Beyond the Ruins | 2013

Krakow was home to 68,482 Polish Jews in 1939.  In 2014 the exact numbers are not known.  Those that survived the liquidation of Podgórze emerged for a time, but mass migration of the remaining Jews due to Soviet expulsion in the years that followed World War II, saw the community slip to near invisibility. 

With the end of Communist rule in 1989, those with Jewish roots began to slowly emerge from the shadows, laying tentative claim to their history and heritage in an environment only gradually warming to the reminder of their presence.

Twenty-five years after the fall of Communism, behind the recently restored Tempel Synagogue in Kazimierz, another type of restoration is occurring.  The Jewish Community Centre (JCC) in Miodowa Street Krakow opened in 2008.  Beyond the synagogue, it is a place where a new community of 300 Jews and non-Jews meet and socialise together regularly, the young gleaning from the old, a new future emerging from an ancient past still passing breath beyond the ruins.

These images were taken at the JCC in Krakow following travel throughout the Czech Republic and Poland, researching through visits to museums and other sites of remembrance, recent news articles, and finally arriving at the Jewish Community Centre of Krakow.  What struck me during my research was the lack of tangible material to include in museums because, along with lives, so many belongings had been pilaged and destroyed.  Young Jews exploring their heritage in 2014 have new opportunities at the JCC to find ways of exploring and understanding their Jewish history, connecting with community elders beyond the rituals of the synagogue.  I sought in these images to represent the gradual re-emergence of Jewish culture in Poland as individuals seek to re-connect with lost generations and traditions to create a new and positive future.