The Mannerist parish church of St Mary Magdalene from 1618-1631
(belfry from 1827) and the 17th-century parish house, as well as the
Town Hall and the cloth stalls from the 19th century.
Jews lived in Leczna as early as in 1501 and the community was
established in the first half of the 16th century. From 1668 to 1685 the
town hosted sessions of Vaad Arba Aratzot (Diet of the Four Lands). The
first half of the 19th century saw the heyday of the Chasidic movement.
This is when the town of Łęczna was home to the court of tzaddik Shlomo
Yehuda Leib Lechner (d. 1843) whose ohel was in the cemetery (no longer
existing) by the road to Lublin. Chasidism also created adivision
between the members of the local community; its followers prayed in
private houses of worship known as klozyn, while other Jews, referred to
as Orthodox Mitnagdim, kept to the synagogue.
In the 19th century Leczna was renowned for its local rabbi Chaim
Boruch Kowartowski (d. 1885) who was held in great esteem. From 1879 to
1902 the town belonged to Jan Gotlib Bloch, the European "railway king"
(described more fully in the chapter on Warsaw). The merchant families
of Geldman and Handelsman, as well as the descendants of rabbi
Kowartowski, were among the most influential people in town. Abraham
Rachmil Bromberg (1879-1939) was the last rabbi of Leczna. At the
outbreak of the Second World War, Jews made up 53% of the local
population (2,300 people). They perished in the extermination camps of
Sobibor and Trawniki; the last group in April 1943 in Leczna itself.
The Synagogue and House of Learning
This magnificent rectangular building measures 9.5m by 15m.
Particularly noticeable are the strong walls (up to 2.4m in thickness)
and the traditional Polish mansard roof, which once may have been even
larger and crowned with an attic. There are unconfirmed reports that the
Jews were forced to make the synagogue lower, as it left the local
parish church in the shade. After the fire of 1846, extensive
reconstruction work was carried out and the women's prayer room was
enlarged. During the Second World War the Germans used it as
The Synagogue, photo: A.Olej&K. Kobus:
After the war, the locals dismantled the floor, stole the windows
and the doors and destroyed the vestibule as well as the neighbouring
kahal building (the more recent western part of the synagogue does not
contain much in the way ofhistorical value). The damage was so
considerable (80%) that in 1952 a decision was taken, with the approval
of the Lublin Union of Members of the Jewish Faith, to pull the building
down. The monument was saved thanks to an absence of funds to pay for
its demolition. Amajor overhaul was carried out from 1954 to 1964 and
the synagogue was then converted into amuseum. At first it was the
Coalfields Museum of Lublin and at present it houses the District
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The bimah is well preserved. It is one of very few originals in the Lublin area as well as the only one of its kind.
The bima, photo: A.Olej&K. Kobus:
It supported the dome as well as the decorative canopy over the
place where the Torah was read. The interior, once covered in wall
paintings, is now coated white.
Inside the building the Regional Museum has organised an exhibition
of Judaica entitled "The Gates of Time". The exhibits are arranged
according to the Jewish cycle of festivals, starting with Rosh Hashanah
and going on to Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Chanukah, Purim and Pesach. Here you
will find objects used in religious ceremonies: vessels for the ritual
washing of hands, Shabbat candles, kiddush cups, dishes for an etrog
(citrus fruit), Chanukah lights, Seder plates and goblets, articles of
clothing (such as a tallit from Kishinev, agift from adescendent of the
well-know Geldman family of Leczna). The highlight of the exhibition is
the extremely original part dealing with everyday life. Here you will
find copper pots, snuff-boxes, wedding invitations, visiting cards and
even actual bottles which once contained Haberfeld's famous Passover
vodka. The original costume of a Jewish woman from Ostrowiec
Swietokrzyski, composed of a sleeveless jacket and skirt, is anabsolute
Take awalk around the synagogue. The neighbouring building, now a
public library, is aformer beth ha-midrash (early 19th century).
Beth ha-midrash, photo: A.Olej&K. Kobus:
On request the staff will open the closet in which the ritual
wash-hand basin is preserved. Remnants of polychromies, painted over in
1993, are still visible.
The Leczna District Museum, ul. Bozniczna 17, phone +81 7520869.
Open 8am-4pm; Sundays 9am-4pm. Tickets 2 zl, concessions 1.5 zl; guide
25 zl per group.
You are welcome to discuss about "Leczna"