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: Food and Prayer

Writing is remembering. In the 1920s, ten percent of Poland’s population was Jewish; thirty percent of Warsaw’s residents were Jewish. Compare this with the United States today, where Jews make up between one and a half to two percent of the general population and approximately thirteen percent of the population of New York City. For … Continue reading Kraków: Food and Prayer