The building of the Central Judaic Library was built between 1928 and 1936, and designed by Zehariah Eber. The ceremonial opening of the library took place on 22 April 1936. An inaugural speech was delivered by the preacher of the Great Synagogue of Warsaw on the Tłomackie Square, Moses Schorr. The style of the building was matching the style of the Great Synagogue. The building was set sideways to the square, thus enclosing the synagogue’s courtyard. The library’s façade was decorated with pilasters in giant order. The wall facing the Tłomackie Street was decorated with panels harmonised with those of the Great Synagogue.

There were around 30,000 volumes in the library. The library organised exhibitions of manuscripts and old prints. In 1939, a particularly interesting exhibition was prepared during which copies of Bibles from around the world were presented. Among others, there were: the Bible translated by Jakub Wujek from 1621, two Bibles published in Amsterdam (one translated into Spanish from 1662, the other translated into Jewish from 1679[1.1]), the Syrian Bible (the so-called Peshitta) and the multilingual Bible published in London in 1657.

The building of the Central Judaic Library also housed the Institute for Judaic Studies with its Jewish Association of the Propagation of Fine Arts[1.2]. The association organised exhibitions of famous artists. It was particularly eager to expose paintings of the so-called Group of Seven: Henryk Rabinowicz, Izrael Tykociński, Roman Rozental, Stanisława Cetnerszwerowa, Maksymilian Feuring, Władysław Weintraub and Józef Śliwniak.

After the ghetto was created in 1940, the library building was turned into the seat of the Jewish Social Self-Help. Between 1940 and1942, numerous cultural events took place in the building. On 25 November 1940, the Symphony Orchestra gave its first concert. It was composed of prominent musicians, former members of the orchestras from the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, the Warsaw Opera and the Polish Radio, as well as artists from other cities and countries.

In 1943, the building of the Central Judaic Library was set on fire during the destruction of the Great synagogue, but its walls survived. During the post-war reconstruction, the former name of the building was removed from the elevation. Today, the building houses the Emanuel Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute.

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Footnotes

  • [1.1] probably into Hebrew – editorial note.
  • [1.2] E. Małkowska-Bieniek, Śladami warszawskich Żydów, (2008), 41-42.