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October 22, 2014 / 28 Tishri, 5775
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Cheder Center In Krakow

      I am constantly asked if there are things to do in Poland other then those that are Holocaust related. People going to Poland are often burnt out after visiting Auschwitz and need a breather, something a little lighter. In Krakow there are a number of places that could be of interest. The main square of the city is a major tourist site with a lot of gift and souvenir shops. There are also plenty of art shops and in good weather one will find a good number of street performers from jugglers to musicians.


    But being in Krakow one cannot ignore the Jewish aspect of the city. Even when it is not Festival time there are plenty of Jewish things to do in the city. To visit all the synagogues can take almost a full day and then there are the many Jewish bookstores, five at last count, that have all kinds of books with Jewish themes in half-a-dozen languages. Some of the restaurants that have kosher-sounding names, but are decidedly not kosher, often have live Klezmer music.


     There is also the Galicia Museum that, as the name says, features exhibits on different towns around Galicia.


    The newest to Krakow is the Cheder, located just off the Kazimierz Square at Ul. Jozefa 36. Created by the Jewish Culture Festival Association in Krakow, it will be part of the wide-ranging educational process that has been underway in Kazimierz for almost 20 years, of which the Jewish Culture Festival has been a key element since 1988.

 

 


Evening of accordian music at the Cheder


     Alluding to the Cheder as a place for Jewish education, we want to create a place in Kazimierz where people can deepen their knowledge of Jewish culture and Judaism. We will carry out educational, musical, and film projects at the Cheder throughout the year, to enhance and supplement the events on the annual Jewish Culture Festival schedule.


     Cheder is housed in a former prayer room, built by the Chevrah Ner Tamid (Brotherhood of Eternal Light) on the ground floor of a building, which was part of the High Synagogue complex. Destroyed by Nazis during WW II. The building had not been used since as a synagogue.


     Renovation of the space was possible thanks to the grants from the Ford Foundation and Tad Taube Foundation for Jewish Life and Culture. Thanks to these grants we not only renovated, but also adopted and equipped the space to fit to the new functions.


Bookshelves accommodate book collections of the Society, which will be made available for anyone interested. Alicja Panasiewicz and Ewa Gordon designed the library, as well as some of the furniture, especially for the space. A big screen, DVD player and projector enable showing films in high quality; audio equipment provides good quality of musical events.


    The Cheder is also a place to try Israeli coffee brewed in the traditional finjan, with a dash of cardamom or cinnamon. Now the cafe will be opened only at the time of the events in the Cheder but we hope very soon we will invite you there on daily basis, offering excellent coffee, music, nice ambience and a little bit of rest from a nervous daily rhythm of life.


     Some of the events that have taken place at the Cheder include lectures, films and musical interludes. The events have been both religious and secular in content, bringing Jewish culture to Krakow outside the realm of the two weeks of the festival.


     For more information on The Cheder: 36 Jozefa Street, 31-056 Krakow, Poland,
Tel. 481-2431-1517, office@jewishfestival.pl.

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More Articles from Shmuel Ben Eliezer
Arnold Fine 2008

I REMEMBER WHEN I first started working at the Jewish Press 18 years ago, Arnie who was in charge of the newsroom, took me under his wing…

The official beginning of World War II was September 1, 1939. On that day German soldiers invaded Gdansk after bombarding the city with a military warship. As part of the Polish Government’s official series of events marking seven decades since the start of World War II, Poland’s Jewish community and the Jerusalem-based “Shavei Israel” organization held a special ceremony yesterday in the Gdansk synagogue to commemorate the outbreak of the war, which paved the way for the Holocaust.

The official beginning of World War II was September 1, 1939. On that day German soldiers invaded Gdansk after bombarding the city with a military warship. As part of the Polish Government’s official series of events marking seven decades since the start of World War II, Poland’s Jewish community and the Jerusalem-based “Shavei Israel” organization held a special ceremony yesterday in the Gdansk synagogue to commemorate the outbreak of the war, which paved the way for the Holocaust.

September 1, 1939 is the date on which Germany invaded Poland, starting WWII. While it should be said that the start of the war was not the start of the Shoah, which actually began with the rise of Nazism in 1933, it was a major milestone in the annals of the Holocaust. Within the first few days of the war, Germany had conquered and/or bombed much of Poland, including the capital, Warsaw.

September 1, 1939 is the date on which Germany invaded Poland, starting WWII. While it should be said that the start of the war was not the start of the Shoah, which actually began with the rise of Nazism in 1933, it was a major milestone in the annals of the Holocaust. Within the first few days of the war, Germany had conquered and/or bombed much of Poland, including the capital, Warsaw.

In September 1939 the Germans started establishing ghettos in the occupied territory of Poland. Ghettos played an important role in the Jewish extermination policy. They were filled with Polish and Western European Jewish deportees. The ghettos differed in times of existence, size, internal organization, and living conditions. The Germans called them ” death boxes” (Todeskiste). The city of Lodz belonged to the Wartheland District and the Germans changed its name into Litzmannstadt.

In September 1939 the Germans started establishing ghettos in the occupied territory of Poland. Ghettos played an important role in the Jewish extermination policy. They were filled with Polish and Western European Jewish deportees. The ghettos differed in times of existence, size, internal organization, and living conditions. The Germans called them ” death boxes” (Todeskiste). The city of Lodz belonged to the Wartheland District and the Germans changed its name into Litzmannstadt.

Growing up in the U.S. during the second half of the 20th century, I, along with most people, know very little about the First World War. The little that I did know was about the trench warfare in France and Belgium. The Eastern Front was barely, if ever, mentioned and usually stated that it ended with the Russian Revolution and overthrowing the Czar.

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