The Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland (FODZ)

The Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland (FODZ)

The Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland (FODZ)


Saving Jewish Heritage in Poland One Stone at a Time


The Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland (FODZ) was established in 2002 by the Union of Jewish Communities in Poland and the World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO). It's primary mission is to protect and commemorate the surviving sites and monuments of Jewish cultural heritage in Poland. The Foundation is active where no Jewish community exists today or where distance from major urban centers or lack of sufficient financial resources makes it difficult for present-day small Jewish communities to provide adequate long term care and maintenance of historic Jewish properties. 
The Foundation's projects involve 200 synagogues and 1200 cemeteries covering two thirds of modern-day Poland. In 2013 and 2014, FODZ had projects in more than two dozen Jewish cemeteries and synagogues
Most projects begin with a long and complicated restitution process within the Polish legal system, often then followed by multi-year, multi-partner, multi-stage works projects to stabilize, rehabilitate, and protect the recovered heritage, whether it be a building (such as a synagogue or mykveh) or a cemetery.

For buildings, FODZ initiatives include some of the most important and prominent Jewish structures in Poland, such as the synagogues in Kraśnik, Łańcut, Przysucha, and Rymanów, as well as the only Renaissance-style synagogue in Poland, located in the UNESCO-listed town of Zamość. There are more than 200 surviving synagogues in Poland. The range of size and styles is as broad and varied as the Jewish communities that once prayed within them. Several synagogues date from the 17th and 18th centuries incorporating grand Baroque-style architecture and features; some were designed or embellished by influential architects and artists of the period; many retain their original bimah, frescoes, and highly decorative stuccowork.

FODZ strongly believes that Poland's surviving synagogues deserve to survive, even those in towns today lacking a Jewish presence. While these buildings may never again function as originally intended, they can serve as daily reminders of a town's rich pre-war Jewish life. Once rehabilitated, they can provide community space for showcasing cultural exhibits, musical events, hosting conferences, and conducting educational programs. The "Synagogue Center" in Zamość is a shining example of rehabilitation and adaptive reuse. In 2014, the Zamość synagogue was also the site of the first bar mitzvah held in the town since the Holocaust. The rare complex of surviving synagogues in Kraśnik is the Foundation's current restoration focus, running in parallel with ambitious but promising plans of converting the synagogue in Łęczna into a new Jewish Museum in 2016. The Foundation is also excited that its synagogue in Przysucha has been nominated for inclusion in the World Monuments Watch list for 2016.

For cemetery projects, all FODZ work, whether cleaning, fencing, renovating, or memorializing a site through the installation of plaques, markers, or monuments, is carried out under the supervision of the Chief Rabbi of Poland and the Rabbinical Commission. To-date the Foundation has completed work in over 100 Jewish cemeteries in Poland, including those in Mszczonow, Dubienka, Kolno, Ilza, Wysokie Mazowieckie, Siedleczka-Kanczuga, Zuromin, Myślenice, Szczebrzeszyn, Radoszyce, and Glogow Małopolski. Last year alone the Foundation completed projects in half a dozen Jewish cemeteries n Poland.

Sadly, the vast majority of these 1200 surviving cemeteries today still have no markers or commemorative plaques evidencing their pre-war Jewish past and purpose. For this reason, at the beginning of 2015 the Foundation launched a new initiative inviting the Jewish diaspora to "adopt" a Jewish cemetery and become a FODZ financial partner. With 80% of Jews in North America tracing their ancestry to Poland, the Foundation believes that there are allies and friends out there wanting to get involved but not knowing where to turn to engage in collaborative projects to save Jewish heritage in Poland. Partnership projects can be as small as erecting a memorial, marker, or plaque to honor the memory of a single family or an entire community who perished; or as large as constructing a boundary, fence, or gate to ensure that a cemetery is protected from vandalism, encroachment, and complete disappearance. In all such cases, FODZ provides the on-the-ground logistical support. The project concept, scope, and financing is the responsibility of the adopting individual, family, group, or organization.
In addition to its synagogue and cemetery projects, the Foundation is active in various educational programs and cultural events, many aimed at revealing the rich and long history of Jewish presence in Poland. Travel and heritage tourism is also a part of the Foundation's activities and focus. It's Chassidic Route map, which can be downloaded as a .pdf from the FODZ website, covers a large area in southeast Poland known for its high pre-war Jewish populations and is an excellent travel planning resource for family members planning heritage trips to Poland, a popular, growing form of tourism in central and eastern Europe.

With a little advance notice, the Foundation can also participate in the planning of such trips, bringing to bear their unique knowledge, practical experience, and personal connections in specific Polish towns and cities arranging, for example, hotels, transportation, and tours, as well as access to local synagogues, Jewish cemeteries, and sites of Jewish religious pilgrimage.

To learn more about the Foundation's Adopt-A-Jewish-Cemetery initiative:

To download a .pdf on "Preserving Jewish Heritage In Poland" marking FODZ's 10th anniversary:

To download the Chassidic Route map and brochures for specific towns:

Visit the interactive map of the Chassidic Route on the website of the World Monuments Fund:

Find FODZ on Facebook and stay current of projects, news, and events:

Donors, Volunteers and Members – the Organization depends on you

The many activities taken up by our organization entails considerable expenses.
Our main monetary coverage comes from membership fees.

Your participation is crucial.

Donations to the organization are welcome in:

Leumi Bank, Branch 783, Account Number: 34600/62
IBAN: IL 820107830000003460062

  • בית התפוצות
  • לוחמי הגטאות
  • fundacja
  • JRI
  • משואה - המכון ללימודי שואה
  • usa holocaust museun
  • יד ושם
  • Museum of the History of Polish Jews