Shtetl Routes. Vestiges of Jewish cultural heritage in cross-border tourism in borderland of Poland, Belarus and Ukraine

Beta version

Shtetl Routes. Vestiges of Jewish cultural heritage in cross-border tourism in borderland of Poland, Belarus and Ukraine

Beta version

NN Theatre

In the footsteps of I. B. Singer’s stories

We invite you to embark on an intriguing trip of literary heritage of Isaac Bashevis Singer – a Nobel Prize laureate, who drew inspiration for his novels and short stories from traditions and lots of small towns lost deep amidst the woods of Roztocze and mosaic fields of Wyżyna Lubelska.

The trail will run through: Lublin - Bychawa - Turobin - Goraj - Frampol - Biłgoraj - Tarnogród - Józefów Roztoczański - Tyszowce - Komarów - Zamość - Izbica - Piaski - Lublin.

Length: 362 km
Duration:
automobile road - 2-3 days
cycle track- 5-7 days

In the footsteps of I. B. Singer’s stories

Isaac Bashevis Singer was born in 1902 in Leoncin, about 30 km West of Warsaw. His father was a Hasidic rabbi, mother, Bathsheba, the daughter of a rabbi from Biłgoraj. When young Icek was fifteen, he together with the family moved to his mother’s birthplace. Even though, the whirlpool of life brought Singer as far as another continent, it is the climate and local Biłgoraj histories that shaped the Noble laureate style and methaphorics of works.
Our route leads through nine localities, formerly inhabited by Jews. Their mundane life built of joys, love, anxieties and fears formed the groundwork of Singer’s stories.

Lublin

Panorama Lublina ze wzgórza Czwartek, część 2.

In Brama Grodzka, the heart of the old Jewish neighborhood, you can still walk into Jasha Mazur, the protagonist of one of the most celebrated novels of Isaac Bashevis Singer, the eponymous “The Magician of Lublin”, published in 1959 by the New York Forwerts. Life story of the itinerant magician not alien to life with its appeals is narrated by Witold Dąbrowski in a monodrama-performance produced by Teatr NN. We would particularly advise you to visit Brama Grodzka around April 18, when Magician’s birthday is festively celebrated there with a cake, bagels and loads of presents. You may also take part in a summer Carnival of Magicians inspired by the juggler character and experience the Holiday of circus which attracts performers from all over Europe.

Roaming around the Old Town another story from Singer’s literary heritage should be called to mind – “Menashe and Rachel”. It tells us about two blind orphans from a Jewish almshouse in Lublin. Menashe and Rachel are extremely gifted. The boy makes up beautiful and profound stories about the remote lands, and everybody, adults included listen to them intently. The children are darlings of their mates as well as the teachers. Everybody is keenly aware of children’s mutual feelings. Thus, when director of the almshouse decides to separate them, Rachel out of despair threatens to jump into the well. They promise each other to remain together against all the odds and become husband and wife when are old enough. Blind children are able to see further and deeper, as Menashe cites the words of Prophet Samuel:

“The Lord isn't looking at what the man is looking at; the man is looking at what is in front of his eyes, but the Lord is looking at the heart".

Lublin sightseeing and discovering the wealth of its multicultural traditions can take a few days. It is better to look for some non-mainstream forms of touring, such as: follow the tracks of the Hasidic story about “The Chozeh of Lublin”, saunter through Lublin backstreets in the pictures of Edward Hartwig or have a stroll along the poems of Józef Czechowicz.

In our pursuit of following Singer further, let’s move to Bychawa. A few roads lead to the town that lies 30 km to the South: Roads 834 and 836.

Bychawa

Bychawa, woj. lubelskie. Rynek.

Bychawa appears in a few stories of Singer among which are “Something is there” and “The Fast". However, it became renowned thanks to the short story "Yentl, the Yeshiva Boy" screened in 1983 by Barbara Streisand. Directing the film Barbara Streisand was as well starring in it as a young girl, who in order to have a chance to master Torah disguises herself as a man. The film won numerous awards, such as The Oscars for the Best Music and The Golden Globe Award for the Best Director. The attention-grabbing fact there is that instead of Lublin the film was shot in Prague! Moreover, some Czech town also pretended to be Bychawa.

