The Poznań Synagogue Project has organized a competion for young people to submit their proposals for the future of the "Neue Synagoge" in Poznań.
The former Neue Synagoge Posen - now a municipal swimming pool in Poznań, Poland - presents an especially difficult case for patrimony preservation. The building presents numerous problems requiring careful thought and imaginative solutions. The large synagogue (1200+ seats) opened in 1907, when the city was still part of Germany. The congregation of Modern Orthodox and consisted almost entirely of German speaking Jews. Following WWI, and with the advent of the Wielkopolska Uprising in 1918, the German Jewish community left Poznań. It was only partially replaced by Polish Jews from Central and Eastern Poland.
In 1939 the synogogue was closed by the Nazis, and the Jews remaining in Poznań (at that point mostly Polish traditional Orthodox Jews) were involuntarily transported to Eastern Poland. Poznan soon became an important Nazi administrative city, with a powerful Gauleiter (Arthur Greiser) and substantial SS and Gestapo headquarters. Surprisingly, the synagogue was not destroyed. Instead it was converted to the use it still has: it because an indoor swimming pool and sports center.
During the communist era it remained a swimming center, which came to be used as the main place for teaching the children of Poznań's schools to swim. Now, everyone agrees, it is time to do something about putting the building to a better use, but no one seems to be able to agree on what, on who should make the decisions, or on how the decisions should be made. Poland's experience of democracy is still incomplete; it's understanding of transparency and accountability even more so. The synagogue already appears to be at the center of manipulations motivated by greed, envy, and vengeance. Poznań Synagogue Project, an NGO ("public benefit corporation") based in California, has decided to ask young people in the affected countries to contribute their best and most imaginative ideas. There will be four separate competitions in the following languages: Polish, German, Hebrew, and English. They will run in series, not simultaneously. The Polish language competition began on 15 January. The German language competition will begin later in the year, probably shortly after German schools let out for summer break. Separate sets of prizes will be awarded to participants in each language.
To learn more, please visit the Poznań Synagogue Project website at: http://www.pozsynpro.org
Contact addressAndrew Hingston (English and French only)
Mail: ahingston1492 [at] gmail [dot] com, ahingston [at] pozsynpro [dot] org, konkurs [at] pozsynpro [dot] org
Poznań Synagogue Project
ul. Garbary 71. lok 117
PL 61-753 Poznań
Poland / Polska