The Pearl of Hassidic Architecture
Restored 2012 and Awaiting Your Visit!
|Jewish Community of Dabrowa Tarnowska|
|Dabrowa Tarnowska former residents, descendants and interested relatives are encouraged to register. We are a worldwide Landsmanschaft group, interested in the preservation of our Jewish culture, heritage and memory of our ancestors from Dombrowa. Click to contact Steve Perlman.|
|Synagogue Restoration and Dedication Ceremony 2012|
|Imagine the excitement of experiencing your ancestral Synagogue, not in deteriorated and derelict condition, but rather in a restored condition as close as possible to what your ancestors enjoyed.|
5 June 2012 - Dedication ceremony for the renovated Great Synagogue of Dabrowa Tarnowska, now the Centre for Meeting of Cultures (Osrodka Spotkania Kultur). The dedication was covered internationally and included many dignitaries. Following dedication, a prayer service was conducted by the Rabbis of Krakow, perhaps the first minyan in over 70 years in the sanctuary!
The Jewish Community of Dabrowa Tarnowska was represented by Steve Perlman, Debra Brand and Warren Brand, speaking at the historic event and presenting a letter of appreciation to those responsible for the preservation. The letter was signed by many members. Our apologies if we were unable to add anyone or did not recognize someone who took part in this effort.
We were also joined by Henry Jablonski from Melbourne, Australia, nephew of Shmuel Roth (Holocaust survivor, guardian of the Shtibl and last religious Jew in Dabrowa Tarnowska). The Roth family placed the Holocaust memorial in the cemetery. A documentary film about the Roth story will release in Poland during late 2012.
Readers interested in learning more about the dedication event may follow the links below to information, pictures and video. Pages are in Polish or with English translation:
Official OSK web site (Polish)
Click to view Invitation to the Dedication
|Letter of appreciation (PDF, English)
Letter of appreciation (PDF, Polish)
|Town page with pictures (Polish)
Town page with pictures (English translation)
|eKurier dedication and historic videos (Polish)
eKurier dedication and historic videos (English translation)
|"Carl's Story: The Persistence of Hope"
by Von Petersen
|The story of Carl (Kalman) Willner, Holocaust survivor from Dabrowa Tarnowska.
Published 2011 in English. Available from Amazon - Paperback or Kindle. Click here
by Jan Grabowski
|The story of the Nazi "Hunt for Jews" from 1942 to 1945. Details the intense effort by
the Nazis and the Polish Blue Police to find all hiding Jews within Dabrowa county.
Published 2011 in Polish, but will release in English late 2012! Click here
|The Dabrowa Synagogue Museum Memorial Project|
|Now imagine participating in a film project that memorializes our Jewish ancestors and tells the story of their families and life in Dombrowa.|
Prior to the dedication, we met with the Mayor, Vice Mayor and Town Council President, discussing history and Synagogue museum plans. They would like to connect with the Jewish community for a shared discussion of our history and stories. No one is in denial of the past. Perhaps most importantly, there seems to be a sincere and shared desire for the return of a Jewish presence to Dabrowa Tarnowska. A Jewish presence has not been felt in this town for a long time. The dedication of the Synagogue has sparked significant interest in the Jewish history of Dombrowa and a desire to connect with us.
The Mayor has approved our request to place an Eternal Light along the eastern wall. Perhaps some members of the Jewish community have some ideas. We should also consider a mezzuzah for the entrance to the sanctuary.
It is our responsibility to carry the torch of education. Each visitor to the Synagogue should understand its significance and the history of our Jewish families and the people who helped to build Dombrowa. The story of Dombrowa, the Synagogue, our ancestors and the destruction of the Jewish community will be told in a film project that Steve Perlman is now researching. Funding will be privately discussed. This memorial project will take time. If you have pictures or stories to share, please let us know. We are trying to develop an accurate history of the Jewish community of Dombrowa / Dabrowa Tarnowska.
|Historical Records and Indexing Project|
With the assistance of our friends and representatives in Dabrowa Tarnowska, Jola and Jurek Stelmach, we had an opportunity to meet the head schoolmaster and view many older school registers. We are rebuilding a snapshot of the community during the period from 1870 through 1938! Indexing will take time.
In 2009, Steve Perlman took pictures of all mazzevot in the Dabrowa cemetery, including those found during excavation near the river Bren and returned to the cemetery by the Polish people. Vice Mayor Minorcyk believes that more stones remain in the river. This was a large cemetery and many stones are believed missing.
Ric Cooper and Steve Perlman are working to translate the stones. We hope to work with the people of Dabrowa Tarnowska to create a map to help visitors find their ancestors. Here are a few memorial translations (updated 12 Aug 2012):
SCHMUKLER, Izrael and Sara
KRUCER, Oraz Rachela
|19 Oct 1942 memorial||
"victims of bloodthirsty German murderers"|
"died a tragic death"
LAUFER, Eliasz and wife Rosalia
LAUFER, Leon and wife ..
daughter .. and children
Laufer family memorial by
son and brother Salomon
"murdered by the Nazis during the war"|
"to their memory"
METZGER, Szlama and Kresla
eternally loving daughters
Cesia and Hania
"in memory of our beloved parents and dear brother"|
"murdered by the Nazis"
"thanks to your sacrifice, we were saved"
|Following are SURNAMES and variations found in JRI records prior to 1896 (updated 12 Aug 2012):|
Dombrowa was established in the 17th century, with a first wooden synagogue in 1697. This important Hassidic community was led by the Hassidic Rabbis of the Unger family. The largest synagogue in Malopolska was built here in 1865 (pictured above in an early postcard), the Pearl of Hassidic Archtecture.
