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The Jewish Community of Warsaw

Warsaw

Polish: Warszawa
Yiddish: ווארשע (Varshe)

Warsaw was the capital of Poland between 1596 and 1794 and after 1918. It is located on the Vistula River.

JEWISH LIFE IN THE 21ST CENTURY

Poland as a whole has experienced a Jewish revival and an unprecedented interest, both by those with and without Jewish heritage, in Jewish life. Nowhere is this renewed interest in Jews and Judaism more apparent than in Warsaw. A number of organizations serve the religious, cultural, and educational needs of Warsaw's Jewish community, and the Jewish Community of Warsaw is responsible for the administration of Jewish communities throughout Poland.

The Jewish Community of Warsaw, the official organizing body of Warsaw's Jewish community and also has branches in the affiliated communities of Lublin, Bialystok, and Bydgoszcz, is one of seven members of the Union of Jewish Religious Communities in Poland. It is responsible for the administration and upkeep of heritage sites (including cemeteries and former synagogues), as well as coordinating a variety of social and cultural activities. The Jewish Community of Warsaw is run by a board of 7 members, who are elected by the community every four years; Anna Chipczynska served as the community's president in 2016. Anyone with at least one Jewish grandparent, or who has undergone a Reform or Orthodox conversion, is eligible to become a member of the Jewish Community of Warsaw. As of 2014 the Community had 640 members, out of an estimated 3,500 Jews living in Warsaw.

In addition to the Jewish Community of Warsaw, the Jewish Community Center (JCC) of Warsaw hosts events and social activities for those interested in Jewish culture. Programs offered by the JCC include breakfasts, children's activities, family workshops, and lectures. Another cultural touchstone is the Ester Rachel Kaminska and Ida Kaminska State Jewish Theater, named in honor of two of the most famous Yiddish stage actresses, performs plays in Yiddish and Polish. It is the country's only remaining Jewish theater.

Polish Jews interested in news about the Jewish community of Poland, or in Jewish stories from around the world, can subscribe to Midrasz (pronounced "Midrash"), a monthly magazine based out of the Jewish Community of Warsaw. As a publication serving a minority community in Poland, Midrasz is subsidized by the government. Another publication serving the Jewish community is the Yiddish-Polish newsletter Slawozidowske/Dos Yiddishe Vort.

Religious life in Warsaw is small but vibrant. Before World War II there were over 400 synagogues in Warsaw alone; of these, the Nozyk Family Synagogue, which was originally built in 1902, is the only synagogue in Warsaw to have survived World War II. In addition to the Orthodox services held at the Nozyk Synagogue, progressive services are offered on Shabbat and Jewish holidays at Ec Chaim, located on 53 Aleje Jerozolimskie Street, and Beit Warszawa, located on 113 Wiertnicza Street.

The Jewish cemetery on Okopowa Street, which was originally opened in 1806, has remained open and functioning. The cemetery contains approximately 250,000 tombstones, making it the second-largest Jewish cemetery in Poland. Another Jewish cemetery in the Brodno district was founded in 1780 and is the oldest Jewish cemetery in Warsaw. Though it was heavily damaged by the Nazis, it has undergone extensive renovations so that it can be reopened to the public.

The Lauder-Morasha school, which was originally established in 1989, offers a Jewish and secular education for students ages three to sixteen (another branch of the school is located in Wroclaw). Many of the school's students are not Jewish, but whose parents were drawn to the high-quality education. Additionally, the Polish Jewish Youth Organization offers activities for youth and young adults ages 16 through 35 who wish to explore and connect to Jewish history and traditions.

Another organization promoting Jewish culture and heritage is the Shalom Foundation, which focuses on Yiddish language and culture. The Shalom Foundation administers the Center of Yiddish Culture in Warsaw's Muranow District, as well as the Jewish Open University and the Third Age University. It also organizes the Singer's Warsaw Jewish Culture Festival, dedicated to Isaac Bashevis Singer and featuring the works of major Yiddish literary and cultural figures. Meanwhile, Hebraicists can learn Hebrew at the Professor Moses Schorr Foundation, the largest Hebrew language school in Poland.

In addition to offering activities and programming for the contemporary Jewish community, Warsaw has a number of institutions and monuments testifying to its place in Jewish history, and the destruction of its vibrant Jewish community during the Holocaust. Important archives can be found at the Jewish Historical Institute, located on 3 Tlomackie Street (including some of the Ringelblum Archives) as well as a Department of Geneology. The Institute hosts temporary exhibitions, and includes a library and reading rooms where visitors can conduct their own research. Another historical institution is the Museum of the History of Polish Jews-POLIN, located on 6 Anielewicz Street. The Museum opened on April 19, 2013, making it one of the newer places of Jewish interest in Warsaw. In addition to the exhibits detailing the history and richness of Jewish life in Poland, the museum also hosts educational and cultural events.

When the Warsaw Ghetto stood during World War II, a bridge ran over Chlodna Street (which was not part of the ghetto) that connected two sections of the Ghetto, in order to maintain a strict separation between the Ghetto and the Aryan part of the city. The site is marked by a memorial, "Footbridge of Memory." Additionally, a fragment of the Warsaw Ghetto wall can be found on 55 Sienna Street. The Umschlagplatz, where Jews were sent to wait before being deported to concentration and death camps, is also marked with a memorial. It is located on 10 Stawki Street.

Other Holocaust memorials in Warsaw include a memorial marking the location where the members of the Jewish Combat Organization, led by Mordechaj Anielewicz, were killed at the end of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. The memorial was erected in 1946 and is located on what was originally 18 Mila Street, now 3 Mila Street. Another monument to those who fought in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising is located on 10 Ludwik Zamenhof Street. The Path of Remembrance includes 15 monuments that memorialize many of the major figures from the Warsaw Ghetto.

Both the Association of Children of the Holocaust and Second Generation-Children of the Holocaust Survivors work to connect those who were affected by the Holocaust to their heritage; the Association also cares for Polish Righteous Among the Nations. The Association of Children of the Holocaust works with people who survived the Holocaust as children, many of whom have never met their biological parents (who were killed during the war), and may be continuing to hide their Jewish identity, even from friends and family. Second Generation works with the children of these survivors, many of whom grew up never knowing about their Jewish heritage and who otherwise had to deal with the trauma their parents lived through. Meanwhile, the Association of Jewish Veterans and World War II Survivors, which was established in 1991, works on behalf of veterans and victims of the Second World War, and hosts yearly commemorations of the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

The Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage (FODZ) works to preserve remnants of Jewish life throughout Poland, with a focus on communities that are difficult to reach, or that are far from any existing Jewish communities. The FODZ focuses its efforts on marking, rehabilitating, and preserving cemeteries, but also works to refurbish former synagogue buildings and runs a variety of educational programs and conferences.

Many of the aforementioned organizations are supported by the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), an American organization that was founded in 1914 and has operated almost continuously in Poland since 1918.

HISTORY

The first documented evidence of a Jewish presence in Warsaw dates to 1414, though it is highly likely that they had been there long before. They were expelled, however, in 1455, 1483, and 1498, and in 1527 King Sigismund granted Warsaw a royal privilege that permitted the city to bar Jewish residence. Jews were permitted to return to Warsaw temporarily, and to stay in the city while the Sejm (Parliament) was in session. Jewish representatives (shtadlanim) of the Councils of the Four Lands, who were empowered to negotiate with royalty and the nobility, were also allowed to visit Warsaw, while a number of other Jews without official positions were also able to obtain authorization to enter the city temporarily even when the Sejm was not meeting.

Clearly the residence restrictions were largely ineffective, though it did serve to keep Warsaw's Jewish population relatively low. In 1792 there were 6,750 Jews living in Warsaw (9.7% of the total population).

In spite of the relatively small number of Jews living in Warsaw, the city's Christian residents were not happy about their presence; organized anti-Jewish riots took place in 1775 and 1790. At one point, on May 16, 1790 a major riot broke out when the Jews were accused of killing an anti-Semitic tailor named Fux; though the tailor was found shortly after his disappearance and the Jewish community paraded him through the streets to demonstrate that he was unharmed, it did not quell the violence and destruction. Generally speaking, anti-Semitism was rife during this period and Jews who lived in Warsaw, whether legally or illegally, were subject to anti-Jewish violence and restrictions.

PARTITIONS OF POLAND

After the First Partition of Poland in 1772 the Jews of Warsaw, particularly those from the lower socioeconomic classes, fought in the Polish struggle against the Russians and many joined the Jewish legion led by Berek Joselewicz. In retaliation, Russian troops massacred the Jewish civilian population. It was only after the Third Partition of Poland in 1795 and the establishment of Prussian rule that the Jews of Warsaw experienced significant improvements to their quality of life. Though the Jews were still subject to a number of economic and residence restrictions, the Prussians recognized the authority of the Jewish community and granted it legal status in 1796. Beginning in 1802, residence restrictions against the Jews were repealed, and they could live in Warsaw freely and legally. This was met with resistance by the city's Christians; in response, Prussian authorities sought to implement an edict that would restrict where Jews could live in Warsaw for two years. However, Napoleon's defeat of Prussia shortly after this edict was proposed, and his establishment of the Duchy of Warsaw, rendered any proposed changes to the Jews' legal status moot.

DUCHY OF WARSAW (1807-1813)

A legal issue arose after the formation of the Duchy of Warsaw. While the duchy's constitution, which was based on the ideals of the French Revolution, should have granted the Jews equal citizenship rights, such a result would have been unacceptable to the Poles. As a result, in 1808 the "infamous decree" was issued, which postponed granting the Jews civil rights for ten years. In the meantime, the Jews of Warsaw were subject to paying heavy taxes. A Jewish Quarter was established, with restrictions on which Jews were permitted to reside there. Conditions for residence included wearing European-style clothing, the ability to read and write Polish, German, or French, and sending any children to general schools. Jews who were permitted to live in the Jewish Quarter also had to be of a certain economic class, and to be employed in one of a list of specific occupations. As a result of these restrictions the Jewish population of Warsaw declined, and in 1813 there were 8,000 Jews living in the city, mostly in the north, down from 14,600 in 1810.

In spite of these restrictions, the Warsaw kehilla (governing body of the official Jewish community) was able to expand its authority. From the time of Prussian rule until the establishment of the duchy the kehilla appointed a parnas to direct the administration f taxes, established prayer houses, and organized charitable association. During the period when it operated within the Duchy, the kehilla extended its power, becoming not just a local institution but a powerful and far-reaching organization.

It was during this period that a number of Jewish families were able to make significant economic advances and became major players in the world of banking. Prominent baking families included the Frankls, Epsteins, Laskis, and Kronenbergs.

KINGDOM OF POLAND (CONGRESS POLAND, 1815-1915)

Beginning in 1815 Warsaw became the capital of the Kingdom of Poland (informally known as the Congress of Poland), which was led by the Russian czar. Warsaw became a major political and cultural center, and both the Jewish and general population ballooned; the Jewish population rose from 15,600 in 1816 (12.2% of the total population) to 72,800 in 1864 (32.7%). In fact, during the period of the Kingdom of Poland the Jewish community of Warsaw became the largest Jewish community in Europe.

In addition to growing larger, during this period the Jewish community also became increasingly diverse. Chasidism spread to Warsaw during the second half of the 18th century, though many Jews remained opposed to the movement. Though the Misnagdim (those opposed to Chasidism) were in control of the kehilla at the beginning of the 19th century, the balance of power shifted to the Chasidim in 1847, and by 1880 the vast majority of Warsaw's 300 synagogues were Chasidic. The Chasidim, however, were balanced by the influx of Litvak Jews (Jews from greater historical Lithuania), many of whom were Misnagdim, who arrived in Warsaw from the Pale of Settlement after 1868.

Additionally, maskilim (proponents of the Haskalah, Jewish Enlightenment) were a small but visible presence within Warsaw's Jewish community. Many of these maskilim attended services in the synagogue on Danilowiczowska Street (which was given the—not quite affectionate—nickname of "Di Daytshe Shul," "The German Synagogue"), which was established in 1802 by Isaac Flatau, a Jewish immigrant from Berlin. The synagogue distinguished itself in that the rabbi delivered his sermons in German (and, beginning in the 1850s, in Polish). The maskilim also established the Warsaw Rabbinic Seminary in 1826, which was led by the maskil Anton Eisenbaum and which sought to ordain maskilic rabbis who would spread the ideals and values of the Haskalah throughout the country. The seminary was affiliated with another progressive synagogue located on Nalewski Street (founded in 1852), was affiliated with the school. The Great Synagogue joined the group of maskilic synagogues when it was consecrated in 1878.

In addition to the Chasidim, Misnagdim, Polish Jews, Litvaks, and maskilim, other Jews, particularly those from the highest socioeconomic classes, were in favor of assimilation, and some even converted. Ultimately, however, the vast majority of Jews living in Warsaw, were religiously observant and spoke Yiddish; at the turn of the 20th century 87.3% of Warsaw's Jews spoke Yiddish.

Warsaw's Jewish schools attested both to the community's traditionalism, as well as its diversity. In the middle of the 19th century 90% of school-age Jewish children of school age attended a traditional cheder. Individuals associated with the Chovevei Zion movement established Warsaw's first cheder metukkan in 1885. There were three state schools for Jewish children that were running 1820, but this educational format ran into Orthodox opposition, which curbed its further development.

A number of religious, cultural, and social organizations were established in Warsaw during this period, also reflecting the diversity of the city's Jewish population. Zionism began to become popular, and many of the organizations that were active in Warsaw became instrumental in establishing what would later become major cities in the State of Israel. A number of socialist and workers' organizations were also active, and many merged at the end of the 19th century to become the Bund movement.

Jews continued to play an important role in the financial, commercial, and industrial sectors of the city. Seventeen of the 20 bankers in Warsaw in 1847 were Jews. Jewish bankers helped develop various industries, and worked on important national projects such as the construction of railroads; they also held the monopoly on the sale of salt and alcohol. Jews were also major players in the textile, clothing, and tobacco industries, and made up the majority of Warsaw's artisans.

Culturally, Warsaw became a publishing hub, and following are only a few examples of the numerous daily and weekly newspapers published in various languages and representing the wide variety of religious and ideological viewpoints. The first Yiddish-Polish weekly was Der Beobakhter an der Weykhsel, which was published from 1823 to 1824 by Anton Eisenbaum. The weekly Izraelita, an assimilationist paper, was published from 1866 until 1915. Another population niche was served by the cantor Jona Simces, who edited the Yiddish newspaper The World of Hazanim, in addition to working as a Hebrew teacher, school principal, and the vice chairman of the Association of Cantors and Conductors. Another notable literary development was the establishment of a circle of Yiddish writers in the 1890s, led by the writer Y.L Peretz.

WORLD WAR I AND POLISH INDEPENDENCE (1914-1939)

Thousands of refugees arrived in Warsaw during World War I; as a result, by 1917 there were 343,000 Jews living in the city (41% of the total population). Though the influx of refugees and the chaos unleashed by the war strained the local population, the German occupation of Warsaw from August 1915 until November 1918 actually improved the social and political conditions of the city's Jews.

During the German occupation a Jewish private school system was created that would later form the foundation of the Zionist, Bundist, and Orthodox school networks that sprung up after the First World War. A number of Jewish newspapers that had previously been banned were reestablished. Poles and Jews proved more willing than they had previously to work together politically.

After the war, during the period of renewed Polish independence (1918-39) the Jewish population of Warsaw continued to grow. Warsaw was once again appointed as the state capital, and attracted people from around the country seeking various opportunities, particularly in the wake of the economic depression that set in after the end of the war. In 1921 the Jewish population of Warsaw was 310,000. Ten years later that number had grown to 352,000. On the eve of World War II there were 375,000 Jews living in Warsaw.

During the interwar period Yiddish and Polish writing flourished, and Warsaw became home to prominent writers, including Israel Joshua Singer (the older brother of Isaac Bashevis Singer, who also began his literary career in Warsaw), Sholem Asch, and Julian Tuwim. The Association of Yiddish Writers and Journalists was established in 1916, a year after the death of Y.L Peretz. It functioned as a trade union and offered the city's Yiddish writers a place to meet and engage in literary discussions.

Jewish arts also flourished. Ida Kaminska, the daughter of the famous Yiddish actress Esther Rokhl Kaminska, founded the Warsaw Yiddish Art Theater with Zygmunt Turkow, and Michal Weichert founded the Yung-teater (Young Theater). Both theaters staged Yiddish plays, as well as works by playwrights such as Shakespeare, Moliere, and Eugene O'Neill in Yiddish translation. A number of Jewish actors also worked in the Polish theater, and Jews participated in both the Polish and Yiddish cabaret culture.

Nonetheless, life became increasingly difficult for the Jews of Warsaw after the death of Josef Pilsudski in 1935. Official and informal anti-Semitism rose significantly. Jewish shops were boycotted, and anti-Jewish riots broke out. Poland was suffering economically during this period, and with rampant anti-Semitism, the number of economic opportunities open to Polish Jews was small; indeed, the number of Jewish unemployed reached 34.4% in 1931. Sensing they had no future in Poland, many Jews began immigrating.

THE HOLOCAUST

When German forces entered the city on September 29, 1939, there were 393,950 Jews living in Warsaw, comprising about one-third of the city's population. Between October 1939 and January 1940 the German authorities issued a series of anti-Jewish measures against the Jewish population, culminating in the establishment of a ghetto in 1940 to segregate the Jews of Warsaw as well as those from the surrounding areas.

Approximately 500,000 Jews lived in the Ghetto, sealed off from the rest of the city by a wall. A Judenrat, led by Adam Czerniakow, was established to coordinate the Ghetto's activities. The Jewish Self-Help Organization was another administrative organization that was established in the Ghetto; it was loosely affiliated with the Judenrat, but was mostly able to function independently. The Self-Help Organization was funded in large part by the JDC, and aided those segments of the population (such as refugees and children) were considered to be less desirable by the Nazis, and so could not be helped by the organizations that worked more closely with the Nazis. The Self-Help Organization also helped fund the activities of Oyneg Shabes, an underground archive led by Emanuel Ringelblum that gathered materials and conducted interviews for the purpose of chronicling life in the Ghetto. The archive ultimately collected and buried their materials in tin containers and milk cans in various locations; after the war all but one of these caches were found.
It is estimated that by the summer of 1942 over 100,000 Jews died in the Ghetto as a result of overcrowding, starvation, and disease. Nonetheless, the Ghetto's residents attempted to retain a sense of normalcy. A network of schools, both religious and secular, as well as trade schools functioned in the Ghetto; yeshivas tended to operate secretly as a result of the prohibition against public worship. Religious Jews met for underground religious services and cultural activities such as reading groups, lectures, and musical performances were organized.

Cultural organizations could also function as resistance groups. The activities of Oyneg Shabes and the secret archive they established was a form of quiet resistance to the Nazi attempt to destroy Jewish life. Zionist and socialist organizations were often more direct in the forms of their resistance. Groups such as Po'alei Zion, Ha-Shomer ha-Tza'ir, Dror, Betar, Gordonia, as well as the Bund and the communist-inspired Spartakus organization formed much of the ghetto's political underground. They engaged in activities such as disseminating information, collecting documents that evidenced German crimes, sabotaging German factories, and preparing for armed resistance. The first Jewish military underground organization, Swit, was formed in December 1939 by Jewish veterans of the Polish Army, many of whom identified as Revisionist Zionists. A series of illegal newspapers were published in Hebrew, Yiddish, and Polish.

