Jewish Theatre in Warsaw closed over building’s dangerous condition

Marcy Oster

WARSAW, Poland (JTA) — The Jewish Theatre in Warsaw was closed at the request of the district construction supervisor office.

The official reason given for the closure on Friday night is the poor physical condition of the building. For the past several months, however, a private developer who wants to build an office skyscraper in the building’s place, has called for the closing of the theater.

The theater building at Grzybowski Square belonged to the Social-Cultural Jewish Association. The decision in 2015 to sell the building came due to the poor financial situation of the organization.

“The money from the sale of the property was necessary to keep open all of our branches in Poland,” Anna Kiedrzynska-Tui, a spokesman for the association, told JTA. “The building for many years was in bad condition, and we did not have the financial capacity to cover the cost to repair it or build a new one.”

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Warsaw City Hall, which owns the theatre, has a different opinion. “The building is not in the best condition, but in our opinion, it does not threaten the public safety,”  Agnieszka Klab, a spokeswoman for the city council, said last month during an interview with Radio Eska.

Ghelamco, a developing company, has pledged that there will be a place for the Jewish Theatre in a new building. But the theater would have to relocate during the construction of a new building. If a temporary location cannot be found during the construction of a new building, then all of the theater’s employees and actors could lose their jobs.

The Jewish Theatre in Warsaw is the only theater in Poland performing in Yiddish, and one of two in Europe, including the Jewish Theater in Bucharest. It was created in 1950 and its headquarters was built with funding from the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. The director of the theater is currently Golda Tencer, who is an actress and director, organizer of the Festival of Jewish Culture “Singer’s Warsaw,” and the International Seminar in Yiddish Language and Culture in Warsaw.

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