Synagoga Poznań - Pływalnia Miejska

posted 11 Jul 2017, 21:10 by Lodzer Shabbat-Bulletin   [ updated 11 Jul 2017, 22:38 ]

Where in the world is Rabbi Eli?


Synagoga Poznań - Pływalnia Miejska

As the crow flies, less than 200 km from Łódź.
I try not to visit Łódź more often than I have to, it tends to leave a dark, gloomy impression. It's not just the history (no lack of that in Poland), it's not the industrial profile of the city (haven't experienced anything of the kind in Manchester or Essen), it's the entire atmosphere, the kind of drab hopeless grey melancholy the very stones there seem to exude.

Instead, I am in Poznań now.
Smack in the middle of Ulica Żydowska, the Jewish Street. [The year is 1916.]
On its way to Spain, our unrelenting magic porridge pot gets to cater for a day and a half to a group of historians from the Institute for Holocaust Research.

Jews lived - and died - in Poznań since Boleslaw the Pious granted them his protection in the 13th c.

Of course, the protection was neither all-encompassing, nor did it much outlast the king who gave it. The persecution culminated in the 1736 burning at the stake of Rabbi Yossef, found guilty in a blood libel trial.

A mere century later, the great Rabbi Akiva Eiger, a champion of Jewish Orthodoxy, spent here the last 22 years of his life. Among many other deeds and achievements, this Chief Rabbi of Poznań was famous for defying quarantine orders to tend to the sick during the great cholera epidemic of 1831.
His grave, desecrated by the Nazis, was found under a parking lot and restored in the early 1990s.

The Holocaust began here on Dec 11, 1939 when the first cattle trucks left the already annexed city for the ghettos of Warsaw and Lublin.


The New Synagogue building, erected in 1907, was converted by the Nazis into a swimming pool. You can still see where the words "Pływalnia Miejska" (the municipal pool) were coined into the facade.


The socialist Polish authorities continued the pool designation, and only in 2002 the "swimagogue", as some sharp tongues branded it, was returned to the Jewish community.
There was initially a major project proposal that would see the Schule developed into a full-size JCC complete with a mikveh, restaurant, conference halls, two sanctuaries and a small museum. The necessary €48.5 million were never raised, "surprisingly", and the synagogue does not see much use today.

Take a walk on the streets through the new city to the old downtown, pass by the shabby buildings much in need of a face lift, stop by the Renaissance-ish old marketplace, reasonably well-kept and almost trendy but somehow not attracting a lot of crowd even at nighttime.


Ironically, nowadays the coffers of this fairly dilapidated city get a hefty supplement from the "Holocaust industry". Yet again the history made a full circle.

Next time, see you in the Basque Country.