Big Online Jewish Postcard and Photo Resource

By Ruth Ellen Gruber

An article in the online Jewish Magazine has led me to the web site of Stephanie Comfort, who has collected more than 9,000 postcards, most of them pre-war scenes of Jewish life and places, all over the world.  Comfort writes:
When asked what I do I often reply " I collect dead Jews" - their photos, their market places, their shtetls and towns, their Synagogues, their festive occasions, their lives in black and white and their deaths in the Holocaust. I try to recall a particular face whenever I say Kaddish as all members of most of the families were murdered at the same time and ask others who look at my postcards and photos at my Exhibitions to do the same. My Rabbi at one occasion told me that I am "ransoming the captives"….especially when most of my postcards come from Eastern Europe or Nazi family albums. A good many of the cards in my collection are from the late 1880's and what are called Cabinet Cards taken in photography Studios. I was born with the "collecting gene". 
 In addition to the web site she maintains  a flickr stream with thousands of old postcards -- and also photographs, some of which she has taken.

There are numerous old postcards of synagogues (sometimes along with present-day photos of the same site). Some of them are mis-labled. But I found images that I had never seen before. In particular, it was exciting to see so many views of the destroyed neolog synagogue in Bratislava, the Wilhelm Stiassny synagogue in Malacky, Slovakia, and the Lipot Baumhorn synagogue in Lucenec, Slovakia -- all of these views showing the synagogues standing in old Jewish neighborhoods that also were destroyed.

Pre-war Jewish postcards showing synagogues, genre scenes, religious observances, cemeteries, and portraits are a popular collector's item, and several books showcases collections have been published. There are also a number of on-line showcases for these. among them is a web site showing postcards from the collection of Frantisek Banyai, now leader of the Prague Jewish community.