Life in Galicia under Austrian rule was difficult for Jews. Many emigrated to the US starting in the 1870s, forming the Bnai Rappaport Anshei Dombrowa synagogue. Rappaport was a Rabinical family in Dombrowa during the late 1800s. The Anshei Dombrowa Jewish Community in NYC sent financial assistance to Jews in Dombrowa. According to a WWII survivor, Harold Brand, the Anshei Dombrowa Jewish Community built and shipped the Bima for the Dombrowa Synagogue.
By 1900, Dombrowa had a Jewish population of 2,418 (80% of total), a Baron Hirsch school (150 students) and a Yeshiva (60 students). It was also a center for the Zionist movement. When Western Galicia was assimilated into Southeast Poland in 1917, following the end of WWI, the town was renamed Dabrowa Tarnowska.
Following WWI, the Polish-Soviet war continued. Herschel Willner, Kalman Willner's father, a member of the Polish army, was awarded the highest medal of honor. Herschel saved the life of Jozef Pilsudski, who was abducted by Ukrainians sent to kill him. Pilsudski was commander of Polish forces and later became Prime Minister of Poland. It was a bright point in history for Dabrowa Tarnowska to have a Jewish war hero! Jews had seats on the town council and there was also a Jewish mayor. Damaged during WWI by the Soviets, the Synagogue was renovated in the 1930s, given a new roof and a new front with two towers. When Pilsudski died in 1935, the Polish Jews lost a good friend who had denounced anti-semitism.
When Nazi occupation began September 1939, the Nazis took immediate control of the Synagogue, using it as a warehouse and stable. They gathered the town leaders ("intelligensia"), killing them in the Rynek (town square) while residents were forced to watch. The Nazi reign of terror had begun. A Judenrat (Jewish Council) was formed to represent Jews and help them find work. A ghetto was formed across from the cemetery. Many Jews were murdered in mass executions at the cemetery, including members of the Judenrat when the Nazis liquidated the ghetto in 1942. Some Jews were sent to Tarnow ghetto and most probably deported to Belzec and destroyed.
During the Nazi reign of terror, no one could be trusted. Many Polish lives were also lost, some by resisting and others for helping or hiding Jews. There is a monument in nearby Szarwark to a Polish family killed because they helped hide Jews. Despite the intense efforts of the Nazis and Polish Blue Police to find all Jews and the always present death penalty for helping Jews, survivor Carl Willner advises that 38 Jews survived, hidden by Dabrowa Tarnowska residents.
The Nazi officer in charge ("The Terror of Powisle Dabrowa") was killed by the Polish resistance effort during a raid at a farm outside the town, in a manner designed to appear like Nazi soldier error.
Poland fought for independence against two brutal enemies, the Nazis and the Soviets. Both agreed to occupy Poland at the beginning of WWII. The Western front was assimilated into Germany, as the land was given to German farmers and many Poles were forcibly relocated to the General Government. In the Eastern front, many Poles were deported to Siberia. The Polish government-in-exile and resistance forces were active throughout the war. Secrecy was critical. Many resistance fighters were killed. The Warsaw Uprising and destruction of Warsaw by the Nazis in 1944 weakened the resistance considerably. When WWII ended and the Nazis scattered, the Soviet army claimed Poland and arrested many resistance leaders. Poland was under Communist rule until Polish independence in 1989.
One survivor, Samuel Roth, returned to Dabrowa, reclaiming the family home on ulica Daszynskiego. The Roth family maintained a Shtibl (Jewish prayer and reading room) in their home. This is the last Shtibl in Western Galicia, housing an important collection of religious books and artifacts dating to the 18th and 19th centuries. Samuel Roth is gone, but the Shtibl remains, now a museum.
An attempt at renovation of the magnificent Dabrowa Boznica Synagoga was started in the 1970s, but was blocked by the Communists. Long abandoned and deteriorating, the Synagogue was renovated with EU, national, regional and local funding. Designed with beautiful Italian-painted frescos (panoramie) that have survived since 1865, it was dedicated in 2012 as a new cultural center.
Dabrowa Tarnowska is approximately 10 miles north of Tarnow, Poland (not to be confused with other towns named Dabrowa!)
Population (after the Holocaust): 4520
History of the Jewish Community of Dabrowa
The Roth Family Shtibl History and Museum
The Roth Family Shtibl is located at ul. Daszynskiego 8
The Dombrowa Boznica Synagogue and Restoration Project
The Synagogue is located at ul. Berka Joselewicza 4
The Jewish Cemetery of Dabrowa Tarnowska
Pictures and Descendant Visits
Photo of Izak Perlman (1920s) © Steven D Perlman.
Other Dabrowa Tarnowska Links
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Updated August 2012
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