This is indeed a remnant rescued from the flames – Zachariah 3.2
Nożyk synagogue was opened in 1902, and had a rich history: many of the great cantors of the early 20th century prayed there. That is, until World War 2 when the Germans found another use for it as a fodder warehouse and stables, which preserved it in the middle of destruction. It was restored and reopened as a synagogue in 1983 and today it’s the main synagogue of Warsaw’s Jewish community.
The outside is quite grand in a dignified way, nothing like the decorative vividness of the only other synagogue I’ve visited, the Jerusalem synagogue in Prague.
But I enter through the unassuming back door, and realise the ongoing fear felt by Jews as I’m frisked and my handbag investigated.
Inside, the Aron Kadesh (the holy ark) is flanked by marble columns with decorative capitals, its dome topped by a Star of David. The bimah contains a table for reading the Torah, and is also the rostrum where the cantor conducts his prayers. On the wall is the Mizrah, an ornamental plate placed on the eastern wall to show the direction of Jerusalem (shown in the second last collage.) Upstairs is the women’s gallery to keep women separate and to avoid distractions to the undisciplined minds of men. On the stairs and leading into the women’s gallery are mosaic “carpets” and an archway is crowned with a blaze of stained glass.
Outside in a howling wind and spatters of rain, information panels outline the history of Warsaw’s Jewish community and explain aspects of Jewish belief and practice. One of them points me to as yet unvisited sites important in Warsaw’s Jewish history.