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/English translation of the article by Arkadiusz Radwan published originally in Polish in Dziennik Polski, 21th of May 2013 at p. A10.

Translation by Katarzyna Krzyanowska/

Arkadiusz Radwan* Krakw, 21th of May 2013

Non possumus!
Open letter to the President of the Jewish Community of Krakw on the fate of the Chewra Thilim Synagogue

Dear Mister President, From time to time local media report on vandals who disfigure walls and gates of Krakw ancient buildings with vulgar notices. In the past often the object of these stupid and harmful acts turned out to be the faade of the building located on the corner of Meiselsa (no 18) and Boe Ciao (no 13) Street. I do not know how much chance and how much premeditation had been in the choice of this particular building, however, I remember well the echo in the media and particularly the helpless words of police spokesperson the assurance that police conducts proceedings aimed at establishing identity of the owner of the building. It comes as no surprise that Internet users commenting media reports about this event voiced more condescension towards police than they voice rage towards vandals. Here at Kazimierz everyone knows that this building belongs to the Jewish Community of Krakw. Recently, however, authorities of this Community with words and hands of its President of many years have done something that in terms of thoughtlessness and harmfulness beats both vandals bad will and police ignorance. One must use these words to describe the fact that Jewish Community rented the building of former Synagogue to night-club operator. Let us shortly remind everyone the history of said facility. We refer here to Chewra Thilim (Psalm Brotherhood) prayer house attention-attracting edifice built in 1896 with parts of Neo-Romanesque and Neo-Gothic ornaments, characteristic arcade frieze and semi-circular finials of windows. Few years ago valuable polychromes have been revealed in the buildings interiors. Throughout its history the edifice served, first and foremost, sacred and educational purposes apart from prayer rooms, Talmud school was located here. After war for many years Polish National Song and Dance Ensemble Krakowiacy had its seat here. For a week now, in the same building one can drink beer, listen to strong sounds, industrial rock among others and have fun with the music of popular DJs.

And this is how one may say to a Brief discussion among three persons1 vigorously the fourth person cuts in. At graveyard grounds a barrel creaks, /Someone is shaking a basket,/ Another a drum and fife set. /Still another, his neck stretched out,/ "Cantor, your health!", is heard to shout./ The hens cackle loud, the pigs grunt, /Eggs on the altar people count. Sounds familiar ? Mister President Jakubowicz, Older Brother in faith Non possumus! As a Christian and inhabitant of Kazimierz I voice opposition to such actions and such treatment of Chewra Thilim Synagouge. Had something like that been done by ordinary Kowalski surely there would have been someone to call this antisemitism. How one is to call such action when performed by Authorities of Jewish Community? If vulgar inscriptions on the synagogues faade should not passed with impunity then how should one react to opening of the night-club in synagogue? Non possumus! First step we have launched site that voices our protest on popular social network. During the first four days over 200 people supported it. One of them Malka shared her own family history with us: in this synagogue the wedding ceremony of her parents, Dawid and Frida took place. Mister President, I am asking you, what do you have to say to Malka ? Do you, as a part of her nostalgic journey, want to take her for a beer to the synagogue? You explain to media that such a beautiful building should live and not deteriorate for everybody to see this process. I agree, but do you really cannot think of any other, more suitable signs of living that could have filled this place? Allow me to remind you then and to inform the public that proposals of making a better use of this building had been formulated and given to you use that would be of dignity, that would serve public purposes, that would be in line with history and heritage of this site. I myself can first-hand report intense talks conducted with Jewish Community by Allerhand Institute (currently officially attested as public benefit organisation) of which I am the head.. I had been one of a few people who participated in these talks talks supported by many months of conceptual work, efforts and goodwill gestures. That is the example that is personally closest to me but I am also aware of the ideas and endeavors by Beit Krakw Association. In addition, as you yourself admit - other propositions, ideas and conceptions also emerged. And surely there would be born even more good ideas if only at any time any credible signals of openness and good will had been sent by the Jewish Community of Krakw a simple invitation to file proposals, come up with ideas, discuss solutions. I am sure, each and every one of ideas obtained through such a transparent process would have been superior to setting up a discotheque there, and I am equally certain that many of conceptions for alternative use of the synagogue would find support from different corners of the world, including financial. You must be much more aware of that than I am. Your awareness as well as the role of the leader and curator of remembrance that have been entrusted to you are simultaneously your obligation. I can suggest to you at least one way of fulfilling this obligation a pattern of behaviour that if adhered to would have spared you being confronted with fierce reactions (among others by means of this letter) to your deeply disappointing decision. This pattern would be to preserve transparency. Such conduct would constitute the test of good faith and clear intentions but also of yours, as a leader, responsibility before community the community of Krakw Jews and the community of inhabitants and enthusiasts of Kazimierz district. I ask you to give a thought to the issue of how valuable and how great a potential is squandered here we talk not only about the site with historic artistic and religious value but also about the building located at the tangible crossroad of cultures. How many of similar places are left around the

The title of a book by Mikoaj Rej first published 1543 in Krakw.

world in which the street of Jewish Rabbi (Meisels) crosses the street of Christian sacrament (Corpus Christi)? At such a crossroad the beautiful edifice of former synagogue is standing, what a meaningful symbolism, what an appealing sign, what a powerful message, what a gigantic potential for spreading reconciliation between nations and cultures. It does not go in line with the role of the Leader to waste these values! What is more - the Trustee and the Custodian is simply not allowed to desecrate them. I would like to make myself clear I have no intention of attacking current tenants. they are simply doing business. There are different ways of doing business, this one maybe less praiseworthy than others. It is not my role to evaluate whether night-club organizers lacked tact or historical awareness. This is of secondary importance because this is yours President of Jewish Community of Krakw and not the tenants obligation of confidants care for cultural and historical heritage of this place. I am embarrassed that as a Christian I have to remind you of that. I dare to remind and to ask you and the same time members of all religious groups in Poland not to keep silent if someone especially if the person concerned happens to be a confidant, curator, leader or hierarch betrays the dignity of place or office entrusted to him. I call you to correct these mistakes and to amend your unacceptable decisions. I call you to disclose to the public the details of the infamous lease contract, and to explain, what efforts have the Authorities of Jewish Community of Krakw made to ensure the transparency of whole procedure, what alternative conceptions have been taken into consideration and why have they not been chosen? To turn this card over is in your hands. Fortunately, both yours and mine religion is the religion of conversion (Teshua). Shalom!

Arkadiusz Radwan*

* the author holds PhD in Law, is practicing Attorney in Krakw, and serves as President of the Allerhand Institute. The views expressed are authors own.

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