The real Bychawa lies on Giełczewska Highland. Construction of the town started after 1537, in response to privileges granted by the king Sigismund I the Old, from the foundation of Mikołaj Pilecki, the Polish nobility family, coat of arms of Leliwa. Then, a market and main streets were marked out, various municipal quarters started filling themselves with tenement houses and manufactories. Bychawa quickly gained the status of one of the trading centers enjoying the privilege of organization of two annual fairs along with weekly ones. By the end of the 16th century Jews and Protestants constituted the majority of population. At length the city became even the center of the Calvinist movement. The development of the city was blocked by the Partitions of Poland and repressions that followed the November and January uprisings. Bychawa lost the city status and the great fire of 1877 wiped some parts of the built-up areas out.

In the mid-19th century the Jewish population constituted 70 percent of the residents. In 1810 a synagogue was built that could boast of unique polychrome and part of bimah preserved to the present days. Apart from the e.g. a Jewish cemetery built in 1809 remained intact. Jewish community in Bychawa had at its disposal ritual mikvah, a few private places of worship, Hasidic houses of prayer (sztible), a charitable society supporting the poor and a shelter. Amongst locals a dynasty of tzaddiks had many adherents. Its forefather was Nechem Jechiel Rabinowicz, the son of the renowned tzaddik Jacob Isaac, called the Saint Jew from Przysucha. In the story about Yentl we can come across Singer’s vision of Bychawa’s yeshiva: “Yeshiva there is a small one, barely contains thirty students, and the locals provide all of them with private rooms. No one is hungry; landladies darn students’ socks and do their laundry. Rabbi in Bychawa, who conducts the classes, is a genius. He is capable of asking ten questions and reply to all with one single answer” (tr. into Polish. Dorota Bogutyn, z tomu Krótki piątek, Atext, Marabut, Gdańsk 1996, s. 118).

Sauntering through the streets of Bychawa today we can still catch a glimpse of marks of multicultural history. Apart from the Jewish legacy, other valuable relics are worth seeing, such as: picturesque ruins of the Neo-Gothic palace in Bychawa-Podzamcze; 17th century Roman Catholic Church of St John the Baptist along with the parish built-up areas that for some time had been Calvinistic; historic tenement houses from the end of the 19th – beginning of the 20th centuries and the building of the Cooperative Bank built in the Art Nouveau style. It is also advisable to pay a visit to the Regional Chamber, collecting over 300 appliances and other utensils formerly used in rural households. One should absolutely take the air having a walk round the lake in Bychawa. Two National parks in the area, Podzamcze and Kacze Doły, make hiking and cycling sound even more appealing.

Our next en-route stop after Bychawa is Turobin, famous for its 16th century Roman Catholic Church of St. Dominic, built by Jan Wolff in Lublin Renaissance style. In order to get to the town use the regional road No. 834, afterwards No. 842 and No. 848.

Turobin

 Dom podcieniowy z 1739 roku z Turobina

Turobin is mentioned in several of Singer’s short stories; among them are “From The Diary Of One Not Born” and “The Wife Killer”. The latter tells about the fate of a greedy Pelte, whose malice and nasty character drive more of his wives to the grave. However, in the end, he hits on the partner worth himself, Zlateh the Bitch, the woman with a shadowy past and a peppered tongue, and gradually marries her. The end of the story sounds surprising and leaves the reader in suspense because of the Pelte’s last words: "he who laughs last laughs best".

Visiting Turobin now we should bear in mind its past, blend of many cultures. The city was built on the river Por due to the power of privileges granted by Władysław Jagiełło in 1420. From the 15th century on an Orthodox church operated there, and from the 16th century also a synagogue. In consecutive years Turobin was a strong Arian and Calvinistic center inhabited also by Uniates. At the end of the 16th century it was included into the Zamoyski Family Fee Tail (Ordynacja Zamojska). Its heyday of grandeur Turobin experienced at the beginning of the 17th century. The ruins of the old synagogue (reconstructed after the war to meet the needs of the community) still may be found in the town, as well as relic wooden chapels of St. Mark and St. Elizabeth at the old cemetery. The grave-stones from the old and new Jewish cemeteries can be found near the St. Dominick Roman Catholic Church. There are also many charming roadside chapels in Turobin and its neighborhood. In the nearby village Gródki a monument commemorating the victims of Turobin ghettos 1942 was set up.

