ul. Miodowa 24
The Tempel Synagogue is worth a visit for at least two reasons. Firstly, the stained glass windows, which are among the best preserved of their kind in Poland. The other is its “non-orthodox character”.
A beautiful complex of 36 stained glass windows with floral and geometric motifs can be admired in on the ground and first floors. Many of them have retained panes that bear the names of the founders. The other reason is its “unorthodox” character: the Tempel synagogue, at times referred to as Progressive, is a reform synagogue. The name is a reference to the destroyed Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem. It was so as the reformers rejected the idea to have it rebuilt, and perceived the place where they lived as their only homeland.
The Kraków synagogue was built in 1860–62, and later repeatedly expanded (e.g., it received a five-sided apse, a neo-renaissance porch, low aisles, and (already after the war) a ritual bath, the so-called mikvah).
A unique feature of the progressive programme of the Tempel synagogue were sermons preached in Polish and German. The most outstanding preacher was Rabbi Dr Ozjasz Thon, a member of the Polish parliament between the two world wars. Another innovation was allowing women to sing together with the cantor and the choir. This had the synagogue strongly criticised by the Orthodox Jewish community connected among others to the Remuh synagogue.
During the Second World War, the synagogue was turned into storehouses and stables, yet the interior was not as badly damaged as in other sacred buildings. The impressive Aron Kodesh made of white marble has been preserved, and so have the wooden galleries for women (the so-called babiniec) and the polychrome decoration of the ceiling and galleries. In 1985, with the death of Abraham Lesman, the last cantor of the synagogue, the services ceased as well. Today, the Tempel synagogue offers a home to both prayer and cultural events: every year, it welcomes concerts of the Jewish Culture Festival. There is also a mikvah operating again in its backyard.
In 2006–08 the Jewish Community Centre (JCC) of the Prince of Wales Foundation was built at the back of the synagogue.
Be sure to see:
- high under the attic on the front façade, the stones of the Decalogue in black marble with gilded letters
- interior decorated in the Moorish style
closed on Saturdays and Jewish holidays
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