INFORMATION SERVICE

TRACES OF THE PAST

Lublin


Tourist Attractions
The Royal castle founded by King Casimir the Great, its 13th-century donjon and 14th-century chapel (wall painting from 1418); the old town complex; St John the Baptist and St John the Evangelist's cathedral (1592-1604) designed by J.M. Bernardoni, facade by A. Corazzi from 1819 (the "acoustic sacristy"; is well worth a visit; the Dominican monastery with the late Gothic Church of St Stanislaw the Bishop (remodelled in the 17th century); the Old Town Hall, from 1579 the seat of The Crown Tribunal, rebuilt in 1781 by D. Merlini, at present the Wedding Palace; the 16th and 17th-century tenement houses; the Classicist New Town Hall (1827-1828), at present the seat of the municipal authorities; the gates: Brama Krakowska and Brama Grodzka.


Brama Grodzka (the grodzka gate) - Plac Zamkowy (castle square) - the Site Once Occupied by the Maharshal and Maharam Synagogue - ul. Kalinowszczyzna (old jewish cemetery) - ul. Walecznych (new jewish cemetery) - ul. Lubartowska (the yeshivah), the Jewish Hospital, the Y.L. Peretz Jewish People's House, Chevrat Nossim Synagogue - Plac Ofiar Getta (the square of the victims of the ghetto) - ul. Kowalska - Majdanek


The foundation of the town dates from 1317, and the first mention of the Jewish community from as early as 1336. In 1453, Kazimierz Jagiellonczyk (King Casimir of the Jagiellonian dynasty) bestowed the privilege of free trade upon the Jews and in 1523, in return for participation in the construction of fortifications, they were made equal in the eyes of the law with the rest of the townsfolk. In 1568 the two communities became completely separated as the Jewish quarter obtained the privilegia de non tolerandis Christianis. This resulted in an isolation which lasted until the middle of the 19th century, so that one can speak of the presence of Jews in the old town of Lublin only from 1862.

Lublin's function was that of a centre of intellect. It was the home of Talmudic schools and Hebrew printing houses. The most renowned 16th-century Lublin institutions of learning included the schools of Ya'akov ben Yehuda ha-Levi Kopelman, Shalom ben Yosef Shachna and Shlomo ben Yechiel Luria also known as Maharshal. The most important printers were the houses of Kalonymos (from 1578) as well as Kalmen and Levi (from 1630) which published prayer books and Talmudic texts for "all the towns from the River Bug to the River Spree". From 1580 to 1725, together with Jaroslaw, Lublin became the centre of Jewish self-government in the Polish Republic. This is where the Vaad Arba Aratzot (Diet of the Four Lands) conventions took place. The situation within Poland worsened and Jews embarked upon adifficult period and during the war of 1655 the armies of Bohdan Chmielnicki burnt down the Jewish quarter and 2,000 people were killed. In memory of this tragic event the Jews of Lublin held aspecial fast until midday on the eve of the festival of Sukkot.

The end of the 17th century brought religious conflicts. First, in 1670, the "messiah" Sabbatai Tzvi and his followers were declared an anathema. Then, with the emergence of Chasidism and the development of the court of tzaddik Yaakov Yitzhak ha-Levi Horovitz also known as the Seer of Lublin, along-lasting split began in Jewish society.
At the outbreak of the Second World War, 42,000 Jews lived in Lublin (31% of the population). This large community published its own daily "Lubliner Tugblat", ran sporting organisations (Samson, Hapoel, Maccabi), amateur theatres, political parties (Bund, with one of its famous members Bela Shapiro) and strong trade unions. Jews maintained good relations with the Poles, although the cultural differences between the two communities led to the creation of two separate societies.
In 1945 there were still 4,553 Jews in Lublin. In 1990 there were 45. At present efforts are being made to re-create the Lublin Jewish community under the leadership of Roman Litman. The Polish-Israeli Friendship Society is also active here. It was established in 1989 by agroup gathered around Andrzej Nowodworski. The Society numbers 50 members and is focused mostly on information and education. Meetings are held on the first Tuesday of the month at 5 pm (holiday periods excepted) at Centrum Kultury w Lublinie (The Lublin Cultural Centre), ul. Peowiaków 12, phone +81 5360322, e-mail address: tppilub@poczta.onet.pl, www.tppilublin.of.pl.

Brama Grodzka (the Grodzka Gate)
Begin atrip around Jewish places of interest in Lublin with the Grodzka Gate. It was erected as part of the town fortifications during the reign of King Casimir the Great and obtained its present form in 1787.

