I didn’t know what a lapidarium is until I went to the opening ceremony for one in Wronki, a town about an hour north of Poznan. The opening was on December 14, 2014. Here are some photos:
A lapidarium is essentially a place where stones are displayed. In this case, the fragments of the tombstones from the Jewish cemetery were recovered and placed in raised beds. The space around them is filled with small stones about the size of those that customarily would be placed on Jewish graves. Written in Polish, Hebrew, and English on a monument in the shape of a large tombstone are the words:
In memory of the Jewish community that inhabited Wronki from 1507-1939. Lapidarium of tombstones from the destroyed Jewish cemeteries of Wronki
This project represents for me the best of what can be done with the fragments of Jewish culture in Poland. It required the engagement of many different organizations and individuals, most of whom are not Jewish but who felt a moral obligation to recover these stones which were removed from the cemetery during World War II and later used to make a curb on a street in a neighboring village. For some, the lapidarium was a project of reclaiming the town’s heritage. For others it was much more bound up with faith and spirituality.
I’ve been back to Wronki a few times and talked with a number of people involved in the project. I’ll fill out this story in future posts.