Góra Kalwaria [ˈgura kalˈvarʲa] is a town on the Vistula River in the Mazovian Voivodship, Poland, about 25 kilometres (16 miles) southeast of Warsaw. The town has significance for both Catholic Christians and Hasidic Jews. Originally, its name was simply Góra (literally: “Mountain”), changed in 1670 to Nowa Jerozolima (“New Jerusalem”), and in the 18th century to Góra Kalwaria (“Calvary Mountain”). The Yiddish name of the town is גער (Ger).
The first Jews settled in Góra Kalwaria in 1802. Initially, Jews rented rooms and houses in which they established a house of prayer and a cheder. Subsequently, they began to construct their own buildings for religious purposes. In 1820, a bet ha-midrash was opened. Shortly thereafter, the Jewish community was officially established in 1821. In 1849, a wooden synagogue was erected in Pijarska street. After it burnt down, a new brick synagogue was built in the same location in 1901-1902.
Ger became the site of the Alter dynasty of Tzadiks, which was a new stimulant for development of the local community. Icchak Meir Rothenberg Alter, called Gerer Rebe in Yiddish, came to that town from Warsaw in 1859. The Tzadik’s knowledge, authority and charisma attracted thousands of Hasids from various parts of Poland and Central and Eastern Europe. Juda Arie Lejb (1847-1905) – or Sfas Emes (Language of Truth) in Yiddish – succeeded his grandfather Gerer Rebe and subsequently constructed a new Hasidic synagogue. When Juda Arie Lejba died, his son, Abraham Mordechaj Alter assumed leadership over the Hasidic court in Ger. He was a well-known bibliophile. Unfortunately, his collection of books was likely stolen or destroyed by Germans.
When Germans invaded Góra Kalwaria in 1939, they immediately targeted the Jewish population. In June 1940, a ghetto was established in the area of the former Jewish quarter. The ghetto was liquidated on 25 and 26 February 1941. About 3,000 people were transported to the Warsaw Ghetto, where they were deported to Treblinka in the summer of 1942. Several hundred people were executed during the liquidation of the ghetto. Between 30 and 40 Jews survived the war.
Information based on Virtual Shtetl and Wikipedia
ROUTE: The tour starts in Warsaw with car transfer to Góra Kalwaria, walk around the town, visit to the Tzadik’s court and prayer house and the cemetery (must be confirmed in advance). Return to Warsaw. Optional lunch en route possible (not included in the tour fee).