Behind the gate, in the direction of the castle, there stretched another world full of houses in which the light of Sabbath candles could be seen on Friday evenings. Here one entered what was called the "Jerusalem of Poland". Today the Grodzka Gate is the home of the NN Theatre. Szeroka 28, the only Lublin restaurant offering Jewish cuisine, is located next door. Before you get to the gate from the square at ul. Grodzka 11, you will see the Ochronka building which was purchased in 1870 to serve the needs of the Jewish Orphanage run by Joseph Goldstern.

Plac Zamkowy(Castle Square)
From the Grodzka Gate it is easy to get to Plac Zamkowy where you will find acommemorative plaque bearing an engraving of the pre-war network of streets in this part of town. The town quarter shown here (ul. Cyrulicza, ul. Furmanska, ul. Jateczna, ul. Kowalska, ul. Krawiecka, ul. Mostowa, ul. Nadstawna, ul. Podzamcze, ul. Ruska and ul. Szeroka), today just agreen area surrounding the castle, once constituted the heart of Jewish Lublin, though the poor also lived in the suburbs of Piaski, Kalinowszczyzna and Wieniawa. The Jews drained the swamp around the castle and finally the area was incorporated into the Jewish quarter (known as the Jewish Town). All traces of it finally disappeared in 1950, when this part of Lublin was redeveloped.


Strolling across the open spaces surrounding the castle, it is hard to imagine the intricate network of streets tightly packed with houses which once filled this place. The language heard here was mostly Yiddish; unlike in Cracow, many Lublin Jews (about 20%) spoke no Polish at all. They could be identified by a specific pronunciation of the personal pronoun "I" - yech. (It was pronounced yach in Warsaw, ech in the Malopolska region and ich in The Grand Duchy of Lithuania.) Ul. Szeroka stretching from ul. Kowalska to ul. Ruska was regarded as the wealthiest street. Many of the houses suffered from neglect. Flats lacked toilet and sewage facilities. The spot separating ul. Szeroka from ul. Krawiecka and ul. Podzamcze was, in a somewhat vulgar fashion, referred to as "Zasrana Brama" (the Shitty Gate) and the poor lived in the area behind it. Ul. Kowalska and ul. Cyrulicza belonged to merchants, ul. Furmanska was known for the sale of poultry. Bubelach (buckwheat cakes eaten warm with butter), a delicacy characteristic of the Lublin Jews, were sold near the Grodzka Gate.


The Site Once Occupied by the Maharshal and Maharam Synagogue
The route from Podzamcze to the Old Jewish Cemetery goes along al. Tysiaclecia. Take the right side of this street at the foot of the castle and walk across the area of the former synagogue square in ul. Jateczna, a street which no longer exists. On the raised part of the pavement you will see amemorial stone. It is on the site where a Lublin Jewish community landmark, the Maharshal and Maharam Synagogue, once stood. It was also known as The Maharshal-shul, in honour of Rabbi Shlomo ben Yechiel Luria.


Rabbi Shlomo ben Yechiel Luria
(1510-1574), known as Maharshal, was one of the most brilliant Talmudic scholars of his time. In 1555 he arrived in Lublin to take up the position of Rector of the Yeshivah founded by another distinguished scholar Shalom ben Yosef Shachna. He soon became involved in aconflict with his protector (regarding the methodology of teaching) and in 1567 he founded his own yeshivah called Maharshal-shul (The Maharshal Synagogue). He became a great authority by resolving numerous religious questions. His solutions to various problems were published in Lvov (1574) in the collection Yam shel Shlomo (The Sea of Salomon). The second of the patrons of the largest Lublin synagogue was Mayer ben Gidali (d. 1616) also known as Maharam, a commentator on the Talmud. The name of the last gagbai (governor) of the Maharshal synagogue was David Keller. His splendid baal-kore (recitations of the Torah) have passed into legend.


