This former Krakow synagogue is now a bar, and Polish Jews are protesting

The progressive Jewish community Beit Krakow tried unsuccessfully to obtain use of the building in 2012.

June 15, 2019 03:57
1 minute read.
Photo of Jews rounded up for forced labor in Krakow

Photo of Jews rounded up for forced labor in Krakow. (photo credit: FAITH AND THE HOLOCAUST INSTITUTE)


Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analysis from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief


Polish Jews protested the use of a former synagogue in Krakow as a bar.

The protest about Chevra Tehilim prayer house in Kazimierz, in the city’s old Jewish quarter, appeared this week in a statement on the website of FestivALT, an independent arts collective, ahead of its third annual alternative Jewish arts festival in Krakow.

FestivALT’s organizers, who have staged protest interventions at the former synagogue, called the opening there in 2016 of Hevre Cafe “one of the worst examples of the exploitation of the neighborhood’s Jewish heritage.” The operators of the bar-cafe leased the building from a local Jewish community, which still owns it.

The program of the FestivALT festival this year, a 10-day affair beginning June 20, includes a panel discussion at the Galicia Jewish Museum about the issue. According to FestivALT, in 2016 the bar’s owners destroyed a wall and the original niche that held the Torah ark in order to install a new door, among other damages to the building that in 2001 was returned to the Orthodox Jewish community of Krakow.

FestivALT plans to erect a reproduction of the destroyed wall opposite the cafe. The building began serving as a synagogue in 1896. The Nazis destroyed much of the interior during the Holocaust, though some of the former synagogue’s impressive frescoes survived.

The progressive Jewish community Beit Krakow tried unsuccessfully to obtain use of the building in 2012. Four years later a cafe opened there. Since then, the condition of rare frescoes have “significantly deteriorated,” FestivALT wrote.

Boaz Gadka, the Orthodox rabbi of the Krakow community, told JTA that the lease of the former synagogue was done according to religious laws and was necessary as his community has too many synagogue for its needs.

“Let us commend the community leaders for their efforts and notwithstanding use the synagogue for something more honorable. It will soon return to the community,” he wrote in an email.

Hevre did not reply to requests for comment on FestivALT’s protest. The FestivALT event this year focuses on “women and agency,” including their sexual exploitation during the Holocaust. It features theater, visual art installations and burlesque cabaret performances.

Now is the time to join the news event of the year - The Jerusalem Post Annual Conference!
For more information and to sign up,
click here>>

Related Content

Back to school (illustrative)
June 15, 2019
How Jewish day schools are now minting future engineers


Cookie Settings