2013...

 

The Restoration of the Beth Midrash as a Museum of Jewish History and Culture in Polands Mazovia region has been completed.

 

Museum Web Site: http://synagogaplocka.pl/en

 

 

The Last/Lost/Restored Synagogue of Płock

Ada Holtzman, 1.03.2013

 

From my home in Tel Aviv Israel, I am sending you, the people of Płock, my greetings and my deepest gratitude!

 

I feel I speak in the name of all the Jews who graced this town since 1237. The Jewish community of Płock, together with that of Poznań and Kalisz, is considered to be the most ancient Jewish community of Poland. About 10,000 Jews lived there before the War. The Jews of Płock prospered and flourished for hundreds of years and enriched all aspects of Plock life, economy and culture by its scholars, artists, poets, Rabbis, scientists, writers, educators, musicians, doctors and leaders.

 

It all abruptly ended with the German Nazi occupation during World War II - 72 years ago  On 1.03.1941 the Germans started the deportation of Jews to various ghettos, and hideous forced labor camps and from these places later in the black years 1942-43, deported to the concentration and extermination camps... And they did not walk like sheep to the slaughter We remember the revolts in the concentration camps where young Jews from Płock participated and led the revolts, like Tobka Beatus, Mosze Sklarek (Bahir), Marian Platkiewicz, Mojzesz Laks, Haskiel and Szmul Rosenberg, Ber Gutman, Kryczek, Galewski, Abram Koziebrodzki, Rudek Lubraniecki and many others.  They will all be remembered in this holy place now restored

 

My grandmother Rasza Holcman née Zlotnik was born in Płock. Her father Abraham Icchak came from Wyszogrod and settled in Płock, founding an oil factory. He gave birth to 13 children, among them rabbis and famous scholars. One of the descendants was R' Yona Mordechai, who served as the Rabbi of Płock in the early years of the 20th century. He was among the founders of the Hebrew Gymnasium of Płock in 1917. My roots are deeply implanted in this town as I am linked to many Płockers Jewish families as Walfisz, Lisser, Gawron, Cinamon, Kowaldo and others who spread all over Poland. Only from the Zlotnik family, more than 200 descendants young and old, men women, and the little children were murdered by the German Nazis, Everybody was killed with the most brutal and horrifying methods, only because they were born Jewish. Shouldnt they be remembered and their life and death be recorded? They have no cemetery. Their ashes are spread all over Poland, in the rivers and in the forests, in the mass graves and in the green lawns So in this small site here in Płock, they are  remembered. An as the old Jewish scholar, Baal Shem Tov founder of the Hassidism said: Remembrance is the Secret of Redemption

 

Also the Jewish culture and heritage was destroyed, the cemeteries, schools, libraries

There remains the grand magnificent synagogue, which was filled with boats and served as a warehouse. In the early 1950s this remnant was also destroyed by the Polish Authorities, claiming it was a "dangerous" building As I cannot go back in time I cannot verify if this was true or not, but this is what survivors told me.

 

There remained somehow also the Beth Midrash, House of Learning, one of many in town which served the community as a place of learning the "Torah", "Talmud",  "Shulchan Aruch", it served also for prayers and inner contemplation about faith and life... The place was legally owned by the Union of Jewish Communities in Poland which did what they should never have done and sold it to the Polish Authorities of Płock. The municipality and some wonderful organizations of the people of Płock, after many years of public struggle, managed to restore it and make it a Museum of the Płock Jewry History and Memory.

 

15 years ago I started to explore my family past. Both my parents were born in Gąbin and managed to get to Palestine in July 1939 where they founded Kibbutz Evron in the north of Israel. As my research deepened, I learned how linked was my family to Płock. So I initiated a memorial web site in the Internet: P.R.I. Płock Remembrance Initiative. I did it with some survivors of the Holocaust, Helena Witkowski, Liber Taub, Yeszayahu Livni, Yochewet Braun, Dr. Zofia Pakula and many others. Unfortunately, the message about the restoration of Beth Midrash Synagogue as a Jewish museum, was too late for them nearly all deceased and it was also too late for  many many other Jewish Płockers and mainly I refer to more than 10,000 human souls, residents of this town, who were murdered and even their memory fades away by the course of time.