The Maharshal-shul was erected in 1567 and destroyed by the Germans in 1942. In fact it was not one but two synagogues: the Maharshal on the ground floor and the Maharam on the first, together accommodating 3,000 worshippers. In keeping with the contour of ul. Jateczna the wall of this edifice was somewhat rounded. The vestibule has an interesting story. This is where, until the 19th century, the convicts sentenced by the Beth Din (Rabbinical Court) were detained, tied to the wall. Daily prayers took place in asmall room next to the vestibule. The main part of the synagogue was opened on Shabbat and on other holidays. During the period between the First and the Second World Wars, Jewish soldiers of the 8th Regiment of the Polish Legions prayed here as well and sang the hymn "Boze, cos Polske" (God who protected Poland) in front of the synagogue.
Sections for women were on the ground floor on the north and south sides and on the first floor next to the northern wall. The most prestigious places were to be found next to the eastern wall. Eminent members of the congregation sat here, as did the wealthy, who paid for the privilege. Opposite the Maharshal Synagogue, where the street runs today, the Kahal Synagogue used to stand. Other famous Lublin synagogues included the Leifershul at ul. Podzamcze 12, the beautiful Kotlarshul at ul. Szeroka 2, as well as the Rebbe's Beth Hamidrash in the courtyard of the house of the Seer of Lublin at ul. Szeroka 28. There is no trace of any of them today.

The Old Jewish Cemetery
Al. Tysiaclecia leads to ul. Podzamcze, which will take you to the crossing with ul. Lwowska. On top of the hill above the Statoil petrol station you will find one of Lublin's most wonderful Jewish monuments - the Old Jewish Cemetery.
The cemetery, which functioned from 1541 to 1829, is one of the oldest and most precious Jewish necropolises in Poland (some sources mention burials as early as 1489). From the beginning of the 20th century it has been recognised as a historic monument, but despite this it has been wrecked several times. After aperiod of neglect during the Communist era, in the 1980s the cemetery was finally tided and catalogued by the Society for the Care of Jewish Cultural Monuments in Lublin. Unfortunately, as aresult of acts of vandalism between 1988 and 1991, forty of the eighty remaining gravestones were destroyed.
A concrete path runs from the gate, leading successively to all the most significant monuments. The first matzevah dates from 1541 and marks the resting-place of the famous Talmudist Yaakov ben Yehuda ha-Levi Kopelman (d. 1596). It is the oldest matzevah in Poland still to be found at the original place of burial. The next two matzevot belong to Abraham the Cantor (d. 1543) and the Talmudist Yehuda Leib (d. 1596). The tomb enclosed in aspecial barred cage, with the remains of wall paintings covered in numerous kvitlech, is the grave of the Seer of Lublin.
Further on the path splits in two. The path to the side leads to an unadorned slab where there are even more lamps and kvitlech than on the tomb of the Seer. It is the grave of Shalom ben Yosef Shachna, the great scholar and Talmudist. The third most important matzevah, damaged and surrounded with candles, was erected in 1574 in memory of Shlomo ben Yechiel Luria known as Maharshal. Others at rest here are: Moshe Montalto (d. 1637), afamous physician; Abraham ben Chaim (d. 1762), president of the Diet of the Four Lands (his unique gravestone bears the engraving of Artemis with abow); Rabbi Israel ha-Levi Horovitz (d. 1819), known as Eisenkopf (Ironhead), the rival of the Seer (inscription illegible). The wall around the cemetery was erected in the 17th century.
The cemetery is on Grodzisko hill between ul. Sienna and ul. Kalinowszczyzna (where you will find thegate behind the Salesian Church). Despite its official status as a historical monument, the cemetery is closed to tourists. The key is with Mr Jozef Honig who lives on the nearby housing estate at ul. Debowskiego 4/17. It is easy to reach the cemetery by bus. Get off at Plac Singera-Kosciol. Buses # 1, 5, 6, 10, 11, 16, 57, 58, ZA.
The New Jewish Cemetery
The new cemetery was established in 1829 thanks to the efforts of Nachum Morgernstern. It is located in ul. Walecznych, not far from the Old Cemetery (access from ul. Podzamcze). In its present day form it is made up of two extensive lots (3,5 hectares) with afence around it. Two structures worthy of attention can be found here: the restored ohel of Meir Shapiro, visible through the fencing (the tomb is only of symbolic significance as in 1958 the remains of Rabbi Shapiro were transferred to the Har Hamenuchot cemetery in Jerusalem), and the so-called Memorial Chamber containing the symbolic matzevot of the Bass, Wulfman and Frenkel families.

The New Jewish Cemetery owes its present appearance to renovation work undertaken thanks to financial support from Sara and Manfred Bass-Frenkel in homage to the members of their families murdered by the Nazis. The cemetery has been functioning since 1830. It is the final resting-place of over 50,000 people, including the members of the dynasty of tzaddik Jacob Leib Eiger, whose "court" existed from 1851 until 1942.
Only one section of the cemetery is accessible; the other, containing the Memorial Chamber and the ohel, is closed to visitors.

