News | World

Restorers find chest full of precious Judaica items in former Polish synagogue

(JTA) — Restorers working on a building that used to house a synagogue near Krakow, Poland, found a chest inside a wall containing precious silverware and Jewish artifacts.

More than 350 items were found about two months ago in Wieliczka, the Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper reported last week, including silver-plated candlesticks, large bronze vases with decorative handles and Hebrew inscriptions, and a silver goblet with a floral motif.

There were also at least two Hanukkah menorahs and two Torah ornaments, known as rimonim, that typically adorn the handles of the scroll. The scroll itself was not in the chest.

A team carrying out an assessment of the building’s condition chanced upon the chest during an examination of the foundation of the abandoned 18th-century synagogue, the paper reported.

It’s not known who concealed the chest, which is about the size of a large washing machine, but it was thoroughly concealed inside the building’s architecture, according to the report.

Jewish communities across Europe attempted to hide their treasures ahead of the Nazi advance during World War II. The chest in Wieliczka also contained decorations  of officers from the Austro-Hungarian empire.

Researchers from Jagiellonian University are cataloging the contents of the chest in an effort to learn more about who hid them.