Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Przemysl Temple

The following information is from the indispensable ShtetLinks Przemysl web site:

"Tempel" was a reform (progressive) synagogue, established in 1890. According to "Gazeta Przemyska", September 18, 1890, during the opening ceremony the Temple was "filled with the public and the invited guests, including the starosta, Mr. Gorecki [... and] Mayor of the City, Dr. A. Dworski, as well as several councilmen as representatives of the local community. The service started with a harmonium [type of organ] rendition of a preludium, followed by the cantor's recitation of the welcoming blessing from Psalm 118, verses 26 and 27. The introductory prayer "How beautiful are your tents" ["Ma Tovu"] was then sung by the cantor, accompanied by the choir. After a communal prayer, Dr. J. BAUMFELD, the president of the Israelite [Jewish] community, gave a speach on "A stone which the builders rejected has become the corner stone (Psalm 118, verse 22). The ceremony of lighting of the "eternal light' was conducted by the chairman of the association, Mr. L. SCHWARZTHAL, and the chairman of the building committee, Mr. Ch. WOLF, assisted by board members and functionaries, Mr. J. BAUMGARTEN and A. MANELS. The ceremony ended with the singing of Psalm 30 (Song at the Dedication of the House of David), a Torah procession, a prayer for the ruling house, homeland, and a folk hymn.

The interior of the temple, shaped as a rectangle, presents itself very well, because its ornamental style, the frescos, the balustrade of the women's gallery, the stucco work on the ceiling all come together as a harmoneous whole, pleasant for the eye. The place where the Torah is kept deserves special attention as it represents an oriental portico, artistically made in the studio of Mr. MAJERSKI. Mr. MAJERSKI has also sculpted the balustrade of the women's gallery and created the cassette style stucco ceiling. The iron balustrade surrounding the elevation before the Torah was produced by the locksmith studio of Mr. BORKOWSKI, the candlesticks by the studio of Mr. GORNIAK, the concrete plates in two colors, which cover the floor, were provided by a local factory of concrete products of Mr. JANOCH and associates."

Translated by BUY. Thanks to Lukasz Biedka for sending a copy of the original article.

Jack Fields remembers:
This temple was situated on the corner of Serbanska and Jagiellonska streets in Przemysl. 95% of the prayers in this temple were recited in the Polish language. I visited this temple a few times as a child. I found the service easy to follow. However, like in a Catholic church, there was an organ, which for those times was very unusual. The people who went to this temple were the Jewish professionals with liberal beliefs. This was the first synagogue which was burned by the Nazis. I saw it happen. When the Polish fire brigade arrived, the Nazis cut their water hoses to ensure that the building was destroyed.

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