Yeshivat Chachmei Lublin (the Lublin Academy of Sages)
The impressive edifice of the former Lublin Academy of Sages stands on the corner of ul. Unicka and ul. Lubartowska. It is hard to miss, as it is on the approach road from Lubartow to the town centre and the PKS bus station. The school was founded by Rabbi Yehuda Meir Shapiro, the site having been donated by Shmul Aichenbaum and the plans drawn up by Agenor Smoluchowski.


Yehuda Meir Shapiro (1887-1933), who rests in anewly renovated ohel at the New Jewish Cemetery, brought credit upon the town, particularly as the creator of the Lublin Yeshivah, although he was atowering figure for all of Polish Jewry. He was born in Suczawa in Bukovina. During his career (one of the posts he held was that of Rabbinate of Sanok) he published two works which brought him universal acclaim: Imrei Daat (The Word of Knowledge, 1919) and Or Hameir (The Light of Brightness, 1926). From 1922 until 1927 he was amember of the Polish Parliament. His greatest dream was to create aworldwide Rabbinical-Talmudic college. It came true in the form of the Lublin Yeshivah (The Lublin Academy of Sages).

Yeshivat Chachmei, photo: A.Olej&K. Kobus:

Construction went on for six years (1924-1930), swallowing up considerable funds which came mostly from the USA and Western Europe. The school operated for nine years only, yet it achieved great fame. Lecture halls took up five floors, the dormitory housed 200 students and the library contained 10,000 volumes of Talmudic literature. To complete things there was agarden of 12,000 trees. Study began with Mechina (preparatory courses). At the entrance examinations prospective students had to prove that they knew as many as 200 pages of the Talmud by heart. The brightest students took up higher Talmudic studies, obtaining the title of Tzurva de-rabanan. The first graduates left the college in 1934.
The building still serves educational purposes as the Collegium Maius of the Medical Academy. After the collapse of Communism the Academy authorities allotted special premises (well worth seeing) to visitors to the former Yeshivat Chachmei Lublin. The first room you enter is aspacious lecture hall, which was once also used as asynagogue. It occupies the second and third floors of the building. It is rectangular, with galleries situated on three sides and resting on circular columns. Nothing remains of its rich pre-war furnishings, nor of the windows on the eastern wall (now bricked up). The second hall of particular interest is the library which contains aseparate prayer room. Here you will find anew aron ha-kodesh, aparochet (ark curtain) and the texts of prayers.
The school at ul. Lubartowska 85 is part of the premises of the Medical Academy, used for lecture purposes. The wardens, however, are ready to help visitors and will willingly take you to both places.

Ul. Lubartowska
Awalk up ul. Lubartowska will take you through the area of what was known as the new Jewish quarter. It has managed to retain much of its original character. Though the original Jewish district was spread over the territory around the castle, in the second half of the 19th-century Jews began to settle along ul. Lubartowska and on Czwartek hill. Take the left side of the street.
The edifice adjacent to the Lublin Yeshivah is the former Jewish Hospital (today an obstetrics clinic) established in 1886. In the 1930sit had ahundred beds at its disposal and employed many famous physicians, including Jacob Cynberg. In 1986 the site was marked with acommemorative plaque in Polish and Yiddish.

Bejt Midrasz, photo: A.Olej&K. Kobus:

Keeping on the same side, go to the corner of ul. Czwartek, where the atmosphere is reminiscent of bygone days. Inthe yard opposite building No 7, there is aplace very important in the history of the Lublin community - the Y.L. Peretz Jewish People's House (ul. Szkolna 16). Erected on the initiative of the Lublin Bund and completed in 1939, the building was never used for its original purpose as acentre of Jewish life. For afew years after 1945, it was the headquarters of the Jewish Committee, the library and acultural society. At present it houses the local healthcare authority. From here go back to ul. Lubartowska and walk up to the only remaining Lublin synagogue.

The Synagogue of Chevrat Nossim
This synagogue was established at the end of the 19th century as ahouse of prayer and learning for the Funeral Society Chevrat Nossim. Shiur be-tsibur (Talmudic lectures) which were given here by Moshe Aisenberg and David Mushkatblit achieved great popularity. The synagogue functioned until 1984, when services on Saturdays and festivals were suspended for want of aminyan. The building was then renovated and since 1987 one of itssections has served religious purposes (joyous occasions, such as the bar mitzvah of Jacob Mushkatblit, great-grandson of the former lecturer). Apart of it is used as the Memorial Chamber of the Jews of Lublin, displaying old photographs and Hebrew books and items used in religious rituals. Unfortunately many of the exhibits gathered over the past fifty years or so were stolen on 27 May 1995. Only part of the collection has been retrieved.
The synagogue is situated in ul. Lubartowska, in the part closest to the town centre. Go through the gate of house number 8 (where you see the sign "Pawilon 19 - Plaszcze").

