KRAKOW, Poland (JTA) – Polish writer Henryk Halkowski, one of Poland’s most notable contemporary Jewish personalities, died suddenly.
Friends said the cause of his death on Jan. 1, just days after celebrating his 57th birthday, was a heart attack.
He wrote and translated several books and essays on Jewish culture, history and thought. An expert on the Jewish history and heritage of Krakow, Halkowski also was an acute observer of the transformation of Jewish life after the fall of communism.
With his thick glasses, gray beard and zest for conversation, Halkowski was a familiar figure in this city’s Jewish quarter, Kazimierz.
"Kazimierz will never be the same without him and all his craziness," said Malgosia Ornat of the Austeria Jewish publishing house. "We will miss him a lot. He was so important for Jewish life in Krakow and a certain period of its revival is gone forever."
Joachim Russek, the director of Krakow’s Centrum Judaicum Jewish Center here, called Halkowski "a guardian of Krakow’s Jewish legacy" and said "the Kazimierz quarter without him will not be the same."