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Great Synagogue of Czestochowa I

Czestochowa was celebrated as a center of Catholic pilgrimage, the home of the shrine of the Jasna Gora, the Black MadonnaBlack Madonna: the popular shrine of great national and religious significance to Poland. It is located in the city of Czestochowa in the monastery of Jasna Gora (Bright Mountain). The Black Madonna is a painting on wood that depicts the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus. Its origins are ancient and obscure.

The monastery was founded on the mountain in 1382, and the painting came there soon afterwards. The icon was damaged in 1430 by Hussites who slashed the face of the portrait. The painting is credited with the miracle of having protected the monastery from the invading Swedish army in 1655-56. The shrine continues to be the focus of pilgrimages and a site for confirmations and marriages. Source: Dydynski, Poland, Lonely Planet Travel Survival Guide.
. Yet Jews played an important role in its commercial and cultural life. In 1939 there were 28,500 Jews living there. The German army entered the city on the third day of WWII, September 3, 1939. The next day a bloody pogromPogrom: (Yiddish from Russian “devastation” or “destruction” from the roots po “like” and from gram “thunder”), the killing and looting of innocent people usually with official sanction, most often applied to Jews. Source: Webster’s Third International Dictionary Unabridged., later called “ Bloody MondayBloody Monday: a infamous pogrom. The German army entered Czestochowa, Poland on September 3, 1939. The next day, later called “Bloody Monday,” a pogrom was organized in which a few hundred Jews were murdered. On December 25, 1939 a second pogrom took place and the Great Synagogue was set on fire. Source: Encyclopedia of the Holocaust. ,” took place. On December 25, 1939 a second pogrom took place, and the Great Synagogue was set on fire. After the war in June 1946, 2,167 Jews had returned to Czestochowa to rebuild their community. Almost all Jews left Poland after the anti-Semitic campain of 1968.

Photo Credit: Yad Vashem, courtesy USHMM