There is, however, one day of the week which brings this melting pot to a standstill. It is Saturday. In the morning, pious Orthodox Jews visit houses of prayer, take a short walk enlivened with a conversation in the Ogród Krasińskich (The Krasińskis’ Garden), then, there is a nap after dinner while benches in the Garden swarm with  young, romantic couples. In winter, when dusk arrives early, it is possible for stores to remain open for a few hours longer ...[[ref: |Warszawa. Ku upamiętnieniu dziesięciu lat samorządu stolicy w niepodległej Polsce. 1918–1928, Edit. T. Szpo­tański, K. Ilski, Z. Limanowski, A. Śliwiński, Cz. Wroczyński, Warszawa 1929, p. 118.]]

In the Introduction to her master’s thesis on the synagogue at Daniłowiczowska Street, Sara Zilbersztejn, a student of the Faculty of the Humanities at the University of Warsaw, wrote in 1934: “This dissertation is based on archival materials, since so far there have been no studies concerning precisely this subject in Warsaw”. [[ref: |Zilbersztejn S., Postępowa synagoga na Daniłowiczowskiej w Warszawie (przyczynek do historji kultury Żydów polskich XIX stulecia), a dissertation written under the academic supervision of Prof. Majer Bałaban in the Academic Year of 1933/1934. The Archives of the Jewish Historical Institute, Master Thesis, sign. 57, mps. P. 1.]]. Until recently, there have been no studies of the other Warsaw synagogues, either. It is illustrated by the review of literature below. At the same time, the number, variety and location of synagogues/houses of prayer reflected specifics of the Warsaw Jewish Community. They created the background of the community’s life for which, in their decisive majority, religion was the essence of the world.

The location of new houses of prayer in the middle of the 19th century perfectly illustrates the early stage of the process of the Jewish population moving into the areas of Grzybów, Leszno, and Muranów. With the progress of emancipation and the change in the character of piousness, this picture altered. At the end of the 19th century, “…90% of synagogues in Warsaw were located in the area where, in the 1880's, Jews accounted for no more than 60% of the entire population”.  [[ref:|Szacki J., Di geszichte fun jidn in warsze. / The History of the Jews in Warsaw, V. 1–3, YIVO, New York 1947–1953.]].

The history of the Jews in Warsaw began in the 15th and perhaps even in the 14th century. It was formally disrupted in 1527 and, for about 250 consecutive years, developed partly in secret. In the second half of the 18th century, it somehow began anew. The Jewish population in Warsaw became deeply divided. The community was developing at the time when three major currents began to emerge and gradually solidify in Judaism. They had a decisive impact on the future identities of particular groups of the followers of Judaism. The representatives of these currents included Hasidim, Misnagdim and Maskilim.

Firstly, Jews were flowing into Warsaw from various parts of the country. Secondly, Jews were coming in large numbers, and thirdly, migration accumulated in time, and all those factors made integration all the more difficult. The separation between Warsaw and Praga had never been blurred, either. In Praga, a distinct centre of Jewish religious life was created, similar to those in small towns. In Warsaw, on the left bank of the Wisła River, there was no such centre. It was created only in the second half of the 19th century by the Maskilim, and later by the so-called Assimilators, but only for their own needs. The contrasts remained very distinct despite the development of interim levels of the community between “the reactionary” and “the progressive”. At the end of the century, the full spectrum of political divisions complemented the picture. Yet another division of that population was caused by the influx of the so-called Litvaks, Jews coming from the Western provinces of the Russian Empire. The Litvaks were very different in their language, clothes, customs and habits from the Jews of the Congress Poland that marriages between them were called “mixed” marriages. They added to a partial integration of the Litvaks with the local community unless their families did not immigrate to America earlier.

The Warsaw Jews were also extremely diversified when it came to prosperity. It is well illustrated by the index of people who paid the so-called religious fee (it was an annual voluntary tax imposed on the members of the religious community above all other state and city taxes). In 1864/1865, the taxpayers, amounting to 5,005 people, were divided into fourteen categories; the first compriseded 16 people (heads of families) who paid a tax of 150 roubles, in the thirteenth and fourteenth categories – 1,063 and 1,923 people, respectively - paid 3 or 2 roubles.[[ref:| The Central Archives of Old Registers. The Central Religious Authorities of the Kingdom of Poland, sign. 1733, c. 33]. At that time, the cheapest dinner in the Warsaw Charity Association cost 15-20 kopeks; a roll – 1 kopek, and a sausage – 3 kopeks: [Kieniewicz S., Warszawa w latach 1795–1914, Warszawa 1976, pp. 244–245.]]. Assuming that an average family consisted of five members, it turns out that only about one third of the Jewish inhabitants of Warsaw paid the fee. The remaining part of the population could not afford even such seemingly small amounts of money as in the case of the lowest categories. In 1895, the ratio between those who paid the fees and the entire Warsaw Jewish population decreased to one-seventh, which is the best evidence of the growing poverty. [[ref: |Szacki J., Di geszichte fun jidn in warsze. / The History of the Jews in Warsaw, V. 3, New York 1947–1953, p. 129.]].