Deportations began on July 22, 1942; three days later Adam Czerniakow, committed suicide rather than cooperate with the Nazis in the deportations. For the next seven weeks between 2,000 and 10,000 Jews were rounded up daily and taken from the Ghetto to the Treblinka death camp. Some reported voluntarily to the Umschlagplatz for deportation, lured by the sight of food which the Germans offered to the volunteers, and the hope that their transfer "east" meant that they could regain some semblance of a normal life. In total, nearly 350,000 Jews died in the three deportation waves of July-September 1942, January 1943, and April-May 1943. Additionally, more than 10,000 were shot or otherwise killed during the roundups, 12,000 were sent to work as slave laborers, and 20,000 escaped to the Aryan side of the city.

In response to the first round of deportations, the leaders of the underground movements created the Jewish Combat Organization (Zydowska Organizacja Bojowa, ZOB) and managed to secure some weapons from the Polish underground; the Revisionist Zionists, meanwhile, created the Jewish Military Union (Zydowski Zwiazek Wojskowy, ZZW). On January 18, 1943, when the second round of deportations began, the ZOB began a campaign of armed resistance against the Nazis, which turned into four days of street fighting. Deportations were halted until April 1943.

In the meantime, the underground organizations regrouped and prepared for armed resistance in response to any further attempts to liquidate the ghetto. Mordecai Anielewicz became the leader of the ZOB. On April 19, 1943 a German force, equipped with tanks and artillery, entered the ghetto in order to resume the deportations and met with stiff resistance from the Jewish fighters. Despite overwhelmingly superior forces, the Germans were forced to retreat and suffered heavy losses. The street fighting lasted for several days, at which point the Germans began systematically burning down the houses. The Jewish fighting groups continued their attacks until May 8, 1943, when the ZOB headquarters fell to the Germans. Over a hundred fighters, including Anielewicz, died during this final battle. On May 16, 1943 the Nazis reported the complete liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto. To mark this victory the Nazis blew up the synagogue on Tlomacka Street. Over the following months, the Germans came into the empty Ghetto and hunted down those who remained hiding in the ruins, often using fire to overcome the sporadic resistance that continued until August 1943. After the Ghetto's liquidation, the surviving members of the resistance continued their underground work on the Aryan side of Warsaw, mostly assisting Jews living on the Aryan side, either by helping them live in hiding, or providing them with forged documents.

When the Polish Warsaw Uprising broke out on August 1, 1944 over 1,000 Jews in hiding immediately volunteered to fight against the Germans. Later, about 6,000 Jewish soldiers participated in the battle for the liberation of Warsaw. Warsaw's eastern suburb, Praga, was liberated in September 1944, and the main part of the city was liberated on January 17, 1945.

POSTWAR

After the war, by the end of 1945 there were about 5,000 Jews living in Warsaw, a number that more than doubled when Polish Jews who had survived the war in the Soviet Union returned to the city. Many attempted to reestablish Jewish life; among the institutions and organizations that were reestablished right after the war were a Yiddish communist newspaper, Folks-shtime, the Kaminska Theater, the Jewish Historical Institute, and the Jewish Social and Cultural Society. However, many Jews began leaving Poland after a series of anti-Semitic pogroms and events, including the pogrom in Kielce in 1946, the pogroms of 1956, and after 1968 when the Polish government launched an official campaign of anti-Semitism. The vast majority of Jewish institutions ceased functioning, and by 1969 there were an estimated 5,000 Jews remaining in Warsaw.

On April 19, 1948, the fifth anniversary of the start of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, a monument was unveiled commemorating those who fought in the uprising. Years later, in 1988 a memorial was unveiled in the Umschlagplatz, where the Jews were taken to wait before being put on cattle cars to concentration and death camps.

Beginning in 1989 Jewish life began to experience a revival. A Sunday School was organized at the Jewish Theater to provide Jewish children with a formal supplementary Jewish education. Programs and activities were also organized during the summers in order to introduce Polish Jewish children to Jewish life and culture, as well as to Jews from around the world. As time went on, Polish society began to become more open to, and interested in, Jews and Judaism, and Jews who remained in Poland sometimes became more willing to admit to their Jewishness.

In 1997 there were 8,000 Jews living in Poland, most of them in Warsaw. The Jewish Community of Warsaw was reestablished that year.

Place Type:
City
ID Number:
185991
Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People
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He composed several works on Eastern European Jewish themes, including JEWISH RHAPSODY, HEBREW SUITE, and TWELVE PARAPHRASES ON JEWISH MELODIES.
Heschel, Abraham Joshua (1907–1972), Polish-born American rabbi descended from several renowned European rabbis on both his father's and his mother's side and one of the leading Jewish theologians and Jewish philosophers of the 20th century.

After receiving a traditional yeshiva education and studying for Orthodox rabbinical ordination, he studied for a doctorate at the University of Berlin, Germany, and then was ordained as a liberal rabbi at the Berlin Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judentums. There he studied under Leo Baeck and others. Heschel later taught Talmud there. He joined a Yiddish poetry group and in 1933, published a volume of Yiddish poems, "Der Shem Hamefoyrosh: Mentsch". In late October 1938, while living in a rented room in Frankfurt am Main, he was arrested by the Gestapo and deported to Poland. He then spent ten months lecturing on Jewish philosophy and Torah at Warsaw's Institute for Jewish Studies. Six weeks before the German invasion of Poland, Heschel left Warsaw for London, England, with the help of Julian Morgenstern, president of Hebrew Union College, who had been working to obtain visas for Jewish scholars in Europe. In London he establishd the Intitute for Jewish Learning.

Heschel arrived in the U.S. in March 1940. He was appointed assistant professor of philosophy and rabbinics at the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati for five years. From 1945 until his death he taught Jewish ethics and Mysticism at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America.

Heschel studied many facets of medieval Jewish philosophy, Kabbalah, and Hasidism. According to some scholars, he was more interested in spirituality than in critical text study. Heschel was influenced by his colleague Mordechai Kaplan, the founder of Reconstructionist Judaism. Heschel saw the teachings of the Hebrew prophets as a clarion call for social action in the United States and worked for black civil rights and against the Vietnam War. He also specifically criticized what he called "pan-halakhism", or an exclusive focus upon religiously-compatible behavior to the neglect of the non-legalistic dimension of rabbinic tradition.

Heschel is among the few widely read Jewish theologians amongst non-Jews. His most influential works include "Man is Not Alone", "God in Search of Man", "The Sabbath", and "The Prophets". At the Vatican Council II, as a representative of American Jews, Heschel persuaded the Roman Catholic Church to eliminate or modify passages in its liturgy that demeaned the Jews, or expected their conversion to Christianity. His theological works argued that religious experience is a fundamentally human impulse, not just a Jewish one, and that no religious community could claim a monopoly on religious truth. In his “Man Is Not Alone: A Philosophy of Religion”, Heschel set out his views on how people can comprehend God. Judaism views God as being radically different from humans, so Heschel explores the ways that Judaism teaches that a person may have an encounter with the ineffable. A recurring theme in this work is the radical amazement that people feel when experiencing the presence of the Divine. Heschel then goes on to explore the problems of doubts and faith; what Judaism means by teaching that God is one; the essence of humanity and the problem of human needs; the definition of religion in general and of Judaism in particular; and human yearning for spirituality. He offers his views as to Judaism being a pattern for life.

His work "Torah min HaShamayim BeAspaklariya shel HaDorot", ("Torah from Heaven in the Light of the Generations") is consisdered by many to be his masterwork. The three volumes of this work are a study of classical rabbinic theology and aggadah, as opposed to halakha (Jewish law.) It explores the views of the rabbis in the Mishnah, Talmud and Midrash about the nature of Torah, the revelation of God to mankind, prophecy, and the ways that Jews have used scriptural exegesis to expand and understand these core Jewish texts. In this work Heschel views the second century sages Rabbis Akiva ben Yosef and Ishmael ben Elisha as paradigms for the two dominant world-views in Jewish theology.
Edel, Yitzhak (1896-1973) ,composer. Born in Warsaw, Poland, he studied at the conservatories of Kiev and Moscow, graduating from the latter in 1927. Between 1924-1927 he taught music at the orphanage directed by Janus Korczak. Edel founded in Warsaw the Society for Jewish Music, the first to organize concerts of Jewish music. In 1929 he emigrated to Eretz Israel and worked as music teacher at the Levinsky Teachers’ Seminary in Tel Aviv. In his late years he taught at the Israel Conservatory for Music in Tel Aviv. His work as an educator is reflected in textbooks he published, the most widespread of which are The Fundamentals of Music (1953) and The Israeli Song (1946).
Edel’s list of compositions includes THE SHEPHERD’S SONG for soprano and orchestra (1938), CAPRICCIO for piano (1946), SUITE IN MEMORIAM for piano trio (1947), THREE SONGS for soprano and orchestra (1949), TO THE PEOPLE’S VOLOUNTEERS, Cantata for tenor, mixed choir and orchestra (1957); STRING QUARTET No.1 (“Mixolydian”, 1957), STRING QUARTET No.2 with soprano solo (1965) and TRIPTIQUE for piano (1965). He died in Tel Aviv.
Szlengel, Wladyslaw (1914-1943), Polish language poet and actor, born in Warsaw, Poland, known as the "Poet of the Ghetto". His father, an artist, supported his family by painting movie posters. As a boy Szlengel often helped his father in his work. Szlengel started composing poems and short stories while still a schoolchild. Some of these early poems were published in local magazines. In 1930 he completed a 3-year course at the School of Economics Later, his works continued to appear, mainly in Warsaw publications. He also wrote satiric poems for the press and stage that were published in the Polish satirical periodical "Szpilki". Some of his texts were used in cabarets. His writings were firmly grounded in reality. Later some more serious poems were published in the Polish language Zionist daily "Nasz Przeglad". After the creation of the Ghetto his works acquired a special depth and poignancy.

After the German attack on Poland in September 1939, he took part in the defense of Warsaw. At the end of 1939, Szlengel was made the announcer and director of the Polish literary "Miniature Theatre" in Bialystok, but out of concern for the fate of his wife, he returned to Warsaw in 1940 and from that moment he began to share the fate of the Jewish residents of Warsaw. In November 1940, he was forced to enter the Warsaw ghetto, where he became one of the organizers of cultural life. In his poems he presented the daily experiences and sufferings of the inhabitants of the ghetto, often in a slightly ironic way. He performed at the famous cafe Sztuka ("Café Art"), where he ran a cabaret "Live Journal" which was a humorous chronicle of daily life in the ghetto. At Sztuka he met the Pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman.

Szlengel wrote a number of poems documenting the destruction of the Jewish people. The most popular include: "Window to the other side", "Accounts with God", "Two deaths", "Counterattack", "Passports", "Stuff", "Mobile", "Little Treblinka Station". In his poem "Card with the Daily 'Action'", Szlengel describes the path of children from the orphanage to the Umsclagplatz in the first days of August 1942 during the great deportation action from Warsaw to the Treblinka Nazi death camp. As he could not print his poems, he typed them in dozens of copies and distributed them in the ghetto. He entrusted his texts to the historian Emanuel Ringelblum who documented the fate of Warsaw Ghetto. It's was Ringelblum who dubbed Szlengel as the "Poet of the Ghetto".

At one time, he unsuccessfully tried to hide outside Warsaw ghetto. At the time of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising he hid in a bunker at 36 Swietojerska St. The shelter was discovered by the Germans and Szlengel, along with his wife, were shot dead on the spot on May 8, 1943.

After WW2 a selection of Szlengel's poems were published in 1946. His manuscripts were discovered accidentally in 1960, hidden in a double tray of an old table. New editions, including Hebrew translations by Halina Birenbaum, have been published since the 1970's. His poem "Little Treblinka Station" was turned into a song by the Israeli singer Yehudah Poliker and included in his album "Efer Ve'avak" ("Ashes and Dust") (1988), the first Israeli pop music album on the theme of the Holocaust.
Bergson, Michael (1820-1893) , composer and pianist. Born in Warsaw, Poland, he is the father of the French philosopher Henri Bergson. Michael Bergson studied piano in Dessau and in Berlin. In 1863 he became teacher at the Geneva Conservatory which he then directed until 1873, when he settled in London. There he compiled and edited synagogue music.
Bergson composed, among other works, the opera LUISA DI MONFORT (1847), the operetta QUI VA A LA CHASSE, PERD SA PLACE (1859) and the popular SCENA ED ARIA, still frequently performed by military bands. He also composed numerous piano pieces (POLONAISE HEROIQUE, 12 GRANDES ETUDES CARACTERISTIQUES) and a manual. He died in London.
Poet and playwright. Born in Warsaw, Poland, he was orphaned at an early age. In 1930 he emigrated to Eretz Israel but returned to Poland two years later and served for three years as chairman of the Hebrew Authors’ Association of Poland.
Most of Shoham’s works – poems, plays and essays – were published in literary periodicals. During his lifetime only Zor vi-Yrushalayim (1933) and Elohei Barzel Lo Ta’aseh Lekha (Thou shalt Not Make to Thyself Molten Gods, 1937) appeared in book form. In 1965 a collection of his works was published. He died in Warsaw, Poland.
Yoffe, Shlomo (1909-1996) , composer. Born in Warsaw, Poland, he emigrated to Eretz Israel in 1930. From 1940 until his death he lived on Kibbutz Beit Alpha. Yoffe studied with Josef Tal at the Academy of Music in Jerusalem, and after 1948 with Oedoen Partos and Alexander U. Boskovich. In 1962 he participated in a summer course in Darmstadt, Germany.
Yoffe’s list of compositions include GILBOA TALES, cantata (1953), SYMPHONIES No.1-2 (1955, 1957), CONCERTO for violin and orchestra (1956), STRING QUARTET No.1 (1961), CHAMBER MUSIC for violin and ten instruments (1966), BEIT ALPHA, symphonic poem (1972), SKETCHES FROM THE OLD CITY OF JERUSALEM for chamber orchestra with piano and two percussion groups (1973), LAMENT for choir a cappella (1974), METAMORPHOSES for piano (1979) and QUINTET for horn and string quartet (1986). He died on Kibbutz Beit Alpha, Israel.
Katz-Suchy, Juliusz (1912–1971), Polish statesman who was born in Warsaw, Poland (then part of the Russian Empire). In the 1930s, when it was still illegal, he joined the Polish Communist Party and became the editor of several communist journals. In 1938, when the Polish government became increasingly anti-Semitic, he fled Poland and went to Britain. From 1940 he was the representative of the Polish Press Agency in London and then in 1945 he was appointed press attaché at the Polish embassy in London. When he returned to Poland he became director of one of the departments of the Polish Foreign Ministry in the new communist regime. From 1946 to 1951 and from 1953 to 1954 he was Poland's delegate to the United Nations. Later he became Poland's representative to the European Economic Commission, representative to the International Conference of Atomic Energy (1955), and ambassador to India (1957–62). He was also director of the Polish Institute for International Affairs, and after his return from India he was appointed professor of international law at the University of Warsaw. During the antisemitic campaign in Poland following the Six-Day War of 1967, he was dismissed from that position and was again forced to leave Poland. In 1970 he went to Denmark to teach at the University of Aarhus.
Hohermann, Alicja (1902-1943), painter, born in Warsaw, Poland (then part of the Russian Empire). Apparently she attended the School of Fine Arts in Warsaw and in 1925 she had her first exhibition in Warsaw.

Hohermann moved to Paris where she participated in Salon of Independents (1926-1931), Autumn Salon (1927-1930) and Salone de Tuileries in 1938. She exhibited also in London and New York. In 1931 she had an individual exhibition at the Union des Artistes Modernes gallery in Paris. During WW2 she sought shelter in southern France, but was arrested in Marseilles and deported to Treblinka death camp where she was murdered.
Dykman, Shlomo (1917-1965), translator and literary critic, born in Warsaw, Poland. He attended school at the "Hinuch" Hebrew Gymnasium, and then studied the classics at the Institute of Jewish Studies at Warsaw University. From 1935 he began publishing translations and literary reviews, including translations from Hebrew into Polish. In 1939, he published a Polish translation of all of H.N.Bialik's poems.

When in 1940 Poland was partitioned between Germany and the Soviet Union, he fled to Bukhara, in Soviet Central Asia, where he taught Hebrew. In 1944, he was arrested by the Soviet authorities and accused of Zionist and Counter-revolutionary activities. He was initially sentenced to death, but the sentence was commuted to five to ten years hard labour, which he served in the Vorkuta coals mines in the Arctic region of the northern Urals. He was released in 1957 and returned to Warsaw. In 1960 he emigrated to Israel and settled in Jerusalem.

Dykman translated many Greek and Latin classics into Hebrew. Among his translations were the tragedies of "Aeschylus" and "Sophocles", the poem "Aeneid" by Virgil and "Metamorphoses" by Ovid. He was awarded the Israel Prize posthumously in 1965.
Poet. Born in Warsaw, Poland, Ettinger studied medicine in Lvov, Ukraine. The influence of Lessing, Buerger and other German writers as well as the Yiddish comedies of Isaac Euchel and Aaron Wolfsohn-Halle can be traced in his works.
His work includes satirical ballads, epigrams, poems, dramas and comedies (Serkele). The only piece to appear in print during his lifetime was a short Hebrew poem published in 1837. The publication of other works was forbidden by the censorship. As a result, most of Ettinger’s writings were published posthumously, including Mesholim (St. Petersburg, 1889), Ale Ksovim fun Dr. Shloyme Ettinger (Vilnius, 1925), Geklibene Verk (Kiev, 1935) and Oys geklibene Shriften (Buenos Aires, 1957).
Landowska, Wanda (1887-1959) , harpsichordist. Born in Warsaw, Poland, she studied the piano at the Warsaw and Berlin Conservatories. In 1900 she went to Paris where she married Henry Lew, an expert on Hebrew folk music. In Paris she abandoned the piano and began her research into the harpsichord. The piano maker Pleyel built an instrument for her and from 1913 until 1919 she taught a harpsichord class opened expressly for her at the Berlin Hochschule für Musik. In 1925 she founded her own School of Ancient Music in Saint-Leu-la-Foret, near Paris. In 1940 she was forced to leave Europe and immigrated to the United States where she lived first in New York and then in Lakeville, Connecticut. She was awarded an honorory Doctorate of Music from Hartford University.
Landowska was among the first to revive harpsichord music through her interpretation of Baroque music, especially that of Bach, and gave numerous lectures on the subject. Several contemporary composers wrote compositions for her. Landowska wrote a number of articles and books among which are Bach and His Interpreters (1905) and Music of the Past (1909). She died in Lakeville, Connecticut.
Composer. Born in Warsaw, Poland, he studied with Anton von Webern (1930-1933), Ravel and Pierre Monteux, and lived in Paris from 1936. As conductor, composer and teacher of, among others, Hans Werner Henze and Pierre Boulez, Leibowitz became the chief advocate of dodecaphony in France.
He is the author of Schoenberg et son Ecole (1947); the treatise Introduction à la musique de douze sons (1949); the books Schoenberg (1966) and Le compositeur et son double (complete essays, 1971). He died in Paris, France.
Totenberg, Roman (1911-2012), violinist and musical educator, born in Warsaw, Poland (then part of the Russian Empire), but brought up in Moscow where his family lived during World War I.

