The history of Judaism in Poland is rich and complicated, an essential part of the country’s character and identity. What was for centuries the largest and most tolerated Jewish population in the world was nearly destroyed by the Holocaust and subsequent oppression under the communist regime. Today, however, Jewish life is thriving again in Poland, and nowhere is this more evident than in Kazimierz, Krakow’s Jewish Quarter—one of the most vibrant areas of the city. The Krakow Post is pleased to announce a partnership with the Jewish Community Centre of Krakow to bring our readers a new feature, Jewish Krakow, to keep you informed about what’s happening in this important sphere of local life as community members and visitors work toward “building a Jewish future.”
Autumn is a very busy time at the Jewish Community Centre (JCC) of Krakow, the focal point of Krakow’s Jewish life located in the heart of the Jewish Quarter Kazimierz. In September, the JCC celebrated Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year marking God’s creation of the Earth, welcoming the year 5776. Jews celebrate over two days by eating apples and honey to symbolize a sweet new year, gathering with friends and family for festive meals, and by blowing the shofar—a hollowed out ram’s horn.
Rosh Hashanah translates as the “head of the year”, but in the Old Testament is called Yom Teruah or “the day of raising noise”. This noise is created by a shofar, which is traditionally blown one hundred times on Rosh Hashanah.
Just in time for the holiday, the JCC dedicated “SHOFAR KRAKOW: Call To Return” on Sunday, September 6th. SHOFAR KRAKOW is a 17 foot tall sculpture installed in the courtyard between JCC Krakow and Tempel Synagogue which amplifies the sound of the shofar for all of Kazimierz to hear. The sculpture is the tallest working shofar in the world. Made from stainless steel, the shape of the sculpture is created from fragments of the six-pointed Star of David—a common symbol of Judaism.
SHOFAR KRAKOW, a testament to Krakow’s Jewish revival, is a gift from American sculptor Richard Edelman and the Milwaukee Jewish Federation (Milwaukee, WI, USA). “While in Krakow I began to think how these themes of remembrance as well as of hope could be given voice,” Edelman explains. “Focusing this debate is the JCC, a living institution of living persons, serving needs and teaching world Jewry lessons about survival. Yet, it seems to say, if we can exist here, we can exist anywhere.”
JCC Krakow Executive Director Jonathan Ornstein says, “This striking shofar is the perfect symbol of Krakow’s Jewish revival. Rooted in tradition yet intensely contemporary, Shofar Krakow, like Krakow’s reborn Jewish community boldly calls out to the Jewish world to announce its presence.”
Stop by JCC Krakow (ul. Miodowa 24) to see the shofar and learn more about contemporary Jewish life in Krakow.