Leaving the town behind we follow the edge between Roztocze and Giełczewska Highland to reach Goraj, the place where the events of the first story of Isaak Bashevis Singer took place.

 Goraj

Zabudowa przyrynkowa w Goraju

“Satan in Goray” tells about the times after the Chmielnicki uprising, when destroyed by Cossacks Goraj was slowly climbing from its decline. Residents returned to the town, bettered houses were being renovated, the shutters were shyly being opened and the market again started filling up with wagons and Jewish tradesmen. As last among others an old rabbi Benish Ashkenazi made his way back to Goraj. Around the town, renowned for its Talmudic scholars and religiously devout citizens, started to spread loud rumors about the messiah coming. One did penance praying ardently, others danced in the streets in joy waiting for deliverance. One day a Sephardic emissary finally appeared in the town from the group of the very Sabbatai Zevi. He started to manipulate the locals impersonating the Jewish Messiah. The town surrendered to emotions. The demented fanaticism and the faith in false prophets contributed to the actions of the evil forces. As Jews were neglecting prayers and their duties the small town again became enveloped with chaos. Goraj stepped on the path of transformation in “a lair of criminals, a place accursed by Lord and people”. Only Benish Ashkenazi did not yield to common enthusiasm. Keeping in mind words from the Book of Amos, “Therefore, he that is prudent shall keep silence in such a time”, he listened to the emissary. Yet, having read a warning letter from Jacob, the son of St. Rabbi Nachum, resorted to war with Sabbatai Zevi’s sect. Did he manage to embrace the evil in the city and save souls of the residents? - We are encouraging you to read the novel recognized by critics as Singer’s the best.

Calling at today's Goraj it is impossible not to enthuse about the picturesque location and pastoral atmosphere of the town. Unfortunately, little remained from centuries-old history: the synagogue, mikvah or the wooden build-up area of the market. Once arcaded wooden houses of Goraj belonged to the most beautiful objects of the south of Lublin region. Only one was preserved to the present days - at Janowska St. 26. Being in Goraj it is worth visiting the local Jewish cemetery, where a lapidarium is placed, and the Roman Catholic Church of St. Apostle Bartholomew, Baroque shaped and decorated in Rococo style. Goraj, smothered in lavish greenness represents also an excellent base for rest, hiking and cycle-travel.

Further on the route leads us to Frampol, situated on the crossroads of Biłgoraj and Janów Lubelski. So as to arrive at Frampol you can take advantage of the above suggested route or resort to national roads, popping on your way in Kraśnik and Janów Lubelski, also described in the works of Singer. Kraśnik, where you can admire two synagogues with preserved polychromes, was the place of the actions in such short stories as “Zeitl and Rickel” and “The Mirrow”. Janów Lubelski, for instance, can be encountered in the following stories: "Yentl, the Yeshiva Boy", “Naftali the Storyteller and His Horse, Sus”, “The Beggar Said So”, “The Brooch”, “Pope Zejdl” and “The Fire”. Those of you willing to take a day trip following in the footsteps of Singer’s stories can return to Lublin using the route passing through Kraśnik and Janów Lubelski (length of the route: Lublin – Bychawa – Turobin – Goraj – Frampol – Janów Lubelski – Kraśnik – Lublin: 193 km).

Frampol

Zabudowa Frampola

Jewish reality: "(...) synagogue, "the house of study", the poorhouse, rabbi and a few hundreds of residents". This is how Isaac Bashevis Singer describes Frampol, the town, where the events of “A Tale of Three Wishes” took place. The locality is also mentioned in the following stories: “The Little Shoemakers”, “Abba Shuster”, "Gimpel the Fool", “The Gentleman from Cracow” and “The Unseen”. By dint of Singer’s stories we can be carried away back to the old Jewish houses and workshops, getting a peep of their daily worries and joys.