 

This modest museum inside the last synagogue in all the Mazowsze area, serves as a torch of reconciliation between Jews and Poles in Płock and in whoe Poland. I appreciate and thank you from the bottom of my heart for your great efforts. This is indeed the new Poland which is part of the enlightened Europe and the West and recognizes the memory of the Jews as integral part of its history and preserves the memory of that common history, so brutally erased off the earth 70 years ago.

 

I would like to recommend and thank Mr. Michael Levi, who is deeply connected with Israel, and is a Levite himself, a descendant of the Maimonides (Rambam) and has no personal connections or roots in Płock nor in Poland.  Mr Levi  has helped to restore this synagogue and restore other Jewish sites, supporting Jewish life and culture  in Poland,  keeping the Jewish memory and restoring Jewish heritage. And thank you  Gosia Zglinska for your courage in exposing the story at the time and thank you Mr. Jan Przedpełski, a citizen of Płock, for your continuous dedication to preserve the Jewish memory of your town.

 

I thank you, the mayor of Płock, I thank the Płock Synagogue Society and I thank  the people of Płock who bought back the site from the Authorities, and with the financial support of of the EU, initiated and completed the restoration of the synagogue, so that the memory of my family and my community will be preserved, in my generation and the following generations to come.

 

Toda Płock Shalom Płock

 

 

Dedication Ceremony 15.3.2013
 

15.03.2013: in the dedication ceremony of the restored Beth Midrash as a Jewish Museum: Michael Levi (to the left) and Jakob Guterman, a painter and a writer, born in Płock 1935

   

Jakob Guterman, born in Płock 1935, a painter, an illustrator and a writer. He illustrated the Yizkor Book of Płock

   

 

 

LINKS

 

"Kol Polin" Broadcasting fro Poland in Hebrew

 

Muzeum Żydów Mazowieckich już otwarte! (gazeta.pl)

 


Dedication Ceremony 15.3.2013

 

 

2004...

 

Plock Is Selling Its Synagogue

 

By Gosia Zglinska

 


The last/lost Beth Midrash (Synagogue and House of Learning) in
Plock and all the Mazowsza region

 

The Municipal Council of Plock has decided to auction off its historic synagogue, one of the oldest in Mazowsze. This decision means rejecting a former plan to host an art gallery and a small museum of Plocks Jews in the building, which was bought a few years ago from the Union of Jewish Communities in Poland.

 

The synagogue was erected in 1822. In 1950 the buiding was taken over by the state and in 1997 ownership of the property was granted to the Union of Jewish Communities in Poland, which a year later relinquished its rights to the building in return for 224,000 zloties. The sale agreement stated that the synagogue was not to be used as a church, nor turned into a bath, tannery or public convenience. Further conditions prohibited using the building for purposes of indecent entertainment, especially any involving nudity, sex or dance.

 

The former Municipal Council decided to hand over the synagogue to the Municipal Art Gallery, however the present Mayor of Plock, Miroslaw Milewski of PiS, rejected this project. In his view, Plock cannot afford to invest in a new gallery : We do not want the synagogue to remain vacant, hence the idea to sell it Deputy Mayor, Tomasz Kulczynski, told journalists. The Municipal Gallery will be housed elsewhere.

 

On Tuesday 27th January the Municipal Council of Plock voted in favour of auctioning the synagogue. The opposition lost by only one vote. One of its representatives, Wojciech Hetkowski, said that the synagogue should remain public property in order to prove that the inhabitants of Plock are not anti-Semites.

 

 

My Appeal

 

The Mayor of Plock,

Mr. Miroslaw Milewski,

Plock

POLAND Tel Aviv, 10 February 2004

 

 

Dear Mr Milewski,

 

Re.: Sale of the Plock Synagogue

 

I am writing to you on behalf of the Israeli and American branches of the Plock Landsmanschaft and of all those former Jewish inhabitants of Plock who now live scattered all over the world. We are the remnants of one of Poland's ancient Jewish Communities, 10,000 innocent souls, who were brutally murdered by the Germans in WWII.

 

We have heard the news that the old synagogue in Plock is about to be sold and we are most concerned at its possible fate.

