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July 18, 2019

Rabbinical Council of America and Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America Express Deep Concern over Closing of Centuries-old Synagogue in Poland

July 8, 2019

The Rabbinical Council of America, the leading body of Orthodox rabbis in North America, and the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization, express their deep concern over the recent closing of the Izaak Synagogue in Krakow, Poland, which was done at the behest of the lay leadership.

The Izaak Synagogue is a historic site, dating back to the 17th century, whose very walls express both the glory that once was a Polish Jewry, as well as its devastation. Therefore, it is an important destination to teach, to mourn and to inspire.

Rabbi Michael Schudrich, the Chief Rabbi of Poland, has informed the leaders of the RCA and Orthodox Union that the reason for this closing is a financial dispute between the lay leaders of the community and Chabad, which has been a tenant for the past ten years.

We take no position on this financial dispute.  However, we strongly object to the method that has been employed to force a resolution. To close a synagogue which houses the largest assembly of Jews praying in Krakow on a daily basis, is unacceptable. This is all the more so when dealing with a synagogue in Krakow, once home to the greatest rabbinic leaders of Ashkenazic Jewry, and whose Jewish population suffered unspeakable persecution.

We call upon the Jewish leadership of Krakow to reopen the Izaak Synagogue immediately and to work with the Chief Rabbi’s office in resolving the dispute with Chabad as quickly as possible.

Chief Rabbi Schudrich has informed us that this past Shabbat, the more than 100 Jewish community members and guests who would normally be praying at the Izaak Synagogue will by praying on the street and at the Krakow Jewish Community Center (JCC).

We pray that this is the last Shabbat of its kind.

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