“The Little Shoemakers” relates to the fates of craftsmen reaching a tough decision to immigrate to the United States of America. Despite the fact that their lives are better there, Abba, the old father of the family, feels happy only in the shoemaker's workshop, while making shoes together with his family and singing songs as it was long ago in Frampol. The Szusters’ family name occurs in the old authentic Frampol books. As for the Old shoemaker, he got deeply rooted in people’s minds due to his annual habit to make six pairs of shoes and give them to the poor.

Gimpel, the protagonist of the next story teaches us that “It’s better to be a fool to the rest of one's days than a criminal even for an hour". Whereas the gentleman from Cracow, the one promising wealth, turned up to be the devil, banished from the town for good only thanks to the prayers of rabbi Ozer. The e.g. story, “A Tale of Three Wishes”, telling about three children making a wish on Sukkot, Feast of Tabernacles, also gives a moral lesson. Strażnik Nocy explains to the children, that there is only one way to attain your dream and it is by means of efforts and aspirations. For many years the children are working very hard and only being in a great age facing the death, they confide the momentous events of Hoshana Rabbah night to Frampol residents.

Touring around Frampol it is absolutely necessary to pay attention to characteristic urban planning of the small town built according to the Renaissance concept of an Ideal city. Unfortunately, streets symmetrically spread around the square market and loosely positioned buildings became a city downside. During the World War II, Frampol, looking like a large shooting target from above was bombed by German forces as part of training maneuvers.

As a result of shelling and fires around 70 percent of the wooden bult-up areas were swept away. After the war, Frampol was rebuilt according to the former plan. Thus, today it is still possible to admire the symmetrical lay out of the roads and the unicity of Stodolna St. It runs around the entire town and is built up with rows of wooden barns. There are other places of interest for a tourist in Frampol, such as Roman Catholic Church of St John of Nepomuk and the Scapular Mother of God and the 19th century Jewish cemetery, where around 150 gravestones remained intact (the oldest ones date back to 1735 – 1736). Also, a monument commemorating the place of the execution of about 1000 Jews from Poland, Austria and the former Czechoslovakia was set up at the cemetery.

The picturesque location of a town will be just as appealing for hiking and bicycle ride, as Frampol is situated at the foot of Radzięcka mountain; forests of the Zamoyski Family Fee Tail (Ordynacja Zamojska), Janów Forests and Puszcza Solska are stretching out just a step away from the town. About 1 km away from it there is a river, Lada.

The proximity of a national road E-4 allows comfortable alterations of the route. For those, able to set aside only one day for the trip, an alternative exists – return to Lublin passing on their way Janów Lubelski and Kraśnik. The towns that possess reach Singer traditions likewise. Janów Lubelski appears in six stories of the Noble Prize Winner: in the pre-cited "Yentl, the Yeshiva Boy", “Naftali the Storyteller and His Horse, Sus”, "The Beggar Said So", "The Brooch”, “Pope Zejdl” and “The Fire”. Kraśnik serves as a background for the events of such stories as "Zeitl and Rickel" and "The Mirrow". The town enables you to marvel at its two synagogues and a nearby Jewish cemetery.

In Janów Lubelski, apart from the cultural legacy a Recreational Environmentally-oriented Complex "Zoom Natury", a lake and the picturesque Janów Forests present the greatest attraction. It suits perfectly for having a proper rest and good fun. The route from Lublin through Janów and Kraśnik altogether is around 200 km. Consult the map given below to check the route.

Biłgoraj

Biłgoraj

Pursuing further the route of Singer’s stories we are arriving at Biłgoraj, a birthplace of the mother of the Noble Prize winner, where he spent several years of his life. The town has been the principal character of many Singer’s stories; among them are a lovely Hanukkah history "The Heir”, and "By the Light of Memorial Candles ", "The Old Man", "A Day of Pleasure" and "Esther Kreindel the Second". Hanukkah story tells us about the Biłgoraj family on which the fate has suddenly turned its back on. Falik and Sara with children were leading a calm life, when out of the blue their shop burnt down, a fatal illness struck the wife down, and hunger and poverty started to threaten the children. The only valuable thing left was a Hanukkah lamp. When the father also falls ill with a terminal illness even the rabbi doesn’t know the way to rescue. “Nothing could be done to save him apart from the miracle; however, the miracle did happen”. The elder son spent their last pennies to buy oil and wicks for the holiday of the Hanukkah, and while grief-stricken they were sitting around the table, an unexpected guest came. He was an heir, drawn by the power of the light burning in the window. The richly attired stranger asked children to tell him a story of the holiday and played with him drejdl – a popular game back then – with his money. Thanks to that the household got enriched, refilling with many golden coins. The heir also displayed interest towards a pretty Hanukkah lamp, for which he offered a thousand of guilders. Having given the children half of the sum in advance, the he promised to return to collect the lamp, but later on left for good never taking his purchase.

