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TRACES OF THE PAST

Brzesko

Yiddish: Briegel


Tourist Attractions
The former urban complex with a market square, a parish church from 1447 (remodelled), and a palace from 1898, now housing a school. The town gained fame thanks to the local brewery established in 1845.


Jews first came to Brzesko towards the end of the 17th century. For along time the local Jewish community was under the authority of the Wisnicz kahal. In the 19th century two important Jewish families settled in Brzesko: the Lipszyc Chasidic dynasty and the Brandstaetters. In 1939 Jews formed half of the town's population and lived in the so-called Dolne Miasto (Lower Town) district, to the east of the town centre. The "most Jewish" streets were ul. Puszkina and ul. Dluga. Many of the pre-war buildings still remain.

The Synagogue
The local synagogue, with an exterior appearance and interior arrangement (main prayer hall for men - prayer rooms for women - vestibule) very typical of provincial synagogues serving the needs of the Jewish communities in Galicia, is still in quite good condition. It was erected in 1904 on the site of the former synagogue, which burned down during afire in the town. The synagogue was also the seat of the kahal office. After the Second World War it was remodelled and became the home of alibrary which functions to this very day, as well as the workshops of the local co-operative for the disabled. Not far from the synagogue there is a 19th-century house of prayer (ul. Dluga 3) which now stands empty.
Ul. Puszkina 2; the library is open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 8am-6pm; on Tuesdays 8am-3pm and on Saturdays 8am-1pm.

The Jewish Cemetery
The cemetery was marked out sometime around the year 1824 (in amonograph by Iwona Zawidzka the previous date of 1846 was put in doubt and revised). The most interesting landmarks here are the two oholot. The older of the two contains the graves of three rabbis from the Lipszyc family: Arie Leibush (d. 1846), his son Meshulam Zalman Jonatan (d. 1855) and the third member of the dynasty, grandson Tovie Lipszyc (1826-1912). The new ohel was built in the 1990s above the graves of Efraim Templer (head of beth ha-midrash; 1867-1938) and four members of the Templer family who were either rabbis or teachers. An enclosed memorial surrounded by afence, was built in honour of the Jews murdered by the Germans on 18 June 1942. The last burial took place here in 1969.
Ul. Czarnowiejska. The key is available from Ms Maria Martyna, ul. Czarnowiejska 34 (opposite the cemetery gate).

see also

Please join in our discussion forum about... Jews in Malopolska
Kirkut, photo:
Jews in Brzesko



The Brandstaetters, renowned for their intellectual prowess, were one of the most eminent Polish-Jewish families. Their name was given its standing by Mordechai David Brandstaetter (1844-1928), a writer and follower of the Haskalah movement. He chose to write in Hebrew. His mode of expression is highly regarded and some of his output, translated into English and Russian, ranks among the jewels of Hebrew prose. His most important works are Kfar mezagegim (Village of Glaziers), Zalman goy (Zalman the Unbeliever) and his autobiography Mi-toldot hayal (The Story of my Life). Mordechai's grandson, Roman Brandstaetter (1906-1987) achieved true greatness with The Wise Rabbi of Tarnow, a work of Polish rather than Jewish literature.

A graduate of the Jagiellonian University in Cracow, Brandstaetter began his career in 1927, writing exclusively in Polish. At first he concentrated mainly on poetry (four volumes between 1931 and 1935) and on relations between Poles and Jews, (The Tragedy of Julian Klaczko, The Jewish Legion of Adam Mickiewicz, The Question of Polish-Jewish Poetry). He replied to anti-semitic attacks with the brilliant essay A Conspiracy of Eunuchs. Having spent the war in Russia and the Middle East, he ended up in Rome, where, in 1948, he experienced a spiritual reawakening and was baptised. This heralded the most important period in the writing career of Roman Brandstaetter in which his creations were inspired by biblical themes (Word of Words, Four Biblical Poems, Jesus of Nazareth and Biblical Circle). Jewish motifs returned in The Other Flowers of St Francis of Assisi, with its allusions to Chasidic allegorical tradition, as well as in I am the Jew from the Wedding (a reference to The Wedding, a play by S. Wyspianski).
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