Polish culture ministry rejects request to renovate historic synagogue


WARSAW, Poland (JTA) — Poland’s Ministry of Culture and National Heritage turned down a request to help fund the renovation of a historic synagogue in Przysucha.

The total estimated cost to renovate the synagogue in southern Poland, about 60 miles from Warsaw, is $52,000. The foundation had requested $43,000 from the culture ministry.

The synagogue’s titleholder, the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland, said it was trying to convince federal officials to change their minds on the decision they made last week.

“We do not understand why it is not in the interest of the Polish state to assist in caring for Jewish monuments,” Monika Krawczyk, the foundation’s director general, told JTA.

Between 2012 and 2014, the culture ministry had provided financial assistance that had allowed the foundation to perform necessary rescue work on the Przysucha synagogue, including securing the foundation and restoring the roof. The poor condition of the synagogue, which was returned to the Jewish community at the beginning of the 21st century, is the result of decades of neglect following World War II.

The foundation began revitalizing the synagogue with support from the World Monuments Fund, the Taube Foundation for Jewish Life and Culture and the Cahnman Foundation.

The synagogue is a monument to late Baroque architecture, the only such facility in the Mazovia region and one of the most important in Poland. At the end of the 18th century, Przysucha was a vital center of Hasidism in Poland. After World War II, the building was used as stables and to store fertilizer.

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