Jewish Trail

In order to know the Jewish culture of our region we need be familiar with the past. The first Jewish settlers came during the Middle Ages; with the passing of time, the Jewish population rapidly increased as a result of Polish religious toleration. In 1939, there were about 25000 Jews living in Tarnów (45% of the town’s residents). A significant part of them constituted the intellectual and cultural elite of Tanów as lawyers, physicians, musicians, teachers, and industrialists. The majority of Jews, however, were very poor and lived in crowded back-alley apartments, wooden houses, and annexes.

The city was once an important center of religious life, maintaining a few synagogues and a dozen small prayer houses known as shtibl and kloyz. There were Jewish schools, presses, cultural and social organizations, and a rich social life. Today, there are so few Jews in our region that it would be impossible even to have minjan; an assembly of 10 adult male Jews (over 13), essential to say public prayers in a synagogue.

Although the Jewish population has severely decreased since the time before WWII, their community has left a permanent and esteemed mark on the Polish culture. Cemeteries are the most numerous monuments of the Jewish presence in our region, but the synagogues, schools, baths, archives and places commemorating holocaust remain as the strongest testimonies to Jewish contribution.