Michał Lorenc



If you ask mountain climbers about the reasons behind their passion, you will hear a simple answer: they climb up to the peak because the peak is just there. I became interested in the history of Rymanów’s Jews because they are not there. There is a Jewish cemetery with hundreds of overturned matzevot, the synagogue still stands with young birch trees growing on its roof, forlorn houses in dark alleys still stand, but no one conducts burial ceremonies, the kantor no longer sings El Male Rachamim, no one lights the Shabbat candles on Friday evenings. What is just there are black-and-white photographs of the market square, whispered wartime stories, and traces of mezuzahs in old door frames, as if they were splinters of memory. So there are traces of memory, or non-memory rather, but no Good Memory exists. This was the situation up until 2006, when we decided to do something about it.

I studied law at the Jagiellonian University, but work in advertising and public relations – I own an advertising company in Katowice. Rymanów was the hometown of my father (may he rest in peace); we would spend our vacations there and this was where I asked my first questions, rarely obtaining a satisfying answer. In 2005, we decided to establish the association Spotkanie Rymanów (Encounter Rymanów), which has since been involved in commemorating multicultural Rymanów and salvaging local Jews and Łemko people from oblivion.

Since 2008, I have been co-organizing Jewish Rymanów Memorial Days – in 2017, we will be holding the 9th edition of the event. Organized each year around August 13 (date of murder on Rymanów’s Jews) the event is a multi-day encounter between Poles and Jews, in the course of which we talk, get acquainted with and learn about each other, sharing our histories. We are assisted by prominent artists like  Mendy Cahan from Israel, Rafael Rogiński, Olga Mieleszczuk and many, many others.

Some elements, like maintenance works at the Jewish cemetery, March of Memory down the final route from Rymanów to Wróblik or the trail of memory, are featured each year. There are also Yiddish language and song workshops, theater performances and movie screenings, photo exhibitions from my brother Adam’s collection are presented in Małka’s House in Rymanów. We are supported by parish priest Mieczysław Szostak and Rymanów authorities. I say “we”, because quite a few people are involved in rekindling the memory of the Rymanów shtetl; all activities I mention also involve my brother Adam and our families. There are many people deeply involved in our association and there are many volunteers without whom we would not be able to achieve half as much. The basic aim of our activism was to Commemorate and restore justice. We could not stand by idly and allow for traces to disappear and in this sense our activism was successful, Jews of Rymanów who reach and write us from around the world, and Poles from Rymanów know that we care for Memory; our shared Memory.

A notable result of our collaboration is Małka’s House – our meeting venue in a house that was bought and renovated by Małka Shacham Doron that had once had belonged to her grandfather. Małka is virtually a resident of Rymanów by now. Something that would seem unthinkable ten years ago – a truly Jewish house right by the Main Square, with mezuzahs, in the heart of Polish Galicia! With burning Shabbat candles and a smiling owner who teaches Hebrew and Jewish customs to her Polish students. This was reason enough to get involved. And it is worth doing this further. We do not run any sociological studies, we do not know the impact our activism has had on Rymanów’s residents but I am convinced that what we do is meaningful, even if not everyone has something positive to say about us.


Organization of the annual Jewish Rymanów Memorial Days, held around August 13: meetings, lectures, concerts, workshops and exhibitions related to topics of Jewish life, history, culture and religion in Rymanów.

Cleanup works at the Jewish cemetery in Rymanów.

Guided tours for those interested in Rymanów’s Jewish heritage.

Administration of Facebook fan page “Friends of Rymanow” with testimonies and materials relevant to those interested in Jewish Rymanów.

Cooperation with individuals, organizations and institutions working to commemorate victims of the Holocaust, Righteous Among Nations and to combat discrimination.

Collecting and sharing documents and photographs connected to Rymanów’s Jewish past.

Michał Lorenc


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