 

As you are no doubt aware, very little of Plock's Jewish past survived the war and since then much of even that has been irretrievably lost. In the 1950's the Great Synagogue was demolished, as was the memorial monument of Eng. Benjamin Perlemuter. The tombstones from the Jewish cemetery have simply vanished into thin air and much else has been lost forever.

 

In view of this, it is all the more important that what remains should not only be looked after and protected, but wherever possible put to good use.

 

Poland is now entering a new era - one, we hope, in which Poles will at long last have free access to their unique history and traditions. Poland's past is inextricably entwined with that of its Jewish population and it would be a distortion of Polish history and culture to allow all trace of the Jewish presence on Polish territory to be forever effaced.

 

We understand that there were initially plans to convert the synagogue into a Jewish Museum. We consider this an excellent idea that would not only gladden the hearts of Jews throughout the world, but also provide Plock with an institution that would attract visitors from every country in Europe and beyond. Not only would this be of great economic benfit to Plock, it would also represent an important educational facility for the new generation of Polish youth which, we understand, is beginning to display a keen interest in the important contribution that Polish Jews have made to Polish history and culture throughout the centuries.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Ada Holtzman

www.zchor.org

ada001 "at" netvision.net.il

ada "at" zchor.org

10/5 Korazim St.

Newe Sharet Tel Aviv 69185

ISRAEL

 

 

The Reply

By Mr. Tomasz Kolczynski, Vice Mayor of Plock "City of Opportunity"...

March 8th, 2004 (Received 23 April 2004)

 

Click to enlarge

 

Page 1

Page 2

Appendix page 1

Appendix page 2

 

 

 

Jan Przedpełski: the Plock Synagogue...

 

List w sprawie płockiej bożnicy by Jan Przedpełski  29.2.2004

 

Jan Przedpełski 29-02-2004, ostatnia aktualizacja 29-02-2004 15:36

Kto ponosi odpowiedzialność za tragiczny los płockiej bożnicy? Czytałem wypowiedzi pana Zygmunta Szamela i pani Ady Holtzman w sprawie płockiej bożnicy opublikowane w "Gazecie Wyborczej Mazowsze". Całkowicie zgadzam się z tym, co piszą autorzy. 

 

Jak wiadomo od 1992 r. budynek bożnicy płockiej jest nieużytkowany. Obiekt ten niszczeje i obecnie znajduje się w stanie godnym pożałowania. Jak tak dalej będzie, to zabytkowy ten budynek podzieli los rozebranej w 1951 r. starej, wielkiej synagogi.

W latach 1992-1997 władze miasta Płocka nie uczyniły nic, aby uratować zabytkowy obiekt od całkowitej ruiny.

Na podstawie ustawy z dnia 20 lutego 1997 r. o stosunku państwa do gmin wyznaniowych żydowskich w RP bożnica płocka została przekazana na własność Zarządowi Głównemu Związku Gmin Wyznaniowych Żydowskich w RP. Władze Związku Gmin Wyznaniowych Żydowskich po przejęciu na własność bożnicy odsprzedały ten obiekt władzom miejskim w Płocku.

Władze Związku Gmin Wyznaniowych Żydowskich doskonale sobie zdawały sprawę z tego, że sprzedają dawny dom modlitwy dla Żydów. Pieniądze zainkasowali za bożnicę i dalsze losy dawnego domu modlitwy już nikogo nie interesują. Jestem przekonany, że Związkiem Gmin Wyznaniowych Żydowskich kierują ludzie religijni.

Pragną zwrócić uwagę, że w wielu miastach polskich jak np. Oświęcimiu, Tykocinie, Poznaniu, Wrocławiu etc. etc., pięknie odrestaurowano dawne bożnice, przeznaczając je na domy modlitwy lub obiekty muzealne.

Wiem jaka będzie odpowiedź władz gminy żydowskiej i Urzędu m. Płocka na to, co piszę. Odpowiedź będzie taka: w Płocku nie ma już Żydów i brakuje pieniędzy na remont zabytków. To prawda, że w Płocku nie ma Żydów, ale każdego roku przyjeżdżają tu Żydzi płoccy z różnych krajów. O tym, że w Polsce na wszystko brak pieniędzy to "stara piosenka", którą słyszę od wielu lat.
Po dokonaniu remontu budynek powinien być przeznaczony na pomieszczenie muzealne jak np. galeria obrazów, w której powinno znaleźć się miejsce na judaiki. W przyszłości na murze bożnicy można umieścić tablicę pamiątkową.

