The historic Remuh Synagogue in Krakow is the only synagogue in the city to remain in active use. It dates from the 16th century and includes an original ark and a fine cemetery with many old tombstones.
History of Remuh Synagogue
The Remuh Synagogue was founded in 1553 by Moses Isserles, leader of a prominent Krakovian family that had been bankers to the king.
It is named for the founder's son, Rabbi Moses Isserles Auerbach, known as RaMa or "Remuh." Remuh was an impressive figure: an astronomer, historian, philosopher and geometrician. He was even said to have been a miracle-worker.
The writings of Remuh have been very influential among Ashkenazi Jews until the present day. Thus his tomb, which can be found in the adjoining cemetery, remains a point of pilgrimage for Jews from around the world.
Today, Remuh Synagogue is the only one of Krakow's many synagogues that remains in active use for Jewish worship. The cemetery was used until the beginning of the 19th century, when the New Cemetery was opened.
What to See at Remuh Synagogue
The 16th-century Remuh Synagogue is small and rather plain, but elegant in its simplicity. Its white limestone walls and large windows give it a light and airy atmosphere. Inside, over a dozen chandeliers illuminate the interior.
The most notable feature is the exquisite ark (aron ha-kodesh), where the Torah scrolls are enshrined. It is an original from the founding of the synagogue, carved in 1558. As with all synagogue arks, it occupies the wall that faces Jerusalem.
Attached to the synagogue is the peaceful Remuh Cemetery. The many old tombstones with Hebrew inscriptions include that of the synagogue's namesake. The cemetery was, however, badly damaged by the Nazis and countless tombs were destroyed.
Many of the tomb fragments have been collected and arranged onto a wall, which has become known as the Wailing Wall or Lamentation Wall.
Quick Facts on Remuh Synagogue
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- Remuh Synagogue - Cracow Life
- Frommer's Eastern Europe, 1st ed.
- The Remuh Synagogue of Krakow - Database of Jewish Communities
- Photos of Remuh Synagogue - here on Sacred Destinations
Map of Remuh Synagogue, Krakow
Below is a location map and aerial view of Remuh 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.