ISAAK SYNAGOGUE. ANETA KALEMBA II H. BEGINNINGS In 1638 the senior of Jewish Community in Cracow, Izaak Jakubowicz, one of the richest Jews in the city at the time, decided to finance the construction of a synagogue. The building still bears his name today.
BEGINNINGSIn 1638 the senior of Jewish Community in Cracow, Izaak Jakubowicz, one of the richest Jews in the city at the time, decided to finance the construction of a synagogue. The building still bears his name today.
many of Kazimierz’s Christian residents, including the local priest of Corpus Christi parish Martin Kloczynski, who wrote a letter to the Bishop of Cracow - Jacob Zadzik. He claimed that the street in which Izaak had built his temple ran alongside another in which Christians lived; so it might happen that priests carrying the Holly Sacrament coming from that direction would be passing by the temple.
Although King Wladyslaw IV gave his blessing to the project, the construction of the synagogue was postponed at Kloczynski’s request. Finally, the synagogue was opened in 1644.
THE ARCHITECTUREIsaak Synagogue has a majestic structure and was built in early Baroque style. It adjoins three streets: Kupa, Izaaka and Jakuba. Giovanni Battista Trevano, who was an Italian architect, was probably commissioned to build the synagogue. Giovanni Falconi was assigned the task of designing the stucco work.
A gallery for women (hebr. ezrat nashim) was located on the second floor and was separated from the main hall by arcades. Before The Second World War, a stone platform enclosed by a small metal gate stood in front of the stone arc (hebr. Aron HaKodesh). A podium (hebr. Bimah) was located in the middle of the hall.
During the Nazi occupation the Synagogue was desecrated. On 5 December 1939 an official of the Jewish Community, Maksymilian Redlich was shot after refusing to burn the Tora scrolls. During the war years, the synagogue was used as a storage warehouse for theatrical props and decorations from the Slowacki Theatre.
In 1943 – 1944 Tadeusz Kantor, Cracow’s famous pioneer of experimental theatre, worked in the Synagogue as a scene decorator. After the war the building ceased to be under the ownership of the Jewish Community. Many people planned to convert it into a church.
In the 1950s, the Synagogue passed into the hands of the Artist’s Union and was used as a sculptor’s workshop until 1969. In the 1970s, the building’s interior was damaged by a fire. Finally, in 1989, the Jewish Community regained possession of the Synagogue once more.
THE SYNAGOGUE TODAYIzaak Synagogue is not an active temple.Dominik Dybek is one of the men who has been interested in the Jewish history. He has prepared a special project. The aim of the project is to complete conservation work and educate the public about the Jewish history and culture.
The Synagogue was opened to the public in 1997. Currently, we can watch two documentary films: ‘The Jewish District of Cracow’ and ‘The Removal to the Cracow Ghetto, shot in 1941’There is also an exhibition: ‘Memory of Polish Jews’.
At present Izaak Synagogue is a meeting place not only for Jews. People of various nationalities come here to deepen their knowledge of Jewish traditions and culture and discover more about the past of the Jewish people.