The Synagogue in Kazimierz Dolny
The Kazimierz Dolny synagogue where we are working is just a few meters away from the main market square. Local legend claimed it had been built by Kazimierz the Great (1333-1370) at the behest of Estera, a Jewish beauty from KD who had apparently enjoyed the infatuation of the enlightened ruler. A perhaps more reliable story has the synagogue being built from limestone during the second half of the 18th century, although wooden and brick synagogues had likely existed in the town from at least the 11th century. It is a very fitting setting for our painting workshop, the interior having originally been painted in brilliant polychrome images of “horses, deer, castles, flowers, geese, scales, pigeons and a wide array of symbolism…” “…a warm and fantastic sunrise of color”. The Nazi occupation of Kazimierz Dolny saw the synagogue used as a horse stable and some of its priceless furnishings, including a curtain from the alter cupboard embroidered in gold thread by Estera, were lost. In July 1944, the night before the German forces withdrew from the town they destroyed part of the building. After the war, the ruins were further vandalized until 1953 when it was rebuilt as a cinema. The cinema closed in 2003 and the building now houses a museum of the Jewish history of the town downstairs and a hotel space upstairs in the former women’s gallery. There are many wonderful historic photos of the synagogue and the town in the old worship space.
-Post by Jim Kricker