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, firstname.lastname@example.org.