Lublin is one of the Polish cities where the Hebrew culture could develop freely over the centuries. Flourishing Hebrew sciences caused the city to be called the Jerusalem of the Polish Kingdom, and even the Jewish Oxford.
The stone obelisk located at the Castle Square features a plaque commemorating the layout of the old Jewish district, which was established here as early as in the 16th century. Szeroka Street, which goes across the Castle Square, was the central point of the ‘Jewish city’. Synagogues, offices, great shops, and tenement houses were located along the road. In the 18th century, the manor of the Seer of Lublin (Jacob Isaac Horowitz) was located at 28 Szeroka Street, which is commemorated by a plaque.
Beside Szeroka Street, new streets were built, such as Nadstawna Street, around which the educational life of Lublin Jews was centered. In 1941, the district was converted into a ghetto by the Nazis and subsequently destroyed after its closure in 1943.
The Neo-Gothic Castle of Lublin, from the first half of the 19th century, served as a prison where Jews and Poles were held during the Partitions, in the interwar period, and mainly during the Nazi occupation when the Gestapo imprisoned the residents of the Lublin ghetto. Jewish prisoners were later shot during mass executions at Górki Czechowskie and at the castle, together with Poles, on 22 July 1944, a few hours before the Polish and Soviet armies entered Lublin.
Between 1944-54, when the prison of the NKVD and the Secret Political Police operated here, a small group of Jews was held here among patriotic prisoners, even though people of Jewish descent often held senior posts at the Security Service.
The location of the old synagogue complex is located at Al. Tysiąclecia, below the Jewish Gate, at the bottom of the castle, was commemorated with an obelisk and metal bas-relief featuring an image of Maharszalszul – the Great Synagogue.
In the 16th-17th century, the first Lublin Yeshiva operated at the church complex located here, established by Rabbi Salomon Luria. The synagogue complex was destroyed by the Nazis during the closure of the ghetto in 1943.
The old Jewish cemetery is located at Kalinowszczyzna and Sienna Streets on a high loessial bank which was originally a medieval settlement. The gravestone of Jakub Kopelman, from 1541, is the oldest Jewish grave in Poland still found in its original location. The cemetery is the resting place of many personalities from the Jewish community: Rabbis, academics, and Jewish leaders, among others, J. I. Horowitz – the Seer of Lublin (died in 1815); his grave is ohel-shaped, i.e. a lattice metal shield covering a stone matzeva.
Burials took place here until the 19th century. Each preserved matzeva is a stonemasonry masterpiece in its own right.
The cemetery, which is an important place of a religious cult and a valuable antique structure, is available to organised groups of visitors with a tour guide, upon obtaining the appropriate approval.
The new Jewish cemetery, located at Walecznych Street, established in 1829 and damaged by the Nazis, has now been restored. It is surrounded by a wall of symbolically-damaged matzevas.
At the entrance stands a building that constitutes a memorial mausoleum with a small synagogue that houses the Lublin Jews Memory Hall. Currently, the Jewish cemetery is the burial ground for today’s very small Jewish community in the area.
Here, we can also see an obelisk commemorating the extermination of Jews, the military quarters of the Jewish soldiers serving in the Polish army between 1944-45, and an empty ohel left after the grave of Rabbi Maier Szapira, founder of the yeshiva in Lublin.
The old University of Wise Men (Chachmei Lublin Yeshiva), at the corner of Unicka and Lubartowska Streets. This large edifice, commissioned in 1930, was financed with contributions of the Jewish community from all over the world. The university referred to the great traditions of Talmudic studies which were developed in Lublin in the older days. It had an extensive, rich collection of books, including Hebrew prints from the 16th and 17th centuries. Inside, the old assembly hall is preserved, which formerly operated as a synagogue.
After the Second World War, the building belonged to the Music Academy; now it has been taken over by the Jewish community.
The old Jewish Hospital situated at 81 Lubartowska Street, currently a gynecological clinic. The clinical directors and physicians at the hospital were the greatest Jewish doctors: Beniamin Tec, Marek Arnsztajn, Jakub Cynberg, and Henryk Mandelbaum. The hospital’s modern medical equipment was plundered by the Nazis and the clinic subsequently closed. The patients and a part of its staff were murdered.
The former People’s House named after Isaac Leib Peretz from 1936, located at the junction of Czwartek and Szkolna Streets. It used to belong to the Jewish left-wing labour organisation called ‘Bund’. Currently, it houses the Lublin Branch of the National Health Fund (NFZ).
The only preserved Lublin Synagogue built before the war located on the 1st floor of the tenement house at Lubartowska 10. The building is a house of prayer and operates at the same time as the Lublin Jews Memorial Hall, the office of the Social and Cultural Society of Jews in Lublin, and the Lublin Branch of the Jewish Religious Community in Warsaw.
Chewra Nosim is the place where meetings are organised to celebrate the greatest Jewish holidays: Pesach, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Hanukkah. The Synagogue is open to visitors on Sundays between 1:00 PM and 3:00 PM.
Organised groups can visit the synagogue upon making prior arrangements with the custodian.
The Monument to the Ghetto Victims unveiled in 1962 used to stand between Lubartowska and Świętoduska Streets; at the beginning of 2007, the monument was temporarily relocated to Plac Szkolny at Niecała Street. The monument will return to its original position after the construction work on the underground car park near the Ghetto Victims Square has been completed. It is a huge, suggestive matzeva, featuring an inscription which is part of a poem by Itzhak Katzenelson:
In each handful of ash, I look for my loved ones…
The Old residence of the Central Committee of Polish Jews and Provincial Committee of Lublin Jews, situated at Rybna and Noworybna Streets in the Old Town. The committees were active between 1945-49 when attempts were made to reactivate Jewish life in an independent Poland.
However, not all Jews who survived the holocaust revealed their identities. Others were hiding outside of Lublin or had returned to the Soviet Union. The Committee established a Jewish school, published a newspaper for Jews, and collected accounts of the survivors.
In 1948, around 500 Jewish people lived in Lublin. The last wave of emigration was a result of an anti-Semitic campaign of 1968. Today, only a handful of people of Jewish origin remain in Lublin.
The old Jewish Orphanage, the so-called ‘orphan asylum’, located at Grodzka and Po Farze square in the Old Town, currently the Youth Culture Club. The building also accommodated offices of the Jewish Religious Community and a shelter hall for the Jewish elderly and disabled. On 24 March 1942, the residents of the orphanage, carers, and the elderly were executed by the German Nazis.
The Grodzka Gate, also called the Jewish Gate, was part of the curtain walls of the Old Town and a historical border between the Christian and Jewish cities and currently houses the “Grodzka Gate – NN Theatre” Centre, which commemorates, among others, the presence of Jews in Lublin. Here, a multimedia exhibition is presented showing the Jewish district before 1939. The mock-up model of the Old Town and Podzamcze is particularly insightful.