Neither Jews who – beginning with the middle of the 18th century started to settle down in the suburbs and Warsaw jurisdictions, and later in the city itself – nor their descendants had ever had such a common house of prayer which would be recognized by that entire diversified community. At the beginning of the 19th century, Warsaw administration authorities were interested in “synagogues being not fragmented since a large number of them, gathering Jewish people, requires a closer police supervision…” [[ref:| Central Archives of Old Records. The Government commission of the Internal Affairs, 1815–1868, sign. 5384, c. 39, 40.]]. Putting those, at least strange, arguments aside, it is worth noting that the effect of the divisions outlined above, the authorities will be, with passing of time, gradually moving away from the state of affairs they desired to achieve.

At the end of the 19th century, the fragmentation of the venues of cult began also to disturb at least a part of the “progressives”, mainly due to aesthetic reasons and additionally, probably also due to the impact of new social currents. The supporters of the progress cherished high hopes connected with the building of the synagogue at Tłomackie Street and perceived its role as was expressed in one of the sermons by Rabbi Cylkow: “The synagogue which is being built is not to be either Danielewicz or Warsaw synagogue but a joint synagogue representing the entirety of Judaism…”  [[ref: |W sprawie budowy synagogi, „Izraelita” 1876, No 7, pp. 49–50.]]. Despite these hopes and expectations, the synagogue became yet another, and perhaps even more distinct, sign of division. Its founders constituted only a small fraction of Warsaw Jewry and they had mostly nothing to do with the rest of the population: “…And that is how Jewry [sic!] has split into two separate camps – the civilised and the conservative ones, and bonds between them are becoming day by day weaker and torn apart”.  [[ref: |M., Nasz stosunek do braci zachowawczej, jakim jest i jakim być powinien, „Izraelita” 1887, No 11, p. 81.]].

Table 1. Jewish inhabitants of Warsaw

Year Entire population Jews %
1795 70,000 6,000 8.6
1805 69,000 12,000 17.4
1820 100,000 22,000 22.0
1832 123,500 31,000 25.1
1856 156,000 41,000 26.3
1864 223,000 72,000 32.3
1887 439,200 150,558 34.3
1911 797,200 301,268 37.8
1914 884,500 337,000 38.1
1931 1,171,900 333,300 28.4
1945 600,000 (?) 18,000 (?) 3.0 (?)
2003 2,200,000 (?) 2,000 0.09 (?)

Based on: Kieniewicz S., Warszawa w latach 1795–1914, Warszawa 1976, pp. 76, 255; Wróbel P., Jewish Warsaw Before the First World War, “Polin. A Journal of Polish-Jewish Studies”, vol. 3, 1988, p. 165; Mały Rocznik Statystyczny Polski, Londyn 1941; reprint Warszawa 1990, p. 17;. Zarys działalności Centralnego Komitetu Żydów w Polsce, Warszawa 1947, p. 23.

“Yesterday, the association of the local carriers of products and water, etc., having its headquarters in Mr Griitzhandler’s house at Nowowiniarska Street, was celebrating the completion of the reading of the Torah. About 15,000 (?) people, the followers of Judaism, participated in a procession moving along Nowowiniarska, Świętojerska, Nalewki, Franciszkańska, and back along Nowowiniarska Streets. The Torah was carried under the canopy, music played and several people were holding lit torches – people carried also huge lanterns, flags and various emblems set on tall platforms. Boys were whistling frightfully. Inhabitants of the streets the procession was passing through at 11 p.m. jumped out of their beds thinking a fire had broken out in the city, and even more so, because the streets were brightly lit with lanterns and torches. About 20 people were riding horses and they were dressed in strange garments. Some of them had terrifying masks on their faces. The whole scene slightly resembled a street carnival in Rome.”[[ref: |Lewek Grützhändler, owner of the house, Land Register No 1802, 10 No[wo]winiarska / 13 Franciszkańska  (in the mid-war period 18 Nowiniarska  / 15 Franciszkańska) –– cit.: Przewodnik Warszawski na rok 1870, Warszawa 1870; reprint 1987, pp. 119 and 458, one of the oldest Warsaw synagogues was located there; Pogadanki, „Izraelita”, 1873/1874, No 1, 21 December /2 January, pp. 4–5.]].