Biłgoraj is abundant with relic landmark buildings: the 1755 Roman Catholic Church of the Holy Trinity and The Assumption of the Virgin Mary into Heaven, Roman Catholic Church of St. George which at one time was a Greek Catholic Orthodox church, a deanery Roman Catholic Church of St. Mary Magdalene along with columnar vintage wooden chapels, and the Franciscans monastery. There are also Biłgoraj Museum of Regional Studies, a few kept to our days wooden houses and the famous Skansen Museum "Zagroda Sitarska", commemorating the craft which for centuries had been glorifying the city in the country and world-wide. Even more allure with time acquired "Miasteczko na styku kultur". It is a place, where the old Biłgoraj way of life was reconstructed along with the synagogue, this time placed at the paved market. The town represents an untypical investment - apart from promoting the multicultural history and unveiling the grey-headed customs and crafts, it is also adapted for modern residents, who if willing, can move in there along with their families. The replica of Isaac Singer’s house must also be built. On top of the above mentioned sites, a Jewish cemetery with several dozens of grave tombs, some polychrome, and the monument honoring the victims of the Holocaust are worth visiting.

In early July Biłgoraj hosts an annual Festival Following in the footsteps of I.B. Singer’s stories set in towns and villages of Lublin region. As the author wrote: "House of the grandfather, old, built with whitewashed baulks, with moss-covered roof and a bench behind the windows; it was in the vicinity of the synagogue, the mikvah and the poorhouse. The aunt treated us with a slab of cake with dried plumps, which tasted as if it had been baked in the paradise. Voices of birds, crickets and other insects were ringing in my ears; when I lifted my eyes, I saw the Biłgoraj synagogue, and behind it the fields, stretching out to the edge of the forest. The fields had various shapes and colors: square, rectangular, dark-green and yellow … I dreamt to be able to stay there forever." (From: "A Day of Pleasure")

Onward the trail of Singer’s stories leads us to Tarnogród, one of the most charming small towns of Roztocze, though not entirely discovered. We can get there by means of regional road No. 835, running to the south of Biłgoraj.

Tarnogród

Tarnogród, located on the Tarnogrodzkie Plateau, in the eastern part of the Sandomierz Valley is a place-setting of stories "The Jew from Babylon" and "From the Diary of One Not Born". The Jew from the Babylon was Kadisz ben Mazliach a miracle-worker, who according to the story was travelling from Lublin to the village Tarnogród, to Falik Chifetz, whose house started to dote. Kadisz life wasn’t an easy one. Despite all his efforts, a difficult inner fight broke out as on his way to Tarnogród demons and devils started to haunt him aiming at taking him to hell. Did he manage to weather through everything? – We encourage you to read the story and find out.

Meanwhile, Tarnogród, being a multicultural town, was a place of birth of such people as Chaim Halberstam, the celebrated tzaddik and the founder of the Hasidic dynasty Sanz, and Leoncjusz Stasiewicz, an Orthodox saint. Tzaddik was well-known due to the pious and quite ascetic way of life. Having left Tarnogród, he established Yeshiva, which happened to be one of main Talmud-study institutions in the entire Galicja. His studies contain the Divrej Chaim cycle (hebr. Chaima words) that includes among other ideas also rules and regulations in the framework of the divorce law. Even nowadays there is a 1686 synagogue with an undestroyed Torah ark, the Aron kodesh in Tarnogród (currently it houses a library and a museum). The town has several Jewish cemeteries: the one, that dates back to the 17th century is situated on Różanieckie Przedmieście, the more recent one from the times of the World War II is on Nadstawna St. The monument commemorating the killed Jews stands on Kościuszko St. Among other historically treasured objects we should mention a larch Wooden Catholic Church of St. Roch, though a tiny one, an Orthodox Church and one of the largest markets in Poland, 160 × 140 m. Ponds on Nadstawna St. make a good resort area along with the lake on Przedmieście Błoniu. Thanks to the annual Poland-wide Assemblies of Polish Village Theatres that have been held since 1975 Tarnogród gained a name of a capital of Polish Provincial Theatres.

