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New Synagogue (Berka Joselewicza Street)

Heritage Sites – Synagogues, prayer houses and others
Polska / małopolskie

New Synagogue (Berka Joselewicza Street)[1.1] – after the fire, a new synagogue was built in Dąbrowa. It is situated at the main road and constitutes one of the central buildings in the town. The synagogue was erected in the second half of the 19th century and was finished probably on 1 April 1863. The construction and finishing works were carried out from 1855 to 1860. However, there is no data that contains precise dates. It is known that a wealthy Jewish resident from Dąbrowa named Izaak Stern funded the building and engineer Abraham Goldstein provided a design. The New Synagogue was one of the biggest constructions of its kind in Poland. Reportedly, it was also ranged among the most beautiful and splendid edifices across the whole country. Italian artists and specialists built the synagogue and the Fenichel brothers from Mielec decorated its interior with frescos. The huge brick building raised on the plan of a rectangle has been listed in the Monument Protection Service Register. During World War I, it suffered serious damages and when it ended people wanted to restore it using funds of one of the town residents by the name of Gold. In 1936-1937, Dorota Mertz, an architect from Tarnów, carried out the renovation. During the Nazi occupation, the synagogue was plundered and robed and later converted into a storehouse. In 1945-1950, it was provisionally secured against the further devastation. A small room on the floor ground served solely religious purposes. The Treasury took over the building in the 1970s. The data concerning renunciation of both the parcel and the synagogue by the Religious Jewish Association come from 11 May 1971. A plan was proposed at that time to renovate the synagogue and establish there a cultural center with a revolving stage. The whole undertaking was the idea of the recently deceased Professor Wiktor Zin but owing to financial difficulties it was not realized.

The synagogue’s interior was colorful and profusely decorated with mural paintings and reliefs depicting various scenes. Even today one can notice fragments of Hebrew inscriptions covering the walls. The aforementioned reliefs showed symbolic animals next to which there were inscriptions engraved in plaster. There was, for instance, a leopard with the phrase “be bold as a leopard”, an eagle with the words “be light as an eagle”, or a lion with the sentence “be strong as a lion”. All the paintings were light pastel, the color being so characteristic to the long Italian artistic tradition. Interestingly, the renovation revealed that they were not the first murals since there was another layer of paintings hidden underneath. The three-storied synagogue had a flat-roofed prayer room, a vestibule situated on the western side on the ground floor and a women’s gallery upstairs. Each corner of the building was equipped with a square turret with a staircase inside it.

Today, the owner of the synagogue is the Dąbrowa Tarnowska Kehilla. At the end of December 2006, a decision of the Lesser Poland’s Governor about taking over the parcel with the building was implemented[1.2].

 

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[1.1] Prepared by Anna Hudyka, own elaboration and completion.

[1.2] http://interia360.pl/artykul/uratowac-synagoge,13849 [updated information from 28 October 2008].

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50.1757° N / 20.9884° E
50°10'32" N / 20°59'18" E
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