halakhah, philosophy, kabbalah, homiletics, and science.
The adjacent Remu cemetery was used until 1799, and contains the graves of the Remu and his family. (Eminent burial list). Prior to World War II, thousands of Polish Jews visited his grave every year on the anniversary of his death. After the war, the cemetery was restored and pieces of broken headstones which could not be matched were used to make a memorial cemetery wall.
In the restored courtyard, you will find plaques dedicated by a number of our members.
Original arch above entrance to Remu Shul courtyard. A16th century synagogue, built in 1557. Behind the synagogue is a Jewish cemetery crowded with ornate Renaissance style, gravestones.
Remu shul - Restoration
Arch above entrance to Remu Shul courtyard.
Krakow's most active synagogue is still in use.
Remuh Synagogue and Old Cemetery
ul. Szeroka 40
Remu shul - cemetery
The cemetery, which was used for burials from the 16th to the 19th centuries, was badly damaged during WWII when the Nazis used it as a rubbish site, smashing most of the gravestones in the process. Many of the fragments have been embedded in the graveyard wall, turning it into a sort of giant mosaic. However, during restoration work in the 1960s a great many gravestones were found buried, believed to have been hidden in the 19th century to protect them from the Austrians who were then occupying the city.
Aron Kodesh' of Remu Shul.
(Moshe Isserles' chair is to the right of the aron).
This present day wall around the Remu Shul Cemetery is made from countless gravestone fragments.
Kazimierz, the streets of
the old Jewish Quarters
Kazimierz is the former Jewish ghetto, established as the Jewish quarter in 1495. Up until 1800, Kazimierz was actually a town in its own right, separately administered than Krakow. It had long been the home of Krakow's Jews, particularly after their expulsion from Krakow itself in 1494, and by the time of the Nazi occupation in 1941, there were an estimated 70,000 + Jews living in Krakow, mostly in Kazimierz, almost a quarter of Krakow's population. Beginning in 1941 the Jewish populace were relocated, finally ending up at concentration camps. Less than 1 in 10 of them survived by 1945. After the war the area lost its Jewish character, although many of the buildings survived, and were basically left to fall into complete ruin. Fortunately, it was a film about the destruction of Krakow's Jews (Steven Spielberg filmed "Schindler's List" was mostly filmed in Kazimierz), that marked a turning point in the area. Jewish heritage was slowly rediscovered, and money for building renovations became available by private donors. Today there is a well defined Jewish heritage trail; each site has a plaque outside giving a short description, and a guide map indicates the location of the next site.
The centre of Jewish Kazimierz - ul. Szeroka, once the Jewish flea-market.
Historic Sites around Krakow
Old Synagogue (Stara Synagoga)- ul. Szeroka 24
As its name suggests, this is the oldest synagogue in Krakow, in fact the oldest in Poland. The building dates from the mid 15th century, although there have been many renovations and alterations since. It was destroyed by fire in 1557 but was rebuilt by Italian architect Mateo Gucci in the 1570ies. The building just about survived the war, and in the 1960s, after a long restoration project, it was opened as part of the Historical Museum of Krakow.
It is currently being used as the Museum of Jewish History and Culture which houses a collection of photographs of life in Kazimierz before the Nazi occupation, as well as paintings by Jewish artists and religious objects. The main part of the exhibition is arranged in the main prayer room, furnished with the metal Bimah, Al-Memor (place where religious rituals are held), decorated Renaissance altar for the Torah scrolls, and a 17th-century stone alms box, and in the adjacent 16th-century cantors’ hall. Displayed in the rooms are objects of craft: on the one hand these are ritual objects among which there are e.g. holiday toys, and on the other works of Polish and Jewish painters (including Malczewski, Kossak, and Gottlieb).
Tempel Synagogue ( Reformed Synagogue)
ul Miodowa 24
The late 19th century building is the newest of Kazimierz's surviving synagogue. The interior has just been thoroughly renovated and has some marvelous stained-glass windows, painted walls, lots of gold-leaf and carved wood.
Synagoga Isaaka (Isaac's Synagogue)
- ul Kupa 18.
This mid 17th century is undergoing a thorough renovation after decades of neglect. Inside fragments of the original paintings have been preserved on the walls. There is also a museum showing photographs and films detailing Jewish life in Poland and Krakow before the war. A wealthy community elder, Izaak Jakubowicz, built this synagogue in 1683.
Miodowa Cemetery or
ul. Miodowa 55.
This huge cemetery is still in use, and many of the graves have fresh flowers or candles on them. Graves dedicated to entire families who were wiped out in the concentration camps are also located here.
Once the Remuh Cemetery fell out of use in 1800, Jewish burials switched to the New Cemetery (Cmentarz Zydowski). This at the eastern end of Miodowa, under the small railway bridge.
Bath house and mikva
- ul. Szeroka 6
This building housed the community bathhouse and mikva during the 16th century. It was remodeled in the 19th century. The Jewish practice of ritual baths kept them from getting epidemics. Today there is a café located there.
|Kupa Synagogue - ul. Warszauera 8|
remaining is one of the exterior walls of the 17th century Synagogue. It is no longer in use and is closed to the public.
High or (Tall) Synagogue - ul. Jozefa 38
Originally built in 1553-56 as a prayer room on the second floor above ground floor shops. It was destroyed during the Holocaust. Today its is used as a monument restoration workshop.
The Bociana or Popper's Synagogue - ul. Szeroka 16,
Built in 1620 by a wealthy merchant, this synagogue is no longer used for ritual purposes. All of its interior decorations were destroyed during the Holocaust. It is now an arts center, a couple of Kosher restaurants, a Jewish hotel, and a bookshop.
|Pharmacy Under the Eagles Narodowej 'Apteka pod Orlem-|
- pl. Bohaterow Getta 18.
Located in Podgórze, which became the new Jewish ghetto under the Nazis. The pharmacy's owner, Tadeusz Pankiewicz, decided to stay on in Podgórze and do all he could for the thousands of people who lived, often two or three families to a room, in this last stop on the way to genocide. The pharmacy currently houses Art/Photography Exhibition on the Krakow ghetto and Plaszow concentration camp and is now open as a museum, which, portrays life in the Podgórze ghetto.
|The Kovea Itim l’Torah House of Prayer|
|The Ritual Slaughterhouse for Poultry|