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Every year more and more Jewish tourists go to Poland to visit the historic sites of pre-Shoah Jewish heritage. Often, especially if they try to travel alone without a guide, it is a difficult journey. The places are often hard to find or locked. The people in the towns don’t speak English or are not sure of the location you are looking for or sometimes just not very accommodating.
To aid the traveler, The Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland, based in Warsaw, has developed the Chassidic Route.
The aim of the Chassidic Route project is to create an international tourist route joining the cities and towns, located in Southeastern Poland and neighboring countries, with monuments of Jewish culture and religion, of significant importance. Sites of interest will be clearly listed both on location and the Internet for pre-trip planning and research.
The cooperation of the various communities, towns and cities on the Chassidic Route has been very encouraging. They have set up information about the location of Jewish heritage areas on their websites, and in some cases, printed material is available and in others they have opened small museums on the subject.
Monika Kryczyk, director of the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland, said in a recent interview, “We encourage everyone to visit the pages, dedicated to the localities of the Chassidic Route, on the POLIN web portal: Every page contains various pictures and information about the history of Jewish community in given locality.”
Its other goals include the stimulation of the socio-economic development of the region by promoting the multicultural heritage-oriented tourism. The various towns cooperating with the project will provide, through the municipality, informational maps and guides for visitors and some are in the process of setting up museums.
Today the Chassidic Route joins 20 localities of the Lubelskie and Podkarpackie Provinces. There are plans to extend the route and add more localities from the territories of Poland and Ukraine. The following is a list of towns and cities participating in the Chassidic Route: Baligrod, Bilgoraj, Chelm, Cieszanow, Debica, Dynow, Jaroslaw, Krasnik, Lesko, Lezajsk, Lublin, Przemysl, Ropczyce, Rymanow, Sanok, Tarnobrzeg, Ustrzyki Dolne, Wielkie Oczy, Wlodawa and Zamosc.
“Every town and city from Podkarpackie or Lubelskie Provinces, in which the important Jewish communities have lived in the prewar period, may join the Chassidic Route,” Ms Kryczyk said. “We are looking to greatly expand the list in the near future.
The synagogue building in Zamosc, part of the newly established Chassidic Route.
“We hope that the Chassidic Route Project will result in augmenting the tourist and culture attractiveness of the region, and also will help intensifying the local development of those territories.”
The realization of the project assumes both an institutional support from the territorial self-government units and non-governmental organizations, and the building of a solid inter-sector partnership for the benefit of the development of the profiled tourism, which stimulates the local enterprise by providing the infrastructure necessary for the extended tourist movement.
As a result of the project, a set of professionally created materials promoting the Chassidic Route will be prepared. The territorial self-government units and non-governmental organizations in localities on the Chassidic Route will be provided with competence, allowing them to care for the development of regional tourism together.
A case in point is the recent booklet published by the foundation regarding the historic town of Zamosc. At the moment the booklet is only available in Polish but it will be translated into English in the near future and made available from the foundation through the Internet. Zamosc will also be the main site for the celebration of the 11th Judaism Day, which is to take place on January 17, 2008.
The event was prepared by the Committee for Dialogue with Judaism of the Polish Episcopate Council and the Zamosc Diocese, in close cooperation with the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland.
Another project that has recently been finished is the first part of technical documentation of the historical synagogue complex in Krasnik (Lubelskie Province), realized thanks to the financial support of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. The works, carried out within the framework of the project “Krasnik, our multicultural center – preparation of the documentation making the revitalization of the synagogue complex in Krasnik for cultural purposes possible,” will continue in 2008, co-financed by the Krasnik Town Office.
For more information on Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland and on the Chassidic Route go to, http://fodz.pl/?d=1&l=en.