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The document was issued by the Committee for the Construction of  New Synagogue in Freunds Druckerei in Breslau in the autumn of 1864. The bond amount is 50 Austrian guilders, and it was issued in the name of Zelig Offner. Exactly 44 years separate the date of the bond issuing and the moment when the New Synagogue was opened, which took place on the 18th of September 1908. The grand opening of the magnificent building, which is the pride of the Jews of Tarnów, was preceded by an excruciatingly long period of several decades when the walls were built slowly.

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The document was issued by the Committee for the Construction of  New Synagogue in Freunds Druckerei in Breslau in the autumn of 1864. The bond amount is 50 Austrian guilders, and it was issued in the name of Zelig Offner. Exactly 44 years separate the date of the bond issuing and the moment when the New Synagogue was opened, which took place on the 18th of September 1908. The grand opening of the magnificent building, which is the pride of the Jews of Tarnów, was preceded by an excruciatingly long period of several decades when the walls were built slowly.

Apart from the obvious financial difficulties of Tarnów's qahal, more superstitious  reasons were also given as the reason for the slow pace of construction. Some stubbornly repeated the legend that the building itself was doomed to failure, because someone had “supposedly hanged himself” on the scaffolding, others pointed to the curse that Tzadik Chaim Halbersztam from Nowy Sącz had placed on the synagogue, having learned that the commander of the Tarnów military garrison had taken part in the ceremony of laying the cornerstone.
Most probably in this case, however, the Polish saying that, “a house divided falls”, was  shown to be almost literally true, because it seems that the unfinished building of the synagogue in Tarnów, which had become more and more frightening to look at, fell victim to disputes and fights between wealthy families of Tarnów Jews. In addition, a problem of a religious nature also appeared, because the traditionally disposed majority of Tarnów’s Jews was afraid of a place of prayer in which “reformist” tendencies might emerge.
From 1863, the qahal in Tarnów undertook various attempts to raise funds for continuing construction, hence the example of a bond possessed by the Tarnów Museum. In fact, it was only in 1899 that construction was resumed and brought to completion. It was then that the city council commissioned the assessment of the property and determined it to be “an empty plot of land”. By that verdict of the court, it was resolved that the building and the ground were to be auctioned. However, a week before the date of the auction, the Tarnów municipal office received a letter in which the Jews asked for the auction to be withdrawn and announcing the establishment of a committee that undertook to complete the construction. The Jewish community commissioned the drafting of new plans for its construction from the architect Władysław Ekielski. The synagogue made available for the Jews served as a place of prayer for only 31 years. In November 1939, it was set on fire by the Germans and later blown up and dismantled. Today, no trace of the synagogue remains.



Elaborated by Janusz Kozioł (District Museum in Tarnów), © all rights reserved

 

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Bond Committee for the Construction of the New Synagogue in Tarnów

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