Nozyk Synagogue in Warsaw

Upper floors of Nozyk Synagogue

The Nozyk Synagogue is located at number 6 Twarda Street in an area of Warsaw that was originally inside the Little Ghetto in 1940, but was later outside the Ghetto after it was made smaller, following deportations. According to my tour guide, this Synagogue is the only one in Warsaw that survived the war; it was used by the Nazis as a stable for their horses and as a storehouse for food for the horses. The desecration of Synagogues and Jewish cemeteries was a common way for the Nazis to show their hatred of the Jews. Out of thousands of Synagogues in Poland, there are only about 245 remaining. All of the unique wooden Synagogues were destroyed, although some 17th century wooden Catholic Churches remain to this day.

The Nozyk Synagogue was named for the man who founded it in 1900, Zalman ben Menasze Nozyk and his wife Rywka bat Mosze. (Some guidebooks says it was founded in 1902.) Upkeep on the Synagogue is paid for by funds provided by Zalman Nozyk in his will.

The photograph above shows the upper floor of the Synagogue and the one below shows the front door. Both of these photos were taken in October 1998. A yellow sign on the door tells visitors that there is no admittance at this door. The front door had been recently damaged by fire, set by an arsonist, when I visited it. According to my tour guide, there have been fires set at other Synagogues in Poland, and even some fires set at Catholic churches, despite the guards that are posted.

Entrance to Nozyk Synagogue after arson fire in September 1998

The Nozyk Synagogue suffered damage in the Warsaw uprising of August 1944, but was partially restored and reopened in 1945 when a few survivors returned to Warsaw. Work on restoration of the building began in 1977 and was completed in 1983. On April 19, 1983, the 50ieth anniversary of the ghetto revolt, services were held again for the first time since restoration began. The anniversary service was attended by both Jews and Catholics. Since then, services have been held here every Friday night and every Saturday for about 500 active Jews in Warsaw, according to my tour guide.

The photo below shows the interior of the Synagogue, taken from the women's gallery. Part of this gallery is shown on the right side of the picture. The Holy Ark (Aron ha Kodesh) on the east wall is shown on the left side of the picture.

Interior of Nozyk Synagogue, taken from women's gallery

On the western side of Grzybowski Place, just around the corner from the Nozyk Synagogue, is a theater built on the site of some former Jewish homes and shops which were destroyed in World War II. Before the war, Plac Grzybowski was a busy and colorful market square for Jewish merchants. Inside the theater, there is an impressive lobby and some photographs of the Jewish quarter in Warsaw, taken before the war. In the same building there were the offices of a Jewish newspaper and a Jewish travel bureau called Our Roots when I visited in 1998.

When we were there, the theater was presenting the musical "Fiddler on the Roof," the story of life in a Jewish village in the Pale of Settlement, a strip of land in what is now the Ukraine and eastern Poland, where the Russian Jews were forced to live between 1835 and 1917. Between 1881 and the start of World War I in 1914, two million Jews were expelled from the villages in the Pale by the "May Laws" passed by the Russians. The story in "Fiddler on the Roof" ends with this expulsion which started the largest mass migration of people in history; many of the Jews who left the Pale emigrated to America. Some chose to settle in Germany or Austria; before World War I, part of western Poland was included in the Austrian Empire or Germany. Half a century later, their families again became victims, this time victims of the Nazis.

The picture below shows the side of the modern theater building with a marquee sign on the entrance in front of it. Just across from it is a Catholic Church. The Nozyk Synagogue and the Church are only about a block apart. This Catholic Church faced the former Jewish market square, called Plac Grzybowski. This area was in the Little Ghetto section of the original Warsaw Ghetto.

Yiddish Theater to the left with Catholic Church in background

The Ghetto


Ghetto Uprising

Ghetto Heroes

Mila 18

Ghetto Wall

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