Totenberg was a child prodigy and in made his debut at the age of eleven as soloist with the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra. He went on to study in Berlin and Paris. In 1935 he first played in London and in 1938 emigrated to the USA. Totenberg toured South Africa with Arthur Rubinstein and proceeded to appear with many leading American and European orchestras. He was also appointed to be professor of music at the University of Boston and taught at a large number of important conservatories.

In 1988 he was awarded the Order of Merit by the Polish government and was given several other awards in America. Totenberg recorded for many labels, including Deutsche Grammophon, Telefunken and Philips. Totenberg’s influence on classical music as a performer, teacher and mentor to countless young players continued until the day of his death.
Netanyahu, Benzion (1910-2012), historian who was an expert on the Spanish Inquisition who challenged many accepted views, born Benzion Mileikowsky in Warsaw, Poland (then Part of the Russian Empire). He was brought to Palestine as a child and eventually joined Zeev Jabotinsky’s Revisionist party, the opponents of David Ben-Gurion’s socialist Zionist camp.

As a young man he spent time in New York, USA, as an assistant to Jabotinsky. He held a number of teaching positions in the US, the most recent of them at Cornell University. Netanyahu wrote extensively about Zionist history, but his most important work dealt with the Jews of 15th century Spain and the converts to Catholicism known as crypto-Jews.

Before Netanyahu, scholars portrayed these Jews as unwilling converts who surreptitiously practiced Judaism. In Netanyahu’s version, which was based in part on rabbinic literature, most of the “marranos” were willing converts who abandoned Jewish ritual and did their best to assimilate. The Inquisition, be believed, was driven by racism and economic jealousy. The idea that Jews were secretly practicing their religion, he thought, had been manufactured to justify the persecution. Some critics believed that he was reading 20th century history – and especially German anti-Semitism and the Holocaust — into older events as part of a worldview that saw European Jew-hatred as unchanging and Jewish attempts at assimilation as doomed.

A supporter of the idea of a Greater Israel that would encompass today’s Kingdom of Jordan, he opposed the 1947 Partition Plan that created a smaller Jewish state. Netanyahu was fiercely opposed to any concessions to the Palestinians, and publicly chided his son, prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for relinquishing Israeli control of Hebron during his first term as prime minister. “To me it’s clear that there is no such thing as a Palestinian people. There is none and never was”, Benzion Netanyahu told "Haaretz" daily in a 1998 interview. For Israel, he said, Palestinian statehood would be a “nightmare”.

Benzion Netanyahu’s eldest son, Jonathan (Yoni), died while leading Israeli commandos in the famed Entebbe rescue raid in 1976.
Jarblum, Marc (1887–1972), Zionist leader born in Warsaw, Poland (Then part of the Russian Empire). He was one of the founders of the Po'alei Zion socialist Zionist movement in Poland and also engaged in underground activity for which he was repeatedly jailed. In 1907 he moved to Paris, France, and completed his law studies there. From the time of his arrival in Paris he gradually became one of the most prominent public figures in the Po'alei Zion movement and in French Jewry. He went to Russia during the October Revolution where he interviewed Lenin on the Jewish question. He was later arrested and sent to Siberia but escaped and returned to Paris where he became a close friend of Leon Blum, the French Jew who was Premier of France during the early 1930's. Jarblum was responsible for winning over Blum and the leaders of the Second (Socialist) International including Jean Jaurès and Vandervelde to the Zionist cause. He was the representative of Socialist Zionism at the Second International, he was representative of the Jewish Agency in Paris, president of the Zionist Federation and chairman of the Federation of Jewish Organizations in France, as well as being head of the Socialist Zionist movement and editor of its journal. When the Nazis occupied France in 1940, Jarblum became active in the French Jewish resistance movement. He escaped to Switzerland in 1943 and worked with the Joint Distribution Committee and the World Jewish Congress During World War II. He returned to France after the war and continued his public activities.

After the war he played an important role in getting French intellectuals to accept the 1947 United Nations plan to partition Palestine into Arab and Jewish states. In 1948, he was named a Knight in the French Legion of Honor.

Jarblum lived in Tel Aviv from 1953 and worked in the political department of the Histadrut. He published numerous pamphlets on current affairs in Yiddish and in French. Among his works are "The Socialist International and Zionism" (1933), "Le Destin de la Palestine juive de la Déclaration Balfour 1917 au Livre Blanc" (1939), "Ils habiteront en sécurité" (1947); and "La Lutte des Juifs contre les Nazis" (1945). For many years he was the correspondent in France for "Davar" and for Yiddish journals in the USA, South America and Poland. He died in Bnei Brak.
Ascher, Jerzy (1884-1944), painter, architect born in Warsaw, Poland (then part of the Russian Empire). From 1904-1907 he studied at the Warsaw Polytechnic Institute. In 1908 he continued his studies in architecture at the Technische Hochschule in Berlin-Charlottenburg, Germany.

After graduating in 1909, he settled in Krakow, where he worked in an architectural firm and participated in the work on the reconstruction of the Wawel Castle. In 1914-1918 he was an architect in Warsaw and Lvov (Lemberg, now Lviv, in Ukraine). He participated in the Polish-Soviet War in 1920.

In 1925 he went to France, where he lived in La Ciotat on the Mediterranean coast, and devoted himself entirely to painting. He painted landscapes, still lifes, nudes and portraits using decorative and sophisticated colors. In 1943 he, together with his wife, was arrested and imprisoned in the concentration Camp des Gurs, from where they were later deported to Auschwitz.

Ascher was a cousin of the painter Roman Kramsztyk (1885-1942).
Kataszek, Szymon (1898-1943), composer and jazz musician, born in Warsaw, Poland (then part of the Russian Empire). He studied at Warsaw Music Institute and then at the St Cecilia Academy in Rome,Italy, after which he returned to Warsaw where he worked as a church organist and pianist at nightclubs.

In 1920 Kataszek enlisted in the Polish army and fought in the Polish-Soviet War in which Poland attempted to secure certain territories at the time of the partitions. In 1921 he performed with dance orchestras in Berlin, Germany, and Gdansk and then founded a jazz quintet which performed by various Warsaw nightclubs and also toured various Polish cities. He wrote many foxtrots, tangos, shimmies and Charlstons all of which were very popular amongst the Polish younger public of the time. He also composed several songs for films. He became chairman of the Society for Worklesss Musicians which succeeded in persuading performing artists to contribute 20% of their earnings from radio to a fund to help the unemployed musicians.

In 1941 he, along with almost all other Jews was confined to the Warsaw Ghetto where he became the leader of the Ghetto Jewish Police Orchestra. He succeeded in escaping from the ghetto and once again started to make music. He was, however, recognized by a Nazi officer in the German occupied Lvov, arrested, sent back to Warsaw and subsequently shot by the Nazis in 1943.
Composer. Born in Warsaw, Poland. His father was a composer and musical leader at a Jewish theater and later moved to Minsk. Moysey Vaiberg studied piano at the Warsaw Conservatory and composition in Minsk. From 1941 till 1943 he lived in Tashkent and then settled in Moscow. His family in Poland had been murdered by the Nazis, and in 1948 his father-in-law, the famous Jewish actor Solomon Mikhoels, was liquidated on Stalins order on the wave of rising Soviet anti-semitism. Vainberg nourished a deep friendship with Myaskovsky and Shostakovich. In 1953 Vainberg was arrested on a false charge as an enemy of the people. Shostakovich intervened for him with the secret police. Yet it was Stalin's death that saved his life.
Vainberg composed over One-hundred and fifty songs and twenty-six Symphonies. He also composed nineteen sonatas, seventeen string quartets, seven seven operas and many other works. He died in Moscow on 26 February, 1996, at the age of 76.
His list of compositions includes, among others, over 150 songs, 26 symphonies, violin concerto (1941), cello concerto (1943), 19 sonatas, 17 string quartets, seven operas (BEKISTAN, 1941), the ballet FOR THE FATHERLAND (1941), the cantata IN THE NATIVE LAND (1953) and numerous chamber works. He died in Moscow, Russia.
Conductor and composer. Born in Warsaw, Poland, he studied at the Warsaw Conservatory and from 1899 till 1904 played the horn in the orchestra of the opera house. In 1909 he went to Germany. Upon returning to Poland he became a famous conductor. He emigrated to Eretz Israel, where he had the opportunity to conduct the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. He died in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Musicologist, composer and conductor. Known also as Nehemia Vinaver he was born in Warsaw, Poland, and grew up in his grandfather’s hassidic court. From 1916-1920 he studied music in Warsaw and in Berlin, where he took conducting and composition classes with Hugo Ruedel and Siegfried Ochs. From 1926-1933 he was the conductor at the Temple of the Berlin community and recorded 20 liturgical works with the choir. He organized the HANIGUN Choir for the preservation and propagation of Jewish traditional music. With HANIGUN he toured Europe and Eretz Israel.
In 1938 he went with his wife, poetess Mascha Kaleko, and their son to the United States. From 1952 he was music consultant for the Zionist Organization in New York. In 1967 he came to Israel and settled in Jerusalem. He published Anthology of Jewish Music (1955) and MASHPIL GE’IM, which was composed strickly in the traditional mode. His manuscripts are kept at the National Library in Jerusalem. He died in Israel.
Laks, Szymon (1901-1983), composer, born in Warsaw, Poland (then part of the Russian Empire). He studied mathematics for two years at Vilna (Vilnius) University before attending the Warsaw Conservatory, where he became a student of Roman Statkowski, Henryk Melcer, and Piotr Rytel (1921-1924). In 1926 he moved to Paris, France, where he studied composition with Pierre Vidal and Henry Rabaud at the Paris Conservatory. Laks was arrested by the Germans in 1941 and spent three years in the concentration camps of Auschwitz and Dachau. He published his memoirs from the Holocaust in "La musique d'un autre monde" (Paris, 1948). Laks was a member of the camp orchestra - violinist, conductor, and arranger. He was spared the physical labor that killed countless prisoners. Laks's experience of the Holocaust affected his music: many of his manuscripts were lost during the war.

In 1945 he returned to Paris. His works include settings of texts by Polish-Jewish poets, such as Julian Tuwim, or Mieczysław Jastrun. Laks's works include instrumental music: "Chants de la terre de Pologne. Grande fantaisie folklorique pour orchestre"; "Concertino pour Trio d'Anches", "Third String Quartet", "Fourth String Quartet", and "Concerto da camera".
Conductor and composer. Born in Warsaw, Poland, he studied in Berlin, Germany, and became conductor of the Comic Opera. From 1912-1923 he was music director of the German Opera House in Berlin-Charlottenburg. In 1925 he conducted the New York State Symphony Orchestra for one season. In 1933 he moved to Prague, in 1934 to Vienna, and in 1938 he settled in New York.
His works include MANDRAGOLA, opera (1914), operettas; chamber music, piano works, BIBI, vaudeville, songs to Yiddish texts and piano arrangements of Yiddish songs. He is also author of the autobiography Aus dem Ghetto in die Freiheit (1936). Died in New York.
Infeld, Leopold (1898-1968), physicist, born in Krakow, Poalnd (then part the Austro-Hungarian Empire). He studied physics at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow and obtained his doctorate there in 1921. He worked as an assistant and a docent at the University of Lwow (1930–1933).

In 1933 he went to England where he was appointed a Rockefeller fellow at Cambridge University (1933–1934). Infeld was interested in the theory of relativity and worked together with Albert Einstein at Princeton University, USA, between 1936 and 1938. The two scientists co-formulated the equation describing star movements. He became a professor at the University of Toronto, Canada, between 1939 and 1950. After the first use of nuclear weapons in 1945, Infeld, like Einstein, became a peace activist. Because of his activities in this field he was accused of having communist sympathies. In 1950 he therefore left Canada and returned to Poland where he became a professor at the University of Warsaw, a post he held until his death.

Infeld was one of the 11 signatories to the 1955 Russell–Einstein Manifesto (initiated by Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein and 8 other Nobel Peace Prize winners) which sought to highlight the dangers posed by nuclear weapons and called for world leaders to seek peaceful resolutions to international conflicts. Infeld also wrote with Einstein "The Evolution of Physics", a widely read history of physical theory from the 17th century to the 20th. Infeld also wrote "Quest: An Autobiography" and the biography "Whom the Gods Love: The Story of Evariste Galois."

Dr. Ludwik Leyzer Zamenhof, physician and linguist in Poland, creator of Esperanto.

In 1878 he published the principles of the new and simple language, which would contribute to international understanding. The name of the language derives from his signature "Dr. Esperanto" - the physician with hope. In 1905 Zamenhof organized the first international congress of Esperanto speakers. He was an active Zionist, and was one of the first members of "Hibbat Zion".

Kagan, Jakub (1896-1942), composer, born in Nowogrodek (Novogrudek, then in the Russian Empire, now in Belarus). Kagan was educated at the Warsaw Music Institute before 1918, and then he was admitted to the newly established Association of Polish Composers and Stage Authors in Warsaw. Two years later he took part, as a Polish soldier, in the defense of Warsaw during the Polish-Bolshevik war of 1920.

Having established his own "Kagan's Jazz Band" in 1922, he started performing at the "Mirage" cabaret and at the operetta theatre "Nowości" (Novelties) in Warsaw. During 1926-1927 his band started performing at "Bristol", at the time the most elegant hotel of Warsaw. It was during late 1920s that Kagan composed his tango "Złota pantera" (The Golden Panther) which was played for the first time in the mountain spa of Żegiestów in Poland in 1929. "The Golden Panther" immediately became a huge hit, especially when Andrzej Włast, the director of the revue theatre "Morskie Oko" in Warsaw, included Kagan's hit into his grand revue "1000 pięknych dziewcząt" (Thousand of Pretty Girls) in the fall season of 1929. The later Kagan's compositions confirmed his outstanding position among Polist cabaret authors of the time, especially with his hits "Jesienna piosenka" (Autumn Song) which was turned into a hit by the Warsaw diseuse, Hanka Ordonówna, or "Tyś mych uczuć niewarta" (You're Not Worth My Feelings), another tango.

The 1930s were for Kagan a decade of success. Helived in a large and modern flat on the fashionable Aleje Ujazdowskie of Warsaw, his orchestra performed at the best hotels and night-clubs of Poland: "Adria", "Carlton" or "Casanova" in Warsaw, "Feniks" in Cracow, "Patria" in the mountain spa of Krynica or "Ritz" in Bialystok. Kagan was the director of the house orchestra of the "Cristall-Electro" record company as well as director of some musical productions at the theatre-cinema "Colosseum" in Warsaw.

With the capture of Warsaw by the Nazis in 1939, Kagan had to give up his appartment and was forced to move to Warsaw Ghetto. He tried to make a living by playing piano at the restaurant "Splendid" and also for several productions by the ghetto music theatre "Melody Palace". Kagan died in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942.
Poet. Born in Lipno, Poland, Hershele (a pseudonym for Hersh Danielevitz), received a traditional Jewish education. He joined the revolutionary movement at a young age, fled to Zurich, Switzerland, and then returned to his native land. In 1915 he co-founded the Lodz literary circle. Hershele wrote for various Yiddish dailies and periodicals in Poland and contributed to the Buenos Aires Yiddish daily.
Hershele’s poetry collections include Hersheles Lider (1907) and Zun Feygelekh (1918). He died in the Warsaw ghetto, Poland.
Cantor. Born in Libau, Germany, he was named “Strashonsky” after his father-in-law but was mostly known as Der Vilner Ba’al ha-Ba’yit. From an early age he played the violin. His father was a cantor in Vilna and on his death in 1830 Lewensohn became cantor in his place. In 1842 he visited Warsaw with his choir, where he made a very good impression. Nevertheless, the move from the ghetto to the big city disturbed him emotionally and he left for a few years, moving around Central Europe from one community to the other, seldom appearing in synagogues. A few of the melodies he composed survived. He died in Warsaw, Poland.
Sirota, Gershon (1874-1943) , cantor. Born in Haysin, Podolia (a county in the Ukraine), in 1895 he was nominated cantor in Odessa. He then became the eighth cantor of the Great Synagogue in Vilna, where he served for eight years and attracted many listeners, Jews and non-Jews alike. Together with the choir conductor Leo Loew he performed during Theodor Herzl’s visit to Vilna. In 1908 he entered a 19 year long service at the Tlomacki Synagogue in Warsaw, taking Leo Loew with him. Sirota enjoyed great success and was considered a master of improvisation. As early as 1903 he made some cantorial recordings. From 1927 till 1935 Sirota made many concert tours throughout Europe and America. In 1935 he was nominated the cantor at the Norzyk Synagogue in Warsaw. In 1937 he sang in Tel Aviv, accompanied by the choir of Leo Loew, then resident of the city. Shortly before the outbreak of World War II he returned to Warsaw, where he and his family perished in the Ghetto during the Holocaust.
Jasinowski, Israel Isidore (1842–1917), Zionist leader, born in Kosov, Ukraine (then in the Russian Empire). He received a traditional religious education and in 1874 completed his law studies at the University of Kazan, Russia, where he was awarded the degree of advocate for his thesis on "Sources of Jurisprudence in Holy Scripture and in its Oral Tradition." He became a well-known lawyer in Warsaw, Poland, where he headed the Hibbat Zion movement soon after its establishment. He was among the organizers of the Kattowitz Conference of 1884, a convention of Hibbat Zion societies from various countries. Jasinoswki was elected to the Central Committee of Hibbat Zion and together with others he drafted the regulations of the "Odessa Committe" of Hovevei Zion, called officially the Society for Supporting Jewish Agriculturists and Artisans in Syria and Palestine, and participated in the founding meeting of the society (1890).

