web analytics
January 26, 2015 / 6 Shevat, 5775
 
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post


Heaven’s Gate: Wooden Synagogues of Poland

       The synagogue buildings that survived are among the last remaining vestiges of Jewish life in Poland today. Often these buildings are praised as being architectural masterpieces. The columns and frescoes are heralded for their beauty and ingenuity. While these buildings deserve the accolades, there used to be another category of synagogue buildings that sadly has disappeared from the Polish landscape, that of the wooden synagogue.

 

         The history of the wooden synagogue in Poland is as old as Jewish existence in Poland itself. When Jews first arrived in the country they were often considered temporary residents and the local governments did not give them permission to build permanent buildings of stone and mortar. Over the years the wooden synagogues developed into major architectural masterpieces in their own rights, and were able to serve their communities for generations. Sadly they were made of very flammable material and often burned or were easily destroyed. Not one wooden synagogue survived the Shoah.

 

         In 1957 a book was published, Boznice Drewniane (Wooden Synagogues) in Polish describing, in detail, the history and architecture of the synagogues that had all been destroyed.

 

 


Typical page in Heaven’s Gates showing “Picture of A Wooden Synagogue” and an architectural drawing of the building.

 

 

         Using old plans, as well as pictures, the authors Maria and Kazmirez Piechotka brought this unique architectural form back from oblivion. The scholarly work, though very technical, is also filled with information that laymen can enjoy. The text is very informative and easy to understand and the pictures of the old synagogues are very clear, showing amazing detail.

 

         These were not simple structures like American log cabins. Often they had multiple rooms with very high vaulted ceilings. Built in Poland, a land of harsh winters, the roofs often had a hollow space for insulation so that the outside profile was in no way similar to the inside shape of the ceiling. The Aron Kodesh was always on the eastern wall and often rising to the roof, at times even curving in toward the center of the ceiling, rising higher then the walls themselves.

 

         The Bimah, central feature of the synagogue, also often towered over the congregants. Some synagogues had decorative pillars on the corners to help hold up the ceiling. It has been speculated that this custom arose from the tradition that the giving of the Torah by Hashem was similar to a wedding between Hashem and the People of Israel and the four pillars represented a wedding canopy.

 

 


Cover of Heaven’s Gates: Wooden Synagogues of Poland.

 

 

         The book, Heaven’s Gate: Wooden Synagogues of Poland, describes in detail 76 synagogues from Birez to Zydaczo, located all over Poland, utilizing all the information available from assorted records, surviving Kehillah Pinkasim, pictures and even postcards. Not only is it an important scientific publication, but an amazing volume of Jewish history worthy of any library of Judaica, as well.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Heaven’s Gate: Wooden Synagogues of Poland”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Ilana Medar, 18, of Paris, made Aliyah last year.
Jewish Agency Planning for Massive Aliyah of 120,000 French Jews
Latest Sections Stories
Dr. Esther Rose Lowy

Dr. Lowy believed passionately in higher education for both men and women and would stop at nothing to assist young students in achieving their educational goals.

book-Lincoln

It’s almost pointless to try to summarize all of the fascinating information that Holzer’s research unearthed.

The special charm of these letters is their immediacy and authenticity of emotion and description.

Why is there such a steep learning curve for teachers? And what can we, as educators and community activists, do better in the educational system and keep first-year teachers in the job?

Teachers, as well as administrators, must be actively involved in the daily prayers that transpire at a school and must set the bar as dugmaot ishiot, role models, on how one must daven.

Often both girls and boys compare their date to their parents.

We love the food, the hotels, and even the wildlife. We love the Israelis.

Few traces remain of the glory days of Jewish life in the kingdoms of Sicily and Naples, but the demise wasn’t due to the eruption of nearby Mount Vesuvius. Rather it was a manmade volcano called the Edict of Expulsion from Spain – and not even an invitation to return in Shevat of 1740 could […]

Garbage in your streets, my city
Wind-blown litter, lonely men

I love you in your blazing heat
my aching feet
dragging in your streets.

These monsters constantly attack
When we dare to try to fight back

With so many new cases of ADHD reported each year, it is important to help children learn how to sit still.

More Articles from Shmuel Ben Eliezer
Mr. and Mrs. Ronald Lauder receiving a special album from Rabbi Maciej Pawlak, director of the Lauder-Morasha school in Warsaw.

In 1989 he hosted a dinner for 157 young Jews with the late Rabbi Chaskel Besser and the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation in Poland was born.

Part of the reconstructed Gwozdziec Synagogue.

The Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews is designed to tell the whole thousand-year story of the Jews in Poland.

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.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/heavens-gate-wooden-synagogues-of-poland/2007/05/02/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: