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Obj. ID: 13532
Jewish Architecture
  Bnei Emuna Beit Midrash in Kraków, Poland

© Center for Jewish Art, Photographer: Khaimovich, Boris, 1995

The Bnei Emunah (Sons of Faith) house of prayer is located at the corner of 17 Meiselsa Street and 5 Plac Nowy (registered property no. 404) on grounds which belonged to Kraków goldsmiths from 1489 until the end of the 18th century, and limited to the north by a 19th-century extension of today’s Meiselsa Street. It was built in 1886 according to the design of architect and builder Jacek Matusiński and at the initiative of Lejb Schudmak and Züssman Schenker, members of the Bnei Emunah Jewish Society of Prayer and Charity (Polish: Żydowskie Towarzystwo Modlitewne i Dobroczynne B’nei Emuna). The Germans destroyed the inside of the building, subsequently converting it into a woodworking shop. Following the war it was still used as a woodworking shop, and then as storerooms.

After a thorough renovation carried out in 1988–1993 the building became the seat of the Judaica Foundation Center for Jewish Culture (Polish: Centrum Kultury Żydowskiej Fundacji Judaica). Architect Dariusz Gruszka was in charge of the renovation works which were possible thanks to the greatest financial support from the Congress of the United States as well as to smaller donations from the Kraków Municipality Office, Kraków Province Governor’s Office, Social Committee for the Restoration of Kraków Historic Monuments, and the General Office for the Preservation of Historic Monuments. During those years the main prayer hall ceiling polychrome paintings and a plaque recognizing the late founders and members of the society were preserved and partly reconstructed. The Center for Jewish Culture was dedicated on November 24, 1993. The whole renovation cost over 2 million Polish zlotys. In 2011 a motion was filed with the regulatory commission for the return of the building of the B'nei Emunah house of prayer to the Jewish Community of Kraków.

The brick synagogue is a rectangular building erected in the Romanesque Revival style with Moorish elements. The inside of the synagogue is divided into two parts with a hall for men to the east and a hall for women to the west, which are separated by a passageway with a cast iron column. On the ceiling of the men’s hall there is a plaster rosette and a painted ornamental decoration, reconstructed in 1993 as modeled on the elements from the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries (an examination of the decorations and the reconstruction project by Bogusław Bałos, historic preservation officer).

In the hall intended for women there are a plaster rosette and a painting decoration from 1993 which refers to the type of decorations characteristic to the 19th and 20th centuries. The seven-side façade has four bays and horizontal bands imitating rustic work. There are metal doors in both entrances and reconstructed woodwork and a wrought iron grille in the arcaded windows. In the men’s hall, in the center of the east wall there is an arcaded recess for the Aron ha-Kodesh, while on the west wall there is a stone plaque containing Hebrew inscriptions from 1931 and honoring the deceased associated with the house of prayer (e.g. Lejb Schudmak). At present, there are two plaques in the main prayer hall, one commemorating Rafael Scharf, a native of Kraków who was an activist for Polish-Jewish relations and the other plaque recognizing a contribution in the form of audio and conference equipment made to the Center by the Foundation for the Polish-German Cooperation, this being possible thanks to financial support of the German Federal Republic. Hung on the south wall is a huge painting by Vincent Capraro, The Jews of Vught, which commemorates the events that took place in Vught in a death camp established in 1942 in the vicinity of Den Bosch in the south of the Netherlands.

11 image(s)

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Name/Title
Bnei Emuna Beit Midrash in Kraków | Unknown
Object Detail
Date
1886
Synagogue active dates
Reconstruction dates
1993
Artist/ Maker
Historical Origin
Unknown
Community type
Location
Site
Unknown
School/Style
Period
Unknown
Period Detail
Collection
Unknown |
Material/Technique
Material Stucture
Material Decoration
Material Bonding
Material Inscription
Material Additions
Material Cloth
Material Lining
Tesserae Arrangement
Density
Colors
Construction material
Brick
Measurements
Height
Length
Width
Depth
Circumference
Thickness
Diameter
Weight
Axis
Panel Measurements
Iconographical Subject
Unknown |
Condition
Extant
Documented by CJA
Surveyed by CJA
Present Usage
Cultural center
Present Usage Details
Condition of Building Fabric
B (Fair)
Architectural Significance type
Historical significance: Event/Period
Historical significance: Collective Memory/Folklore
Historical significance: Person
Architectural Significance: Style
Architectural Significance: Artistic Decoration
Urban significance
Part of Jewish quarter
Significance Rating
2 (Regional)
Languages of inscription
Unknown
Type of grave
Unknown
0
Ornamentation
Custom
Contents
Codicology
Scribes
Script
Number of Lines
Ruling
Pricking
Quires
Catchwords
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Blank Leaves
Direction/Location
Façade (main)
Endivances
Location of Torah Ark
Location of Apse
Location of Niche
Location of Reader's Desk
Location of Platform
Temp: Architecture Axis
Arrangement of Seats
Location of Women's Section
Direction Prayer
Direction Toward Jerusalem
Coin
Coin Series
Coin Ruler
Coin Year
Denomination
Signature
Colophon
Scribal Notes
Watermark
Hallmark
Group
Group
Group
Group
Group
Trade Mark
Binding
Decoration Program
Summary and Remarks
Suggested Reconsdivuction
History/Provenance
Main Surveys & Excavations
Bibliography
Bergman, Eleonora and Jan Jagelski, Zachowane synagogi i domy modlitwy w Polsce. Katalog. (Warsaw, 1996), p. 66 with ill.; Izabella Rejduch-Samkowa & Jan Samek (eds.), Katalog zabytków sztuki w Polsce, tom IV: Miasto Kraków, część VI: Kazimierz i Stradom - Judaica: Bóżnice, budowle publiczne i cmentarze (Warszawa, 1995), p. 32-33, ill. 79; Eugeniusz Duda, Krakowskie judiaca (Warszawa, 1991), p. 115; Hamagid, 13.6.1889, p. 179 - from Dror; http://www.sztetl.org.pl/en/article/krakow/11,synagogues-prayer-houses-and-others/3748,b-nei-emunah-house-of-prayer-17-meiselsa-street-/
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Negative/Photo. No.