Jasinowski joined the Zionist movement at its inception and participated in its first seven congresses. He represented the Warsaw "constituency" and his office served as the center of Zionist activities in Russian Poland. He was among those who supported the Uganda Scheme, and, after the Seventh Zionist Congress, he joined the Jewish Territorial Organization. He was a member of its International Council and participated as its representative at the Brussels Conference on questions of Jewish migration (1906). In his last years Jasinowski drifted away from the Jewish national movement and came closer to assimilationist circles.
Szlosberg, Sonya (1884-1937), Yiddish actress and singer who lived and worked in Warsaw, Poland. Szlosberg (also known as Sonia Schlossberg) was one of the eleven actresses and thirteen actors who made up the original Kaminski Theater. Szlosberg played the role of Isaac in Goldfaden’s "Binding of Isaac". Sonia’s husband, Isaak Szlosberg (Schlossberg) (1877-1930), a conductor and composor, arranged the score and conducted the orchestra for this production. Sonia acted in at least one silent film, "The Cantor’s Daughter" (1913). As a singer, Szlosberg recorded over 20 phonograph records between 1909 and 1921 on Odeon, RAOG, Syrena, and Zonophone labels. Isaak Szlosberg was the composer of the "Retsay" (popularized by the recordings and performances of Gershon Sirota.) Both husband and wife, were also active in the Yiddish theater for which Isaak Szlosberg composed some 80 operettas and operas

Sonia Szlosberg was the mother of the pianist Roman Szlosberg and the actresses Manya and Lize Szlosberg
Writer. Born in Starodub, Ukraine, he spent his youth in a small town in the province of Orel. At the age of 18, he joined in Warsaw the editorial staff of Ha-Zefirah, in which he published also his own poems, literary critiques, stories and translations. Gnessin then wandered from town to town, living for a time in Yekaterinoslav, Vilnius and Kiev. In 1907 he went to London to co-edit, together with J.H. Brenner, the periodical Ha-Me’orer. Due to the failure of the publication, disagreements with Brenner and bad health, Gnessin emigrated to Eretz Israel the same year. Unable to adjust he returned some months later to Russia.
His prose is considered one of the major landmarks in Hebrew literature. It includes, among others, the stories Haziddah (Aside, 1905), Beinatayim (Meanwhile, 1906), Be-Terem (Before, 1909), Ba-Gannim (In the Gardens, 1909), Ketatah (A Quarrel, 1912) and Ezel (By, 1913). He died in Warsaw, Poland.
Poet and theater director. Broderzon was born into a family of wealthy merchants in Moscow, Russia. Between 1918 to 1938 he lived in Lodz where he founded the small theaters Had Gadya, Ararat and Shor Habar. Broderzon was also head of a Yiddish literary group. He wrote plays and songs for children, many of which were set to music. In 1939 Broderzon moved to Moscow. During Stalin’s persecutions of Yiddish writers he was taken to a Siberian labour camp, where he was incarcerated between 1948 and 1955. After his liberation he moved to Poland.
Broderzon’s last lyrics, entitled Yod, were published in 1939. In 1947 his play, “Pre-Holiday Scene” was staged at the Yiddish National Theatre in Moscow. He died in Warsaw, Poland.
Hirschhorn, Samuel (1876–1942), journalist, poet,and leader of Polish Jewry in 1920 and 1930s, born into an affluent family in Slonim, Belarus (then part of theRussian Empire). In 1889 he moved to Warsaw to complete his secular and religious education. He began to write articles for liberal Polish magazines. He also wrote and translated poetry from French and Russian into Polish. In 1903 he wrote the first Polish-language small book about Zionism in which he explained the history of the movement and its goals. He became a frequent contributor to the Polish language Jewish press, including the weekly "Glos Zydowski" and the Krakow monthly "Moriah", in which he explored Jewish–Polish relations and translated poetry into Polish from Yiddish. During World War I, Hirschhorn contributed to the "Varshever Tageblat", a Yiddish daily officially sponsored by German-occupation authorities. In 1916, he became a member of the leadership of the Warsaw Jewish Writers and Journalists Association and joined the staff of the Warsaw Yiddish daily "Der Moment", to which he contributed regularly for more than two decades.

In 1916, Hirschhorn helped to found the Diaspora Nationalist Folkspartei, which he represented in the Warsaw City Council and from 1919 in the Polish parliament. Although the party mainly appealed to Yiddish speakers, Hirschhorn Polish had a crucial role in cultivating Jewish identity, and so strongly supported the building of Jewish national cultural institutions within a Polish-language context. Hirschhorn published Polish translations of a collection of works by the French poet François Béranger, a book of poems by Hayim Nahman Bialik (1907), and an anthology of more than 60 Hebrew and Yiddish poems ("Antologia poezji żydowskiej", 1921). He wrote a history of the Jews in Congress Poland 1788-1914 in both Polish and Yiddish editions. He continued to write for many Jewish and general newspapers through the 1920s and 1930s.

Hirschhorn committed suicide in the Warsaw ghetto in May 1942 in order to avoid falling into the hands of the Germans.
Kataszek, Szymon (1898-1943), composer and jazz musician, born in Warsaw, Poland (then part of the Russian Empire). He studied at Warsaw Music Institute and then at the St Cecilia Academy in Rome,Italy, after which he returned to Warsaw where he worked as a church organist and pianist at nightclubs.

In 1920 Kataszek enlisted in the Polish army and fought in the Polish-Soviet War in which Poland attempted to secure certain territories at the time of the partitions. In 1921 he performed with dance orchestras in Berlin, Germany, and Gdansk and then founded a jazz quintet which performed by various Warsaw nightclubs and also toured various Polish cities. He wrote many foxtrots, tangos, shimmies and Charlstons all of which were very popular amongst the Polish younger public of the time. He also composed several songs for films. He became chairman of the Society for Worklesss Musicians which succeeded in persuading performing artists to contribute 20% of their earnings from radio to a fund to help the unemployed musicians.

In 1941 he, along with almost all other Jews was confined to the Warsaw Ghetto where he became the leader of the Ghetto Jewish Police Orchestra. He succeeded in escaping from the ghetto and once again started to make music. He was, however, recognized by a Nazi officer in the German occupied Lvov, arrested, sent back to Warsaw and subsequently shot by the Nazis in 1943.
Isaac Leib Peretz (1852 - 1915) born in Zamosc, Poland. In the years 1877 - 1887 worked as a lawyer. In 1891 worked as a junior clerk in the burial department of the Warsaw community.
One of the founders of the new Yiddish literature and key figure in Hebrew literature. His controversial writing contributed to the Jewish workers' movement. His protagonists are Hasidim and simple people, devout in their religion in spite of their hard lives. He is a pioneer in the short story and symbolical plays in the Yiddish literature.
Szlengel, Wladyslaw (1914-1943), Polish language poet and actor, born in Warsaw, Poland, known as the "Poet of the Ghetto". His father, an artist, supported his family by painting movie posters. As a boy Szlengel often helped his father in his work. Szlengel started composing poems and short stories while still a schoolchild. Some of these early poems were published in local magazines. In 1930 he completed a 3-year course at the School of Economics Later, his works continued to appear, mainly in Warsaw publications. He also wrote satiric poems for the press and stage that were published in the Polish satirical periodical "Szpilki". Some of his texts were used in cabarets. His writings were firmly grounded in reality. Later some more serious poems were published in the Polish language Zionist daily "Nasz Przeglad". After the creation of the Ghetto his works acquired a special depth and poignancy.

After the German attack on Poland in September 1939, he took part in the defense of Warsaw. At the end of 1939, Szlengel was made the announcer and director of the Polish literary "Miniature Theatre" in Bialystok, but out of concern for the fate of his wife, he returned to Warsaw in 1940 and from that moment he began to share the fate of the Jewish residents of Warsaw. In November 1940, he was forced to enter the Warsaw ghetto, where he became one of the organizers of cultural life. In his poems he presented the daily experiences and sufferings of the inhabitants of the ghetto, often in a slightly ironic way. He performed at the famous cafe Sztuka ("Café Art"), where he ran a cabaret "Live Journal" which was a humorous chronicle of daily life in the ghetto. At Sztuka he met the Pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman.

Szlengel wrote a number of poems documenting the destruction of the Jewish people. The most popular include: "Window to the other side", "Accounts with God", "Two deaths", "Counterattack", "Passports", "Stuff", "Mobile", "Little Treblinka Station". In his poem "Card with the Daily 'Action'", Szlengel describes the path of children from the orphanage to the Umsclagplatz in the first days of August 1942 during the great deportation action from Warsaw to the Treblinka Nazi death camp. As he could not print his poems, he typed them in dozens of copies and distributed them in the ghetto. He entrusted his texts to the historian Emanuel Ringelblum who documented the fate of Warsaw Ghetto. It's was Ringelblum who dubbed Szlengel as the "Poet of the Ghetto".

At one time, he unsuccessfully tried to hide outside Warsaw ghetto. At the time of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising he hid in a bunker at 36 Swietojerska St. The shelter was discovered by the Germans and Szlengel, along with his wife, were shot dead on the spot on May 8, 1943.

After WW2 a selection of Szlengel's poems were published in 1946. His manuscripts were discovered accidentally in 1960, hidden in a double tray of an old table. New editions, including Hebrew translations by Halina Birenbaum, have been published since the 1970's. His poem "Little Treblinka Station" was turned into a song by the Israeli singer Yehudah Poliker and included in his album "Efer Ve'avak" ("Ashes and Dust") (1988), the first Israeli pop music album on the theme of the Holocaust.
Poet and playwright. Born in Warsaw, Poland, he was orphaned at an early age. In 1930 he emigrated to Eretz Israel but returned to Poland two years later and served for three years as chairman of the Hebrew Authors’ Association of Poland.
Most of Shoham’s works – poems, plays and essays – were published in literary periodicals. During his lifetime only Zor vi-Yrushalayim (1933) and Elohei Barzel Lo Ta’aseh Lekha (Thou shalt Not Make to Thyself Molten Gods, 1937) appeared in book form. In 1965 a collection of his works was published. He died in Warsaw, Poland.
Writer and folklorist. Born in Chashniki, Russia, named Solomon Zainwil Rapaport, at the age of 16 he joined the Haskalah movement and started to study Russian. Attracted by the populist group Narodniki, he then went to live and work among Russian peasants. Later, in St. Petersburg, he contributed to the Narodniki monthly publication. In 1892 he had to leave Russia and after brief sojourns in Germany and Switzerland, settled in 1894 in Paris. There he worked as secretary to the revolutionary philosopher Piotr Lavrov. An-Ski returned to Russia in 1905 and joined the Social-Revolutionary Party. He started to write in Yiddish and wrote folk legends, hasidic tales and stories about Jewish poverty. An-Ski served as head of a Jewish ethnographic expedition and between 1911-1914, traveled through villages of Volhynia and Podolia collecting material. During World War I he devoted himself to organizing relief committees to help Jewish refugees. In 1918 he was deputy of the Social-Revolutionary Party at the All-Russian Constituent Assembly. In 1919 he settled in Warsaw, Poland.
His knowledge of Jewish folklore inspired him to write his most famous play the Dybbuk (originally both in Yiddish and Russian, translated to Hebrew by H.N. Bialik), first produced on stage in Vilna, 1920. An-Ski’s Yiddish works, comprising 15 volumes, were published posthumously. He died in Warsaw, Poland.
Historian

His family had been active as Hebrew printers in Lvov and Zolkiew from 1830. He was born in Lvov and studied at its university. He then taught at several schools (especially the one at Gliniany) founded by Baron de Hirsch in Galicia. He was active in Zionist circles. In World War I, he was a military chaplain in Lublin. From 1918 to 1920 Balaban headed a Jewish school in Czestochowa, and then directed the rabbinical seminary in Warsaw until 1930. From 1928 he taught Jewish history at the University of Warsaw, being appointed professor in 1936. He also directed the Warsaw Institute for Jewish Studies. When the Nazis occupied Warsaw in 1939, he refused to flee and died in the Warsaw Ghetto. Balaban is regarded as the founder of the historiography of Polish Jewry and published extensively. In the framework of his community studies,he reconstructed the history of the Jewish self-governing bodies in Poland.
Musicologist. Born in Lvov, Poland, she completed her musical education at the Lvov Conservatory, where she studied piano and organ, in 1924. Later she studied musicology with Chibinski and wrote her dissertation in 1930 on Scriabin's Harmony. After World War II she was cultural attache at the Polish embassy in Moscow. Later she became professor of music at the Warsaw University.
Among her publications are The Outlines of Musical Science (1934); Remarks on the Marxist Method in Musicology (1950); and History of Russian Music (1955). She died in Warsaw, Poland.
WARSZAWSKI, WARSZAVSKI, WARSSAWSKI

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name is a toponymic (derived from a geographic name of a town, city, region or country). Surnames that are based on place names do not always testify to direct origin from that place, but may indicate an indirect relation between the name-bearer or his ancestors and the place, such as birth place, temporary residence, trade, or family-relatives.

The Polish Jewish surnames in this group, in which the Polish ending "-ski" means "of/from", are associated with Warsaw (in Polish, Warszawa, and in German, Warschau), the capital city of Poland, where Jews lived since the 13th century. The spelling Warschawer is Yiddish. The German variant Warschauer is documented in 1818 in Dresden (Germany).

Distinguished 20th century bearers of the Jewish family name Warszawski include the Polish-born Australian trade union activist and Yiddish journalist and translator, Binem Warszawski.
WARSZAWIAK

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name may be a toponymic (derived from a geographic name of a town, city, region or country). Surnames that are based on place names do not always testify to direct origin from that place, but may indicate an indirect relation between the name-bearer or his ancestors and the place, such as birth place, temporary residence, trade, or family-relatives.

Warszawiak is a variant of Warsaw (in Polish, Warszawa, and in German, Warschau), the capital city of Poland, where Jews lived since the 13th century. The spelling Warschawer is Yiddish. The German variant Warschauer is documented in 1818 in Dresden (Germany).

A distinguished bearer of this name was the 19th/20th century Polish-born U.S. adventurer and grocer, Hermann Warszawiak.
Duration:
00:03:25

Retse ("Be Favorable" - in Hebrew)

Original recording from Mokum Jerusalem of the West: The Musical Tradition of the Ashkenazi Community of Amsterdam. Produced by Beit Hatfutsot in 2004.

Retse is an integral part of the Amida, originally recited daily by the priests in the Temple in Jerusalem. The melody, often erroneously ascribed to Hazzan Gershon Sirota (1877-1943) of Warsaw, was actually composed by Arye Leyb Schlossberg (1843-1925) or his son Yizhak. However, it was cantor Sirota who made this Retse popular by singing it frequently in the synagogue and at many concerts outside the synagogue, in a variety of arrangements with choir and orchestra. In this recording from 1913 Wolf Reisel, hazzan of the New Synagogue in Amsterdam, is heard singing with the synagogue choir.

Text by Hans Bloemendal originally published by Beit Hatfutsot in Mokum Jerusalem of the West: The Musical Tradition of the Ashkenazi Community of Amsterdam CD booklet.

Duration:
00:04:36

Versprich Mir Eins ("Do Promise Me" - in German)

Original recording from Sounds of Memory. Produced by Beit HaTfutsot in 1995

This poem was written by Ernest Muenzinger who took part in the July 20, 1944 Warsaw upsirsing and was executed in 1945. The piece by Norbert Glanzberg premiered at Beit HaTfutsot on the evening after Holocaust Remembrance Day, 1994.

Warsaw after the liberation, Poland 1945.
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Ester Marek)
Celebrating Lag Ba'Omer
in the Warsaw Ghetto.
Poland, May 5, 1942.
(Jerusalem, Yad Vashem)
Communal Seder in Warsaw,
Poland, 1960.
Second from right is Israel Consul General
in Poland, Mr. Rehavem Amir.
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot)
Daily prayers at the Jewish confessional congregation
in Warsaw, Twarda Street, Poland, 1981
Photo: Katarzyna Madon, Poland
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Katarzyna Madon, Poland)

Pupils and teachers of the Bornstein private Hebrew school on 6 Marinska street, Warsaw, Poland, Summer 1913

(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot)

Jews in Warsaw,
Poland, c.1930
Photo: Moshe Raviv
(Tel Aviv, Moshe Raviv collection)
Students of the Tarbut Seminar for kindergarten teachers,
Warsaw, Poland, 1923.
The headmaster, Isaac Alterman (third row, left),
father of the poet Natan Alterman, was the founder of the Hebrew kindergartens in Poland.
(Beth Hateftsoth Photo Archive,
courtesy of Dina Weinstock, London)
'The Vikt Theater' in I.L.Peretz's
play "The Treasure", Warsaw, Poland 1927.
(Tel Aviv, Municiapl Theater Museum)
1 \ 2
Levin, Yitzhak Meir (1893-1971), ultra orthodox politician, member of Agudat Israel and one of 37 people to sign the Israeli declaration of independence, born in Gora Kalwaria (Ger), Poland (then part of the Russian Empire). A founder of Agudath Israel in Poland, he was in 1924 elected to Warsaw Community Council as a representative of the organization and in 1929 was elected to the World Agudat Israel praesidium. In 1937 he was elected as one of the two co-chairmen of the organization's executive committee. Between 1937 and 1939 he was a member of the Sejm, the Polish parliament, representing Agudat Israel. He was also involved in founding the Beis Yaakov school system for religious Jewish girls.

Following the outbreak of the Second World War, Levin helped refugees in Warsaw, before immigrating to Mandate Palestine in 1940, where he became head of the local branch of Agudath Israel.

After signing the Israeli declaration of independence in 1948, Levin joined David Ben-Gurion's provisional government as Minister of Welfare. He was elected to the first Knesset in 1949 as a member of the United Religious Front, an alliance of the four major religious parties, and was reappointed to his ministerial role in the first and second governments. After retaining his seat in the 1951 elections, Levin rejoined Ben-Gurion's government as Minister of Welfare, but resigned in 1952 in protest at the National Service Law for Women. He remained a member of the Knesset until his death in 1971.
Historian

His family had been active as Hebrew printers in Lvov and Zolkiew from 1830. He was born in Lvov and studied at its university. He then taught at several schools (especially the one at Gliniany) founded by Baron de Hirsch in Galicia. He was active in Zionist circles. In World War I, he was a military chaplain in Lublin. From 1918 to 1920 Balaban headed a Jewish school in Czestochowa, and then directed the rabbinical seminary in Warsaw until 1930. From 1928 he taught Jewish history at the University of Warsaw, being appointed professor in 1936. He also directed the Warsaw Institute for Jewish Studies. When the Nazis occupied Warsaw in 1939, he refused to flee and died in the Warsaw Ghetto. Balaban is regarded as the founder of the historiography of Polish Jewry and published extensively. In the framework of his community studies,he reconstructed the history of the Jewish self-governing bodies in Poland.
Hirschhorn, Samuel (1876–1942), journalist, poet,and leader of Polish Jewry in 1920 and 1930s, born into an affluent family in Slonim, Belarus (then part of theRussian Empire). In 1889 he moved to Warsaw to complete his secular and religious education. He began to write articles for liberal Polish magazines. He also wrote and translated poetry from French and Russian into Polish. In 1903 he wrote the first Polish-language small book about Zionism in which he explained the history of the movement and its goals. He became a frequent contributor to the Polish language Jewish press, including the weekly "Glos Zydowski" and the Krakow monthly "Moriah", in which he explored Jewish–Polish relations and translated poetry into Polish from Yiddish. During World War I, Hirschhorn contributed to the "Varshever Tageblat", a Yiddish daily officially sponsored by German-occupation authorities. In 1916, he became a member of the leadership of the Warsaw Jewish Writers and Journalists Association and joined the staff of the Warsaw Yiddish daily "Der Moment", to which he contributed regularly for more than two decades.

In 1916, Hirschhorn helped to found the Diaspora Nationalist Folkspartei, which he represented in the Warsaw City Council and from 1919 in the Polish parliament. Although the party mainly appealed to Yiddish speakers, Hirschhorn Polish had a crucial role in cultivating Jewish identity, and so strongly supported the building of Jewish national cultural institutions within a Polish-language context. Hirschhorn published Polish translations of a collection of works by the French poet François Béranger, a book of poems by Hayim Nahman Bialik (1907), and an anthology of more than 60 Hebrew and Yiddish poems ("Antologia poezji żydowskiej", 1921). He wrote a history of the Jews in Congress Poland 1788-1914 in both Polish and Yiddish editions. He continued to write for many Jewish and general newspapers through the 1920s and 1930s.

