There once was a poor Jew from Krakow named Izaak Jakubowicz who had a dream: Buried near Prague’s Charles Bridge was a great treasure waiting just for him. The first time Izaak had this dream he ignored it. But after having the same dream many times, he decided to go to Prague to claim his fortune. To his dismay, a battalion of soldiers was camped near the bridge. Izaak waited and waited for the soldiers to leave. Meanwhile, the commander had noticed Izaak and decided the Jew must be a spy. He ordered a few of his soldiers to bring the Jew to him for questioning.
Izaak had no choice but to reveal his reason for being there. The commander burst out laughing. “Foolish Jew!” he said. “I also keep having the same dream. But I’m not so foolish as to go to Krakow and start digging under the stove of a poor Jew named Izaak Jakubowicz!”
When he heard that, Izaak hurried back to Krakow, where he did indeed find a great fortune buried under his stove.
It’s a nice story, but is it true? In Krakow, to ask such a question seems almost sacrilegious. After all, you can still see the magnificent Izaak Synagogue, which was built by Jakubowicz in 1664, after he became rich, and is one of the city’s treasures. You can also see Izaak Jakubowicz’s house, from the famous cemetery in back of the Rema’s shul, which is also the stuff of legends.
In fact, you can barely turn around in Krakow’s Jewish quarter without bumping into a legend of some sort. Sometimes the legends involve a poor Jew like Izaak and sometimes they involve a great talmid chacham like the Rema or the Megaleh Amukos, because Krakow was as known for its simple but pious Jews as for its scholars – a distinguished history that earned Krakow the title of Mother City in Israel.
Read the rest of the article at The Jewish Press.