Opening of Auschwitz Jewish Center
The main exhibition presents the nearly 500 years of Jewish history, tradition, and culture in Oswiecim.
Visitors to the Center have the opportunity to connect with Oswiecim’s pre-war Jewish life through the exhibition of photographs and artifacts. The photographs of individuals and families, documents and artifacts from local Jewish organizations and businesses, and the Judaica excavated in 2004 from beneath the site of the Great Synagogue of Oswiecim, bring to life the vital Jewish town that Oswiecim once was.
The Oświęcim Synagogue, often called the Auschwitz synagogue, is the only active synagogue in the town of Oświęcim, Poland. The formal, and pre-war, name of the synagogue is the “Chevra Lomdei Mishnayot,” (English translation: Association of Those who Study Mishna.) It is now part of a museum called the Auschwitz Jewish Center.
The Oświęcim synagogue was the first building restored to the Jewish community under the Polish government’s post-Communism law governing the restitution of Jewish communal property seized by the German occupiers during World War II, and retained by the Post-war Communist government. The building was claimed by, and is now owned by, the Jewish community of nearby Bielsko-Biala.
The synagogue, which was used as a munitions depot by the Nazis and as a carpet warehouse in Communist Poland, was restored at the cost of a million dollars by the Auschwitz Jewish Center Foundation in New York. It is an active synagogue, used for prayers by groups and individuals visiting Auschwitz. The adjoining house was purchased by the foundation and turned into a compelling contemporary museum called the Auschwitz Jewish Center (Zydowskie Centrum Edukacyjne.) it depicts the life of Jews in pre-war Oświęcim.
The synagogue and Center are affiliated with the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York.