Decyzja radnych miejskich w Płocku o sprzedaży dawnej bożnicy prywatnemu użytkownikowi została wydana pospiesznie i jest niewłaściwa.

Jako rodowity płocczanin, historyk Żydów, stanowczo apeluję do radnych o cofnięcie tej szkodliwej i złej decyzji.

 

 

Jan Przedpełski 29-02-2004,

 

The Plock Synagogue

Translated by Edyta Gawron

 

Who is responsible for the tragic lot of Plock synagogue? I have read the letters of Zygmunt Szamel and Ada Holtzman regarding the Plock synagogue, published in "Gazeta Wyborcza Mazowsze". I absolutely agree with what the authors have written. 

 

As its well known the building of Plock synagogue hasnt been used since 1992. It has decayed and now its in lamentable state. If its going to be like that - this historical building will share the lot of the old, great synagogue, which was demolished in 1951.

 

In the years 1992-1997 the local government of the city of Płock has done nothing to save the historical building and prevent it from total ruin.

 

According to the law of the February 20th 1997 considering the relation between the State and the Jewish religious congregations in Poland the synagogue of Plock was handed down to the Authorities of Union of Jewish Religious Congregations in Poland. The Authorities of Union of Jewish Religious Congregations, right after receiving the property, sold the building to the local government of Plock

 

The Authorities of Union of Jewish Religious Congregations have surely realized that they were selling the old Jewish prayers house. The money for the synagogue was collected and nobody is interested in the future of that prayers house. I am sure, that the people who lead the Union of Jewish Religious Congregations are religious ones.

 

I would like to draw the attention to the fact, that in many Polish cities, like for example Oswiecim, Tykocin, Poznan, Wroclaw etc.; old synagogues have been beautifully renovated and assigned for the prayers houses or museums.

 

I already know the answer of the Jewish Community and City of Plocks authorities for what I have written. The answer will be like this: There are no Jews in Plock any more and there is not enough money for the monuments renovation... Its true that, there arent any Jews in Plock, but every year the Plock Jews from all around the world come there. I have heard for many years the same "old song", that there is no money for anything in Poland. After the renovation the building should be assigned for the museum, for example art gallery, where the Judaica will be shown too. In the future the commemorating room could be founded inside the synagogues walls.

 

The decision of the local Council members in Plock of selling the former synagogues building to the private user was made in a hurry and its the wrong one.

 

As the native Plock inhabitant, the historian of the Jews of Plock, I appeal to the local Council members to countermand that harmful and bad decision.

 

 

 

Links:

 

The Letter in Plock Gazeta.pl

 

The Letter in the Forum (English)

 

Płocka synagoga

 

Co dalej z synagogą? - komentarz Konstantego Geberta (Midrasz )

 

Forum

 

Poland's Jewish Heritage Under Attack

 

We Remember Jewish Inowlodz

 

?

 

Have You Killed and Also Taken Possession (English)

 

Heritage

 

 

 

A Vote on the Internet
17.2.2004
 
Could you please all (and whoever you can quickly recruit for the CAUSE) vote in favour of the Museum
- scroll down the page (link below) and select the first button (next to "muzeum Żydów mazowieckich")- then click 
on the box that says: glosuj
 
http://miasta.gazeta.pl/plock/8,35683,1876896.html

 

 

What Will Remain from the Remains...???

 

The grand synagogue of Płock before its destruction in the 1950s. Source: Liber Taub

 

 

Płock Beth Midrash - the Spirit & Tradition

 

The Small Beth Midrash

By Israel Zilberberg

Yiddish

From the Yizkor Book: PLOTZK (PLOCK) A HISTORY OF AN ANCIENT JEWISH COMMUNITY IN POLAND, Eliyahu Eisenberg, Tel Aviv 1967

Pages 258-259

 

 

Back to P.R.I.

 

First posted in February 2004

Last updated April 1st,  2013