Although that event was criticised by the contemporary “progressive Israelis” it raised two reflections in me. First, (the practical one) that there were probably very few people who were sleeping in that area at that time since the crowd consisted mostly of its inhabitants. And the second reflection – as it later turned out, too pessimistic – was that we will never again witness such a celebration in Warsaw. [[ref: |„On 17 June 2005, the 129-year old Torah scroll was transferred in a procession from the Blue Skyscraper (where a synagogue at Tłomackie Street was once located) to the Nożyk Synagogue at Twarda Street. The dancing crowd surrounding the canopy under which the precious scroll was carried included over a hundred officers of the Israeli Army. The Torah has returned from the USA to Warsaw ”: Czeladko R., Radość pod baldachimem, „Gazeta Wyborcza” (Stołeczna),18–19 June 2005.]].

The presentation of the history of objects associated with the Jewish religious cult in Warsaw is extremely difficult. The literature on synagogues and houses of prayer in Warsaw is scarce and it is practically limited to a few buildings described in detail. Apart from that, it mostly operates with numbers, addresses, sometimes, the names of the streets at best. A researcher faces challenges similar to those of a detective. He/she has to build a complete picture out of fragmentary information. In this case, even the most casual reference becomes priceless and that forces the researcher to expand studies into the areas seemingly very distant from the main topic.

The earliest pieces of information were published in the so-called Taryffy, i.e., indexes of urban plots and their owners, however, they referred only to selected, single objects. We suspect that a short note published in 1839, in a Kassel weekly “Der Israelit des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts” refers to the planned construction of the “German” synagogue at Daniłowiczowska Street: „...schon ist den Bau einer neuen Synagoge eine bedeutende Summe aufge­ bracht”[[ref:|[...a significant amount of money has already been collected for the building of a new synagogue]: „Geschichte des Tages. Der Israelit des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts. Ein Wochenblatt für die Kentniss des israelitischen Lebens, besonders in reli­giös–kirchlicher Beziehung” 1839, No 1 (October), p. 5.]]. General information on synagogues and houses of prayers were published in the press, first of all in “Jutrzenka” (1861-1863), then “Izraelita” (1866-1915) and in “Kurjer Warszawski” as well as other magazines. Clippings from these publications are held in the State Archives of the Capital City of Warsaw in the Przyborowskis’ and Korotyńskis’ collections. In 1862, the author hiding under a pseudonym “Akwbp” published in “Jutrzenka” an article devoted to the “Polish” synagogue in the Nalewki District. It can be assumed that Hilary Nussbaum was the author of the article, for it was he who, in 1881, presented the history of the Jewish Community in Warsaw and the information on several major houses of prayer. In the Introduction to his book he wrote: “The Warsaw Jewish Community, the largest Jewish Community among the bigger cities of Europe, is at the same time, the youngest from a historical point of view…” [[ref: |Nussbaum H., Szkice historyczne z życia Żydów w Warszawie, Warszawa 1881; reprint 1989, pp. 1, 91–113; Akwbp [Hilary Nussbaum?], Synagoga przy ulicy Nalewki, „Jutrzenka” 1862, No 48, p. 403.]].

The internal problems of the Jewish community in Warsaw were also discussed in an excellent paper entitled The History of the Israeli Community in Warsaw (Z dziejów Gminy Starozakonnych w Warszawie). In the curriculum of the Rabbinical School which was quoted in extenso in that paper we find information on the Community’s synagogue. [[ref: |Z dziejów Gminy Starozakonnych w Warszawie w XIX stuleciu, v. 1: Szkolnictwo, Warszawa 1907; reprint 1983.]]. Sara Zilbersztejn, in the afore-mentioned Master’s thesis devoted to the synagogue at Daniłowiczowska Street, used the material from the archives of the Synagogue at Tłomackie Street which turned out to be “completely unedited and non-chronological, as well as undivided into subject matters, badly bound, often without covers containing a volume number, and the year of the establishment of particular facility which made work incredibly difficult”. [[ref:| Zilbersztejn S., Postępowa synagoga na Daniłowiczowskiej w Warszawie (przyczynek do historji kultury Żydów polskich XIX stulecia), a dissertation written under the academic supervision of Prof. Majer Bałaban in the Academic Year of 1933/1934. The Archives of the Jewish Historical Institute, Master Thesis, sign. 57, mps. P. 1.]]. The synagogue at Tłomackie Street, from the moment of calling tenders for the contest in 1872, and particularly from the beginning of its functioning in 1878, was often mentioned in the press and was the only synagogue included in tourist guides of Warsaw, was photographed and drawn, and yet, had no monograph before World War II. Its archives have been irretrievably lost.

