Synagogue reopens in Polish town without Jews

By Jennifer Lipman, April 4, 2011

A Polish town where the Jewish population was almost entirely wiped out by the Nazis 72 years ago is to be home to a synagogue once again.

The population of Zamosc, near the border with the Ukraine, was at least 40 per cent Jewish before the Holocaust. Most of the community worshipped at the town’s Renaissance-era synagogue, built by Sephardic Jews who had fled to eastern Europe during the Spanish inquisition.

In 1939 the building was looted, then seized as a Nazi carpentry workshop for the remainder of the war.

Six years ago control of the building was handed back to the Jewish community, and plans were made to renovate it. After a year’s rebuilding at a cost of £1.5 million, the Zamosc synagogue will officially reopen on Tuesday.

The town’s Jewish population is close to zero now, but the renovated building will be used for exhibitions and cultural events and as a community centre.

Rabbi Michael Schudrich, chief rabbi of Poland, said: “The people, they are gone. But at least in their memory we can do the best to preserve that which remains."

Monika Krawczyk, the chief executive of a Warsaw-based Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland, helped organise the renovation. She said: "Although the Jews in Poland today are small in number, the heritage is absolutely huge."

Last updated: 4:23pm, April 4 2011