Posted Ian Shulman
“Русини, Поляки, Жиди, Німці, Австрійці, Мадяри, Вірмени, Цигани, Греки і Татари впродовж століть спільно творили Галичину — світ, в якому не було зла. Лише у нашій відповідальности зробити так, аби галицьке юнацтво замість балачок, хто ж більше любить „свою“ Неньку, цілувалося по брамах і кінах. І замість розмов, хто ж більший чудотворець — ксьондз чи рабин — ставили парафіян і кагал до відома — „я кохаю Шльому, а він — мене. І нема на то ради. Благословіть нас просто“.
Ця кнайпа — нехай і маленький, але чесний крок. Від страшного й трагічного — до світу нового. Незнаного. Ми просто віримо, що він росте у Пласті, Бріт Трумпельдорі та Бейтарі, у наших галицьких дітваках. І ми віримо, що колись Отець Небесний зглянеться над нами. Й знову ся всміхне. І наші діти будуть мудрішими, і добрішими за нас. У себе вдома. У Львові.“
“Ruthenians, Poles, Jews, Germans, Austrians, Hungarians, Armenians, Gypsies, Greeks and Tatars – all were for centuries creating Galicia together, a world with no evil. It’s our responsibility to make sure that instead of discussing who loves ‘his’ or ‘her’ Motherland more, the young people of Galicia are kissing behind each gate or door. And instead of discussing who is greater – a priest or a rabbi – they just inform the ones in churches and synagogues -‘I love Shloma, and he loves me. And there’s nothing here to discuss. Just give us your blessings’.
This place is a small, but an honest step. A step from the terrible and the tragic to the world of new. The world of unknown. We just believe, that this world is growing in Plast, Brit Trumpeldor and Beitar, in our Galician children. And we believe, that one day the Heavenly Father will look down at us and smile again. And our children will grow wiser and kinder then we are. Here at home, in Lviv.“
This is what I read on the menu’s cover sitting on the terrace of ‘Halyc’ka Zhydivska Knaipa’, which can be liberally translated as ‘Galician Jewish Pub’. It was a summer of 2011 in Lviv. Right in front of me was one of the narrow streets of Lviv’s old town called ‘Staroevreiska’, literally ‘Old Jewish street’. On my table there was a menu, all covered with the names of Jewish dishes, famous Jewish personalities of Galicia and images of rabbis and various orthodox attributes. On my left there was an empty space, seemingly left after a recently demolished building. It looked like something was still standing there a week ago and construction works were all about to start. In reality, the place didn’t change since 1939, when the Golden Rose synagogue was destroyed. However, there was one thing which I guessed – the construction of the new hotel was indeed planned there (luckily, the plan was rejected in a couple of months).
It is, unfortunately, quite obvious that together with the destruction of the Golden Rose the Jewish Lviv was destroyed forever. Couple of dozens of Jews populating Lviv today have settled there after the war. This dream of piece and harmony between Galician Ukrainians and Galician Jews is barely impossible – due to the absence of one of the parts. But what is even more frightening – the whole international Lviv, so lovely described in the pub’s introduction letter doesn’t exist anymore. Poles, Jews, Germans, Austrians, Hungarians, Armenians, Gypsies, Greeks and Tatars – all were forced to escape the city either by the Nazis, or by the Soviets. The only major international place of the city became the pub I was sitting in – a weird place where Ukrainians wear costumes of the old-times Jews, trying to copy the Jewish accent and are bargaining about the meal prices – they are not stated in the menu. It is not a Jewish restaurant – Jews visiting the city tend to avoid it, accusing it of being an antisemitic mockery. I myself would definitely recommend it – the place offers great food and drinks and quite extraordinary-designed premises. It is a part of the whole chain of restaurants, visualizing different sides of the old Lviv – ranging from Ukrainian Liberation Army shelter to the restaurant of Leopold von Masoch, the founder of sado-maso born in Lviv. Each of the places are great tourist attractions – only if the tourist is open-minded enough to play the game together with the waiters and the staff, playing shtetl Jews, Ukrainian partisans or even sado-masochists. It’s all definitely worth trying out. But Ukrainians disguised as Jews entertaining Ukrainian visitors on the ruins of the synagogue still remains one of the saddest things one can see in Lviv.
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August 6, 2012 | 12:27 pm
Posted Ian Shulman
The Jewish Vienna used to be (and probably still remains) a diverse and immense world. Even though brothers should sit together, as the song ‘shevet yachim hamyaha’ suggests, the district I tried to portrait in the article ‘Brooklyn’s only true sister’ was certainly not able to accommodate all the brothers. The richer brothers were always striving to escape the ghetto and become a part of the Austrian nobility. Viennese high society was based in the district of Döbling, located at the foot of the Wienerwald mountains and thus being even geographically higher then the rest of the city.
Döbling was a range of small villages and picturesque hills until becoming a part of the city in the 19th century. While a lower part of Döbling became quite an average Viennese residential quarter, it’s higher areas was transformed in a cottage district, filled with summer houses, villas and mansions of Austrian higher class. Actually the first summer residence in the district was built still in the 18th century for the Habsburg family. The monarchs stayed there for one night and then completely forgot about their relatively compact estate.
Being a residence of wealthy people, some of which coincidentally happened to be Jewish, Döbling was rarely regarded as a part of Viennese Jewish heritage. However, it was always deeply rooted in the city’s Jewish life and became an even more important part of it today. Starting from 2003, the former premises of the Habsburg mansion and surrounding buildings are settled by the Jewish business students of the newly founded Lauder Business School. Coincidentally, in the early 20th century the buildings served as a mental hospital, where famous Jewish psychologists Viktor Frankl used to work. Along with Frankl, dozens of famous Jewish names can be found behind the walls. Behind the gloomy walls of the working class Lower Döbling a closed Jewish cementry can be found, where Theodor Herzl used to be buried until 1948, when his body was transported and reburied in Israel. Behind the impressive fences of the cottage district mansions one finds a former residence of Austria’s legendary Jewish prime minister Bruno Kreisky or one of the houses of Russian magnate Roman Abramovich. Leon Trotsky used to reside nearby as well.
There is still so much more to be found. Many of Döbling residents have their own Jewish legends, Jewish rumors or even Jewish roots. Some of them was carefully collected by Lauder Business Schools students and published on the school’s synagogue website: www.Synagogedoebling.at/jewish-doebling. The source contains a variety of fascinating stories behind the personalities and the places of the district and is not only a surprising and informative, but also a highly entertaining reading.
August 6, 2012 | 12:09 pm
Posted Ian Shulman
Sister cities or twin cities is an extremely fascinating, but almost meaningless puzzle. Indeed, there are cities with almost sisterly relations, tightly connected through history, names, personalities and legends. But ‘sister cities’ are essentially pairs of cities, connected through partnerships, which aim to promote cultural and commercial ties between them. And even though the real, implied tie between sister cities may often look like a hidden key, most probably there is nothing there to be found except for a bunch of signed agreements between two truly random town halls.
In any case, it’s probably impossible to put each and every city into a family relation. There must be some ‘only child’ cities. For example, who can be a sister of New York City? The metropolis is too diverse to be paired with something both in official and imaginary sense. Even its districts are consisting of different neighborhoods, each resembling a different town, if not a different country. However, both NYC and its districts of NYC do have sister cities and districts. I couldn’t resist searching for a true sisterhood among these bureaucratic agreements, and I succeeded – Brooklyn, the heart of American Jewish life, appeared to be paired with Israeli Kfar Chabad and Viennese district of Leopoldstadt. In other words – with Israeli affiliate of Chabad movement and the only reborn Jewish district in Central Europe.
Other four partners of Brooklyn – Anzio in Italy, Gdynia in Poland, Besiktas in Turkey and Lambeth Borough of Greater London – are most probably merely typical partner cities. Kfar Chabad has a special kind of partnership – Brooklyn’s neighborhood Crown Heights is today’s center of the world Chabad Movement, which actually founded Kfar Chabad (literally meaning ‘Chabad Village’) and placed a copy of 770 Eastern Parkway building (the Chabad headquarters in Crown Heights) there. But in case of Leopoldstadt, the sisterhood is especially meaningful, honorary and deserved.
Mazzesinsel / Island of Matzos
Once being a suburban Jewish ghetto, Leopoldstadt has transformed into a vibrant international district and a true center of Central European Jewish life by the end of the 19th century. Being separated by the Danube from the north and by the Danube channel from the south, the area was nicknamed ‘Mazzesinsel’, which means ‘Matzo island’. Located in some 10 minutes walk from Stephansplatz, Vienna’s main square, the Jewish island together with the whole northern bank of the Danube channel was remaining a true ‘Ausland’, a foreign country for a lot of people in Vienna. The reason for this prejudice was not only a significant Jewish population of the area, but also the Nordbahnhof, the North Railway Station located there, through which thousand of emigrants from the Eastern parts of the empire were arriving to Vienna and settling in the district. Back then, the Danube was forming a natural border of both Leopoldstadt and the city of Vienna, and once you cross it, just some 80 km of rural area were dividing you from the borders with Czech Republic and Slovakia. Numerous of beautiful synagogues and yeshivas, Arnold Schöneberg, Sigmund Freud, Viktor Frankl, Arthur Schnitzler, Theodor Hertzl and Billy Wilder – it used to be the beautiful Leopoldstadt, the global Leopoldstadt, the fascinating Leopoldstadt before the 1939.
Flakturmsinsel / Island of Flakturms
Flakturms are probably the only distinctive thing the district gained after the occupation of 1939. Two gross and ugly concrete towers, which were meant to defend the city from the ally aviation, were erected during the war in the Leopoldstadt’s park Augarten, which was once used by Habsburgs for horse promenades and other outdoor leisure activities. The towers are still there today, casting shadows over a kosher shop and a yeshiva. The name ‘Island of Matzos’ is used today as well, after almost 50 years of concrete dullness.
Einwanderungsinsel / Island of Emigration
The first Jewish emigrants have returned to Leopoldstadt right after the end of World War II, having fled to Eastern Europe before the war and now fleeing back from the Communistic regime there. They were later accompanied by those who managed to escape Hungary after the Soviet tanks have entered the country in 1956 and Czechoslovakia after the same happened there in 1968. In the 1970s, Vienna has become a hub for emigrants from Soviet union, heading to Israel or Western Europe. Many of them decided to stay in the city for good. Still, the Jewish community of Vienna was remaining rather small. The situation has changed in the early 1990s, when the Jewish emigrants from the former Soviet Union, many coming from Caucasus or Asia and having Jewish Georgian or Bukhari origin, have moved to Vienna and stayed in Leopoldstadt.
Globalisierungsinsel / Island of Globalisation
Today’s Leopoldstadt is connected to other parts of the city by U1 and U2 underground lines, hosts a regional railroad hub Praterstern, a huge 200-year-old Prater park with immense outdoor facilities and the Ernst-Happel-Stadium, where the final game of UEFA 2008 took place. A bunch of synagogues, kosher restaurants, shops and cafes, a Jewish high school, sports center and nursing home are there as well. New emigrants, many of which are Jewish, keep on settling in the area. Leopoldstadt is slowly becoming a somewhat stylish, fancy and extraordinary working-class neighborhood, better then it was 30 years ago and different from what it was 100 years ago. It’s once again not unusual to hear ‘Shabbat Shalom’ while walking down the Taborstrasse, the central street of the district, on Friday night. And last but not least – the name ‘Mazzesinsel’ is in use again.
August 6, 2012 | 12:05 pm
Posted Michał Zajda
Every self-respecting football fan knows perfectly which team is the oldest one, however not everyone knows its history. Cracovia has been renowned for its openness and tolerance, especially towards the Jews who gave foundations to the club and provided many activists and football players. The history of Cracovia consists of rises and falls. As a generally academic and Jewish team, it had its greatest sports achievements before the war. After the war had ended, it was brutally marginalised by the communist authorities. Despite their persecutions, the “Stripes” was a brand still acknowledged in the whole Poland and many people identified themselves with them.
