Morning in Kazimierz

by 5:30 AM 0 comments
When we got up in the morning, we had a beautiful breakfast and coffee. I was worried that there would be nothing dairy-free for me to eat in Poland, but I was pleasantly surprised! I had more than enough fruit, and plenty of bread as well.

We had a long day ahead of us, because we wanted to squeeze in a day and a half's worth of sightseeing into one day, thanks to the unfortunate incident with the crazy alcoholic on our first flight. 

We boarded the bus and immediately headed from the old city to Kazmierz. The architecture of the Old City was mostly Renaissance style, whereas Kazimierz was built in the 14th Century, so the feeling is very different. Not to be too much of a Pollyanna, but the benefit of Poland being occuppied by so many different countries that were basically uninterested in it's welfare was that the majority of the original architecture remains today. Berlin was torn apart and rebuilt with Nazi architecture and Social Realist artwork, which is still an eyesore today. There were plans by the Germans to do the same to Poland, but fortunately those plans never came into being. 

     Map of the city.

Nazi plans displayed in the Schindler Museum for re-creating Krakow in the style of the Third Reich.

Our first stop in Krakow was the Ghetto Square Memorial, where the liquidation of the ghetto took place. In 1943, 2000 Jews were shot, 2000 were sent to Plaszow, and 3000 were sent to Auschwitz. This event is marked by a series of tall iron chairs in the center of the square, and smaller chairs around the square used by people who are waiting for a nearby train or bus. The architects wrote that incorporating functional chairs reminds visitors to the memorial that anyone can be a victim. 

I guess that for most of us life goes on unabated, particularly for that guy who is roller-blading while walking his dog. Still, I like how history is marked in a public place, instead of being cordoned off behind the walls of a museum.

Next, we went to the Jewish Quarter, including the Remuh Synagogue. It's named after Rabbi Moses Isserles, who worked to make contemporary Jewish life tenable by doing things like allowing Jews to partner with gentiles so that their businesses could stay open on Shabbat. I think that it's important to remember that throughout history, Jewish people have updated our customs to allow us to assimilate to our societies without forcing us to choose to abandon the principles of the Torah in the process.

Inside the synagogue.

Wall made up of old tomstones.

Cemetery inside Synagogue gates.

And here are some shots from around the neighborhood:

We were learning so much from our tour guide and seeing so many things that it seemed impossible that we had only spent two hours in the Jewish Quarter, but my watch said that this was the reality. After seeing all of these beautiful remnants of history, it was time to look at the darker side of things in the Schindler Museum. 


Marina Gafni

Marina Gafni is a 28-year-old speech pathology student. She lives with her husband in San Jose, CA.


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