Accepted paper:

Seven synagogues. Narratives of the past and the present of the Krakow's Jews


Kaja Kajder (Jagiellonian University)

Paper short abstract:

The presentation concerns the ways in which a complex of seven Krakow synagogues, seen as a representation of the Jewish heritage of Krakow, is used to construct a narrative of the past and the present of the Jewish inhabitants of the city.

Paper long abstract:

Kazimierz - a Jewish district in which seven historic synagogues are situated - constitutes one of the biggest touristic attractions of the city. Nowadays, it is an important point on the map of the Jewish past in Poland and is perceived as not only a Jewish heritage site but European and world heritage as well. The presentation aims to take a closer look at the way the symbolic complex of synagogues operate outside of the tourist context, and how it is used to create a narrative about the past and the present of the Jewish communities in Krakow. Presently, the synagogues are a constant reminder of the Jewish inhabitants of the city murdered during the Second World War. At the same time, the synagogues remain important places for the contemporary life of the Jewish communities and the place of various initiatives connected with Jewish history and culture. Synagogues are also used by city tour guides to shape the image of the Jewish Krakow. Lately, there is a tendency to emphasise connection between the memory of Shoah and the concept of a Jewish Revival. The subject matter discussed derives from ethnographic studies of city walking tours. The purpose of this presentation is to investigate the meanings given to synagogues' spaces by the narrators and their active role in creating images of the Jewish communities. Given that the walking tours are also popular among the locals, I reflect on the ways the Jewish heritage of Krakow is tangled with the local identity.

panel D06
Religious heritage spaces: disputes and convergences