The number of Jewish houses of prayer which existed in Warsaw at different periods of time is known from the lists published sometimes in books and sometimes in address directories. Apart from the addresses, we can also find in these books names of the people who owned those properties. Moreover, they are divided according to criteria recognisable only for the authors of the lists into synagogues and houses of prayers. In 1927, the Warsaw Jewish Community published information on its properties. Apart from synagogues, the list also included a hospital, Old People’s Homes, schools, mikvaot (ritual baths), etc. [[refr: |Gmina Wyznaniowa Żydowska w Warszawie i Jej instytucje, Warszawa 1927, p. 9, in Polish and Yiddish.]].

In 1937, a synagogue in a shtiebel was described by Ignacy Schiper in his study on cemeteries [[ref: |Schiper I., Cmentarze żydowskie w Warszawie, Warszawa 1938, p. 169.]]. This paper was commissioned by the Jewish Community which finally made an attempt to have its own history written. Tidying and then making the archives being in its possession available to researchers was also to serve that purpose. It contained about 3,000 fasciculus: “the oldest of the files held there come from 1796. Then, there are the files of the Register Office dating back to 1807 – (22 fasciculus), files of the military taxes dating back to 1810 (7 fasciculus), the cemetery, 1812 (18 f.), the Community organisation, 1817 (18 f.), exiles, 1918 (1 f.), the clergy, 1822 (3 f.), statistics, 1824 (9 f.), etc. Thus, an important centre of knowledge will be created which will undoubtedly push the Jewish historiography in Poland forward towards an excellent growth”. These words were written in 1939.[[ref:| Seidman H., Archiwum Gminy Żydowskiej w Warszawie, [in:] Almanach Gmin Żydowskich w Polsce, v. 1, Warszawa 1939, ss. 70–75 (fasciculus = file; today we would say archival item).]] The archive has been lost.

After World War II, the most important general study is a three-volume work by Jakub Szacki [[refr: |Szacki J., Di geszichte fun jidn in warsze. / The History of the Jews in Warsaw, v. 1–3, New York 1947–1953.]]. He discussed all the aspects of Jewish life in Warsaw. The houses of prayer do not occupy much place in his dissertation. Writing in Volume I about the situation of Jews in Warsaw in the 18th century, Szacki assumed the existence of common venues of prayer as something obvious and he did not even quote the sources of his information. Presenting in Volume II the revolution caused by introduction of sermons in Polish, he wrote in great detail about three synagogues: at Daniłowiczowska Street, the Nalewki District and at the Rabbinic School, since he treated them as forerunners of the progress. In Volume III, he devoted a special section to synagogues and houses of prayers. He based his thesis, above all, on articles from “Izraelita” as well as on publications from the Jewish press from the beginning of the 20th century. The latter ones referred rather to memories. Szacki gave more detailed characteristics of several houses of prayers, sometimes providing dates of their establishment, addresses, and sometimes a name of the proprietor, and sometimes a traditional name of the venue where the facility was located. First of all, he was interested in the owners and users of the houses of prayers, their adherence to particular currents of Judaism and their membership in movements and social or political organisations. He devoted much space to the reform of liturgy developed by a small group of the Warsaw Jews which was to lead to the final division of the community but which formally did not occur.[[ref: |Szacki J., Di geszichte fun jidn in warsze. / The History of the Jews in Warsaw, t. 1, New York 1947–1953, p. 123.]].

In 1955, the so-called Book of Remembrance (yizkor buch) was published in Yiddish, containing a chapter by Chana (Anna) Kubiak (1908-1959), one of the few explorers of Jewish material culture of the 1950's or perhaps even the only one, who tried to make a list of synagogues and houses of prayer preserved in Poland including Warsaw. Her notes have been kept at the Archives of the Jewish Historical Institute. It was in a way an inventory of losses providing addresses of the houses, also those in which synagogues were once located. She paid attention exclusively to the external outlook and styles of the houses, hence, one can assume that the subject of her interest were in general residential houses built in the first half of the 19th century by Warsaw Jews and destroyed in 1939-1944 (1948) [[ref:| Kubiak Ch., Idisze ałtertimłechkajt–warsze, [in:] Pinkes warsze, Buenos Aires 1955, pp. 72–73; the materials collected by her referring to the Jewish historic sites in Poland including Warsaw, inter alia, the manuscript of that article in Polish entitled “The Jewish Historic Sites in Warsaw. Houses of Prayer and Synagogues” and the register of losses of the Warsaw Jewish historic sites are held in the Archives of the Jewish Historical Institute, No 12, Unit 110: Heritage.]].

In the Hebrew language Encyklopedia diaspory, one section was devoted to cantors of several major Warsaw synagogues [1.1]. The Basic information on the Great Synagogue at Tłomackie Street is included in Henryk Kroszczor’s essays [[refr: Kroszczor H., Wielka synagoga na Tłumackiem (w setną rocznicę), [in:] Kartki z historii Żydów w Warsza­wie, Warszawa 1979, pp. 301–315.]].

