The Chevra Ner Tamid (Fraternal Society of Eternal Light), a Jewish prayer house, opened in 1890 in the building at ulica Józefa 36, right where the Cheder Cafe is located today. Devastated during the Second World War, it never returned to its original role. All signs of the religious and public use of these premises where the Jewish community of Kazimierz once prayed and met were destroyed. After restoring and re-creating the space, the Jewish Culture Festival opened the doors of the Cheder in 2008 for meetings, workshops, and lectures in a reference to the original meaning of "Cheder" as a Jewish elementary school. Since February 2009 the "Cheder" has been open to the general public as the Cheder Cafe, a place to meet over Israeli coffee brewed in a finjan and Moroccan tea.
We celebrated the opening of the Cheder Cafe with a concert by the Tunisian duo of Amine & Hamza—virtuosos on the oud and the kanoun from Tunis. This first concert had symbolic significance. The Cheder, as a place connected with Jewish culture, opened with a concert of Arab music because the idea of the Jewish Culture Festival and the Cheder Cafe is to unite rather than to divide, to search for understanding and mutual respect.
The Cheder Cafe is a meeting place for Jews and Poles, for Cracow residents and tourists from all around the world. It is a cafe with a special menu and it is a venue for interesting cultural events: concerts, lectures, meetings, and workshops; it is also a reading room with a rich collection. The Cheder Cafe is the only place of its kind in Cracow. It combines the wealth of Ashkenazy Jewish tradition with the avant-garde and progressive streams of the contemporary culture of Jews all over the world.
The Cheder exists thanks to the support of many people and institutions.
Great thanks to:
- The Ford Foundation
- The Tad Taube Foundation for Jewish Life and Culture
- Friends of the Jewish Culture Festival
The Cheder Café book collection exists thanks to gifts from Henryk Halkowski and Alex Lauterbach.
We also thank the publishers who support us: WAB, Oficyna Bibliofilów, Noir Sur Blanc, Prószyński i S-ka, Wydawnictwo Sic!, Znak, Wydawnictwo Pascal, Żydowski Instytut Historyczny, Wydawnictwo Poznańskie, Instytut Zachodni, Spółdzielnia Wydawnictwa Czytelnik, Wydawnictwo Norbertinum, Wydawnictwo Muza, Wydawnictwo Homini S.C., Wydawnictwo Literackie, Świat Literacki, Księgarnia Akademicka Sp. z o.o
and the institutions that support us: The Museum of Jewish Heritage, The Polish Academy of Learning, and The Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Oświęcim.
Logo of the Cheder was designed by Krakow designer Emilia Obrzut. Elements in its interior were designed by Krakow artist Ewa Gordon, www.donieba.com Furniture for Cheder were designed by Alicja Panasiewicz.