Report from Krakow/ Farewell to Poland #general
Yesterday in Krakow I found some street vendors selling an unusual bread
product. It was circular in shape and had a hole in the middle. There
were three varieties, plain, sesame and poppy seed. The Poles called it
"Bajgel". My cousin Tom Breheny thought that it had possibilities as an
import to the Sates, maybe even serving it with cream cheese. I assured
him that it would never work.
We had a beautiful day in Krakow, sunny and mild, the first day we had
in Poland free of rain. We spent the day exploring the city on foot,
primarily in the old Jewish quarter, Kazimierz. This section, once an
independent city, was opened to Jews in 1335 by King Kazimier. It was
eventually merged into Krakow.
I was completely ignorant of the huge Jewish presence here in the pre war
We visited at least seven synagogues within a relatively small area. Some
were in very poor condition, but workmen were there doing restoration. One
was called "Temple Synagogue". We went inside and moved carefully around
the scaffolding. It was beautiful. I was assured that it was a Reform Temple,
but there was a balcony where the women had to sit. I guess that "Reform" in
Poland could only go so far.
Another that we visited was the "Isaac Synagogue" on Isaac Street. While it is
still being restored, it is open to the public, with occasional services on
Saturdays and holidays.
A few blocks away was "Remuh Synagogue", a small, old building, with services
every Friday evening and Saturday morning. I was assured by one old gentleman
that there is always a minion. On the side of this building was the "Old
Cemetery". At first glance, it seemed to be in good repair, but I was told by
a visiting Jew >from Sweden that it had been vandalized and restored. More than
likely, the head stones are not in their original places. In addition,
fragments of head stones were being used to make an unusual, but beautiful,
wall around the cemetery. I doubt if anyone has catalogued the graves.
from there we went to the "New Cemetery", in use since about 1850, and stillused for burials today. It is much larger than the older one. I'm not sure all
the stones are in their original locations. Someone seems to be cataloguing
them, but I was not able to learn who. There were numbers painted on the sides
of the stones, which seemed to be designated by location. I would assume that
it is possible to do research there. I didn't get any further, as none of my
family came >from this area.
There was an open square in Kazimierz with at least one Kosher restaurant and
a number with Jewish style food. This was too good an opportunity to miss. We
returned for dinner and dined on gefilta fish, pickled herring and carp for
appetizers, and duck with side dishes of kugel and kishka. I could hear my
Bubbie Raisa telling me to "Ess, tatalah". I had to be rolled back to the
As emotionally down the previous days had been, Wednesday left us feeling
Because we had taken an extra day in Krakow, we only have an overnight in
Warsaw. It is an entirely different city than that which I encountered on an
earlier visit in 1959. I spent some time this afternoon with Yale J. Reisner,
Director of Research and Archives for The Ronald S. Lauder Foundation. He is
extremely articulate and most knowledgeable about the Jewish presence in
We really need one more day in Warsaw but I've run short of time and energy.
I'll put this on the Net tomorrow morning and then head out to the airport.
My eleven days in Poland far exceeded my expectations. The time was short on
research but long on uniting myself with my RUDEK (ROSEN), WAJS (WEISS),
MORDCHAJEWICZ, NOSKOWITZ and GORZEWSKI forebears.
Howard L. Rosen email@example.com