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  4. Isaak Synagogue

Isaak Synagogue, Krakow

Photo © Zuzana Bohackova. View all images in our Isaak Synagogue Photo Gallery.
Photo © GFDL.

Dating from 1664, the Isaak Synagogue (Synagoga Izaaka) is considered by many to be the most beautiful synagogue in Krakow. It was badly damaged during the Nazi occupation and now houses historic photographs and documentary films.

History

Isaac's Synagogue is named for its founder, Izaak Jakubowicz, a resident of Kazimierz and the center of one of most famous Hasidic legends. The story goes that Isaac had a dream about a treasure hidden in Prague, near the Charles Bridge. He immediately went to the city, where he found the bridge filled with soldiers.

One of the soldiers approached Isaac and asked him his business there. When Isaac explained about his dream and search for treasure, the soldier laughed at him and said,

"Only a naive fool would come so far for a dream! I myself keep having this dream that in a house of a Krakovian Jew named Isaac, son of Jacob, there is a treasure hidden under the furnace. But I'm not so foolish as to go to Krakow and look for it. After all, every second Jew is named Isaac, and every third, Jacob!"

Isaac thanked him, returned home to Krakow, dismantled the furnace, and found a great treasure. He became one of the wealthiest citizens of Kazimierz and founded this magnificent synagogue in 1664.

What to See

The austerely attractive exterior of the Isaak Synagogue includes an outside stairway that leads up to the women's gallery.

Inside, the early Baroque building has a beautiful, stucco-decorated ceiling and fine arcades in the women's gallery. The walls bear faded frescoes of Hebrew texts.

The synagogue now houses an exhibition on the history of Polish Jews. On display are moving photographs of former Kazimierz residents and their families as well as the main treasure: several older documentary films on Kazimierz that run continuously during the day.

One film from the late 1930s is French (but narrated in German) on health conditions in the ghetto; another is a U.S. film from earlier in the decade about Jewish life here. But the most haunting of all are the silent newsreels filmed by the Germans as they cleared the Jewish Quarter of its residents in 1941.

Quick Facts on Isaak Synagogue

Site Information
Names:Isaak Synagogue; Isaak Synagogue, Krakow; Synagoga Izaaka
City:Krakow
Country:Poland
Categories:Synagogues
Dates:1664
Visitor and Contact Information
Location:Krakow, Poland
Coordinates:50.051445° N, 19.946424° E  (view on Google Maps)
Lodging:View hotels near this location
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.

Map of Isaak Synagogue

Below is a location map and aerial view of Isaak Synagogue. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.

References

  1. Frommer's Eastern Europe, 1st ed. (April 2007).
  2. Fodor's Poland, 1st. ed. (May 2007).
  3. The Virtual Jewish History Tour: Cracow - Jewish Virtual Library

More Information

Article Info

Title:Isaak Synagogue, Krakow
Author:Holly Hayes
Last updated:08/20/2009
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