In 1991, Ewa Małkowska published a monograph of that synagogue (on the basis of her Master’s thesis written in 1984 at the University of Warsaw under an academic supervision of Professor Tadeusz S. Jaroszewski). A significant quantity of information on the genesis of the Great Synagogue’s erection and its functioning can also be found in Alexander Guterman’s paper [[ref: |Małkowska E., Synagoga na Tłomackiem, Warszawa 1991; Guterman A., The Origins of the Great Syna­gogue in Warsaw on Tłomackie Street, [in:] The Jews in Warsaw. A History, edit. W. T. Bartoszewski and A. Polon­sky, Oxford 1991, pp. 181–211; idem, Kehilat warsze bejn sztej milchamot ha–olam / The Warsaw Jewish Community Between the Two World Wars, Tel–Aviv 1997.]]. In 2002, on the hundredth anniversary of the Nożyk Synagogue, Renata Piątkowska published an essay on the Synagogue provided with the academic references [[ref: |Piątkowska R., Dzieje synagogi imienia Rywki i Zalmana Nożyków w Warszawie, [in:] Pamiętanie. Zabytki ży­dowskie Warszawy, Warszawa 2001, pp. 95–124.]].

Marian Fuks in his “Calendar” for 5754 (1993-1994), apart from general study of the Warsaw houses of prayer, also dealt in more detail with the military synagogue ceremonially opened in 1938; the information in the section devoted to houses of prayers in his book Jews in Warsaw is of a secondary nature, however, this publication shows a wide cultural landscape in which they functioned [[ref: |Fuks M., Warszawskie Domy Modlitwy, „Kalendarz Żydowski –– Almanach” 5754 (1993–1994), pp. 37–42; idem, Żydzi w Warszawie. Życie codzienne, wydarzenia, ludzie, Poznań 1996, pp. 206–209.]]. Special attention should be paid to a chapter devoted to the houses of prayer in Warsaw, Łódź and Lublin in François Guesnet’s book [[ref: |Guesnet F., Polnische Juden im 19. Jahrhundert. Lebensbedingungen, Rechtsnormen und Organisation in Wandel, Köln–Weimar–Wien 1998, pp. 340–357.]]. In his monograph on that facility, Tadeusz S. Jaroszewski described a house of prayer organised in the former Lubomirski palace [[ref: |Jaroszewski T. S., Pałac Lubomirskich, Warszawa 1971, pp. 43–44.]]. A few Warsaw houses of prayer are incidentally mentioned in successive volumes of the Atlas by Jarosław Zieliński [[ref: |Zieliński J., Atlas dawnej architektury Warszawy, v. 4, Warszawa 1998, p. 198.]]. A few synagogues were mentioned in published, and so far unpublished memoirs [[ref: |Singer B., Moje Nalewki, Warszawa 1993; The State Arvhives of the Capital City of warsaw, The Collection of Manuscripts, sign. 329: Rozenrot A., Nasza kamienica Nalewki 15 [Zamenhofa/Dzika 12], Dolny Śląsk 1949; sign. 330; idem, Żydowskie dzielnice przedwojennej Warszawy, Dolny Śląsk 1949.]].

Another issue is the information on the houses of prayer from the moment of a ban on their functioning issued by Germans on 5 January 1940, and then, in the Ghetto closed on 15 November 1940. This issue was discussed first by Ruta Sakowska [[ref: |Sakowska R., Ludzie z dzielnicy zamkniętej. Żydzi w Warszawie w okresie hitlerowskiej okupacji, Warsza­wa 1993, pp. 133–138.]]. Although in the summer and autumn of 1941, the Germans allowed the opening of three most prominent synagogues, it was a misunderstanding to mark these facilities on the map of the Ghetto both in Andrzej Bołtuć’s and Anna Kowalska’s papers [[ref: |Boltuć A., Upamiętnienie miejsc walki i męczeństwa Żydów w Getcie Warszawskim, Warszawa 1982; Kowalska A., Granice getta warszawskiego, „Polska–Izrael” 1993, No 2, pp. 20–27, plan pp. 24–25.]]. In this respect, a more realistic presentation is presented in a book by Barbara Engelking and Jacek Leociak The Social Life in which the existence of several clandestine houses of prayers are mentioned.[[ref: |Engelking B., Leociak J., Getto warszawskie. Przewodnik po nieistniejącym mieście, Warszawa 2001, before p. 609.]]. How is it possible, however, to explain this, bearing in mind the functioning of 1,500 min yans described by Emanuel Ringelblum [[ref: |Ringelblum E., Kronika getta warszawskiego, Warszawa 1983, p. 150.]] and the confirmation of that fact by Chaim Aron Kapłan in his connotation that „in every house, there is a makeshift small synagogue.”[[ref: Quote from: Engelking B., Leociak J., Getto warszawskie. Przewodnik po nieistniejącym mieście, Warszawa 2001, pp. 615–616.]]?