Chewra Nosim, photo

At present it is possible to visit the synagogue on Sundays only, from 1pm to 3pm. Regular services do not take place. On certain Jewish festivals (Pesach, Chanukah, Purim) meetings are sometimes organised here by the Polish-Israeli Friendship Society in Lublin.


Yaakov Yitzhak ha-Levi Horovitz (1745-1815) known as ha-Hose (the Seer) of Lublin was one of the creators of Polish Chasidism. A disciple of Elimelech of Lezajsk and Dov-Ber of Miedzyrzec, he was most famous for his extraordinary skills such as treatment of infertilty, clairvoyance and levitation, thanks to which he became one of the heroes of Jewish folklore. His teachings focused on ethical perfection. He cut himself off from the wickedness of the world by wearing a blindfold all the time. The circumstances of his tragic death are a mystery. According to his followers, in a state of religious ecstasy he was to levitate out of the window of the house at ul. Szeroka 28, loudly demanding the arrival of the Messiah. The urgency of this demand did not please the Lord, who brought him down to earth by making him fall from the second floor. It happened during the festival of Tisha B'Av, on the day of the fast in memory of the destruction of the First and the Second Temple. This only enhanced the legend of the tzaddik.



Plac Ofiar Getta
Further along ul. Lubartowska you come to Plac Ofiar Getta (Square of the Victims of the Ghetto) where you will find amemorial with the following quotation: "In every handful of ashes Iseek those close to me" from The Song of the Murdered Jewish People by Yitzchak Katzenelson. The square was laid out in 1951. There was alarge Jewish market-place here until the end of the 1920s.

Ul. Kowalska
End your trip to the most important Jewish places of interest in Lublin with awalk along the charming ul. Kowalska. It is one of the few places in Lublin where you can still feel genius loci of the old Jewish quarter.

Ulica Kowalska, photo



From the Jewish community of Lublin came the family of the famous composer Henryk Wieniawski (1835-1880), who also gained fame as one of the greatest violinists of the second half of the 19th century. His father, Tobiasz Pietruszka, a physician, converted to Catholicism and changed his name to Tadeusz Wieniawski, taken from the place where they lived, called Wieniawa, now a district of Lublin.


Majdanek
The concentration camp in the Majdanek suburb of Lublin, established in the autumn of 1941 on the orders of Heinrich Himmler, is the place where the history of the Jews of Lublin came to atragic end. The camp was 270 hectares in size and contained 280 buildings. Its central section consisted of barracks for 25,000 prisoners at atime. The camp was liquidated in July 1945. Amuseum exhibiting some of its structures (barracks, gas chambers, crematoria, mass execution ditches and SS-women's living quarters) was set up here after the war. Ahuge memorial in the form of amausoleum designed by Witold Tolkin has been built to pay homage to the 360,000 victims (of whom 100,000 were Jews).
Apermanent exhibition "Majdanek in the System of Camps" by Anna Wisniewska and Czeslaw Rajca, with art design by Brunon Nagrodzki, is located on the former camp site. On display you will find archive materials, including photographs as well as various exhibits: articles of clothing, instruments of death, items used for religious purposes and objets d'art. The exhibition is housed in barracks 43, 44, 45, 52, along with the baths, gas chambers and crematorium. In barrack 47 there is the multimedia installation entitled "Shrine", created by Tadeusz Myslowski with music by Zbigniew Bargielski. It was created to commemorate the 55th anniversary of the liberation of the camp. The museum organises history workshops, readings and meetings with former camp inmates as well as documentary film shows about the war and the camps in Polish, English, French, German and Russian. It also publishes its own periodical "The Majdanek Booklets".

State Museum at Majdanek, ul. Droga Meczenników Majdanka 67, 20-325 Lublin, phone +81 7442640; 7442647. The easiest way to get to the museum is along the road to Zamosc(ul. Droga Meczenników Majdanka). Buses # 23, 28, 153, 156, 158. The exhibition "Majdanek in the System of Camps" is open daily (except Mondays and holidays) from 8am to 6pm (May to September) and 8am to 3pm (October to April), prior notification required. The installation can be seen from May to September, from 8am to 3pm. Entrance is free. Charges are made for guide services and film shows only. Children under the age of 14 are not admitted.
































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