The Remah Synagogue and Shabbat in Krakow - MOTL 2011

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Josh Broide

Josh Broide

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It's easy to forget walking around the synagogues of Kazimierz that not so long ago these synagogues were vibrant places of prayer, providing a focal point for the Jewish community that lived here. The Remuh Synagogue maintains this link with the past being the only synagogue still used for worship.

It still retains a huge significance for many Jews across the world who come to worship at the grave of Rabbi Moses Isserles. Rabbi Moses was regarded as a great author and scholar, perhaps his most notable piece of work being the Mappa - the Tablecloth, a religious-legal work which focuses on Ashkenazic customs. Many pilgrims leave notes on the Rabbi's grave asking him to intercede on their behalf with God. The synagogue is commonly referred to as the Remuh which is derived from the Hebrew acronym of Rabbi Moses Isserles - Rema.

The original synagogue was founded in 1553 but was destroyed by fire with a replacement being built in 1557. The building's current architecture can be traced back to 1829 when restoration work was undertaken.

The smallest synagogue in Kazimierz it has an atmosphere all of its own. A cobbled courtyard with white walls greets visitors to the Remuh; these walls contain stone tablets commemorating deceased Jews, some of them victims of the Holocaust.

During the Nazi occupation the Remuh's interior was decimated, ceremonial objects were robbed and furnishings destroyed. After the war the synagogue again came under the authority of the Jewish Denominational Council and as a result of their efforts its pre-war appearance was restored in 1957.

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