We will probably never find out who published the announcement in the most popular Krakow newspaper. Nowa Reforma [New Reform] in issue No. 132 of 13 June 1906 announced: “An academic footballers’ club (football play) is being established in Krakow. The football exercises start on Wednesday, 13th day of the current month. All persons willing to belong to the club are asked to come to Dr. Jordan Park on Wednesday at 6.00 p.m. in front of the pavilion.” The persons who must have come were the students of the Jagiellonian University, called at that time “the academics”, Franciszek Boczarski and Bernard Miller (law), Rajmund Szolz and Stanisław Wójtowicz (philosophy) as they played in the first matches, results of which were published in the Krakow press. Possibly, there were also “the students”, as the pupils of gymnasiums, especially the King Jan Sobieski Gymnasium, were called - Adolf Holoubek, Mieczysław Pollak and Józef Lustgarten.
The 1930s was a time of increasing fascism in Europe. Hitler’s order found recognition in many countries. Also in Poland the activity of national democratic environments, aimed especially at the Jews, increased.
One of the first demands was introduction of the numerus unus rule at the Polish universities, i.e. introducing a limit of Jewish students. The Jagiellonian University, introduced numerus unus in the academic year of 1937/38 to all faculties. The limit for Jews amounted to 10% of places. The authority forced also economic boycott of Jewish salesmen, and in several cities it even rose to pogroms. In such atmosphere of violence, opposing the fascist armed squads required real courage. In the football world they postulated numerus nullus, that is a total access prohibition for the Jews. Such regulation was introduced by some sport clubs. The statutes of Wisła Kraków banned non-Poles from membership. On the break of 1937 and 1938, Warta Poznań brought a request of introducing the Aryan paragraph excluding from the Polish Football Association all non-Catholic clubs, referees and players. It was supported by Wisła Kraków and AKS Chorzów. Cracovia, backed up by Pogoń Lviv and ŁKS Łódź, stood up for the right of the Jews and other ethnic minorities. The anti-Semitic regulations were not adopted due to objections of the governmental authorities. They League authorities, however, were in favour of them. The disobedient clubs were under constant pressure. Cracovia did not submit to these rules and this is where their problems with the referees came from. In the 1938 season, the referees whistled constantly against Cracovia and allowed brutal game against its players, whereas the Stripes, when being fouled with impunity and meted out justice for themselves, were disqualified immediately. The most peculiar moment of that campaign was, however, annulment of a home match won by Cracovia over Polonia, after the referee had published self-criticism in a newspaper. The match was ordered to be replayed - that was the only case in the history of the Polish football. Cracovia lost the replay and instead of third place, it came seventh.
The name played surely a crucial role. Besides, Cracovia, from its very beginnings, was an open and democratic club. The designers of the club’s badge - a flag with four white and three red longitudinal stripes - which has been used in an unchanged form since 1908, was the “international” trio: Englishman William Calder, Jew Józef Lustgarten and Pole Wacław Wojakowski. Three nationalities, three religions… Cracovia’s players featured the Englishman Calder, the Austrian Singer, the Czech Just, the Hungarian Obert, just to mention only the most important names. The champions’ team in 1921 was made of a strange conglomeration of people - beginning with an owner of a vast estate (Stefan Popiel), through a medicine student (Stanisław Cikowski), a Jagiellonian University philology graduate (Tadeusz Synowiec), a car mechanic (Bolesław Kotapka), a teacher (Józef Kałuża), a bank clerk (Leon Sperling), ending with a house painter (Edward Strycharz). Cracovia never posed racial or religious barriers.
The history and tradition of Cracovia may become a model of cosmopolitanism and openness which are characteristic for Krakow. The Poles are still fond of the club which embodies everything that was beautiful and valuable in the pre-war Poland. Many unique people sympathised and sympathise with Cracovia, among them: John Paul II, Norman Davies, Mieczysław Fogg, Walery Goetel, Jerzy Harasymowicz, Gustaw Holoubek, Nigel Kennedy, Jerzy Pilch, Józef Piłsudski and Kazimierz Wyka. The popular “Stripes”, as Cracovia is usually called, can and even should become the flagship of the reviving Jewish sport in Poland.