Kraków: The River Speaks Yiddish

In the section on Poland in his book A Travel Guide to Jewish Europe, Ben G. Frank writes: Jews don’t visit Poland dispassionately. Sholem Asch once said that the broad shallow river, the Vistula, the queen of Polish rivers, spoke to him in Yiddish. No matter what language you speak, the Vistula—“on whose bank the … Continue reading Kraków: The River Speaks Yiddish

Kraków: Our Polish Sabbath

In the Symposium, Plato puts the following words in the mouth of Alcibiades: “Drunkards and children tell the truth.”¹ When drinking alcohol, people seem more inclined to say what they honestly think or feel. Can drinking also reveal something about a person’s character? Some people when they drink become aggressive, for example, or weepy and … Continue reading Kraków: Our Polish Sabbath

Kraków: Architecture of Holiness

In his book, The Seven Lamps of Architecture, John Ruskin defines architecture as “the art which so disposes and adorns the edifices raised by man for whatsoever uses, that the sight of them contributes to his mental health, power and pleasure.”¹ I think it's fair to say that the sight of a synagogue rarely contributes … Continue reading Kraków: Architecture of Holiness

Kraków: Jewish Ghosts

What do you do with a synagogue building that can no longer function as a synagogue? Perhaps the neighborhood changed, or the building costs too much to maintain. Perhaps the congregation moved to the suburbs. Perhaps its members were murdered. What do you do? What should you do?¹ Friday, October 19, 2018 - continued: There … Continue reading Kraków: Jewish Ghosts

Kraków: Menorahs and Showbread

Menorah, Isaac Synagogue, Kraków, Poland After entering Kraków in September 1939, the German invaders closed the synagogues and confiscated items of value housed in them. Jews in Krakow continued to pray, of course, but did so in private. Their public houses of prayer were no longer available to them. Friday, October 19, 2018: Beth and … Continue reading Kraków: Menorahs and Showbread

Poland: Old Things – אַלט זאכן

My wife Beth and I live in Be'er Sheva, in the south of Israel. Many English speakers may be more familiar with the spelling Beersheba. It is the place in Israel where the patriarch Abraham lived. Every morning as part of the Morning Prayer, I read the story of the binding of Isaac. The story … Continue reading Poland: Old Things – אַלט זאכן

Poland: Dobrynin to Rzochów

Thursday, October 18, 2018 (continued):  In the early 1980s, I worked near a bookshop in Philadelphia. I spent many of my lunch hours and too much of my money in the bookshop. One day, I purchased a book of photographs, A Vanished World, by the Russian-American photographer, Roman Vishniac. I had some time left before I … Continue reading Poland: Dobrynin to Rzochów