Hirschhorn committed suicide in the Warsaw ghetto in May 1942 in order to avoid falling into the hands of the Germans.
Portnoy Yekutiel (Noah; Yuzef), (1872-1941), one of the pioneers of the Bund, the Jewish Labour Union of Lithuania, Poland and Russia founded in 1897. He joined a revolutionary circle at the Jewish teachers seminary in Vilna (1888-92). While working as a teacher in Kovno (Kaunas) he was active amongst local Jewish workers and had contacts with socialists in Poland as well as throughout Lithuanian. He was exiled to Siberia on account of his revolutionary activities but managed to escape in 1899. Shortly thereafter he joined the central committee of the Bund. Portnoy edited the Bund's newspaper, "Arbeiter Shtimme", was in charge of its organization and gave ideas for its various programs.

In 1908 Portnoy settled in Warsaw. During World War I (1914-1918) he promoted cooperation between the Bund and Polish socialist parties, but was imprisoned by the Germans. After World War I, in independent Poland, he headed the central committee of the Bund, and from 1925 to 1930 he was its emissary in the Unites States. After the Nazis occupied Poland in 1939 he succeeded in escaping to the United States and served as head of the U.S. delegation of the Bund of Poland.
Hebrew author

Born in Taurage to a family of rabbis, he was ordained rabbi by Yitshak Salanter but he was also interested in Haskalah and taught himself Russian and German. After working as a tutor in varous Lithuanian towns, he settled in Warsaw in 1875 and wrote for the Hebrew press. At first he was inclined towards socialist cosmopolitanism. After the 1881 pogroms he supported emigration to the United States but then became an ardent advocate of Hibbat Zion, becoming secretary of its Warsaw branch and attending the 1884 Kattowitz Conference. He was a founder of the Warsaw branch of the Bnei Moshe secret Zionist society and attended the first Zionist Congress. He translated Graetz's History of the Jews into Hebrew. His last years were spent in poverty in Frankfurt on Main.
Hohermann, Alicja (1902-1943), painter, born in Warsaw, Poland (then part of the Russian Empire). Apparently she attended the School of Fine Arts in Warsaw and in 1925 she had her first exhibition in Warsaw.

Hohermann moved to Paris where she participated in Salon of Independents (1926-1931), Autumn Salon (1927-1930) and Salone de Tuileries in 1938. She exhibited also in London and New York. In 1931 she had an individual exhibition at the Union des Artistes Modernes gallery in Paris. During WW2 she sought shelter in southern France, but was arrested in Marseilles and deported to Treblinka death camp where she was murdered.
Gruenbaum, Yitzhak (1879-1970), Zionist and Jewish leader in Poland and Israeli politician, born in Warsaw, Poland (then part of the Russian Empire). Gruenbaum grew up in Plonsk in Russian Poland, where he joined the Zionist movement in 1888 while in high school. His Zionist activities continued while studying law in Warsaw. He was a delegate to Zionist Congresses from the seventh congress in 1905. In Poland
he was active in promoting Hebrew culture and believed that the Zionists were the natural leaders of the diaspora Jews in the struggle for their rights. He was a central figure at the conference of Russian Zionists at Helsingfors (Helsinki, Finland) in 1906 and was in St. Petersburg, Russia, during the First World War, but returned to Warsaw in 1918, where he helped to establish the Provisional National Council, which played an important role in the campaign for civic and political rights of the Jews during the first years of independent Poland. In 1919, Gruenbaum was elected to the Sejm, the Polish parliament, where he fought for the rights of national minorities, and he remained a member until he left Poland in 1932.

At first he moved to Paris, France, but at the 1933 Zionist Congress he was elected a member of the Jewish Agency Executive and settled in Palestine. He was immediately appointed head of the Aliya Department, a position he held for two years. From 1935-1948, he was head of the Labor Department, one of the leaders of the Organization Department and also headed the Bialik publishing house. He served as treasurer of the Jewish Agency from 1949-1950.
On the eve of the establishment of the State of Israel, Gruenbaum was a member of Minhelet ha-Am (People's Administration) in charge of internal affairs and became minister of the interior in the Provisional Government. He ran for election to the Knesset in 1949 under his own personal list, campaigning largely for the secularization of the state, but was not elected.

Associated with the left wing of the Israel labour movement he remained active for many years and contributing frequent articles to the Mapam newspaper "Al HaMishmar".
Achron, Isidor (1892-1948) , pianist and composer. Born in Warsaw, Poland, Achron was the brother of composer and violinist Joseph Achron. He studied in St. Petersburg and in 1922 immigrated to the United States and settled in New York. From 1922/23 he accompanied violinist Jascha Heifetz and also appeared as a concert pianist.
Achron’s compositions include many piano works, two piano concertos (1937,1942) and the SUITE GROTESQUE for orchestra (1942). He died in New York, USA.
Shneiderman, Samuel Leib (Szmuel Lejb Sznajderman) (1906-1996), Yiddish writer and journalist, born in Kazimierz Dolny, Poland (then part of the Russian Empire). He attended the University of Warsaw and studied at the High School for Journalism.

Shneiderman started working for "Nasz Przegląd", Hajnt", "Chwili", "Nowy Dziennik", and other of Jewish newspapers in Poland. In 1931 he moved to Paris, France, where he was active as a correspondent for a number of Jewish newspapers of Poland. He went to Spain in late 1930s and covered the civil war there.

In 1933 Shneiderman married Halina Szymin, the sister of the photographer David Szymin "Chim".

Before WW2 Shneiderman published a number of books in Yiddish, including "Tsvishn Nalevkes Aifl unturn" ("Between Nalewki to the Eiffel Tower", 1936), which deals with the fate of the Jewish people during the Great Depression. He is the author of an introduction to "Krig in Shpanien" ("War in Spain", 1938) a collection of reportages with photographs by his brother-in-law David Szymin "Chim" (later David Seymour) who covered the war for several French and American newspapers. His poems were published in "Di gilden feigl" ("The Golden Bird", 1927), and "Fayern in shtot" ("Fire in the town", 1932). During the 1930s Shneiderman was co-editor of the "Almanach Literacki" ("Literary Almanac") published in Warsaw in 1931, and translated into Yiddish a number of literary works.

In 1938 he moved to South Africa, where he worked for "Afrikaner Yiddishe Zeitung" newspaper. During late 1930s he travelled extensively over a number of countries in East Africa and visited the Land of Israel for the first time in 1939. He immigrated to the USA in 1940 settling in New York and became an American citizen in 1949.

Shneiderman visited Poland after WW2. In July 1946 he reported on the pogrom against Holocaust survivors that took place in Kielce. His impressions were published in a Yiddish book "Tsvishn shrek un hofnung: a raiz iber nayen Polin" ("Between Fear and Hope: A Journey through the New Poland", 1946). His other Yiddish books include "Ilya Ehrenburg" (1968), "The Stormy Life and Work of Artur Szyk" (1980), while his English books include "Between Fear and Hope" (1947), "The Warsaw Heresy" (1959), and "The River Remembers" (1978).

Shneiderman was the editor of "Warsaw Ghetto: A Diary by Mary Berg" (1945, and then published in nine languages), of the Yiddish collection "Tsuzamen" ("Together", 1974) and of the war memoirs of Gemma LaGuardia Gluck, sister of New York City's Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia. He wrote the narration to the full-length documentary film "The Last Chapter: The Rise and Fall of the Thousand Year Old Jewish Community in Poland" (1965, narrated by Theodore Bikel, Ben-Lar Productions, New York).

Shneiderman's journalistic work was published in the Jewish daily "Forward" of New York and in other Yiddish daily newspapers throughout the world, in addition to periodicals as "Midstream" (New York), "L'Arche" (Paris), and "Al Hamishmar" (Tel Aviv).

Shneiderman served as President of the Yiddish P. E. N. Club. In 1986 he was awarded the Manger Prize for Yiddish literature.

The S. L. Shneiderman Archives, comprising a rich array of essays and journalistic publications in Yiidish and English along with translations of Shneiderman's works into Hebrew, Polish and other languages, together with their sources and additional material that Shneiderman and his wife collected over seventy years, were donated to the Diaspora Rsearch Institute at Tel Aviv University. The S. L. and Eileen Shneiderman Yiddish Book Collection was donated to the University of Maryland in the USA.

Shneiderman settled in Israel in 1994 and died in Tel Aviv two years later.
Netanyahu, Benzion (1910-2012), historian who was an expert on the Spanish Inquisition who challenged many accepted views, born Benzion Mileikowsky in Warsaw, Poland (then Part of the Russian Empire). He was brought to Palestine as a child and eventually joined Zeev Jabotinsky’s Revisionist party, the opponents of David Ben-Gurion’s socialist Zionist camp.

As a young man he spent time in New York, USA, as an assistant to Jabotinsky. He held a number of teaching positions in the US, the most recent of them at Cornell University. Netanyahu wrote extensively about Zionist history, but his most important work dealt with the Jews of 15th century Spain and the converts to Catholicism known as crypto-Jews.

Before Netanyahu, scholars portrayed these Jews as unwilling converts who surreptitiously practiced Judaism. In Netanyahu’s version, which was based in part on rabbinic literature, most of the “marranos” were willing converts who abandoned Jewish ritual and did their best to assimilate. The Inquisition, be believed, was driven by racism and economic jealousy. The idea that Jews were secretly practicing their religion, he thought, had been manufactured to justify the persecution. Some critics believed that he was reading 20th century history – and especially German anti-Semitism and the Holocaust — into older events as part of a worldview that saw European Jew-hatred as unchanging and Jewish attempts at assimilation as doomed.

A supporter of the idea of a Greater Israel that would encompass today’s Kingdom of Jordan, he opposed the 1947 Partition Plan that created a smaller Jewish state. Netanyahu was fiercely opposed to any concessions to the Palestinians, and publicly chided his son, prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for relinquishing Israeli control of Hebron during his first term as prime minister. “To me it’s clear that there is no such thing as a Palestinian people. There is none and never was”, Benzion Netanyahu told "Haaretz" daily in a 1998 interview. For Israel, he said, Palestinian statehood would be a “nightmare”.

Benzion Netanyahu’s eldest son, Jonathan (Yoni), died while leading Israeli commandos in the famed Entebbe rescue raid in 1976.
Writer. Born in Starodub, Ukraine, he spent his youth in a small town in the province of Orel. At the age of 18, he joined in Warsaw the editorial staff of Ha-Zefirah, in which he published also his own poems, literary critiques, stories and translations. Gnessin then wandered from town to town, living for a time in Yekaterinoslav, Vilnius and Kiev. In 1907 he went to London to co-edit, together with J.H. Brenner, the periodical Ha-Me’orer. Due to the failure of the publication, disagreements with Brenner and bad health, Gnessin emigrated to Eretz Israel the same year. Unable to adjust he returned some months later to Russia.
His prose is considered one of the major landmarks in Hebrew literature. It includes, among others, the stories Haziddah (Aside, 1905), Beinatayim (Meanwhile, 1906), Be-Terem (Before, 1909), Ba-Gannim (In the Gardens, 1909), Ketatah (A Quarrel, 1912) and Ezel (By, 1913). He died in Warsaw, Poland.
Totenberg, Roman (1911-2012), violinist and musical educator, born in Warsaw, Poland (then part of the Russian Empire), but brought up in Moscow where his family lived during World War I.

Totenberg was a child prodigy and in made his debut at the age of eleven as soloist with the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra. He went on to study in Berlin and Paris. In 1935 he first played in London and in 1938 emigrated to the USA. Totenberg toured South Africa with Arthur Rubinstein and proceeded to appear with many leading American and European orchestras. He was also appointed to be professor of music at the University of Boston and taught at a large number of important conservatories.

In 1988 he was awarded the Order of Merit by the Polish government and was given several other awards in America. Totenberg recorded for many labels, including Deutsche Grammophon, Telefunken and Philips. Totenberg’s influence on classical music as a performer, teacher and mentor to countless young players continued until the day of his death.
Conductor and composer. Born in Warsaw, Poland, he studied in Berlin, Germany, and became conductor of the Comic Opera. From 1912-1923 he was music director of the German Opera House in Berlin-Charlottenburg. In 1925 he conducted the New York State Symphony Orchestra for one season. In 1933 he moved to Prague, in 1934 to Vienna, and in 1938 he settled in New York.
His works include MANDRAGOLA, opera (1914), operettas; chamber music, piano works, BIBI, vaudeville, songs to Yiddish texts and piano arrangements of Yiddish songs. He is also author of the autobiography Aus dem Ghetto in die Freiheit (1936). Died in New York.
Jasinowski, Israel Isidore (1842–1917), Zionist leader, born in Kosov, Ukraine (then in the Russian Empire). He received a traditional religious education and in 1874 completed his law studies at the University of Kazan, Russia, where he was awarded the degree of advocate for his thesis on "Sources of Jurisprudence in Holy Scripture and in its Oral Tradition." He became a well-known lawyer in Warsaw, Poland, where he headed the Hibbat Zion movement soon after its establishment. He was among the organizers of the Kattowitz Conference of 1884, a convention of Hibbat Zion societies from various countries. Jasinoswki was elected to the Central Committee of Hibbat Zion and together with others he drafted the regulations of the "Odessa Committe" of Hovevei Zion, called officially the Society for Supporting Jewish Agriculturists and Artisans in Syria and Palestine, and participated in the founding meeting of the society (1890).

Jasinowski joined the Zionist movement at its inception and participated in its first seven congresses. He represented the Warsaw "constituency" and his office served as the center of Zionist activities in Russian Poland. He was among those who supported the Uganda Scheme, and, after the Seventh Zionist Congress, he joined the Jewish Territorial Organization. He was a member of its International Council and participated as its representative at the Brussels Conference on questions of Jewish migration (1906). In his last years Jasinowski drifted away from the Jewish national movement and came closer to assimilationist circles.
Composer. Born in Warsaw, Poland. His father was a composer and musical leader at a Jewish theater and later moved to Minsk. Moysey Vaiberg studied piano at the Warsaw Conservatory and composition in Minsk. From 1941 till 1943 he lived in Tashkent and then settled in Moscow. His family in Poland had been murdered by the Nazis, and in 1948 his father-in-law, the famous Jewish actor Solomon Mikhoels, was liquidated on Stalins order on the wave of rising Soviet anti-semitism. Vainberg nourished a deep friendship with Myaskovsky and Shostakovich. In 1953 Vainberg was arrested on a false charge as an enemy of the people. Shostakovich intervened for him with the secret police. Yet it was Stalin's death that saved his life.
Vainberg composed over One-hundred and fifty songs and twenty-six Symphonies. He also composed nineteen sonatas, seventeen string quartets, seven seven operas and many other works. He died in Moscow on 26 February, 1996, at the age of 76.
His list of compositions includes, among others, over 150 songs, 26 symphonies, violin concerto (1941), cello concerto (1943), 19 sonatas, 17 string quartets, seven operas (BEKISTAN, 1941), the ballet FOR THE FATHERLAND (1941), the cantata IN THE NATIVE LAND (1953) and numerous chamber works. He died in Moscow, Russia.
Writer and folklorist. Born in Chashniki, Russia, named Solomon Zainwil Rapaport, at the age of 16 he joined the Haskalah movement and started to study Russian. Attracted by the populist group Narodniki, he then went to live and work among Russian peasants. Later, in St. Petersburg, he contributed to the Narodniki monthly publication. In 1892 he had to leave Russia and after brief sojourns in Germany and Switzerland, settled in 1894 in Paris. There he worked as secretary to the revolutionary philosopher Piotr Lavrov. An-Ski returned to Russia in 1905 and joined the Social-Revolutionary Party. He started to write in Yiddish and wrote folk legends, hasidic tales and stories about Jewish poverty. An-Ski served as head of a Jewish ethnographic expedition and between 1911-1914, traveled through villages of Volhynia and Podolia collecting material. During World War I he devoted himself to organizing relief committees to help Jewish refugees. In 1918 he was deputy of the Social-Revolutionary Party at the All-Russian Constituent Assembly. In 1919 he settled in Warsaw, Poland.
His knowledge of Jewish folklore inspired him to write his most famous play the Dybbuk (originally both in Yiddish and Russian, translated to Hebrew by H.N. Bialik), first produced on stage in Vilna, 1920. An-Ski’s Yiddish works, comprising 15 volumes, were published posthumously. He died in Warsaw, Poland.

Wilhelm Wachtel (1875-1942), artist, born in Lvov (then Lemberg, in Austria-Hungary, now Lviv in Ukraine). Between 1895 and 1899 he studied in School of Fine Arts in Krakow, Poland, in workshop of L. Loeffler and L. Wyczolkowski and then in Academy in Munich in workshop of N.Gysis.

Wachtel returned to Lvov. He painted scenes of Jewish character, including after returning from a trip to Palestine in 1922, a series of paintings depicting the hard life of the Halutzim (Jewish Zionist settlers). He also produced portraits, biblical scenes and everyday life scenes. He used oil, pastel but also made prints. In 1935 he had solo exhibition in Zachęta in Warsaw where he showed 50 works.

He traveled frequently to Vienna and Paris. In 1936 he immigrated to British Mandate Palestine, but after the outbreak of World War 2, he immigrated to the United States. Most of Wachtel's work was lost during World War 2. He died in a car accident in the USA.

Romkowski, Roman (1907-1965), Communist activist , general and deputy minister of the Polish Ministry of Public Security, born as Natan Grinszpan-Kikiel (or Menasze Grünszpan – Kikiel), in Poland.

Romkowski started his political activitiers with various Communist organizations before joining the Polish Communist Party in 1927. He went to study history and economics at Moscow University in the Soviet Union in 1930, and from 1935 he attended the international school of the Comintern in Moscow. Following his return to Poland in 1936, he was arrested and sentenced to 7 years in prison for Communist activities. After 1941 he fought the Nazis as a partizan in Belarus. At the orders of the Soviets, he changed his original name to Roman Romkowski in 1944.

As of January 1946 he became Deputy Minister and Head of the Security Department of the Ministry of Public Security. He was advanced to the rank of brigadier in 1949. In his functions Romkowski was responsible directly Lavrentiy Pavlovich Beria, chief of the Soviet security and secret police apparatus under Stalin.

Following the process of destalinazation, he was arrested in March 1957 and sentenced to 15 years in prison for abuse of the detainees. He was released in 1964.
Najdorf, Miguel (1910-1997), chess master, born Najdorf, Miguel in Grodzisk Mazowiecki, a small town near Warsaw, Poland (then part of the Russian Empire). In the late 1920s and 1930s he won a number of important international games and represented Poland in four pre-war Chess Olympiads. In August/September 1939, when World War II broke out, he was in Buenos Aires representing Poland at the 8th Chess Olympiad.