All that has survived from the “Jewish Warsaw” until today is discussed in a guide published in 1990 by Jan Jagielski and Robert Pasieczny and in the information directory published by Jagielski in 2002 (both publication are available only in English) as well as in articles and books by Jerzy Kasprzycki [[ref: |Jagielski J., Pasieczny R., A Guide to Jewish Warsaw, Warsaw 1990; Jagielski J., Jewish Sites in Warsaw, Warsaw 2002; Kasprzycki J., Żydzi Warsza­wy, Warszawa 1988.]].

Studies which would link various kinds of data concerning history, culture and demography of old Jewish communities in Warsaw with the urban landscape throughout the entire existence of these communities refer only to two periods of time: the first and the last one; from the preceding exile of Jews from the city in 1527 for which a hypothetical reconstruction of location and partial plan of the medieval Jewish Quarter was made [[ref: |Studies in this field were summed up by B. Bloch, A Demographic Analysis of the Origins of the Jewish Set­tlement in Warsaw, [in:] Studies on Polish Jewry, Jerusalem 1987, pp. Vll–XV.]]; for the period of German occupation 1940-1943, successive limitations in the residential areas of the Jewish population from the spring of 1940 were marked as well as successive borders of the Ghetto which existed between 15 November 1940 until the autumn of 1943 [[ref Ziemian J., Gwulot geto warsza we–szinujehem [Hebr. = The Borders of the Warsaw Ghetto and their Alterations], Jerusalem 1971.]].

On the basis of this material, Peter Martyn wrote: "Throughout the many years of its recorded existence, Warsaw's Jewish community lived in a clearly–de­fined ghetto for only very brief periods; during the late Middle Ages and the Nazi occupation”. He described the area surrounded by the Nazis with a wall in 1940 as “the essence of the Jewish Warsaw”. Pointing, however, to the growing division within the Jewish community after 1862, he stated that it was the Orthodox part of the community which was responsible for creating "the city within the city” (into which he included also other settlements like those in the Praga and Powiśle Districts). Jan St. Bystroń used that concept to describe the Jewish community which emerged as a result of the authorities’ decrees after 1821 in the area of Nowowiniarska, Franciszkańska and Nalewki Streets. Martyn, while quoting him, certainly made an anachronistic interpretation suggesting that Bystroń “ doubt had in mind this unassimilating majority, which by the end of the century largely inhabited Warsaw's western and north–western districts” [[ref: Martyn P., The Undefined Town Within a Town. A History of Jewish Settlement in the Western Districts of Warsaw, Polin. A Journal of Po­lish–Jewish Studies”, v. 3, 1988, pp. 29, 36; Bystroń J. St., Warszawa, Warszawa [1949], p. 218.]]. This example shows that widespread hypothesis should be treated very cautiously.

Particular elements of the spatial aspect of the history of Jews in Warsaw were presented in various ways, especially when it concerned the end of the 18th and the first half of the 19th centuries [[ref: |Szymkiewicz S., Warszawa na przelamie XVIII i XIX w. w świetle pomiarów i spisów, Warszawa 1959; Mahler R., Coł un ceszpretung fun di jidn in warsze in XVIII–tn j. h./Rozprzestrzenienie i statystyka Żydów w Warszawie w wieku XVIII, „Landkentnisz/Krajoznawstwo” 1934, No 2, pp. 40–50, synopsis in Polish. pp. 4–7; Eisenbach A., Rozprzestrzenienie i warunki mieszkaniowe ludności żydowskiej w świetle spisu w 1815 r., „Biuletyn Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego” 1958, No 25; idem, Struktu­ra ludności żydowskiej w Warszawie w świetle spisu 1810 r., „Biuletyn Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego” 1955, No 1–2 (13–14); Warszawski S., Struk­tura społeczna i gospodarcza żydostwa warszawskiego w 1840 r., „Miesięcznik Żydowski”, v. 2, 1931, No 9.]]. A synthetic description illustrated, inter alia, with cartographic materials was included by Maria and Kazimierz Piechotka in their dissertation on Jewish Quarters and towns [[ref: |Piechotkowie M. K., Oppidum Judaeorum. Żydzi w przestrzeni miejskiej dawnej Rzeczypospolitej, War­szawa 2004, pp. 260–274.]]. Particularly detailed data on Jews living in the northern Warsaw at the end of the 18th century were provided by Daniela Kosacka although that was a marginal aspect of her study [[ref: |Kosacka D., Północna Warszawa w XVIII wieku, Warszawa 1970, p. 162.]].

