Virtual Tour of the Gombin Synagogue

Reconstructing Memories – The Gombin Synagogue, 2016

Take a digital tour of the Gombin Synagogue model created by Wojciech Wasilewski, Michał Sroka and their team from historic photographs and architectural drawings. Examine the ancient structure, built in the 18th century, both inside and outside. Enter the sanctuary and hear the haunting voice of a Chazan chanting the Kol Nidre. Climb the stairs to the women’s balcony and imagine our grandmothers.

Gombin was the site of one of the most celebrated wooden synagogues of Poland for more than 200 years. Built in 1710, it was regarded as a landmark historical building, part of the national cultural heritage that was under special supervision of the government’s Department of Museums. It stood near the old town square and was burned to the ground by the Nazi army in September 1939. Many historic photos of both the exterior architecture and the interior details exist in archives. An issue of B’nai Gombin (#35), reported on the scale model of the synagogue, painstakingly researched and built by Wojciech Wasilewski; it is permanently installed at the State Ethnographic Museum in Warsaw. With financial support from the Gombin Society, Wasilewski, Sroka, and Piotr Opalinski have now created a video tour through the model synagogue. The DVD, “Reconstructing Memories -‐ the Gombin Synagogue 3d Model”, was first shown in both Płock and Gąbin during a conference in 2016. The video tour begins with historic photos from all sides of the synagogue; moves to architectural drawing of the details, and then enters the front doors. The viewer is guided through the details of the model’s interior, showing the beautiful features of the bima (stage) and the aron hakodesh (arc holding the Torah scrolls). The virtual tour takes the viewer up the stairs to the two women’s balconies. The cantorial music of the Avinu Malkenu and the Kol Nidre prayers evokes the last Yom Kippur celebrated in Gombin. The haunting silence that follows, recuperates the feeling of the synagogue after the end of Yom Kippur when the worshipers have returned home for the break-fast and the building is empty. The sound of the wind outside is a chilling anticipating its destruction.

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