Najdorf and two of his non-Jewish colleagues decided to stay in Argentina and so escaped the Holocaust. Between 1950 and 1975 he represented Argentina at several more Chess Olympiads. Altogether he won eleven Olympic medals, seven for national teams and four for individual performances. His achievements placed him in the ranks of the world's best players in the 1950s and 1960s. He was especially strong when playing Blindfold chess, and on two occasions broke the world record, once by playing blindfold 40 games in Rosario, and then in 1947 by playing 45 games in Sao Paulo, Btazil. Thus he became the world blindfold chess champion. His last national championship was in 1991 when, aged 81, he finished with a minus score. Najdorf was an exceptional blitz (five-minute) player, remaining a strong player into his eighties.
Erlich, Henrik (1882-1941), journalist, Jewish socialist leader in Poland, born in Lublin, Poland (then part of the Russian Empire) to a wealthy Orthodox Jewish family. His father was a Hassid who acquired some secular education and later joined Hovevei Zion movement. Erlich received a full secular legal education. He studied law in Warsaw, where he encountered Socialist movement for the first time and joined the Bund. He was arrested on several occasions for revolutionary activity and was finally expelled from the university. He therefore continued his studies in St Petersburg, Russia. From 1913 he belonged to the Central Committee of Bund. During the Russian Revolution of 1917 he was a member of Petrograd Soviet executive committee and member of Soviet's delegation to England, France and Italy. After the revolution in Russia, he moved back to Warsaw. In Warsaw he met Wiktor Alter, one of the most influential leaders of Bund. As a member of Bund, he became a member of the Warsaw municipality after Poland had regained its independence in 1921. Erlich took an active part in socialist propaganda activities and edited a number of periodicals including "Glos Bundu" (“Voice of Bund”) (1901-1905) and “Volks Zeitung” (“People’s Newspaper”). In 1925 he was elected to the Warsaw kehilla council as one of 5 Bundists out of 50 members. Bund joined the Comintern in 1930 and Erlich found himself on its executive body.

After the outbreak of World War 2, Erlich made his way to the part of Poland that had come under Soviet control. He was almost immediately arrested by Russian authorities and sentenced to death. However, the sentence was commuted to 10 years imprisonment. Erlich was eventually released as a result of of the Sikorski–Mayski Agreement between the Soviet Union and Poland in 1941. At about the same time Erlich was supposed to join Gen. Sikorski (the Prime Minister of the Polish Government in Exile) in traveling to London where it was intended that Sikorski should join the Polish government. However, in December, Erlich, together with Victor Alter were once again arrested by the NKVD in Kuybyshev. No reason was given for their arrest. According to various sources at the time, he was charged with spying for “enemies of the Soviet Union”. The Soviet authorities later announced that he had been executed, but it was widely believed that Henryk Erlich committed suicide in the Soviet prison in Kuybyshev.

In 1991, Victor Erlich, Henryk Erlich's grandson was informed that according to a decree passed under Russian president Boris Yeltsin, Erlich had been "rehabilitated" and the repressions against them had been declared unlawful. While the exact place where he was buried is unknown, a cenotaph was erected at the Jewish cemetery on Okopowa Street in Warsaw in 1988. The inscription reads "Leaders of the Bund, Henryk Erlich, b. 1882, and Wiktor Alter, b. 1890. Executed in the Soviet Union".
Talmudist

He was born in Podhajce and studied in Vienna at the University and the Rabbinical Seminary where he was ordained. He taught Talmud at the Institute for Jewish Science in Warsaw, 1928-40, and at Yeshiva University, New York. In 1967 he moved to Israel and lectured at Bar-Ilan University. In 1935-40, he was vice-president of the Mizrachi Organization in Poland. His scholarly writings center around the history and development of the Talmud which pioneered new directions of research in the study of talmudic history and law.
Kagan, Jakub (1896-1942), composer, born in Nowogrodek (Novogrudek, then in the Russian Empire, now in Belarus). Kagan was educated at the Warsaw Music Institute before 1918, and then he was admitted to the newly established Association of Polish Composers and Stage Authors in Warsaw. Two years later he took part, as a Polish soldier, in the defense of Warsaw during the Polish-Bolshevik war of 1920.

Having established his own "Kagan's Jazz Band" in 1922, he started performing at the "Mirage" cabaret and at the operetta theatre "Nowości" (Novelties) in Warsaw. During 1926-1927 his band started performing at "Bristol", at the time the most elegant hotel of Warsaw. It was during late 1920s that Kagan composed his tango "Złota pantera" (The Golden Panther) which was played for the first time in the mountain spa of Żegiestów in Poland in 1929. "The Golden Panther" immediately became a huge hit, especially when Andrzej Włast, the director of the revue theatre "Morskie Oko" in Warsaw, included Kagan's hit into his grand revue "1000 pięknych dziewcząt" (Thousand of Pretty Girls) in the fall season of 1929. The later Kagan's compositions confirmed his outstanding position among Polist cabaret authors of the time, especially with his hits "Jesienna piosenka" (Autumn Song) which was turned into a hit by the Warsaw diseuse, Hanka Ordonówna, or "Tyś mych uczuć niewarta" (You're Not Worth My Feelings), another tango.

The 1930s were for Kagan a decade of success. Helived in a large and modern flat on the fashionable Aleje Ujazdowskie of Warsaw, his orchestra performed at the best hotels and night-clubs of Poland: "Adria", "Carlton" or "Casanova" in Warsaw, "Feniks" in Cracow, "Patria" in the mountain spa of Krynica or "Ritz" in Bialystok. Kagan was the director of the house orchestra of the "Cristall-Electro" record company as well as director of some musical productions at the theatre-cinema "Colosseum" in Warsaw.

With the capture of Warsaw by the Nazis in 1939, Kagan had to give up his appartment and was forced to move to Warsaw Ghetto. He tried to make a living by playing piano at the restaurant "Splendid" and also for several productions by the ghetto music theatre "Melody Palace". Kagan died in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942.
Poet and playwright. Born in Warsaw, Poland, he was orphaned at an early age. In 1930 he emigrated to Eretz Israel but returned to Poland two years later and served for three years as chairman of the Hebrew Authors’ Association of Poland.
Most of Shoham’s works – poems, plays and essays – were published in literary periodicals. During his lifetime only Zor vi-Yrushalayim (1933) and Elohei Barzel Lo Ta’aseh Lekha (Thou shalt Not Make to Thyself Molten Gods, 1937) appeared in book form. In 1965 a collection of his works was published. He died in Warsaw, Poland.
Hazan, Yaacov (1899-1992), politician and social activist born in Brest-Litovsk, Belarus (then in the Russian Empire). He studied in a Heder and a Hebrew high school. In 1915, he was among the founders of the "Hebrew Scouts movement" in Poland (later to become "Hashomer Hatzair"), where he was also one of first members of "HeHalutz". He studied at Warsaw Polytechnic before immigrating to Mandate Palestine in 1923, where he worked in an orchard in Hadera and in drying swamps in the Beit She'an valley.

In 1926, he joined Kibbutz "Hashomer HaTzair B", which would later be named Mishmar HaEmek. Hazan became a central figure in the left wing Kibbutz Artzi movement and actively participated in turning the movement into a political party later to be known as Mapam. He served in various positions of the Histadrut and the Zionist movement and major Yishuv institutions. Along with Meir Yaari, he led HaShomer Hatzair, Kibbutz Artzi and Mapam for some forty years during which time the movement and the party were closely aligned with the aims of communism and the USSR.

In 1948 he was one of the founders of Mapam and became one of the main supporters of the party's pro-Soviet stand. He identified with the Soviet Union and the global communist movement in every aspect, except its attitude toward Zionism. On Stalin’s death, he wrote an emotional eulogy about him for "Al HaMishmar", the party's daily newspaper. After the Prague Trials, he changed his mind and joined forces with Yaari to keep Moshe Sneh, who maintained his pro-Soviet opinion, out of the party. Hazan was a Mapam (and later Alignment) MK from 1949 to 1973. In the fourth Knesset he was a member of the Knesset committee and in the fifth to the seventh a member of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. He supported collaboration with Mapai, the more middle of the road socialist party and the establishment of the Alignment in 1968. After the Six-Day War he played an important part in formulating Mapam's dovish positions.
Kazdan, Hayyim (1883–1979), Bundist, educator, and leader of the secular Yiddish educational movement, born in Kherson, Russia (now in Ukraine). Kazdan received a traditional Jewish education. In 1907, he wrote for the short-lived Yiddish language daily newspaper "Di Hofnung" published by the Bund. Between 1918 and 1920, Kazdan was secretary of the Kiev-based "Kultur-lige" ("Culture League") and helped to establish "Shul und Leben" ("School and Life"), the first pedagogical magazine in Yiddish in order to encourage schooling in Yiddish. In 1920 he moved to Warsaw, Poland, and there too he worked to encourage Yiddish education. In 1921 he was one of the leaders and founders of the Central Yiddish School Organization (TSYSHO), a network of Polish secular–socialist Yiddish schools. Kazdan wrote for the TSYSHO press and published curriculum guides for secular Yiddish schools. In 1925 he printed the "Program fun yidish-limed in der 7-klasiker folks-shul" ("Syllabus for the Study of Yiddish in the Seventh-Grade Folk School") and, in 1939, "Metodik fun yidisher shprakh" ("A Yiddish Language Curriculum"), as well as many articles on educational theory. In the 1930s, Kazdan served as director of TSYSHO in Warsaw.

After the German–Soviet partition of Poland in 1939 and the outbreak of World War II, Kazdan settled in Vilna, Lithuania. Together with some 150 other Yiddish teachers, Kazdan helped maintain TSYSHO schools until the Soviet annexation of Lithuania in 1940.

In 1941, Kazdan immigrated to the USA, where he wrote about Jewish education and the labor movement in Eastern Europe in the early twentieth-century. In 1955 he began to teach Yiddish language and literature at the Jewish Teachers Seminary in New York. Kazdan was editor and contributor to the "Geshikhte fun bund" ("History of the Bund") magazine which was published between 1960 and 1972. He wrote several other books on the history of Jewish Poland up till 1939.
Dykman, Shlomo (1917-1965), translator and literary critic, born in Warsaw, Poland. He attended school at the "Hinuch" Hebrew Gymnasium, and then studied the classics at the Institute of Jewish Studies at Warsaw University. From 1935 he began publishing translations and literary reviews, including translations from Hebrew into Polish. In 1939, he published a Polish translation of all of H.N.Bialik's poems.

When in 1940 Poland was partitioned between Germany and the Soviet Union, he fled to Bukhara, in Soviet Central Asia, where he taught Hebrew. In 1944, he was arrested by the Soviet authorities and accused of Zionist and Counter-revolutionary activities. He was initially sentenced to death, but the sentence was commuted to five to ten years hard labour, which he served in the Vorkuta coals mines in the Arctic region of the northern Urals. He was released in 1957 and returned to Warsaw. In 1960 he emigrated to Israel and settled in Jerusalem.

Dykman translated many Greek and Latin classics into Hebrew. Among his translations were the tragedies of "Aeschylus" and "Sophocles", the poem "Aeneid" by Virgil and "Metamorphoses" by Ovid. He was awarded the Israel Prize posthumously in 1965.

Dr. Ludwik Leyzer Zamenhof, physician and linguist in Poland, creator of Esperanto.

In 1878 he published the principles of the new and simple language, which would contribute to international understanding. The name of the language derives from his signature "Dr. Esperanto" - the physician with hope. In 1905 Zamenhof organized the first international congress of Esperanto speakers. He was an active Zionist, and was one of the first members of "Hibbat Zion".

Szlengel, Wladyslaw (1914-1943), Polish language poet and actor, born in Warsaw, Poland, known as the "Poet of the Ghetto". His father, an artist, supported his family by painting movie posters. As a boy Szlengel often helped his father in his work. Szlengel started composing poems and short stories while still a schoolchild. Some of these early poems were published in local magazines. In 1930 he completed a 3-year course at the School of Economics Later, his works continued to appear, mainly in Warsaw publications. He also wrote satiric poems for the press and stage that were published in the Polish satirical periodical "Szpilki". Some of his texts were used in cabarets. His writings were firmly grounded in reality. Later some more serious poems were published in the Polish language Zionist daily "Nasz Przeglad". After the creation of the Ghetto his works acquired a special depth and poignancy.

After the German attack on Poland in September 1939, he took part in the defense of Warsaw. At the end of 1939, Szlengel was made the announcer and director of the Polish literary "Miniature Theatre" in Bialystok, but out of concern for the fate of his wife, he returned to Warsaw in 1940 and from that moment he began to share the fate of the Jewish residents of Warsaw. In November 1940, he was forced to enter the Warsaw ghetto, where he became one of the organizers of cultural life. In his poems he presented the daily experiences and sufferings of the inhabitants of the ghetto, often in a slightly ironic way. He performed at the famous cafe Sztuka ("Café Art"), where he ran a cabaret "Live Journal" which was a humorous chronicle of daily life in the ghetto. At Sztuka he met the Pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman.

Szlengel wrote a number of poems documenting the destruction of the Jewish people. The most popular include: "Window to the other side", "Accounts with God", "Two deaths", "Counterattack", "Passports", "Stuff", "Mobile", "Little Treblinka Station". In his poem "Card with the Daily 'Action'", Szlengel describes the path of children from the orphanage to the Umsclagplatz in the first days of August 1942 during the great deportation action from Warsaw to the Treblinka Nazi death camp. As he could not print his poems, he typed them in dozens of copies and distributed them in the ghetto. He entrusted his texts to the historian Emanuel Ringelblum who documented the fate of Warsaw Ghetto. It's was Ringelblum who dubbed Szlengel as the "Poet of the Ghetto".

At one time, he unsuccessfully tried to hide outside Warsaw ghetto. At the time of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising he hid in a bunker at 36 Swietojerska St. The shelter was discovered by the Germans and Szlengel, along with his wife, were shot dead on the spot on May 8, 1943.

After WW2 a selection of Szlengel's poems were published in 1946. His manuscripts were discovered accidentally in 1960, hidden in a double tray of an old table. New editions, including Hebrew translations by Halina Birenbaum, have been published since the 1970's. His poem "Little Treblinka Station" was turned into a song by the Israeli singer Yehudah Poliker and included in his album "Efer Ve'avak" ("Ashes and Dust") (1988), the first Israeli pop music album on the theme of the Holocaust.
Baal-Machshevet (Israel Isidor Elyashiv) (1873-1924), Yiddish literary critic. Born in Kovno, Lithuania (then part of the Russian Empire). He was educated at the Yeshiva of Courland, (now part of Latvia), where students learned both religious and secular subjects such as mathematics, geography, German language and also Jewish studies including Torat ha-Musar. His outlook on life became somewhat sceptical, a view expressed in his "Ironistic Tales" (1910). He went on to study at a Swiss high school and then medicine at Heidelberg and Berlin, Germany. He practiced medicine in Lithuania and also in Warsaw and St. Petersburg, Russia.

Elyashiv's main interest was in writing and literary criticism. He started writing in German and Russian at the age of 23 (1896). He published his first literary criticism in Yiddish five years later, influenced by J.L. Peretz. He continued to write in Yiddish. In his essay "Two Languages- One Literature", he wrote that although the Jews speak and write different languages, their culture is the same. He thought that both Hebrew and Yiddish should be recognized as national Jewish languages, the first to connect to Jewish sources, and the latter to connect with Jews throughout the Diaspora. An ardent Zionist he translated "Altneuland" by Theodor Herzl into Yiddish and attended some of the Zionist Congresses. During WWI he served as a medical officer in the Russian Army. After the war he left for Berlin and, from 1922 to his death, edited a Yiddish newspaper. He wrote essays about the important Jewish authors of his time.
Diamand, Herman (1860-1930), socialist politician and publisher, born in Lvov, Ukraine (then Lemberg, Austria-Hungary) into a middle class assimilated family. He attended a modern Jewish primary school and then a public secondary school. Diamand studied law and political science at the local university and went on to be awarded a doctorate in 1894 at the University of Vienna, Austria. By the late 1880s he became a convinced socialist and Polish nationalist. In 1892 he was a delegate to the founding convention of the Polish Social Democratic Party of Galicia. Between 1904 and 1909 he represented the party at the International Bureau of the Second International.

Although favouring assimilation, Diamand devoted much energy to working to improve the lot of Jewish workers. He published and edited several Yiddish newspapers which identified with the socialist mnovement, including the biweekly "Di yidishe folksblat" (Lwów, 1896-1897) and the weekly "Di yidishe folkstsaytung" (1903-1904). However Diamand opposed the establishment of separate Jewish workers' organizations which in his view would only prolong Jewish separeteness. He felt that Yiddish was a temporary tool to raise the cultural level of the Jewish masses, but believed that the eventual disappearance of Yiddish was not only inevitable from a Marxist point of view, but even desirable.

During World War I Diamand supported Piludski and the Polish Legions and appealed to the Jews to support Polish independence. In 1917 he was elected to represent Galicia in the Austrian parliament. When Poland gained its independence he became a member of its parliament from 1919 to 1930.
Musicologist, composer and conductor. Known also as Nehemia Vinaver he was born in Warsaw, Poland, and grew up in his grandfather’s hassidic court. From 1916-1920 he studied music in Warsaw and in Berlin, where he took conducting and composition classes with Hugo Ruedel and Siegfried Ochs. From 1926-1933 he was the conductor at the Temple of the Berlin community and recorded 20 liturgical works with the choir. He organized the HANIGUN Choir for the preservation and propagation of Jewish traditional music. With HANIGUN he toured Europe and Eretz Israel.
In 1938 he went with his wife, poetess Mascha Kaleko, and their son to the United States. From 1952 he was music consultant for the Zionist Organization in New York. In 1967 he came to Israel and settled in Jerusalem. He published Anthology of Jewish Music (1955) and MASHPIL GE’IM, which was composed strickly in the traditional mode. His manuscripts are kept at the National Library in Jerusalem. He died in Israel.
Infeld, Leopold (1898-1968), physicist, born in Krakow, Poalnd (then part the Austro-Hungarian Empire). He studied physics at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow and obtained his doctorate there in 1921. He worked as an assistant and a docent at the University of Lwow (1930–1933).

In 1933 he went to England where he was appointed a Rockefeller fellow at Cambridge University (1933–1934). Infeld was interested in the theory of relativity and worked together with Albert Einstein at Princeton University, USA, between 1936 and 1938. The two scientists co-formulated the equation describing star movements. He became a professor at the University of Toronto, Canada, between 1939 and 1950. After the first use of nuclear weapons in 1945, Infeld, like Einstein, became a peace activist. Because of his activities in this field he was accused of having communist sympathies. In 1950 he therefore left Canada and returned to Poland where he became a professor at the University of Warsaw, a post he held until his death.

Infeld was one of the 11 signatories to the 1955 Russell–Einstein Manifesto (initiated by Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein and 8 other Nobel Peace Prize winners) which sought to highlight the dangers posed by nuclear weapons and called for world leaders to seek peaceful resolutions to international conflicts. Infeld also wrote with Einstein "The Evolution of Physics", a widely read history of physical theory from the 17th century to the 20th. Infeld also wrote "Quest: An Autobiography" and the biography "Whom the Gods Love: The Story of Evariste Galois."
Edel, Yitzhak (1896-1973) ,composer. Born in Warsaw, Poland, he studied at the conservatories of Kiev and Moscow, graduating from the latter in 1927. Between 1924-1927 he taught music at the orphanage directed by Janus Korczak. Edel founded in Warsaw the Society for Jewish Music, the first to organize concerts of Jewish music. In 1929 he emigrated to Eretz Israel and worked as music teacher at the Levinsky Teachers’ Seminary in Tel Aviv. In his late years he taught at the Israel Conservatory for Music in Tel Aviv. His work as an educator is reflected in textbooks he published, the most widespread of which are The Fundamentals of Music (1953) and The Israeli Song (1946).
Edel’s list of compositions includes THE SHEPHERD’S SONG for soprano and orchestra (1938), CAPRICCIO for piano (1946), SUITE IN MEMORIAM for piano trio (1947), THREE SONGS for soprano and orchestra (1949), TO THE PEOPLE’S VOLOUNTEERS, Cantata for tenor, mixed choir and orchestra (1957); STRING QUARTET No.1 (“Mixolydian”, 1957), STRING QUARTET No.2 with soprano solo (1965) and TRIPTIQUE for piano (1965). He died in Tel Aviv.
Trachter, Symcha (1893-1942), artist born in Lublin, Poland (then part of the Russian Empire). In 1911 he settled in Warsaw, Poland. He studied painting in Academy of Fine Arts there between 1916 and 1920 and then continued his studies at the Academy of Fine Arts of Krakow in workshops of Jacek Malczewski, Teodor Axentowicz and Stanisław Dębicki.