In the excellent Jewrejskaja Entsikłopedija, we can find a plan of the city from about 1820 with streets marked in diversified forms in which Jews were not permitted to live “on the basis of old decrees” (i.e. probably decrees of 1806, 1809 and 1810) and in result of the decree of 1821 [1.2]. A similar schematic plan (in which all forbidden streets were depicted) is worth mentioning. It was an illustration to a chapter in Stefan Kieniewicz’s monograph of the 19th century Warsaw [[ref: |Kieniewicz S., Warszawa w latach 1795–1914, Warszawa 1976, p. 147.]]. The plans depicted, for instance, a percentage of Jewish population in current units of the administration structures of the city [[ref: |E.g. The State Archives of the Capital City of Warsaw, Walery Przyborowski’s Collection „Plan Warszawy ze wskazaniem stopnia osiadłości żydów”, v. XXXVI, p. 220; Martyn P., The Undefined Town Within a Town. A History of Jewish Settlement in the Western Districts of Warsaw, Polin. A Journal of Po­lish–Jewish Studies”, v. 3, 1988, p. 41.]]. Interesting studies concerning migrations from one district of Warsaw to another in 1922-1938 were conducted before 1988 with the use of a computer technology by Bronisław Bloch [[ref: |Bloch B., The Geostatistical Changes in the Urban Ecology of the Jewish Population in Warsaw, 1897–1939, a lecture delivered at the international conference “The History and Culture of Polish Jews”, Jerusalem, 31 January – 5 February 1988, mps.]]. All detailed plans of the city made after 1836, contained information on the synagogue in the Praga District while all those made after 1878 – on the Great Synagogue at Tłomackie Street.

Jewish settlement was reflected in the so far cited works of Kosacka, Szymiewicz, Bystroń, Kieniewicz, Zieliński as well as Eugeniusz Szwankowski, Aleksander Gieysztor and Stanisław Herbst [[ref: |Gieysztor A., Herbst S., Szwankowski E., Kształty Warszawy, „Biuletyn Historii Sztuki i Kultury” 9, 1947, No 1/2, pp. 148–210.]], devoted to various aspects of the development of Warsaw. In some dissertations, data concerning Jewish settlements, even with references to particular streets or urban complexes, can be found in the form of descriptions or tables. It is necessary to mention here books by Bystroń and Adam Szczypiorski [ref: |Bystroń J. St., Warszawa, Warszawa [1949], p. 218.; Szczypiorski A., Ćwierć wieku Warszawy 1806–1830, Wrocław–Warszawa–Kraków 1964.]] and articles: concerning the 18th century by –– Rafał Mahler and Artur Eisen­bach; concerning the 19th century by –– Eisenbach, Adam Wein and Piotr Wróbel [[ref: |Mahler R., Coł un ceszpretung fun di jidn in warsze in XVIII–tn j. h./Rozprzestrzenienie i statystyka Żydów w Warszawie w wieku XVIII, „Landkentnisz/Krajoznawstwo” 1934, No 2, pp. 40–50, a synopsis in Polish pp. 4–7; Eisenbach A., Rozprzestrzenienie i warunki mieszkaniowe ludności żydowskiej w świetle spisu w 1815 r., „Biuletyn Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego” 1958, No 25, pp. 50–86; Eisenbach A., Struktura ludności żydowskiej w Warszawie w świetle spisu 1810 r., „Biuletyn Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego” 1955, No 1–2 (13–14), pp. 73–121; Eisenbach A., Status prawny ludności żydowskiej w Warszawie w końcu XVIII i na początku XIX wieku, „Biuletyn Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego” 1961, No 3(39), pp. 3–16; Wein A., Żydzi poza rewirem żydow­skim w Warszawie (1809–1862), „Biuletyn Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego” 1962, No 5(41), pp. 45–70; Wróbel P., Jewish Warsaw Before  the First World War, „Polin. A Journal for Polish-Jewish  Stud­ies” 3, 1988, pp. 156–187. For instance, registers mentioned by Eisenbach in the above mentioned articles would be more readable had a cartographic documentation been used]; concerning the Nazi occupation – by Tatiana Berenstein and Adam Rutkowski, also some fragments of Ringelblum’s notes [[ref: |Berenstein T., Rutkowski A., Liczba ludności żydowskiej i obszar przez nią zamieszkiwany w Warszawie w latach okupacji hitlerowskiej, „Biuletyn Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego” 1958, No 26, pp. 73–114; Ringelblum E., Kronika getta warszawskiego, Warszawa 1983.]]. One has to add a rich literature concerning the history of development of Warsaw and/or its particular streets, jurisdictions, districts or suburbs. This literature includes works by Oskar Sosnowski about the development of the Warsaw street network, Teresa Zielińska about the properties of nobility, Jadwiga Roguska about the city buildings of the second half of the 19th century and Krzysztof Dumała about districts of Warsaw as well as in a synthetic collective work about the growth of Warsaw after 1918 [[ref: |Sosnowski O., Powstanie, układ i cechy charakterystyczne sieci ulicznej na obszarze Wielkiej Warszawy, Studia do Dziejów Sztuki w Polsce, v 2, Warszawa 1930, pp. 1–62; Zielińska T., Szlacheccy właściciele nieru­chomości w miastach XVIII w., Warszawa-Łódź 1987; Roguska J., Wpływ przepisów na kształtowanie zabudowy Warszawy w drugiej polowie XIX i na początku XX wieku, „Kwartalnik Architektury i Urbanistyki” 25, 1980, Nos. 3–4, pp. 275–298; Dumała K., Dzielnice Warszawy w okresie zaborów. Przestrzeń, podziały, budowle, „Kwartalnik Historii Kultury Materialnej” 37, 1989, No 1, pp. 3–86; Wielkomiejski rozwój Warszawy do 1918 r., edit. I. Pietrzak-Pawłowska, Warszawa 1973.]].

