Artist in Poland Finds Priceless 19th-Century Jewish Texts in Trash

Rzeszow had a large Jewish population before the Second World War.

The artist discovered the priceless leather bound volumes while walking with a friend. Photo Roman Adamski.

A cache of priceless books of Jewish scripture have been discovered in a pile of trash in a town in Poland by a local artist who spotted their value and rescued them from being thrown away.

Vladimir Pietal found the beautiful 19th-century leather-bound volumes in Rzeszow—which had a high Jewish population before the Second World War—by some bins in a pile of rubbish, waiting to be taken to the tip. The books, some of which contain letters written in Russian, Hebrew, and Polish, were printed in London, Vilnius, and Warsaw.


The books discovered on the street in Poland. Photo Roman Adamski.

“These books came from all over the world, only to end up as trash,” Pietal told Israel National News, adding that the books had come to his attention due to their “beautifully decorated bindings.”

Pietal immediately recruited a friend to help him carry the volumes back to his home, before getting in touch with the media in an attempt to find out where to return them to.

Pages from the rescued books. Photo

The books were published all over Europe. Photo Roman Adamski

“I am glad that I was able to save part of the story,” said Pietal, also stating that the books show some damage but are “in good condition.”

The books, which were discovered near the Lubomirski Palace, include parts of the Chumash, the Five Books of Moses that form the Torah, and the Talmud, a compendium which forms the cornerstone of rabbinical education on Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs, and history.

Prior to the Holocaust, around 113,000 Jewish people lived in Rzeszow, which is around 90 miles east of Krakow. The area fell to the Nazis in 1939, who began to segregate the Jews creating ghettos. Those who didn’t manage to leave were imprisoned and killed. One can only imagine the history of these books, who they may have belonged to, and who saw fit to throw them away.

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