The Polish Gentile Who Devoted Her Life to Preserving Abandoned Synagogues

Besides engaging in mass murder of Jews themselves, the Nazis often deliberately destroyed Jewish houses of worship and cemeteries. Numerous synagogues were also laid waste by the sheer devastation of World War II, and those that remained were neglected in a land with few Jews, ruled by a government that repressed Judaism. Despite all this, Maria and Maciej Piechotka spent much of their lives preserving and documenting Jewish religious architecture in their country. Maciej died in 2010 at the age of ninety, while his wife Maria died last month, just a few weeks after reaching the age of one hundred. Jewish Heritage Europe reports:

The Piechotkas were active in the World War II Polish resistance movement and took part in the 1944 Warsaw uprising [against the Nazis]. At the war’s end they began their efforts to record the architectural detail of destroyed buildings, with a special focus on wooden synagogues. The couple co-authored several books on the subject, including Wooden Synagogues, published in 1957 (with an English edition two years later), which has become the seminal work in the field.

One of the most important research resources on the history and heritage of Polish Jews, the book was updated and reprinted in the 1990s, and a new, expanded edition—in English and Polish—was published in 2016.

Maria was active well into her nineties. Among other things, she worked closely . . . on the creation of the replica of the elaborately painted ceiling of the cupola of the destroyed wooden synagogue in what was Gwozdziec, Poland. The replica is now the centerpiece installation of the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews [in Warsaw].

Read more at Jewish Heritage Europe

More about: Jewish architecture, Polish Jewry, Righteous Among the Nations, Synagogues, World W II


Israel Is Courting Saudi Arabia by Confronting Iran

Most likely, it was the Israeli Air Force that attacked eastern Syria Monday night, apparently destroying a convoy carrying Iranian weapons. Yoav Limor comments:

Israel reportedly carried out 32 attacks in Syria in 2022, and since early 2023 it has already struck 25 times in the country—at the very least. . . . The Iranian-Israeli clash stands out in the wake of the dramatic events in the region, chiefly among them is the effort to strike a normalization deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and later on with various other Muslim-Sunni states. Iran is trying to torpedo this process and has even publicly warned Saudi Arabia not to “gamble on a losing horse” because Israel’s demise is near. Riyadh is unlikely to heed that demand, for its own reasons.

Despite the thaw in relations between the kingdom and the Islamic Republic—including the exchange of ambassadors—the Saudis remain very suspicious of the Iranians. A strategic manifestation of that is that Riyadh is trying to forge a defense pact with the U.S.; a tactical manifestation took place this week when Saudi soccer players refused to play a match in Iran because of a bust of the former Revolutionary Guard commander Qassem Suleimani, [a master terrorist whose militias have wreaked havoc throughout the Middle East, including within Saudi borders].

Of course, Israel is trying to bring Saudi Arabia into its orbit and to create a strong common front against Iran. The attack in Syria is ostensibly unrelated to the normalization process and is meant to prevent the terrorists on Israel’s northern border from laying their hands on sophisticated arms, but it nevertheless serves as a clear reminder for Riyadh that it must not scale back its fight against the constant danger posed by Iran.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Saudi Arabia, Syria