The Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland was established in 2002 by the Union of Jewish Communities in Poland and the World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO). Our primary mission is to protect and commemorate the surviving sites and monuments of Jewish cultural heritage in Poland. The Foundation is active where no Jewish community exists today or where distance from major urban centers or lack of sufficient financial resources makes it difficult for existing small Jewish communities to provide adequate long-term care and maintenance.
We are the only institution in Poland officially dedicated to the task of recovering, preserving, and commemorating physical sites of Jewish significance. Our activities touch 200 synagogues and 1200 cemeteries and spreads over two thirds of the country. Many of these sites exist in an advanced state of deterioration and neglect, and even though all of them are listed as protected landmarks, Polish authorities have shown little independent initiative and commitment toward protecting these precious survivors of pre-War Jewish culture.
All our cemetery work, whether cleaning, fencing, renovating, or memorializing a site through the installation of plaques and markers, is carried out under the supervision of the Chief Rabbi of Poland, Michael Schudrich. To-date we have completed work in over 100 Jewish cemeteries in Poland, including those in Mszczonow, Dubienka, Kolno, Ilza, Wysokie Mazowieckie, Siedleczka-Kanczuga, Zuromin, Myślenice, Szczebrzeszyn, Radoszyce and Glogow Małopolski.
Our building revitalization activities involve some of the most important and prominent Jewish structures in Poland, such as the synagogues in Kraśnik, Łańcut, Przysucha and Rymanów, as well as the synagogue in Zamość. Wherever possible, we work hand -in-hand with local organizations and supportive administrations.
The Foundation is very proud of its project known as the Chassidic Route, covering a large area in southeast Poland known for its high pre-War Jewish populations (in some towns Jews represented >60% of the total population) and rich religious and architectural legacy. A map of the Chassidic Route can be downloaded on this website and used by descendants, family historians, and others planning ancestral heritage tours (an important and growing phenomenon in Poland) or merely wishing to visit sites along the historic routes of Jewish pilgrimage. Anchoring our educational and cultural activities associated with this project is the lovely Renaissance-style synagogue in Zamość, restored by us between 2009-2010. We are proud that in 2014 the synagogue hosted the first bar mitzvah in Zamość since before the War.
The synagogue complex in Kraśnik, also on the Chassidic Route, is now our primary restoration focus, Phase I (protective works to prevent further decay) finally completed. More information on this important project can be found on this website.
Additionally, we will be opening a new Jewish Museum in the synagogue of Łęczna , one of the Foundation's important properties and also located along the Chassidic Route.
Our primary focus is undertaking actions aimed at restoration and commemoration of the physical remnants of Poland's vibrant prewar Jewish life. Unfortunately, it is not technically or financially possible for us to have a presence in every one of the surviving 1200 Jewish cemeteries in Poland. Many are unfenced, unmarked, and unprotected. Those without headstones are the most vulnerable to being developed, built-over, and forgotten, taking with them all memory of a town's prewar Jewish presence. In 2015 we instituted a unique initiative to reach out to descendants, Jewish organizations, and family foundations to "adopt" a Jewish cemetery and become a financial sponsor of projects to save these precious survivors. For more information about our Adopt-A-Cemetery initiaitve click here.
The Foundation places a high value on education and academic research. One of it’s most important educational activities is the program it created “To Bring Memory Back” involving over 300 schools and aimed at educating young Polish students about the rich 1000 year history of Jews in Poland. Our successful program “Haverim – Friends” emphasizes Polish-Jewish youth encounters and frank discussions for overcoming persistent cross-cultural stereotypes, historical negationism, and antisemitism. Links to these important educational initiatives and other programs can be found on this website.
The Foundation is grateful for the generous support of foreign institutions, Jewish families and descendants, and individuals who value preserving Jewish cultural heritage in Poland. Information for making a financial contribution can be found below.
- reclaiming the properties which before WWII belonged to Jewish Religious Communities and other Jewish legal entities in Poland (pursuant to the Law on the Relationship between the State and the Union of Jewish Religious Communities of 1997), and providing legal services for the regulatory procedure of restitution;
- managing restituted properties;
- protecting properties bearing special religious or historical significance.
