Yiddish: Tornev, Torne, Tarna

Tourist Attractions
The centre of Tarnow is one of the prettiest historical urban complexes in Poland. Its most precious monuments are: the 14th-century Town Hall, remodelled by J.M. Padovano in the second half of the 16th century (now the District Museum); the late Gothic cathedral church of the Nativity of the Most Holy Virgin Mary, ca 1400, later extended, with extremely rich interior decor and furnishings; the houses (16th-19th centuries); the remnants of the city walls (14th-16th centuries); the canonries from the first half of the 16th century (including the Mikolajowski House, now the home of the Diocesan Museum containing an interesting gallery of Gothic sculpture); the former Bernardine church from 1468, remodelled in 1823, now containing a historical exhibition; the former Bernardine nunnery from the 17th-18th centuries (now converted into a monastery); the ruins of the Tarnowski castle from 1340, situated on St Martin's Hill; the mausoleum of General Józef Bem in the city park. Numerous historical monuments can also be found in the suburbs: the mansion houses (18th-19th centuries) as well as the 18th-century palace (Gumniska); the 15th-century wooden church of the Most Holy Virgin Mary (na Burku), and the church of the Holy Trinity from 1562, also wooden (na Terlikowce).
Tarnow once had one of the largest Jewish communities in the Malopolska region. First accounts of Jews settling here date from 1445. They were probably merchants trading in grain and wine. Initially the Tarnow community was abranch of the Cracow kahal. In 1581, the owner of the town Konstanty Ostrogski granted the Jews the privileges of trade from stalls, homes and on the marketplace, as well as of the production and sale of alcoholic beverages. Economic freedom was the main factor attracting Jews to the town. In the 18th century their number exceeded one thousand, which was more than 30% of the local population. They had several representatives in the Diet of the Four Lands. Towards the end of the 18th century new movements appeared: Chasidism (the influence of the Halberstam and Horovitz dynasties) and the Haskalah. In 1788, the first lay Jewish school was opened here thanks to the financial support of Naftali Herz Homberg.

At the outbreak of the Second World War, 25,000 Jews lived in Tarnow (48% of the local population). The Nazis created aghetto for 40,000 people and from here they deported their victims to the concentration camps in Belzec, Plaszow and Auschwitz. After the Second World War, asmall group of refugees from the former Polish eastern borderland territories settled here, but with the passing of time they slowly disappeared as aresult of several waves of emigration.
The history of Tarnow Jews seemingly came to an end in 1993, when the last caretaker of the house of prayer (ul. Goldhammera) passed away. The synagogue's furnishings were moved to the Regional Museum and the keys transferred to the Jewish community in Cracow. Landsmanshaftn of Tarnow Jews operate today in France, Israel, Canada and the United States.
The Jewish quarter stretched over the north-eastern part of the centre. The district of Grabowka was the area inhabited by Chasids. In 1833 the Jewish community applied to the municipal authorities for permission to extend their area of residence. Permission, however, was not granted. Therefore, aproposal was made to build "atruly Jewish town" outside the city walls. The project never materialised, but several buildings which bore testimony to the concept were erected. In particular the New Jubilee Synagogue (built between 1865 and 1908), which no longer exists, and the ritual bath (built in 1904 in Moorish style), which still remains.

The Market Square
On the doorframe of house No 21 one can still see the indentations where the mezzuzot used to be. The building now houses the Tarnów District Museum (phone +14 6212149), which has an interesting collection of Judaica. The original privilege document from 1667 and three scrolls of the Torah as well as documents and photographs from the last Tarnow synagogue (closed in 1993) are its most precious exhibits. The Market Square is also aplace of Jewish martyrology. From 11 to 19 June 1942 it was the arena for the first act of murder of 10,000 local Jews. For the Jewish Landsmanshaftn these dates are days of remembrance. In 1997 acommemorative plaque in honour of the victims of the tragedy was erected on the corner of ul. Zydowska; the pavement there having been sanctified with their blood.

Ul. Zydowska
From the Market Square walk along ul. Zydowska (Jewish Street). Many 17th and 18th-century tenement houses with typical narrow entrance halls and front walls still remain. You will easily spot the iron display windows which belonged to former shops. On the left-hand side of ul. Zydowska you will also see an enclosure made of iron bars (from 1900) and aspacious square behind it. Towering above it is the only remaining part of the oldest Tarnow synagogue.

The Bimah of the Old Synagogue
The Old Synagogue, almost certainly dating from the beginning of the 17th century, stood here until the outbreak of the Second World War. It was on the site of an even older synagogue built sometime before 1581. The Old Synagogue was burnt down in November 1939 and then demolished. Only the bimah survived. You can still see some remains of the floor as well as of stucco decorations crowning the columns. Traces of the fire are still visible.

Bima, photo

In 1987 the bimah was covered with aroof in order to protect the monument from the weather.
Ul. Zydowska, a square on the left between the market square and the little turning to the right.

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The Mikvah
The mikvah was built in 1904 in Moorish style, much in vogue at that time. The plans were drawn by F. Hackbeil and M. Mikos. During the Second World War this building witnessed particularly tragic events, as it was turned into atemporary concentration camp for prisoners awaiting deportation to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Some of the most eminent Tarnow Jews of the pre-war period passed through here, including Maksymilian Rozenbusz, the headmaster of the Hebrew High School; Jakow Szwarc, industrialist; Emil Wider, attorney; and also a distingushed geographer Zdzislaw Simche, a Catholic. Not one of them survived. They became the first victims in the history of the Auschwitz death camp. Both the memorial situated here and the very name of the square (The Square of the Prisoners of Auschwitz) pay homage to the victims of racism. For many years after the Second World War the mikvah was used as apublic bath. Later, after an overhaul, it was turned into adepartment store. Plac Wiezniow Oswiecimia.

