JTA — The Auschwitz Jewish Center launched a fundraising campaign to rescue the house of Oswiecim’s last Jewish resident.
The center, in the Polish town where the Auschwitz concentration camp was built, plans to transform the home of Szymon Kluger into a cafe that also will serve as a meeting place for local residents and visitors.
As part of its fundraising, the center launched a Kickstarter campaign on Monday to coincide with Yom Hashoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Before World War II, Oswiecim had a majority Jewish population.
Kluger died in 2000, the year the Auschwitz Jewish Center was opened. His house was next to the center, which includes a restored synagogue, a museum and educational facilities.
“According to the recent expert inspection, the retaining wall, which stabilizes our synagogue, is in danger of landslide due to extreme erosion,” said the center’s director, Tomasz Kuncewicz. “Without support for this badly needed renovation, we could lose the Kluger House and the synagogue.”
Kuncewicz said the center will establish a vegetarian cafe called Oshpitzin — the Yiddish name for Oswiecim — in the Kluger house that will serve as “a place of intercultural dialogue for residents and guests from all over the world.”
“We want to respect the town’s heritage by offering local products and promoting local artists in Cafe Oshpitzin. By reinforcing the Kluger house and its retaining wall, the synagogue’s future will also be secured, so that visitors to Auschwitz can continue to have a Jewish haven for reflection in the town.”
Since 2006, the Auschwitz Jewish Center has been an affiliate of the Museum of Jewish Heritage-A Living Memorial to the Holocaust in New York.