- constructing and installing monuments and memorial plaques to commemorate a site or event
It is our hope that the Foundation's efforts will not only physically preserve these unique survivors of pre-War Jewish material culture, but will also inspire individuals and families of Jewish ancestry with roots in Poland to come and reconnect with their heritage.
Donations to Support our Activities:
We appreciate your involvement and support.
There are a number of easy and convenient ways to financially support the work of our Foundation. These include donations by PayPal and check:
Our Wire Transfer Information:
PLN: PL 23 1030 1508 0000 0005 0294 3006
USD: PL 98 1030 1508 0000 0005 0294 3014
If you wish to stay informed about current Foundation activities and projects, please subscribe to our newsletter. The subscription form is located on the right-bottom corner of our website.
Enclosure, renovation, commemoration, and upkeep of Jewish cemeteries is one of our most important tasks and highest priorities. Today there are about 1200 surviving Jewish cemeteries in Poland, many in advanced states of neglect. Since 2002, our Foundation has cleaned, renovated, and fenced over 100 Jewish cemeteries, including those in Mszczonow, Dubienka, Kolno, Ilza, Wysokie Mazowieckie, Siedleczka-Kanczuga, Zuromin, Myślenice, Szczebrzeszyn, Radoszyce and Glogow Małopolski. Wherever possible, we work hand-in-hand with local organizations and supportive administrations. We welcome offers to partner on these important projects, and strongly encourage private individuals and organizations to contact us, especially families and descendants groups who trace their heritage to Polish towns in which we have projects or anticipate having projects. To ensure that all our work in Jewish cemeteries is done in compliance with religious laws and traditions, we cooperate and have excellent relations with the Rabbinical Commission of Cemeteries, directly overseen by the Chief Rabbi of Poland, Rabbi Michael Schudrich.
Article in the Long Island Jewish World on the re-dedication ceremony in Serock (September 2014)
In 2015 the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland (FODZ) announced a new "ADOPT-A JEWISH-CEMETERY" initiative to help save Jewish cemeteries in Poland.
We invite individuals, families, groups, communities, and organizations who are interested in starting a commemoration project to partner with us. Projects can be as small as designing and mounting a memorial plaque to remind visitors and locals that a particular site is a Jewish cemetery (even if no headstones exist there today) or as large as erecting a fence, gate, or elaborate lapidarium-style memorial. Our goal is to engage new partners who have been wanting to do something here in Poland to physically commemorate a place, a family, or a community but who have not known where to turn for advice and help on the logistics, paperwork, and details.
More about the initiative
PARTNERSHIPS, LOCAL DEVELOPMENT, REVITALIZATION
Jewish monuments are an integral part of the cultural heritage of Poland. Experience has shown that the most successful initiatives to memorialize a Jewish site include involvement of the local community, administration, and NGOs. The Foundation therefore places great importance and priority on developing strong relationships with these necessary partners in decisions affecting the development, installation, and maintenance of monuments and memorials at Jewish sites.
Revitalization of the synagogue in Przysucha
In 2012 the Foundation launched efforts to revitalize the synagogue in Przysucha, erected between 1774 and 1777. Towards the end of the 18th c. the town became an important center of Chassidism and gained considerable renown for its tzadikkim (Chassidic religious leaders). Works continue at the synagogue and in 2015, exterior renovation should be completed. The Przysucha synagogue has been nominated to the World Monuments Fund Watch List for 2016.
For more information about work done in 2015 and what lies ahead, please download our brochure for the Przysucha synagogue.
Revitalization of the synagogue in Zamość
The Renaissance synagogue in the Zamość Old City is one of the most spectacular monuments of Jewish heritage in Poland. The Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland has been the owner of the building since 2005. Our goal is to transform the synagogue into a modern cultural institution that will serve both Jewish visitors to Zamość and the local community. In 2008 the project “Revitalization of the Renaissance synagogue in Zamość for the needs of the Chassidic Route and the local community” is supported by a grant from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA Financial Mechanism and the Norwegian Financial Mechanism. Construction and conservation works commenced in July 2009 and have been completed in the summer of 2010. The opening ceremony took place on April 5th, 2011.