Studies in urban development and historic sites of Warsaw, as well as literature, concerning this topic have been recently discussed in-depth in the Introduction to the volume entitled The Catalogue of Historic Monuments of Art in Poland - Warsaw. The Old Town. In this literature, apart from the guide to a Jewish cemetery, we will not find items connected with the Jewish historic sites. No wonder; such dissertations were scarce before World War II and after the war, there were no historic sites. For identical reasons, the analysis of the urban development of Warsaw includes only some episodes of the History of Jews although, as was mentioned above, their settlements in the city were studied by many researchers. [[ref: |Ka­talog Zabytków Sztuki w Polsce. Miasto Warszawa, P. I: Stare Miasto, edit. J. Z. Łoziński and A. Rottermund, Warszawa 1993, pp. 1–106.]].

Paradoxically, most information on the interior equipment of the Warsaw synagogues comes from photographs taken at the time when these facilities served entirely different purposes in the Warsaw Ghetto. These photographs are held in Yad Vashem and in the Museum of the Holocaust in Washington, as well as in the collections of the Jagiellonian University and the Jewish Historical Institute. It is also worth bearing in mind a causal and undocumented, yet probable information that: “…after 1920, many Warsaw synagogues, even the small ones, enriched their possessions with items used for the purposes of the cult from Jewish communities from the Greater Poland and Upper Silesia which were liquidated in 1918-1920. All these collections were seized during the German occupation” [ref: |Podhorizer-Sandel E., Zniszczenie zabytków kultury i sztuki żydowskiej w Warszawie, „Biuletyn Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego” 1973, No 2–3 (86–87), p. 235.]].

The based-on sources indexes of synagogues and houses of prayer from 1815, 1826, 1851 and 1926 as well as published lists from 1869 and 1910, enriched with cartographic materials. helped to expand the existing knowledge of the city landscape and enabled establishing data concerning location of Jewish settlements in Warsaw, first of all, from the second half of the 18th century up to the lifting up restrictions in 1862. They also helped to formulate conclusions concerning later periods.

Probably, over 90% of the facilities mentioned in those six indexes remain known only as pure addresses. From among several hundred houses of prayers existing in Warsaw until 1943, the broader knowledge of no more than one tenth of them is accessible due to descriptions, drawings, or photographs. It is not always possible to identify the building in which once a synagogue or a house of prayer was located.

There is only one point of reference, if we know it, which definitely enables identification of  the location of any estate in Warsaw from the end of the 18th century up to our times. This identifier is the Land Register Number of the plot. The police numbers started to be used from 1868. However, the police numbering concerning some streets was changed while the estate register numbers have remained unaltered from 1784 – the later parcelling out of the land was indicated by letters supplementing the mortgage registry numbers.

A fragment of Eleonora Bergman’s book entitled „Nie masz bóżnicy powszechnej. Synagogi i domy modlitwy w Warszawie od końca XVIII do początku XXI wieku” (There is no Common Synagogue. Synagogues and Houses of Prayer in Warsaw from the End of the 18th Century up to the Beginning of the 21st Century) used with a consent of the Author and Publisher. All rights reserved including the right to use the text on other websites.

  • [1.1]  Geszuri M. G., Batej ha–kneset we–ha–chazanut [Synagogues and Cantors], [in:] Enciklopedia szel galujot. Warsza [The Encyclopaedia of the Diaspora. Warsaw], Jiruszalaim–Tel Aviv 1953, pp. 307–318.
  • [1.2] Jewrejskaja Entsikłopedija, v. 5, Sankt Petersburg b. d. [before 1913], pp. 312–313