The Lomdei Mishnayot Synagogue in Oświęcim
The Chevra Lomdei Mishnayot Synagogue (Hebrew for Association of Mishnah Students) is the only Jewish house of prayer in Oświęcim that was not destroyed during World War II. Its construction began around 1913, and it served its function until 1939. During the war, its interior was destroyed, and the building was used as a German munitions warehouse. After World War II, a group of Oświęcim Jews who survived the Holocaust restored its original function, but after a few years, they left Oświęcim and Poland, and the building was left unused. In the 1970s, the communist authorities nationalised the building, and it later housed a carpet warehouse. In 1998, the synagogue building was returned to the Jewish community of Bielsko-Biała as the first Jewish religious site in Poland to be returned to its rightful heirs after the fall of communism. The Jewish community in Bielsko donated it to the Jewish Centre in Oświęcim the same year. The building underwent thorough restoration based on historical sources and the memoirs of Holocaust survivors and was officially reopened in September 2000. Today, the Chevra Lomdei Mishnayot Synagogue does not have its own rabbi or congregation of worshippers but remains the only Jewish temple in the vicinity of the former Auschwitz camp, serving as a place of prayer, reflection and remembrance.