Tracter went to Vienna, Austria, where he studied for six months and then in 1927 he moved to Paris, France, where he was inspired by Ecole de Paris movement. Upon his return to Poland he settled in Lublin. He visited Kazimierz Dolny very often.

During the Nazi occupation of Poland in WW2, he was in Warsaw Ghetto. Together with Feliks Frydman he made frescos in the board room of the Judenrat in Warsaw. He supported himself by working in a cooperative manufacturing whetstone for sharpening knives and scouring powder. During night of 26 August 1942, along with other members of the cooperative, he was deported to the Nazi death camp at Treblinka and murdered there.
Zionist educator

Born in Pumpenai, he studied at Berlin University where he helped to found the first Russian Jewish students' group and joined the Zionist secret society, Bnei Moshe. After his graduation he served as principal of a modern Jewish school in Warsaw. Lurie was a delegate to the first Zionist Congress and from 1899 to 1904 edited the Zionist Yiddish weekly Der Yid in Warsaw. In 1906 he was elected to the central committee of the Zionist organization in Russia and became editor of the Zionist Yiddish weekly Dos Yidishe Folk in Vilna. In 1907 he settled in Erets Israel ,and taught at the Herzlia Gymnasia in Tel Aviv. After World War I he headed the Zionist Executive's department of Education and Culture, later of the Vaad Leummi. He was associated with Judah Magnes in the Berit Shalom movement for Arab-Jewish friendship.
Jarblum, Marc (1887–1972), Zionist leader born in Warsaw, Poland (Then part of the Russian Empire). He was one of the founders of the Po'alei Zion socialist Zionist movement in Poland and also engaged in underground activity for which he was repeatedly jailed. In 1907 he moved to Paris, France, and completed his law studies there. From the time of his arrival in Paris he gradually became one of the most prominent public figures in the Po'alei Zion movement and in French Jewry. He went to Russia during the October Revolution where he interviewed Lenin on the Jewish question. He was later arrested and sent to Siberia but escaped and returned to Paris where he became a close friend of Leon Blum, the French Jew who was Premier of France during the early 1930's. Jarblum was responsible for winning over Blum and the leaders of the Second (Socialist) International including Jean Jaurès and Vandervelde to the Zionist cause. He was the representative of Socialist Zionism at the Second International, he was representative of the Jewish Agency in Paris, president of the Zionist Federation and chairman of the Federation of Jewish Organizations in France, as well as being head of the Socialist Zionist movement and editor of its journal. When the Nazis occupied France in 1940, Jarblum became active in the French Jewish resistance movement. He escaped to Switzerland in 1943 and worked with the Joint Distribution Committee and the World Jewish Congress During World War II. He returned to France after the war and continued his public activities.

After the war he played an important role in getting French intellectuals to accept the 1947 United Nations plan to partition Palestine into Arab and Jewish states. In 1948, he was named a Knight in the French Legion of Honor.

Jarblum lived in Tel Aviv from 1953 and worked in the political department of the Histadrut. He published numerous pamphlets on current affairs in Yiddish and in French. Among his works are "The Socialist International and Zionism" (1933), "Le Destin de la Palestine juive de la Déclaration Balfour 1917 au Livre Blanc" (1939), "Ils habiteront en sécurité" (1947); and "La Lutte des Juifs contre les Nazis" (1945). For many years he was the correspondent in France for "Davar" and for Yiddish journals in the USA, South America and Poland. He died in Bnei Brak.
Zionist

Born in Vilkaviskis, he became director of a Hebrew bookstore and publishing firm established in Warsaw by his father. He was an early member of Hibbat Zion and of the secret Zionist order, Bene Moshe. On behalf of the Menuha ve-Nahala settlement society he went to Erets Israel to purchase the land on which Rehovot was founded. In 1900 Lewin-Epstein settled in New York as representative of the Carmel Wine Company and for a time was treasurer of the Federation of American Zionists. In 1918 he went to Palestine with the American Zionist Medical Unit which he managed. He was also attached to the Zionist Commission and settled in Palestine.
Poet. Born in Warsaw, Poland, he emigrated to Eretz Israel in 1937. From 1948 Tene edited Mishmar Liyladim, a weekly for children.
His books of poetry include Mekhorah (1939), Massa ba-Gali (1941), Temolim al ha-Saf (1947), and Shirim u-Fo’emot (1967). Tene’s poetry books for children include Dani Dan u-Telat Ofan (1952) and Kezir ha-Pele (1957). He also wrote folktales for children and translated many poems and collections of Polish and Russian prose.
Cantor. Born in Libau, Germany, he was named “Strashonsky” after his father-in-law but was mostly known as Der Vilner Ba’al ha-Ba’yit. From an early age he played the violin. His father was a cantor in Vilna and on his death in 1830 Lewensohn became cantor in his place. In 1842 he visited Warsaw with his choir, where he made a very good impression. Nevertheless, the move from the ghetto to the big city disturbed him emotionally and he left for a few years, moving around Central Europe from one community to the other, seldom appearing in synagogues. A few of the melodies he composed survived. He died in Warsaw, Poland.
Laks, Szymon (1901-1983), composer, born in Warsaw, Poland (then part of the Russian Empire). He studied mathematics for two years at Vilna (Vilnius) University before attending the Warsaw Conservatory, where he became a student of Roman Statkowski, Henryk Melcer, and Piotr Rytel (1921-1924). In 1926 he moved to Paris, France, where he studied composition with Pierre Vidal and Henry Rabaud at the Paris Conservatory. Laks was arrested by the Germans in 1941 and spent three years in the concentration camps of Auschwitz and Dachau. He published his memoirs from the Holocaust in "La musique d'un autre monde" (Paris, 1948). Laks was a member of the camp orchestra - violinist, conductor, and arranger. He was spared the physical labor that killed countless prisoners. Laks's experience of the Holocaust affected his music: many of his manuscripts were lost during the war.

In 1945 he returned to Paris. His works include settings of texts by Polish-Jewish poets, such as Julian Tuwim, or Mieczysław Jastrun. Laks's works include instrumental music: "Chants de la terre de Pologne. Grande fantaisie folklorique pour orchestre"; "Concertino pour Trio d'Anches", "Third String Quartet", "Fourth String Quartet", and "Concerto da camera".
Seymour, David (born Dawid Szymin) also known under the pseudonym Chim (1911-1956), photojournalist, born in Warsaw, Poland, the son of a publisher of Hebrew and Yiddish books. At the start of WW1, his family moved to Russia and returned to Warsaw in 1919.

Chim studied at the Academy of Graphic Arts in Leipzig, Germany, and then graduated in chemistry and physics from the Sorbonne in Paris, France, in 1933. In Paris he met Roberta Capę, Gerda Pohorylle, Georges Soria and Henri Cartier-Bresson. Due to financial difficulties in the family, he began working as a photojournalist, publishing his first photo essay in Paris Soir. After 1934 he worked for Regards Magazine, a French monthly news magazine, under the pseudonym Chim, documenting the Popular Front in Paris.

In 1936, during the Spanish Civil War, he was sent to Spain where he joined the Republicans. His photographs depicting the horrors of the war in Spain have earned him a reputation in Europe. Following the victory of fascist forces of General Francisco Franco, he returned to France. In 1939 he was commissioned by Paris-Match magazine to document the journey of 150,000 Spanish refugees to the exiled Spanish Republican government in Mexico. Shortly afterwards, he immigrated to the USA and settled in New York adopting the name David Seymour. Chim enlisted in the US Army in 1940 and later on served as a translator and photographer on the battlefields of Europe. He received American citizenship in 1942.

After the end of WW2, Chim started working for UNICEF, documenting the impact of war on children. The photographs he took in Poland, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Italy, Greece, and Germany, were published by UNESCO in the album "Children of Europe" (1949). In 1947 in Munich, Germany, he co-founded the Magnum photo agency and served as his president after 1954, following the tragic death of Roberta Capa. During his extensive travels in Europe, USA, and Israel Chim documented the born of the State of Israel, major events in Europe as well as Hollywood movie stars. His photographic portraits include Sophia Loren, Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe and Pablo Picasso.

Chim was killed on November 10, 1956, by machine-gun fire on the Egyptian border crossing in Qantara, on the Israeli-Egyptian cease-fire line during the 1956 Israeli-Egyptian War, while he was preparing material about the exchange of prisoners for Newsweek magazine.
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Brandenburg an der Havel

Brandenburg/Havel

A town west of Berlin in Brandenburg, Germany.

First Jewish presence: 14th century; peak Jewish population: 483 in 1925; Jewish population in 1933: 200

The earliest available reference to a Brandenburg Jew is dated 1313. The town was home to a synagogue as early as 1322, but its location is not known. Although Jews were expelled from Brandenburg/Havel after the Black Death persecutions of 1348, they established a new presence there in 1372. By 1490, the town was home to a Judengasse (probably presentday Lindenstrasse); records from the late 15th century also mention a Jewish cemetery. Jews were expelled from the town yet again in 1573, and it was not until 1671 that the forefathers of the modern community moved to Brandenburg. In order to accommodate the growing population, the community built two synagogues—one in 1781, the other in 1883; the latter, located on 15 Grosse Muenzenstrasse, was renovated in 1903. Although the community had maintained a Jewish cemetery before 1720, a second one was consecrated in 1747. A rabbi and chazzan were hired in 1859, and we also know that local Jews were served by a shochet, a teacher of religion and a servant, the last of which, together with his wife, cared for the sick and dying. Brandenburg was also home to a mikveh. By the end of the 19th century, Brandenburg Jews were involved in a wide array of professions; many were merchants, but others worked as dentists, lawyers and chemists. On Pogrom Night (Nov. 9, 1938), SA men burned down the synagogue. The cemetery was desecrated, and the mortuary (built in 1770) torn down. Jewish-owned stores were damaged and looted, and Jews were assaulted, one of whom, a woman, committed suicide. Ninety Jews were deported to the Nazi concentration camps in Eastern Europe in the early 1940s; twenty-eight were sent to the Warsaw Ghetto in April 1942. Ten Jews, presumably protected by marriages to Gentiles, survived the war in Brandenburg. A memorial plaque was later affixed to the wall of the destroyed synagogue on Grosse Muenzenstrasse.

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This entry was originally published on Beit Ashkenaz - Destroyed German Synagogues and Communities website and contributed to the Database of the Museum of the Jewish People courtesy of Beit Ashkenaz.

Wyszogrod

 

Yiddish: װישאגראד (Vishegrod)

Hebrew: וישוגרוד

Polish: Wyszogród

German: Wyszogród

Russian: Вышогруд (Vyshogrud)


Town in Masovian Voivodeship, east central Poland.

 

21st Century

After the Second World War a monument for victims of the Holocaust was set at the Jewish cemetery consecrated in the first half of the 19th century. Gravestones can be found near the monument. Last known Orthodox or Conservative burial was probably held first half of the 19th century. The cemetery was demolished during the war, gravestones serving as roads and sidewalks.

A commemorative plaque was unveiled in 2019 for the in March 1941, 2357 Jews who were deported from the market square of Wyszogrod. It was placed on the building of the Museum of the Central Vistula and Wyszogród Land. Earlier in 2005 the medal of Preserving Memory was awarded, which honors Poles for their effort in preserving Jewish heritage.

BMD information for the town of Wyszogrod, birth, marriage and death since the year 1826 until 1912 exists.

Also letters and postcards remain, in Yiddish and German from World War II years.

The new Jewish cemetery of the town of Wyszogrod is near Pokoju street with modern brick gate posts and two gravestones. There is also an obelisk monument with a star of David. The other unlandmarked cemetery probably dates from the 16th century.

 

Prominent Figure

Jewish resident of the town of Wyszogrod was Nahum Sokolow (1859-1936). He was head of the World Zionist Organization (1931-1935). He originated from an ancient Polish family of rabbis and was prominent for his writing in Jewish press in various languages including Hebrew. Editor of the Hebrew scientific weekly Ha-Zefirah (Warsaw) which became a daily paper, he also edited the literary and historic Ha-Asif and Sefer Ha-Shanah. Beginning of World War I he went to England and was part of the negotiations of the Balfour Declaration of November 2, 1917.

 

History

A Jewish settlement in Wyszogrod is mentioned for the first time in 1422, when Jews received authorization from Prince Ziemowit IV (c. 1352-1426) to engage in commerce and crafts and to establish their own institutions. During the 16th century Jews established workshops for weaving.

In the second half of the 18th century a synagogue was erected, built of stone in the late baroque style according to plans by the architect David Frydlender; it was destroyed by the Nazis in 1939. In 1765 the 684 Jews paid the poll tax and 1,410 Jews paid the poll tax in 208 surrounding villages. The community numbered 2,883 (90% of the total population) in 1808; 2,458 (73%) in 1827; and 2,841 (74%) in 1857.

From the mid-19th century many Jews moved from Wyszogrod to Plock and Warsaw; in 1897 there were 2,735 (66%) Jews in the town and in 1921, 2,465 (about 57%). During the 1920s eight of the 12 members of the municipal council were Jews.

 

The Holocaust Period

Because of the town's location on Poland's principal waterway, the Vistula river, Jews there engaged in interurban trade. Their position deteriorated, however, on the eve of World War II as a result of anti-semitic pressure and boycott propaganda. N. Sokolow was born in Wyszogrod. The last rabbis to hold office were David Bornstein (until 1922) and Naphtali Spivak, both of whom died in the Holocaust.

At the outbreak of World War II there were about 2,700 Jews in Wyszogrod. On November 19, 1942, the Jewish community was liquidated when the Jews were expelled to Czerwinsk and Nowy Dwor, and from there deported to the Treblinka death camp. After the war the Jewish community was not reconstituted.

Radzymin

in Russian: Radimin
A town in Warszawa province, east central Poland.

Founded during the middle of the 17th century as a private town by a privilege granted by King Ladislaus IV of Poland, it grew rapidly during the 19th century as a result of Jewish enterprise. The synagogue was erected in 1840.

The Jewish population in Radzymin:

1827 - 432 (33%)
1856 - 1,278 (70%)
1897 - 2,133 (53%)
1921 - 2,209 (55%)
1931 - 3,559 (52.6%)

Radzymin was a center of chasidism, and during the 19th century it was the home of Jacob Aryeh Guterman, founder of the Radzymin dynasty of Tzaddikim. A yeshivah which gained renown was also established by the dynasty in Radzymin. Zionists played an important role in the public life of the town and in the municipal elections of 1927 they won seven of the ten seats reserved for Jews. The community council, elected in 1931, included six Zionists and two members of Agudat Israel.

Among religious, educational, and charitable institutions in Radzymin was the Linat Ha-Tzedek ("hospice for the poor") established in 1910.

Before the outbreak of World War II there were 3,900 Jews living in Radzymin. The Jewish community was liquidated on October 3, 1942, when all the Jews were deported to Treblinka death camp. After the war the Jewish community was not reconstituted.

Wronki

(German: Wronke)

Poznan province, western Poland.

The Jewish community of Wronki was first organized in the early 17th century. In 1607 permission was granted to build a synagogue and in 1633 a royal privilege confirmed the rights of the Jews in the town. They engaged in wholesale trade and crafts; toward the end of the 17th century they participated in the Leipzig fair. At that time representatives from Wronki served in important posts on the council of the lands. In 1765 the poll-taxpaying Jews of Wronki and surrounding villages numbered 483. Their occupations included tailoring, goldsmithery, and weaving. The debts of the community then reached the enormous sum of 200,000 zlotys.

From 1793 up to 1918 the town was under Prussian rule. In 1808 there were 543 Jews in Wronki (32% of the total population); 791 (35%) in 1840; 604 (24%) in 1871; 528 (12%) in 1895; 380 (8%) in 1905; 314 (6.5%) in 1910 and 187 (4%) in 1921. In the 1860s the local Jews started to move westward to Berlin and other large German cities. When the city was annexed to Poland in 1918 the Jewish population continued to dwindle.

On the outbreak of World War II, Wronki had 31 Jews. On November 7, 1939 all the Jews were deported to the general government via Buk, in Nowy Tomysl county. In the small town of Buk 1,300 Jews from many other places in the districts of Poznan (Posen) and Inowroclaw (Hohensalza) were concentrated, and sent a month later to the Mlyniewo camp near Poznanski (Suedhof). From there they were sent on to Sochaczew-Blonie county in the general government, Warsaw district, where they were allowed to disperse among the small towns of the region.

Dzialoszyce

Town in south-central Poland.

The town passed into Austria in 1795 after the third partition of Poland, and to Russia after 1915; from 1919 in Poland. From 1765 it had a considerable Jewish majority. The community numbered 651 in 1765; 2,514 (83% of the total population) in 1856; 3,526 (76.5%) in 1897; 5,618 (83.3%) in 1921; and about 7,000 (80%) in 1939. Tanning, brickmaking, and tailoring were the principal occupations of the community. After World War I Jews in Dzialoszyce owned about 78 clothing stores, six tanneries, and brick kilns. In 1930 the artisans established an authorized union to protect their status and assist their members in obtaining recognized technical diplomas. Although efforts were made to reconstruct life in 1937, it had not returned to normal before the German occupation in World War II.

The German army entered on September 6, 1939, and the anti-Jewish terror began. In 1941 about 5,000 Jews from Cracow, Warsaw, Lodz, Poznan, and Lask were deported to Dzialoszyce. In June 1941 Jews were forbidden to leave the town, but no closed ghetto was established. On September 3, 1942, the Germans carried out the first aktion against the Jews, but at least several hundred succeeded in fleeing to the surrounding forests. About 1,000 Jews were shot and over 8,000 deported to Belzec death camp and murdered. Another 1,000, mostly young men and women, were deported to the concentration camp in Plaszow, where only a few survived. Several hundred Jews were allowed to remain in Dzialoszyce.

They were concentrated in the town's synagogue. On November 9, 1942, the Germans conducted a second deportation to liquidate the remaining Jews, but many of them fled a day earlier and reached the forests.

Those Jews from Dzialoszyce who fled into the woods joined other Jewish runaways from Pinczow and other places in the vicinity. A number of Jewish partisan groups were formed to resist actively the German police search units and Polish anti-semitic gangs. The biggest partisan units were those organized by Zalman Fajnsztat and Michael Majtek. They united to form the guerilla unit Zygmunt, which was recognized by the Polish people's guard. This unit fought the Nazis and provided armed cover for hundreds of Jews hiding in the forest until February 1944, when it suffered great losses in a battle near the village of Pawlowice. The surviving Jewish partisans joined different polish guerilla units, but only a few of them were still alive by the time of the liberation of Dzialoszyce region from the Germans (January 1945). The Jewish community in Dzialoszyce was not reconstituted after the war. The town retains a 19th-century synagogue built in the classic style.

