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TRACES OF THE PAST

Rzeszow

Yiddish: Rayshe, Reyshe


Tourist Attractions
The Church of St Stanislaus and St Adalbert (first half of the 15th century), remodelled in Baroque style; the Bernardine monastery (1624-1629) with sculptures of the Ligęza family members inside the church; the Piarist monastery (1642-1649) containing the District Museum; the remains of the castle; the garrison church from 1709; the 18th-century Town Hall (remodelled 1895-1898); the palace referred to as the Summer Theatre, once the property of the Lubomirski family (18th century); the public buildings from the period of Galician autonomy; the town park in the extended former gardens of the monastery (first half of the 18th century). There is also an underground tourist route open to visitors.


Jokers from Galicia called Rzeszów "Mojzeszow", which translates from Polish as Mosestown. It was known by this name for along time, even though the proportion of Jews dropped from more than half at the end of the 19th century to 37% in 1910. The reason for this was the incorporation of the suburbs inhabited by Christians into the town. Even so, it was the Orthodox Jews who took the lead in Rzeszow. In 1886 the ban on working on Sundays and holidays was lifted. Jewish festivals, especially Pesach, were celebrated with great pomp. An entry in the Galician Encyclopaedia reads as follows: "These holidays gave the town its own particular Jewish character, arousing alot of interest among the Christian population". Mutual barriers to understanding, however, could not be overcome. In 1902 the assesor Wilhelm Hochfeld twice fought duels having been refused admittance to a Polish clubhouse.

Jews had settled in Rzeszow as early as the middle of the 16th century. They made their living from tailoring, haberdashery (producing trimmings for uniforms and curtains), embroidering, soapboiling, dispensing medicine and distilling alcohol. They were also known locally for their skills as goldsmiths and makers of seals. Its trading position meant that Rzeszow was even called "Galician Jerusalem". The New Town, marked out in the 17th century, was the traditional Jewish quarter. Arapid growth in the number of Jews accompanied the construction of the railway line to Lvov, Cracow and Jaslo. At the outbreak of the Second World War, Jews made up 47% of the local population. They had their own hospital, refuge and schools. Some 75% of the Orthodox Jews in Rzeszow belonged to the Chasidic movement and set the tone for religious life. They were divided into the antagonistic dynasties from Sadogora and Nowy Sacz and apolitical grouping, the Zionists, who had 30% of the seats on the city council. The penultimate rabbi of Rzeszaw Natan Lewin was amember of the Polish parliament for the Agudas Isroel party.

During the occupation the Germans created aghetto for 25,000 people. By the end of September 1943 it had been liquidated. The majority of those imprisoned there were deported to the death camps at Belzec, Auschwitz and Plaszów. Several thousand were shot in aforest near Rudna.

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The Staromiejska or Small Synagogue
The Staromiejska (Old Town) Synagogue caught fire on three separate occasions: in 1660, 1739 and 1842. After the last of these fires it was given anew appearance. In old photographs, it had two annexes, of which only the western one remains. It burned down again in 1944. It was rebuilt from 1953 to 1963 (in 1959 the remains of the scratch-work were removed) and converted into an archive bureau. The present owner is the Cracow Jewish Community which leases it to the archive authority. On the building you will find amemorial plaque containing the following verse: "Day and night Icould weep for those killed, the daughters of my people" (Jeremiah 8:23).

The Small Synagogue

At ul. Boznicza 4. The bureau is strictly guarded and closed to visitors.


The Staromiejska Synagogue houses The Centre for Research into Jewish History. It concentrates mainly on archive searches and has created two data bases: "Judaica" containing a register of the Jews of Rzeszow, and "Debzydzi", a list of Debica Jews murdered by the Nazis during the Second World War. Address: ul. Boznicza 2, Rzeszow; phone +17 8532684, 8532670, e-mail: osrodek@rzeszow.ap.gov.pl. A film is shown at the centre for groups of 10-12 people.
The Nowomiejska or Great Synagogue
The Nowomiejska (New Town) Synagogue was erected in 1686 and is rectangular in shape, measuring 20m by 30m. It was destroyed in 1944 and rebuilt in 1965 with atotally different interior. Of the key original features the recess for the aron ha-kodesh is still there, although hidden behind ascreen. An additional storey was also added, the saddle-roof being replaced by an extra floor.
Ul. Sobieskiego 17, ten or so metres from the Staromiejska Synagogue. At present it houses the Offices for Exhibitions of Works of Art. The exhibition hall is open 10am-5pm.

The New Cemetery
The Jewish cemetery, known as the New One, was established in 1849. Burials took place here from 1851 up to the Second World War. Of those interred here, the best known was Natan Lewin, amember of the Polish parliament and the last but one rabbi of Rzeszow, serving until 1926. There are two memorials to Jewish martyrdom during the German occupation. The dedication on the first one, erected in 1947, reads: "To the martyred victims of the bloodthirsty Nazi criminals ' from the Jews of Rzeszow who remained alive". The second was funded by the family of Beniamin Gross who, together with 18 comrades, was executed on 4 March 1944. Through the fence one can see many matzevot. Unfortunately, the cemetery is tightly locked. Adozen or more tombstones from the Old Cemetery are preserved in pl. Zwyciestwa.
At the crossroads of ul. Rejtana and ul. Dolowa. Bus stop "Rejtana Mostek", bus lines # OA, 17, 19, 29.

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Malopolska Region
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 - Oswiecim
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 - Rzeszow
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Mazowieckie Region
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 - Warsaw Synagogue
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