Site of the "Synagogue" Centre in Zamosc
Revitalization of the synagogue complex in Kraśnik
Within the framework of the “Revitalization of the Renaissance synagogue in Zamość for the needs of the Chassidic Route and the local community” project an activity “Restoration of the synagogue complex in Kraśnik - phase I (protective works from further decay)” is also implemented. The works in Kraśnik (a town 90 km away from Zamość) were conducted in 2010.
We believe educational activities to be crucial support for effective and successful heritage preservation. The Foundation places a high value on education and academic research.
One of the most important educational activities we have created is the program “To Bring Memory Back” which since 2005 involved over 300 Polish schools, 10,000 students, and 400 teachers from across Poland.
Beginning in fall 2015, the “To Bring Memory Back” educational project was re-launched. As before, the aim of the project is to engage Polish students of secondary schools and high schools to discover the pre-war multicultural heritage of their towns. The program envisions using available archival information and testimonies of elderly locals, plus other historical data and resources, to reconstruct the history of the pre-war Jewish community.
The 2015/2016 edition of the “To Bring Memory Back” program is being supported by the Polin Museum of History of Polish Jews and the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw. Voluntary upkeep of the local cemeteries is an integral part of the project.
To read about the types of projects created by participating students in past years
Please visit our Facebook page for the project
Our successful program “Haverim – Friends” emphasizes Polish-Jewish youth encounters and frank discussions for overcoming persistent cross-cultural stereotypes, historical negationism, and anti-Semitism.
LAUREL CROWN DECORATION
Marking the 25th anniversary of the resumption of diplomatic relations between Poland and Israel on June 21, 2015 the first Laurel Crown Decoration was awarded, recognizing Polish citizens involved in Preservation of Memory and Jewish Heritage.
The Award is extended by the Israeli Ambassador to Poland, in cooperation with the Polish Ministry of Culture and the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland
In 2012 we have published an album “Preserving Jewish Heritage In Poland”, marking the 10th anniversary of the Foundation. The album presents the most important and most spectacular activities for preserving monuments of Jewish culture that took place in the last decade through presenting achievements of the Foundation over the period of 2002-2012. The album shows revitalization of the synagogue in Zamość, restoration of the synagogues in Kraśnik and several Jewish cemeteries all over Poland.
While not every act of vandalism or graffiti is an act of antisemitism, we at the Foundation recognize the property devaluation that results from "looking the other way." These as well as acts defacing Jewish properties under our care or directed at Jewish sites of heritage in Poland are taken seriously and reported to the appropriate local authorities. The Foundation maintains a zero tolerance policy with regard to incidents with overt antisemitic overtones or those likely to fuel further acts of vandalism or graffiti, including the dissemination of inflammatory leaflets and public speeches that go beyond the acceptable boundaries of exercising freedom of expression in a democratic society.
More information about incidents of anti-semitism and other topics can be found in our 2014 Annual Report.
Kol Polin, the Hebrew Language service of the Polish Radio, published an interview with the CEO of the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland, dated October 15, 2012.
Agence France Presse/AFP published an article on the regulation process in Poland, dated November 12, 2008.
An article written by Herbert Block, entitled "The Restitution of Holocaust-Era Jewish Communal Property: An Unfinished Item on the Jewish Diplomatic Agenda" recently appeared in the Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs, published in February 2009 by the Israel Council on Foreign Relations, which is affiliated with the World Jewish Congress.
On April 21, 2010, the Israeli English-language daily "The Jerusalem Post" published an article entitled "Give it Back". The article deals with the subject of restitution of Jewish private property in modern day Poland.
In June 2010the Ivansk Project E-newsletter, issued by the Ivansker Society composed of the descendants of Jews of Iwaniska, published an article written by the CEO of the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland, describing the activities of our organization.