NEW JEWISH MUSEUM IN THE SYNAGOGUE IN LECZNA|
The 17th century large baroque synagogue of Leczna on Boznicza Street (known as the Great Synagogue) is a rare survivor of the pre-War Jewish community. During the War the building was seriously damaged and afterward suffered from neglect and active dismantling by the local community. Plans for demolition were discussed in the 1950s but fortunately withdrawn, and in the mid-1960s the building was reconstructed, with some modifications but largely preserving the synagogue's most significant architectural features, among them the central four-column brick bimah with ornamental renaissance-style cornices, and the two-columned brick Torah ark with decorative 17th century stucco details and ochre-colored Hebrew inscription "Know before whom you stand - before the King of the Kings; Holy, Blessed He".
Beginning in 1966, this synagogue housed a Regional Museum, a branch of the Museum in Lublin, with displays of ethnographic and archeological items and artifacts from the history of the town and region, as well as a small but precious judaica collection.
In 2013 ownership of the synagogue was restituted to the Polish Jewish community, today therefore held by the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland (FODZ). The town is included in the Foundation's much-admired and much-publicized project - the Chassidic Route - designed for visitors and researchers desirous of making heritage and memory tours in southeastern Poland. Pressure by Lublin to transfer operation of the museum from the regional level to the local city level resulted in the decision in 2014 to move the museum out of the building. The judaica collection was put into storage in Leczna's Municipal Services and Housing Department while the city attempts to raise EU funds to acquire a local tenement building - owned before the War by a Jewish family - and turn that into a museum.
FODZ has proposed re-opening a museum in the synagogue, but this time, a Jewish museum; a museum whose judaica collection housed in a restored synagogue could serve to educate local non-Jewish Polish students about Jewish life and traditions and act as a cultural meeting point for visiting Jewish descendants. If successful, the museum would open in 2016. Whether or not the judaica collection now in the city's possession will be loaned or ever returned to the synagogue is unclear. We are very much interested in hearing from those who trace their family roots to Leczna and the region who would be willing to donate personal family artifacts and items. These donations would fall into two general categories:
If you have connections to pre-War Jewish Leczna, and would be interested in contributing family mementos to the realization of a new Jewish Museum in the Great Synagogue, we encourage you to contact our Foundation.
small paper-based items, such as family photos, drawings, letters, school, military, and vital records, memory maps, family trees, and other ephemera (copies only);
larger physical pieces connected to Jewish culture, rituals, daily life, and traditions, such as household items, clothing, books, prayer bibles, etc. (preferably originals but not necessarily).
Learn more about the Chassidic Route
Explore the Interactive Map of the Chassidic Route on the website of the World Monuments Fund
Article by Jewish Heritage Europe (September 2013) » back