And off we go to our next stop Józefów Roztoczański (Regional roads 863 and 849).

Józefów Roztoczański

Józefów Biłgorajski

Scenic beauty of Józefów, placed on the crossings of three National Parks, makes you pine for this place. In Singer's stories it’s recalled with equal warmth by the slave Jacob and Reb Moshe Ber from the short story "The Old Man". As the latter revokes: “Józefów came back to his memory, a small town not far from the border, where he had spent fifty years, enjoying the great respect amongst Chassids from Turzyska [...]. He started asking about, how he could get there, but people only shrugged in response and every man said something different. One assured him that Józefów burnt to the ground and no longer existed. The other, some nomad beggar who had once been round there, claimed that residents of Józefów had never been luckier as they were now, and that they ate white challah even on working days"...

Seasoned with life, tormented by diseases and grief-stricken after the loss of the son Moshe Ber by all possible means strives to get to Józefów. Only here he finds the house, happiness and peace, strengthened by faith and daily prayer.

Józefów becomes a long aspired place for Jacob, the eponymous slave, who survived in the blood purge, committed by Chmielnicki Cossacks, but was captured and sold to a mountain village. Jacob longs to get there, to his sister, to the family. This book is thought to be one of the most distinguished in Singer literary legacy, being at the same time the most beautiful love story. Here he tells about the fates of Jacob and Wanda and their intricate passion that must overcome not only local rumors, inner dilemmas but social antagonisms as well. Singer rises above the story, shaping it in the form of contemplations about the values, weaknesses and choices the man is governed by. Jacob: "he didn't consider it, but something there resembled the great truths. Out of nowhere some images appeared: sisters, Zelda Lea, the children, Sarah. Even Jan Bzik called on him but not as a peasant anymore, but as a saint in the Paradise. They were talking something over, but without the hostility, and Jacob’s pieces of advice were asked. Both sides were right in a way, and though Jacob wasn't sure what it was all about, he felt amazed. If only people were able to understand those things, when they were still strong, he told to himself, they could have served Lord differently."

Everything here is saturated with history which is worth diving into. While your visit to Józefów engage yourself in a search of the traces of the former Jewish inhabitants. In 1725 they were so numerous, that constituted a Jewish Community. On the main town square a synagogue was erected, and a Jewish cemetery, to the South of it. Unfortunately, the synagogue wooden building along with the town hall were devoured by the fires, recent guests of the area back then. In the mid-19th century on the place of the ancient synagogue a new, stone one was built, which stands in Józefów even now. There are also other sights available: the Neo-Baroque Roman Catholic Church, the Museum of Stonework in the local Community Cultural Center, Hall of Memory dedicated to the rebellious poet Mieczysław Romanowski, commemorating lime trees and springs of the river Nepryszka. Worthwhile will be a stroll to the nearby village Hamernia, where a relic Jewish cemetery is, which happens to be one of the largest Jewish necropolis in Lublin region. A few hundred gravestones there remained intact, even from 1737. Facing West, which is pretty untypical as it is, they are also inscribed in Hebrew and have prints of early polychrome.

Józefów suits to perfection for recreation purposes, being surrounded by a net of cycling tracks and hiking paths, which lead to national parks and other landmarks. From the nearby stone pits a spectacular view opens to the eyes. The shadow of the forest and freshness of the lake are at the disposal of those searching for a place to cool down.

From Józefów we are heading East in the direction of Tomaszów Lubelski and later on Tyszowce.

