The 18th World Congress of Jewish Studies

Szymon Rabinowicz: Antiquarian

Since 1935, National Museum in Cracow began collecting Jewish handicraft with the aim to establish the "Judaica department". Until WW2 (1939), numerous objects retired from cult and usage were purchased with the help of antique shops and private people. One of the main sources (or even the most important) was Szymon Rabinowicz, Jewish antique peddler. Surprisingly, although his work was very important for preservation of Jewish culture, we knew very little about him - he was virtually anonymous. Even worse: many legends about him that were spread among old curators of the Museum, happened to be completely false. It was only about 75 years after his death when it was possible to reconstruct his life. Now we know that he was born in Frysztak (near Strzyżów, Poland) on December 16th, 1895. He arrived to Podgórze in 1914 or 1917 and settled here. During the WW1 (1914-17) he served in Austro-Hungarian army on the Russian front, but was killed by the Germans in Cracow`s Ghetto or in the transport from KL Plaszow to the Death Camp in Treblinka, in 1942.