Ul. Goldhammera (Goldhammer Street)
Elias Goldhammer (1851-1912) was the son of a tailor from Dynow. He graduated in law from the Jagiellonian University in Cracow and then settled in Tarnow, where he later became deputy mayor. He was adistinguished orator and attorney specialising in penal law. When Goldhammer passed away in 1912, the City Council of Tarnow decided to honour this great man by naming the most Jewish street in the city after him.
The easiest way to get here from the main square is via ul. Piekarska, Plac Rybny and ul. Rybna. Ul. Goldhammera contains several places of interest. In house No 1, on the first floor, there was Tarnow's last beth ha-midrash (house of study), which functioned until 1993. There is not much left to see nowadays. The aron ha-kodesh, the bimah and the benches were moved to the Regional Museum at Rynek 21. The next building, at ul. Goldhammera 3, is Herman Soldinger's hotel designed by I. Apperman and erected in 1904. After the end of the Second World War, this is where the Jewish community of Tarnow had its offices and house of prayer. The later fate of Soldinger's hotel is the story of the collapse of this prestigious establishment, once advertised in old Austrian-Hungarian guidebooks. At first it was turned into ahotel called Leliva and then converted into headquarters of the regional committee of the Communist Party. At ul. Goldhammera 5 there is an eclectic 1890 edifice of the Credit Bank for Trade and Industry. In its hallway you can still see plaques commemorating the founder of the building Herman Merz, chairman of the Jewish community, as well as the eminent deputy mayor Elias Goldhammer himself.

The Site Once Occupied by the New Synagogue
The New Synagogue on the corner of ul. Nowa and ul. Warynskiego was opened on 18 March 1908 (the birthday of Franz Josef, the Austrian Emperor). This is how it got the name "Jubilee Synagogue", and even the "Franz Josef Synagogue". Photographs taken before the Second World War show its imposing dome. Set on fire in 1939, for along time it resisted attempts by the Nazis to destroy it, until they finally managed to blow it up with explosives. The place where the synagogue once stood was honoured with acommemorative plaque in September 1993. Its only remaining element, asingle column, can now be found in the Jewish cemetery, where it forms part of amemorial.

The Jewish Cemetery
The Jewish cemetery in Tarnow, comparable with those of Cracow, is one of the oldest and most interesting cemeteries in southern Poland. It was established beyond the historical boundaries of Tarnow in the second half of the 16th century. Its several thousand gravestones from the period between the 17th and the 20th centuries are situated in an area of 3.2 hectares. Among them there are the tombs of the most important Jewish families of Tarnow: the Aberdams, the Brandstetters, the Maschlers, the Merzes and the Szancers. Many local rabbis are also buried here: Samuel Shmelke Horovitz (d. 1713), Yitzchak Ayzik (d. 1756), Eliezer ben Yitzchak (d. 1811), Izrael Rapaport (d. 1881), Abele Sznur (d. 1917) and Mayer Arak (d.1925). In the eastern part, behind aconcrete wall, there is the resting place of Arie Leib, son of Ezechiel Shraga from Sieniawa, the great tzaddik from the Halberstam dynasty. This tomb is visited by pious Chasids belonging to the groups from Bobowa and Nowy Sacz. There are also the graves of over 50 Jewish soldiers from the Austrian army of the First World War. From April 1942 to November 1943 many cases of mass murder took place at the cemetery. In 1946, a memorial designed by Dawid Beckert in the form of abroken column, which in sepulchral symbolic representations means atragically interrupted life, was built over one of the local collective graves. The inscription inspired by abiblical text was taken from the poem by Chaim Nachman Bialik Be-ir ha-harega (In the City of Slaughter) written after the 1903 pogrom in Kishinev. It reads: "And the sun shone and was not ashamed".
In 1991 the original wrought-iron gate was taken to the recently established Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington and replaced with amodern replica.

The Jewish cementery of Tarnow, photo

The crossroads of ul. Sloneczna and ul. Szpitalna, entrance from ul. Szpitalna. The key is available in the house opposite the gate. If no one is there, the key can also be obtained from the doorman at the District Museum at Rynek 21 (available 24 hours aday, knock on the window; a 15 zl deposit is required).

Other Monuments of Jewish Culture
There are many more places in Tarnow which in one way or another are connected with the local Jewish community. A detailed description is contained in the book Tarnowskie Judaika (The Judaica of Tarnów) by Adam Bartosz. Those worth a particular mention are the following: the old people's home and hospital (ul. Matki Boskiej Fatimskiej 25); the Bund headquarters, the B. Michalewicz Workers' House (ul. Ochronek 22) and the former Krzak and Szpiller suitcase factory situated next door; the orphanage (ul. Mostowa 14, now a kindergarten): the Talmud Torah (ul. Sienna 5, now a school for nurses); the Henryk Szancer steam mill dating from 1846 (ul. Sienna); the baron Hirsch Foundation Public School, now the fine arts school; the empty site of the Tempel Reform synagogue and the neighbouring school of the Safa Berura Society (ul. Sw. Anny 1, now a boarding school). In ul. Lwowska there are a few old houses which once belonged to wealthy Chasids.

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