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Invitation from 43 Krakow Synagogues

The story of the "Invitation from 43 Krakow Synagogues" starts in the early twenties of the last century.

The Jewish Community of Krakow was looking for a suitable candidate for the position of Chief Rabbi of Krakow, an extremely prestigious rabbinical position in the pre Second World War days.

After a long and detailed survey of many possible candidates, the leaders of the Krakow Community decided unanimously that Rabbi Yosef Nehemia Kornitzer, who was at the time the Rabbi of Salish, is their one and only choice.

Representatives of the Krakow Community visited Rabbi Kornitzer in Salish, and invited the Rabbi to take up the position of Krakow's Chief Rabbi. Rabbi Kornitzer expressed his thanks for the invitation to such an exulted position but pointed out that he is the Rabbi of Salish, a rather small community, and as tempting as this offer is, he would rather remain the Rabbi of Salish.

The Committee from Krakow tried their utmost but failed to persuade Rav Kornitzer to accept their proposal.

This went on, year after year, and the Krakow Community stubbornly decided that as long as Rabbi Kornitzer refuses to accept the position of Chief Rabbi of Krakow, the position will remain vacant and Krakow will remain without a Chief Rabbi. Even this decision did not move Rabbi Kornitzer.

One day, all the leaders of the Krakow Jewish Community decided on an "all out" effort. The leaders of the Community decided that all the main Synagogues of Krakow will each send simultaneously a "Writ of Appointment" to Rabbi Kornitzer to take up the post of Krakow Chief Rabbi. To the Writ of Appointment of each Synagogue was added a list of signatures of the leading congregants of that Synagogue. (A sample page of the signatures can be seen here).

The invitations were all collected together and handed over to Rabbi Kornitzer by a Committee of leading Krakow dignitaries with the proclamation that "Now that all the main Synagogues of Krakow unanimously invite Nehemia Kornitzer to be their Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Kornitzer cannot possibly refuse!"

As a result of this unusual mass invitation, Rabbi Kornitzer finally agreed to come to Krakow and to serve the City as its Chief Rabbi!

Finally, Krakow had a Chief Rabbi who was unanimously chosen and invited by the whole Jewish Community. What is amazing is that Rabbi Yosef Nehemia Kornitzer's "Book of Invitations" survived the Holocaust!!

After the war, Rabbi Kornitzer's son-in-law, Rabbi Shabtai (Shabse) Frankel, visited Krakow and found a number of books and manuscripts from Rav Kornitzer's library, which miraculously survived the war. Amongst these books was the Book of Invitations with all the signatures!!

This unique document which carries the signatures of approx. 2500 leading members of the Krakow Jewish Community, who all signed this document at the same time, and for the same common purpose, is an amazing document and is of great historical value for anyone interested in Krakow Jewry.

For individual survivors who lost everything but may now be able to find amongst these signatures, the signature of a father, grand-father, uncle, or just someone they knew, this document is a rare gift from the past. The lists of signatures also bring back to life a feeling of the intense Jewish life in Krakow as well as the fact that the personal signatures of all the people who signed these invitations, is a memento from the past, for us as well as for all future generations.

The Book

Berl Schor, from Modiin, Israel, is currently writing a book about this amazing event.

For individual survivors who lost everything, but may now be able to find amongst these signatures, the signature of a father, grand-father, uncle, or just someone they knew, this document is a rare gift from the past. The lists of signatures also bring back to life a feeling of the intense Jewish life in Krakow as well as the fact that the personal signatures of all the people who signed these invitations, is a memento from the past, for us as well as for all future generations.

The book will contain information such as name and address of each Synagogue, photographs (old and new) of the building, photocopy of the page or pages of the Signatures from the Invitation Book sent to Rav Kornitzer and any other bits of information as to the people who prayed in these Synagogues together with any personal details which one may still remember.

The main purpose is to give to the visitor to Krakow a feeling of the intense Jewish life in pre-World War II times. Of course, there is also the historical as well as personal aspect of the list of Signatures.

The book is also intended to trace relatives of these people, who perished in the Holocaust, and who might have manuscripts and memoirs written by Jewish survivors, and which describe the Jewish customs and life of these survivors, their families and their fellow congregants and make it possible to identify the unknown congregants and link them to the "lost/forgotten" synagogues.

The author adds: So far, I have indentified the 37 (out of 43) Synagogues listed below. Any information on these Synagogues will be more than welcome! I would be extremely grateful for any information on Krakow Synagogues and the people who prayed in them, in particular:

  • Which Synagogues did they or their fathers pray in?
  • Do they remember other people who prayed there?
  • Do they remember any stories about the Synagogue or about the people who prayed there?
  • Any other information which would be of interest.
  • Anyone who can help transcribe the signatures (shown here) should also contact the author.
  • The author can be contacted by clicking here.

    The Synagogues

    1

    Old Synagogue (Alte Shul)

    2

    Rama/Remu (New Synagogue)

    3

    Rab Ayzik Yekeles Synagogue (Rab Isaac's Shil)

    4

    The High Synagogue (Di Hojhe Shil)

    5

    The "Kupa" Synagogue

    6

    The Wolf Popper Synagogue

    7

    The Horowitz (Rymanower) Synagogue

    8

    The Sandzer (Sanz) Hasidim

    9

    Zwierzyniec Synagogue

    10

    Hasidei Gur Synagogue 

    11

    The Bobow Hasidim

    12

    Heverat Tehilim Synagogue

    13

    Hadushim Synagogue

    14

    Shomrim Laboker Synagogue

    15

    Matersdorf Hasidim

    16

    Krumlov Hasidim Synagogue

    17

    Megale Amukot ("Aufen Bergel")

    18

    Etz Haim

    19

    Ahavat Reim Synagogue

    20

    Dorshei Shalom Synagogue

    21

    Bnei Emuna / Sheerit Bnei Emuna

    22

    Belz Hasidim Synagogue

    23

    Israel Meisels Synagogue

    24

    Rav Joseph Damesek Synagogue

    25

    Ahavat Tora Synagogue

    26

    Mordehai Tigner Synagogue

    27

    Anshe Emet Synagogue

    28

    Rab Aharon's (Rab Urns) Synagogue

    29

    Mezeritch Hasidim

    30

    Bratcwo Psalm

    31

    Dzikower Hasidim (Dzikow)

    32

    Hovevei Torah Synagogue

    33

    Kovei Itim Letorah Synagogue

    34

    Bet Israel Synagogue

    35

    Radomsk Hasidim Synagogue

    36

    Tiferet Israel Synagogue

    37

    Cipres Synagogue