Jewish Religious Community of Cracow is one of the seven communities forming the Union of Jewish Religious Communities in Poland. It covers the southeastern part of Poland (Cracow, Tarnów, Nowy Sącz) and provides services to 140 members, who together with their families constitute a relatively big Jewish community of that region.
The community acts according to the Jewish law and the tradition established during the 700 year-old history by prominent rabbis considered also world-famous scholars such as Remu, Yom Tov and BaCh. The annual holidays are celebrated according to the Jewish calendar. Shabbat services take place in the Kupa Synagogue, after which dinner is offered every Shabbat eve. The Mikveh, situated at 1 Podbrzezie Street, is used for ritual immersion. Ritual burials take place at the New Jewish Cemetery (Miodowa Street), one of the few remaining active Jewish cemeteries in Poland.
There are also seven synagogues in Cracow, all of them owned by the Community. They are considered unique monuments of sacred architecture. Three of them are still in use and provide religious services; they are: The Remuh Synagogue (40 Szeroka Street), The Tempel Synagogue (24 Miodowa Street), The Kupa Synagogue (27 Miodowa Street). Not only Jews of Cracow pray there, but also those coming from the entire world.
Other synagogues are leased (with the Community permission) to many Institutions. The Old Synagogue (24 Szeroka Street) houses the Historical Museum of Kraków exhibiting the Judaica collections. The High Synagogue (38 Józefa Street) is leased to the Austeria Publishing House. The Culture Youth Center (Staromiejskie Centrum Kultury Młodzieży) is situated at the Popper Synagogue (16 Szeroka Street). The Chabad-Lubavitch has its seat in the Izaak Synagogue (18 Kupa Street).
The community is also the owner of many other synagogues outside Cracow: in Bobowa, Słomniki, Czarny Dunajec, Grybów, Dębica and Wieliczka. The synagogue in Nowy Sącz is taken care of the Bonei Sanz Foundation; Jewish services and holidays celebrated there. The Community manages all the buildings, once home to charity organizations, Yeshivas, houses of prayer as well as eighteen Jewish cemeteries in Cracow and Lesser Poland and also Holocaust Memorials. The Community Board is also deeply involved in renovating all monuments as it is strongly believing that if a nation loses its heritage, its loses its identity.
The demographic structure of the community has been changing for some time now as new members have been accepted. The number of the members of the so-called Second Generation has increased, people raising children, and young people. The membership criteria are determined by the Internal Law of the Jewish Religious Community in Poland according to which “a person of Jewish origin who follows no other religion but Judaism and is not a member of any other church, has Polish citizenship and resides in Poland may become a member of the Community”. The applications accompanied with the appropriate documents testifying to the fulfilment of the above requirements are examined by the Community Board.
The community makes it possible for its members to fulfil their religious, cultural as well as social needs. At 27 Miodowa Street (at the Kupa Synagogue) there is a kosher kitchen where dinners are served daily. The meals are also brought to the elderly with health problems. The welfare system has been established to help the members of the Community and their families who are in need of various kinds of support. There is also a club for the Jewish community.
It also supports the initiatives of various institutions promoting Jewish culture as well as artistic and intellectual efforts such as publishing books dealing with religion and history; it also supports research into the functioning of the pre-war community and its associations as well as helps to organize exhibitions.
The Jewish Religious Community of Cracow cooperates with the City Council to cultivate Polish-Jewish relations as well as with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese to foster Christian-Jewish relations.