Absent Yet Present in Jewish Krakow Doron Shach
For several years now, I have been exploring Kazimierz, roaming its
streets, familiarizing myself with its paths and byways, and discovering
its history. On the many tours I have guided, the city has revealed both
hidden and unconcealed remnants of its extraordinary Jewish past,
a world that disappeared, vanishing completely by the end of WWII.
The reminders of the city’s lost Jewish world seem to reawaken
Kazimierz as it once was — its streets and courtyards, its houses of study
and houses of prayer, alongside its businesses and cultural institutions,
and its different groups of Jews who lived next to one another, each
with its own distinct spiritual and cultural character.
I felt compelled to document and share these traces that remain of
the vibrant Jewish presence in the city, for whoever might want to
experience a fragment of the historic beauty and grandeur of Kazimierz.
Visitors to the city who read this book receive a comprehensive sense of Jewish
Kazimierz experienced both visually and through their very footsteps. This live,
direct encounter with the Hebrew and Yiddish inscriptions, the streets, structures,
courtyards and entryways, allows them to feel the pulse of the Jewish life that
once beat here, to experience its rich diversity and its intensity.
The guide offers an engaging walking tour which wends its way among 62 traces
of Kazimierz’s Jewish presence, divided into five easy-to-follow sections, with a
sixth section for four sites close by in Krakow.
Doron Shach, Jerusalem, Israel
Guide and lecturer at Yad Vashem — The World Holocaust Remembrance Center.
Doron leads tours for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Israel’s Security Forces
into the rich Jewish past of the Jewish communities in Poland, and the story of
their fate during the Holocaust.