Renovations complete, a Polish synagogue reopens its doors

On Kristallnacht, in November 1938, the Nazis attacked the synagogue and devastated its interior.

May 12, 2010 10:05
1 minute read.
The interior of the renovated and rededicated Whit

wroclaw shul 311. (photo credit: Mirek Koch)

More than six decades after it was ransacked and desecrated by the Germans, the grand neo-classical style White Stork Synagogue in the Polish city of Wroclaw was formally rededicated this past week after years of renovation work.

Over 800 people, including the chief rabbi of Poland, the Israeli ambassador, the Catholic cardinal and mayor of Wroclaw, and the president of the Union of Jewish Communities in Poland were in attendance.

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The ceremony was presided over by Rabbi Yitzhak Rapoport, an emissary of the Shavei Israel organization who serves as chief rabbi of Wroclaw. At the gathering, he recited a series of prayers to celebrate the structure’s consecration and renewal.

Shavei Israel is a Jerusalem-based organization, headed by Jerusalem Post columnist Michael Freund, which reaches out to “lost Jews” seeking to reconnect with Israel and the Jewish people.

Prior to World War II, Wroclaw was known as Breslau, when it was part of Germany and served as home to one of the largest Jewish communities in the country.

The White Stork synagogue, which was opened in 1829, derives its unusual name from an inn which had previously stood on the spot where it was erected.

On Kristallnacht, in November 1938, the Nazis attacked the synagogue and devastated its interior. They chose not to burn it down only because of its location, in a courtyard in close proximity to residential buildings, and instead turned it into a garage and warehouse.

After the war, Poland’s Communist authorities seized control of the synagogue, and it was only returned to the Jewish community a decade ago.

In cooperation with the Bente Kahan Foundation, the Polish Jewish community then began refurbishing the site.

Plans call for it to be used as a Jewish museum and concert hall, and to host prayer services on special occasions.

Wroclaw is home to a small Jewish community, but in recent years an increasing number of local Poles have begun discovering their Jewish roots, which were often concealed by family members due to Nazi persecution and Communist oppression.

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