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Published on Jun 12, 2007
The Remu Synagogue was built in Kazimierz, then a village outside Kraków, in an area located on the bank of the Vistula River, immediately to the south of the Royal Castle on the Wawel Hill. Kazimierz had a Jewish community since the 14th century, and after the end of the 15th century when the Jews of Kraków were expelled from the city, it became the main Jewish neighborhood in the region and one of the largest Jewish communities in Poland. Originally called the "New Synagogue" to distinguish it from the Old Synagogue, (Stara Boznica in Polish), the Remuh Synagogue was built in 1553 at the edge of a newly established Jewish cemetery (today known as the "Old Cemetery") on land owned by Israel ben Josef. This date is stated clearly on the foundation tablet. Nevertheless, the royal permission by King Sigismund II Augustus of Poland was obtained in November 1556, after long opposition from the Church. As it is hard to believe that the construction actually began without the royal permission, the inscription should therefore be understood as possibly referring to the date when the decision to build a second synagogue in Kazimierz was taken by its founder. The first building of the synagogue, probably a wooden structure, was destroyed in a fire in April 1557, but following a new permission granted by King Sigismund II Augustus, a second building of masonry was erected in place in 1557 after the plans of Stanisław Baranek, a Kraków architect. The original late Renaissance style edifice underwent a number of changes during the 17th and the 18th centuries. The current building traces its design to the restoration work of 1829, to which some technical improvements were introduced during the restoration of 1933 conducted under the supervision of the architect Herman Gutman. During the Holocaust, the synagogue was sequestered by the German Trust Office (Treuhandstelle) and served as a storehouse of firefighting equipment, having been despoiled of its valuable ceremonial objects and historic furbishing, including the bimah. However, the building itself was not destroyed. In 1957, thanks to the efforts of the local Jewish community and of Akiva Kahane, the Joint Distribution Committee representative in Poland, the Remuh Synagogue underwent a major restoration that reestablished much of the pre-war appearance of the interior. Source: Cracow-life.com