Dabrowa (Dombrowa) Tarnowska tour and jewish Heritage

Dombrowa Tarnowska synagogue interior with aron ha kodesh view

March of the Living is the annual event commemorating the tragic death of European Jews in Nazi Concentration camps established during WWII in occupied Poland.

Every year thousands of Jews from around the world walk from Auschwitz to Birkenau where the ceremony takes place. I greeted John, one of organizers and his guest, Mark, at the airport in Katowice.

My client was frantic at the loss of one of the banners which was meant to be carried in the very front of the March by the grandchildren of one of the survivors and participants Ed Mosberg. The banner seemed to be missing. Hoping that will be delivered by the carrier the next day to embark on our journey.

We headed straight to Dabrowa Tarnowska to sightsee the newly restored Hassidic synagogue. In the 19th c. local Jewish community erected a commanding and impressive synagogue. Right before the war Dombrowa had a whopping 80% Jewish population.

The last Jewish citizen of Dombrowa, the lawyer Marceli Wajsbard passed away in 2005. Currently the building is used as the Center for Meeting of Cultures with an impressive exhibition devoted to the Jewish citizens of Dabrowa with occasional visit of the Chassidic Jews who are on their way to Lezajsk for Jahrzeit of tzaddik Elimeleh.

As it happened, I grew up the adjacent village and as a high school student I used to admire this half-dilapidated building with its peculiar shape which appealed to my imagination.

For many years it stood neglected and abandoned giving to the unrelating procession of time with its warning signs barring anybody from entering. I always wondered why this amazing structure was left completely disused, forsaken, and forlorn. The reliefs on its façade so different from the ones I was used to see on church walls. The building had an air of secrecy and mystery and it intrigued me for years being that the legacy of the local Jewish community has never been mentioned neither at school nor strangely in church.

Only after Poland entered the European Union were the funds for restoration acquired and the building brought back to its original stature.

Both of my clients were impressed by the Dabrowa Tarnowska (Dombrowa) synagogue and from there we accepted a spontaneous invitation of my mother who still lives in this shtetl. Her excellent pierogis impressed them just as much as the synagogue.

On a way back to Krakow we intended to stop in Zbylitowska Gora near Tarnow. Before WWII Tarnow had a sizeable Jewish population of about 25 thousand. The world as they knew it came to a screeching holt on the dire day of June 11, 1944, when all the Jewish inhabitants, men, women, and children were rounded up, some murdered on the spot while others shipped off to the extermination camp in Belzec.

Even more gruesome atrocity committed by the Nazi occupant took place a couple of days later in the Buczyna forest in Zbylitowska Gora when 6 thousand women, children and elderly were shot and buried, some of them still alive. Somberly poignant, especially the mass grave of Jewish children, enclosed by a picked fence festooned with toys, ribbons and paper hearts left there by the visitors. It took us a while to regain our composure upon witnessing the horrific past… From there we made our way back to Krakow where we learned that unfortunately the lost banner had not been found but luckily, I was able to arrange the reprint just in time for the March of the Living.

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