Tyszowce

Rynek w Tyszowcach

A long time ago the Jewish shtetl occupied the oldest part of Tyszowce, placed between two wide arms of Huczwa river. The city wasn't specially trimmed, but people lived there peacefully and religiously. There were a synagogue, a house of prayer, a ritual slaughterhouse, and a mikvah. Paved streets started to appear only at the beginning of the 20th century. In war time Jewish residents were killed in anti-Jewish pogroms or taken to nearby extermination camps. The story "The Last Demon" vividly reflects the tragic history of the town. The demon moved into the town from Lublin, aiming at tempting innocent people there into the sin. It was done with an ulterior motive. The demon had been dreaming, that the principal, having taking into consideration his services, would commission him to Odessa, a city, where he would be able to do absolutely nothing, as people there were sinful as it is. Another thing was Tyszowce. There everyone was pious. The demon doubled and tripled in order to trick the devout rabbi, but the latter was cleverer. Then, the war broke out. The death took the majority of Jewish population, included the rabbi, the last of the righteous. The demon was simply in despair: "The entire community was slaughtered, holy books burnt, the cemetery desecrated. The Book of Formation, Sefer Yetzirah, returned to the hands of the Creator..." People reached the apogee of their sinfulness, Angels of the good and the evil died, and the messiah did not come. The Last demon was the only one who survived. Now he lives thanks to history and literature, however, being afraid of what will happen when books are also destroyed: "And when the last letter disappears, it will be the time for the last of demons to pass away ".

Nowadays looking for a synagogue in Tyszowce is a vain undertaking. Within the territory of the old Jewish cemetery there are a monument honoring the victims of Holocaust, several tombstones and a memorial stone, commemorating rabbi Ben Josefów. The town can offer you such places to visit as: the Roman Catholic Church of St. Leonard and the Holy Trinity, the monastery of the Holy Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus Christ and an arcade market. Perched on the hill above the pond is Zamczysko, the ruins of the ancient nobility castle.

From Tyszowce we are heading towards Zamość, paying a visit to Komarów on our way.

Komarów

This town became a background of "The Joy", a rather tricky title as for a story about a rabbi, who became an atheist! It described the fate of a rabbi, who after the death of his third son acknowledged that Lord doidn’t exist. The rabbi was taking pains to overcome his religious crisis in the house of prayer, where he pumped into a young man. They started a conversation and in the end arrived at one conclusion – that Jahweh didn’t exist. The story is filled with plenty of apt remarks which are worth considering even today: “Even lie must have a grain of truth”, “If we should not abandon a man when his body is suffering, all the more so, when his soul is ill”, “The past does not longer exist, the future hasn’t come yet. Thus, nothing exists apart from the current moment. Hence, we have nothing to worry about”, or “… the man is praying about his life, life implies a free choice, whereas the freedom is a secret. If the man had known the truth, how would the freedom have existed? If hell and heaven were in the center of a market square, every man would have been a saint”.

Wandering about Komarów the rapid development of the town will be most eye-catching. Among the range of landmark buildings there are some worth visiting: the towering Neo-Gothic Roman Catholic Church and the nearby Jewish cemetery, where granite and sandstone tombstones have preserved ornaments and epitaphs inscribed in Hebrew. What is intriguing, that there are carved faces visible on some headstones.

Zamość

Podcienia Rynku Wielkiego w Zamościu

Multicultural Zamość, an Ideal city, the heart of Zamoyski Family Fee Tail, Ordynacja Zamojska, appears in the following works of I.B. Singer: "Esther Kreindel the Second" and "The Needle". "Esther..." is an interesting story about timeless relations transgressing the death. The eponymous heroine Esther enters the body of Simmele, the daughter of a diary-woman Rejce and orders the girl to find her husband Zurech to become his wife. People don't believe in these wonders and strive to prove that all that is a pack of lies by asking Simmele about the past life as Esther. Nevertheless, the girl knows answers to all questions. In the long run, she becomes Zurech’s wife and occupies the position of the first wife. Even children recognize her as their mother. Years later, when Zurech dies, Simmele passes away a day after him.

"The Needle" is one of few stories in Singer’s literary legacy whose narrator is a woman and obviously referring to love. The storyteller is Zeldele, who was once accompanying Esther Rose on her way to Zamość. The false pretext of the trip was shopping. However, the ulterior motive was the matchmaking of Ester’s son, for whom mother wanted to find a perfect wife. For that purpose she invented a wicked plan. Walking all over the market in Zamość she was asking for a needle to buy. Apparently, it was not a tall order, but all merchants knew that it was a bad luck to sell only the needle and nothing more. Therefore, it couldnot be sold, but added for free to other purchases. Esther and Zeldele entered the shop of an affluent merchant. The owner’s daughter who worked there flew into a temper and threw the women out on the street. So they entered the shop of the poor tradesman. Try as they might, the daughter of the merchant there didn't lose her balance and performed her duties with polite patience. It is not hard to guess the award. After that history all saleswomen in Zamość irrespective of the commodity the customer wants to buy became very friendly. Consequently, you can roam about the city and smiling, get at least souvenirs.

Sightseeing of the city could take even a few days. It is absolutely necessary to go the Market and saunter through the Old Town. Behind the town hall on the left we will find the old Jewish district with a nicely renovated synagogue on Pereca St. There are also a mikvah, houses of prayer and jatki, Jewish butcher’s stalls, around. Not far from the New Lublin Gate a three meters' high bronze monument of the biblical king David is situated. The monument by Gustaw Zemły was erected in 2007 owing to the efforts of the Foundation “Karta z dziejów”, commemorating the contribution of Jews to history and culture of Poland.

From Zamość we are taking Lublin highway in the direction of Krasnystaw. This city was also mentioned in “The Needle” by Zeldele, as one of the stories about the woman that had as many as six sons. And for all of them she wished to find perfect wives. As Zeldele admits, well "everything depends on luck". Halfway to Krasnystaw let us stop once more in Izbica this time.

Izbica

Domy przy ulicy Lubelskiej w Izbicy
Izbica serves as a backdrop for the story "A Crown of Feathers" about the granddaughter of reb Naftali Holi Szycer. As Aksha was rejecting subsequent suitors the worried grandfather found for her a prospective fiancé, a religious Jew Zemach. However Aksha turned down that choice as well. In her sleep she saw her grandmother, who told her to be baptized. The girl listened to the grandmother’s pieces of advice and married pan Małkowski. The marriage turned out to be a failure. Heartbroken over her fate, Aksza decided to rectify the mistake. She came back to the proposal of her grandfather and the first husband, who however made her to atone for her sins severely. The wisdom of the rabbi proved to be priceless.

In early 20s Izbica was a little shtetl, inhabited in over 90 percent by the poor Jewish population. Apart from the synagogue, cemetery, mikvah and a ritual slaughterhouse there were a few private studying houses, Beth Midrash. Jewish craftsman's workshops were operating in the area, mainly tailor's, as well as numerous shops in the market and on the main Lublin St. Six mills belonged to Jewish owners. Even nowadays you can look over old-time landmark houses (the second-half of 19th century and the beginning the 20th century) and buildings, where traditional sukkah, the booths, remained intact. A Jewish cemetery with an ohel, the tomb of a renowned local Tzaddik Mordechai Yosef Leiner can be found in the town. The monument to the victims of the Holocaust stands on Lublin St.Heading towards Lublin we suggest visiting Piaski on the way.

Piaski

Todzia Honig 
A small town near Lublin makes its appearance in the stories "From the Diary of One Not Born" and "The Wife Killer". The fates of Pelte and his wives we have already mentioned earlier. "From the Diary of One Not Born" is the next story about the devil who wants to seduce a religiously devout woman. He is going out of his way trying to make her life unbearable, tells her about the first wife, compares them, … grizzles until in the course of the quarrel comes to know that the woman has her secrets also and isn't a virgin at all, as she claimed before the marriage ceremony...

Being in Piaski have a long walk around the market and along the Lublin St. The town, situated in the fork of roads to Lulin, Zamość and Chełm, had been carrying out trade functions in the past. Up to 1980s a weekly horse fair, well known in the entire region was held there. At present this custom was regenerated, so being in the town on Wednesdays, it is worth to come and see. The trail goes back to Lublin. Taking it, we find ourselves on the road that once was covered by Jasha Mazur – the celebrated Singer’s Magician.

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