Bolimow

Village in the district of Lodz, central Poland.

Bolimow, on the highway between Lodz and Warsaw, received the status of a town in the mid-14th century, and was a center of the King`s estates. It developed economically until the 17th century, but degenerated at the end of the century due to the second and third partition of Poland among its neighbors. During the First World War the town was destroyed, when poison gas was used in its vicinity.

From the second half of the 18th century until the 19th century the town`s Jews belonged to the community of Lowicz. In the mid-19th century it reached its zenith, numbering 340 persons. At the end of that century a small, architectonically well devised synagogue and a beth midrash were built. During the first world war almost all Bolimow Jews were evacuated to Warsaw and Lowicz, but the community continued to exist. In the 1920s a Gmiluth Chassadim fund was founded. The depression of the 1930s caused the emigration of the younger generation to bigger cities.

The first Jews in Bolimow leased taverns from the district governors. At the end of the 18th century a local Jew built a tavern employing five workers. There were eight Jewish artisans, mostly tailors. The town had twice as many Jewish craftsmen, as the gentiles. At the beginning of the 20th century the Jews exelled in carpentery.

Agudath Israel led the community committee. During the years 1933-1934 Zionist organization branches of Mizrachi and the right-wing Poalei Zion were founded in Bolimow. On the initiative of the younger generation, a Peretz library was opened, which had hundreds of books.

In 1939 the Jewish community of Bolimow numbered 235 Jews.


The Holocaust Period

Prior to the German occupation Jewish youngsters fled from Bolimow at the beginning of September 1939. The town became a transition place for refugees on their way to Warsaw. In June 1940 some 120 Jewish refugees arrived from Lowicz. In December 1940 about 460 Jews were living in Bolimow. A Judenrat was imposed upon them. In the spring a Jewish police force was set up and the congested ghetto was surrounded by barbed wire.

Jews were forced by the Nazis to work in the nearby forests. Food was bought clandestinely from peasants. In March 1941 the local Jews were transferred to the Warsaw ghetto, most of them by forced march. (a distance of 40 kms. By air.)

The few Jews who tried to hide were caught after denunciations by the Poles. Only a few of the Jewish community members of Bolimow stayed alive after the war.

Golina

A town in the district of Poznan, central Poland. Until World War II in Lodz district.


Golina became a town in 1330, but started to develop only in the 18th century. The town is situated north of the Warta river, on the Warsaw-Poznan highway. Beer and spirit enterprises were built in the town.

Jews began to settle in Golina in the second half of the 18th century. In 1823-1868 and following the Russian occupation after the Polish uprising, the town`s growth was halted due to its proximity to the border. Since the 1820s Golina had an independent Jewish community, numbering 450 persons. Rabbi Abrahm Prost served as the khilla`s rabbi in the 1870s.

Jews were engaged in commerce and the crafts, and contributed to the economic development of Golina. In the 19th century they owned a flour mill and a tannery.

In 1939 the Jewish community of Golina numbered 700 Jews, accounting for about a third of the total local population.


The Holocaust Period

Golina was occupied by the Germans in September 1939, and Jewish property was plundered. Jews were maltreated and taken away for froced labour.

In the middle of July 1940 some of the town`s Jews were deported to Zagorow and to the village ghettoes of Grodziec and Rzgow.


In March 1941 some Jews were transferred to Izbica Lubelska, Jozefow Lubelski and to Krasnystaw in the general government. The remaining Jews were murdered in October 1941 in the woods near Kazimierz Biskupi.

Poland

Rzeczpospolita Polska -  Republic of Poland 

A country in central Europe, member of the European Union (EU).

21st Century

Estimated Jewish population in 2018: 4,500 out of 38,500,000 (0.01%). Main umbrella organization of the Jewish communities:

Union of Jewish Religious Communities in Poland - Związek Gmin Wyznaniowych Żydowskich w Polsce (ZGWŻP)
Phone: 48 22 620 43 24
Fax: 48 22 652 28 05
Email: [email protected]
Website: http://jewish.org.pl/

 

HISTORY

The Jews of Poland

1096 | Migration of the Heretics

Where did the Jews come to Poland from? Scholars are divided on this question, but many believe that some came from the Khazar Kingdom, from Byzantium and from Kievan Rus, while most immigrated from Western Europe – from the Lands of Ashkenaz.
One of the theories is that the “butterfly effect” that led the Jews of Ashkenaz to migrate to Poland began with a speech by Pope Urban II, who in 1096 called for the liberation of the holy sites in Jerusalem from the Muslim rule. The Pope's call ignited what would come to be known as The Crusades - vast campaigns of conquest by the Christian faithful, noble and peasant alike, who moved like a tsunami from Western Europe to the Middle East, trampling, stealing and robbing anything they could find along the way.
Out of a fervent belief that “heretics” were “heretics”, be they Jews or Muslims, the militant pilgrims made sure not to bypass the large Jewish communities in the Ashkenaz countries, where they murdered many of the local Jews, mostly in the communities of Worms and Mainz on the banks of the Rhine. Following these massacres, known in Jewish historiography as the Massacres of Ttn”u (after the acronym of the year of Hebrew calendar), Jews started migrating east, into the Kingdom of Poland.

1264 | The Righteous Among The Nations from Kalisz.

In the 13th century Poland was divided into many districts and counties, and to rule them all an advanced bureaucratic system was required. In 1264 the Polish prince Boleslav, also known as the Righteous One of Kalisz (Kalisz was a large city in the Kingdom of Poland) issued a bill of rights that granted the Jews extensive freedom of occupation as well as freedom of religious practice. This bill of rights (privilegium, in Latin) allowed many Jews – literate merchants, experts in economy, bankers, coin makers and more – to fill various roles in the administrative apparatus of the kingdom.
At that time, the Catholic Church in Poland was in the habit of disseminating all sorts of blood libels against the Jews. Article 31 of the Prince Boleslav of Kalisz's privilegium tried to rein in this phenomenon by stating: “Accusing Jews of drinking Christian blood is expressly prohibited. If despite this a Jew should be accused of murdering a Christian child, such charge must be sustained by testimony of three Christians and three Jews.”

1370 | From Esther to Esther

It turns out that Esther from the Scroll of Esther was not the only Esther who saved the Jewish people. Legend tells of a beautiful Jewish woman from Poland named Esther'ke who was a mistress of King Casimir II the Great of Poland (1310-1370) and even bore him two daughters.
It is unclear whether it was love that aroused Casimir's sympathy for the Chosen People. What is known is that according to legend, like the Queen Esther from the Purim story, Esther'ke also looked out for her people and asked the King to establish a special quarter for Jews in Krakow (and this quarter is no legend). The King acquiesced to his lover's request and named the quarter for himself – the Kazimierz Quarter. In addition, and this is no legend either, messengers were sent to all Jewish communities in Poland and beyond inviting the Jews to relocate to Krakow, then the capital of the kingdom.
The invitation to come to Poland was like a much-needed breath of air for the Jews of Ashkenaz, for those were the days in which the Black Death ravaged Europe, which for some reason was claimed to have “skipped” the Jews. For the audacity of not contracting the plague, the Jews faced baseless accusations of having poisoned the drinking wells in order to spread the plague.

1520 | A State Within a State

In the early 16th century the center of gravity of Jewish life gradually moved from the countries of Central Europe to locations all over Poland. According to various historical sources, in the late 15th century there were around 15 yeshivas operating throughout Poland. The study of Torah flourished in the large communities and became the central axis of Ashkenazi religious life. It is no surprise, therefore, that the common name for Poland among the Jews who lived there was “Po-lan-Ja” - or in Hebrew: "God resides here".
The status of the Jews in Poland had no equal at the time anywhere in the world. Almost everywhere else in Europe they were persecuted, expelled and subject to various restrictions, whereas in Poland they were granted a special, privileged status.
In the early 16th century there were some 50,000 Jews living in Poland. During these years an interest-based alliance began to form between the Jews and the Polish nobility. The nobles, wishing to avail themselves of the Jews' connections and skills in business management, appointed Jews to various positions in the management of their feudal estates and gave them bills of rights according them special status.
In 1520 the “Council of Four Lands” was established in Poland. This council, which was a sort of “state within the state”, was composed of the representatives of all the Jewish communities of Poland, from Krakow and Lublin to Vilnius and Lithuania (which were then still part of the Polish “Commonwealth”). The main function of the Council was to collect taxes for the authorities, and it enjoyed judicial autonomy based on Jewish halacha. The Council operated for 244 years, and is considered the longest-lasting Jewish leadership in history, at least since the First Temple Era.

1569 | Demon-graphics

In the year 1618 the authorities of Krakow appointed a commission to find the reasons for hostility between Jewish and Christian merchants. The chairman of the commission, an academic by the name of Sebastian Miczynski, found that the reason for the animosity was the rapid increase in the number of Jews in the city, stemming from the fact that “none of them die at war or from plague, and in addition they marry at age 12 and multiply furiously”.
Miczynski's conclusion was not without basis: The growth rate of the Jewish community in Poland, known in research as “The Polish Jewish demographic miracle”, was indeed astounding. By the mid 17th century the number of Jews in Poland reached several hundred thousand – about half of all Jews in the world. By the mid 18th century their numbers reached approximately one million souls.
However, although Miczynski's diagnosis was correct, the reasons he offered for it, which were heavily tainted by anti-Semitism, were unsurprisingly wrong. Various researchers have found that the reason for the relatively rapid growth of Jews in Poland was a low rate of infant mortality among them compared to the Christian population. Among the reasons for this one can offer are the culture of mutual aid prevalent among Jews, the fact that newlywed couples usually lived with the bride's family, which offered better nutrition, and the fact that Jewish religious laws enjoin better hygiene practices than were the norm in the rest of pre-modern Europe.
In 1569 Poland annexed large parts of Ukraine under the Treaty of Lublin. Many Jews chose to migrate to Ukraine, and found a new source of livelihood there – leasing land. This they once again did in conjunction with the Polish nobility. Many of the Ukrainian peasants resented the new immigrants. Not only did the feudal lords tax them heavily, they thought, now they also “enslave us to the enemies of Christ, the Jews.”
During this time some brilliant intellectuals emerged in the Jewish areas of Poland, including Rabbi Moses Isserles (aka “The Rema” after his acronym), Rabbi Shlomo Lurie and Rabbi Joel Sirkis, and the great yeshivas of Lublin and Krakow were founded. The rabbinical elite was also the political elite among the Jewish community, setting the rules of life down to the smallest detail – from the number of jewels a woman may wear to requiring approval by community administrators in order to wed.

1648 | Bohdan The Brute

Had there been a senior class photo of all the worst oppressors the Jewish people have known, Bohdan (also known as Bogdan) Khmelnytsky would probably be standing front and center in it. Khmelnytsky, the leader of the Ukrainian Cossacks who fought for independence against Poland, was responsible for particularly lethal pogroms against the Jews of Ukraine. These pogroms were fueled by a combination of Christian revival and popular protest against Polish subjugation. The Jews, who were seen as the Polish nobility's “agents of oppression” paid a terrible price: Approximately 100,000 of them were murdered in these pogroms.
The Khmelnytsky Massacres, also known in Jewish historiography as “The Ta”ch and Ta”t Pogroms”, left the Jewish community of Poland shocked and bereaved. The community's poets composed dirges and the rabbis decreed mourning rituals. A chilling account of these events can be found in the book “Yeven Mezulah” by Jewish scholar Nathan Hannover, who fled the pogroms himself and described them in chronological order. In time many works were written based on this account. The most famous are “The Slave” by Isaac Bashevis Singer, and the poem “The Rabbi's Daughter” by the great Hebrew poet and translator Shaul Tchernichovski.
Despite the grief and sorrow, the Jewish community of Ukraine soon recovered. Proof of this can be found in the accounts of English traveler William Cox, who wrote 20 years after the massacres: “Ask for an interpreter and they bring you a Jew; Come to an inn, the owner is a Jew; If you require horses to travel, a Jew supplies and drives them; and if you wish to buy anything, a Jew is your broker.”

1700 | A Very Good Name

The year 1700 saw the birth of the man who would reshape Orthodox Judaism and become the founder of one of the most important movements in all its long history: Rabbi Israel Ben Eliezer, far better known as the Baal Shem Tov, or The Besh”t for short.
The Baal Shem Tov began his career as a healer with herbs, talismans and sacred names, thus becoming known as a “Baal Shem” - a designation for someone who knows the arcana of the divine names, which he can use to mystical effect.
Rumor of the righteous man who performs miracles and speaks of a different Judaism – less academic and scholarly, more emotional and experiential – soon spread far and wide. Religious discourse soon included terms such as “dvekut”, which means “devotion”, and “pnimiut”, meaning “inner being”. Thus was the Hasidic movement born, emphasizing moral correctness and the desire for religious devotion, placing a high premium on the discipline of Kabbalah. The immense success of Hasidism stemmed from its being a popular movement which allowed entry to any Jew, even if he wasn't much for book smarts.
The Besh”t also set the template for the form of the Hasidic circle: A group of people coalescing around the personality of a charismatic leader who provides each member with personal guidance. Among the most famous Hasidic movement today one can count Chabad/Liubavitch, Ger and Breslov, which was founded by Rabbi Nachman of Breslov (the great-grandson of the Besh”t), and is unique in having no single leader or “Rebbe” or Admor, a Hebrew acronym which stands for “Our Master, Teacher and Rabbi”, the title of other Hasidic leaders, as none is considered worthy to carry the mantle of the founder.
Those were also the years in which Kabbalist literature began to spread in Poland, along with various mystical influences, including the Sabbatean movement. One of the innovation of the Kabbalist literature was the way in which the issue of observing commandments was perceived: In establishment rabbinical thought, the commandments were seen as a device for maintaining community structures and the religious lifestyle. The Hasidim, on the other hand, claimed that the commandments were a mystical device through which even a common man may effect changes in the heavenly spheres. In modern terms one may say that the meaning of observing the commandments was “privatized”, ceasing to be the property of the rabbinical elite and becoming the personal business of every common observant Jew.

1767 | What Came First – Wheat or Vodka?

To paraphrase the eternal questions of “what came first – the chicken or the egg?” 18th century Poles asked “What came first – wheat or vodka?” What they meant is, was it the great profitability of grain-based liquor that created mass alcohol addiction, or was it the addiction to alcohol that created the demand for wheat? Either way, the idea of turning wheat into vodka had a magical draw for Jews in the steppes of Poland. In the second half of the 18th century vodka sales accounted for approximately 40% of all income in Poland. The Jews, who recognized the immense financial potential of this trade, took over the business of leasing liquor distilleries and taverns from the nobles. In fact, historians have determined that some 30% of all Jews in the Commonwealth of Poland-Lithuania had some connection to the liquor business.
But liquor was far from the only field of commerce the Jews of Poland engaged in. They traded all manner of goods. In a sample of data from the years 1764-1767, collected from 23 customs houses, it was found that out of 11,485 merchants, 5,888 were Jews, and that 50%-60% of all retail commerce was held by Jewish merchants.
The reciprocal relations between the Jews and the Magnates, the Polish nobility, became ever tighter. Save for rare phenomena, such as the habit of some nobles to force Jews to dance before them in order to humiliate them, these relations were stable and dignified. Historians note that the Jewish leaser “was not a parasite cringing in fear, but a man aware of his rights, as well as his obligations”.

1795 | The Empires Swallow Poland

Until the partition of Poland, Poland's Jews could live in cities such as Krakow or Lublin, for example, with almost no direct contact with the outside political and legal authorities. Most of them resided in towns or hamlets (“Shtetl”, in Yiddish) where they lived in a closed cultural and social bubble. They spoke their own language, Yiddish, and their children were taught in separate institutions – the cheder for young children and then the Talmud-Torah. The legal system and political leadership were also internal: The tribunals and the Kahal, which operated on the basis of halacha, were the sole court of appeals for the settling of disputes and disagreements.
The only connection most Jews had with the outside world was in their work, which usually involved leasing of some sort from the nobles. Proof of this can be found in the words of Jewish storyteller Yechezkel Kutik, who wrote that “In those days, what was bad for the paritz (the Polish feudal lord) was at least partly bad for the Jews. Almost everyone made their living from the paritz”.
In 1795 Poland was partitioned between three empires – Russia, Austria and Prussia, the nucleus of modern Germany. This brought an end to the shared history of Poland's Jews, and began three distinctly different stories: That of the Jews of the Russian-Czarist Empire, that of the Jews of Galicia under Austrian rule, and that of the Jews of Prussia, who later became the Jews of Germany.
The situation for Jews in Austria and Prussia was relatively good, definitely when compared to that of Jews living under Czarist rule, which imposed various financial edicts upon them and allowed them freedom of movement only within the Pale of Settlement, where conditions were harsh. The nadir was the outbreak of pogroms in the years 1881-1884, which led to the migration of some 2 million Jews to the United States – the place that would come to replace Poland as the world's largest host of Jews. Upon the partition of Poland, most Jews living in that country found themselves under Russian rule. Please see the entry “The Jews of Russia” for further information regarding them.

1819 | The Jews of Galicia

The image of the “Galician Jew” was and still is a code not only for a geographic identity, but mostly for a unique Jewish identity which combined a multicultural-ethnicity with a cunning, humorous, warm and sympathetic folklore figure. The “Galician Jew” could be a devout Hasid, an enlightened educated person, a Polish nationalist or a Zionist activist, a great merchant or a vendor trudging from door to door. This Jew was weaned on several different cultures and could gab in several tongues – German, Yiddish, Hebrew, Russian and Polish.
Galicia extended over the south of Poland. Its eastern border was Ukraine, but the Austrian empire ruled over it from 1772 to the end of WW1. In the second half of the 19th century Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph granted the Jews fully equal rights. The city of Lvov became a magnet for educated Jews from all over Europe. Yiddish newspapers, including the “Zeitung”, operated there at full steam, commerce flourished and Zionist movements, among them Poalei Zion, played a central role in reviving Jewish nationality.
At the same time the Hasidic movement also flourished in Galicia, branching out from several Hasidic courts and dynasties of “Tzadiks”. Among the best known of these Hasidic sects were those of Belz and Sanz, which preserved the traditional Hasidic lifestyle, including dress and language, and maintained tight relations with the “Tzadik” who headed the court.
Galicia was also the soil from which the writers of the age of Haskala (the Jewish Enlightenment movement) grew – from Joseph Perl, the pioneer of Hebrew literature, who in 1819 wrote “Megale Tmirin” (“Revealer of Mysteries”), the first Hebrew novel, and ending with Yosef Haim Brenner and Gershon Shofman, who lived in Lvov and skillfully described Jewish life there in the early 20th century.
The multicultural, equal-rights idyll ended for the Jews of Galicia against the backdrop of cannon shells and flames of WW1. The region of Galicia passed from hand to hand between the Austrian and Russian armies, and the soldiers of both massacred the Jews again and again. This is what S. (Shloyme) Ansky, author of “The Dybbuk” and the writer who commemorated the fate of Galician Jews during the war, wrote on the subject: “In Galicia an atrocity beyond human comprehension has been committed. A large region of a million Jews, who but yesterday enjoyed all human and civil rights, is surrounded by a fiery chain of iron and blood, cut off and set apart from the world, given to the rule of wild beasts in the form of Cossacks and soldiers. The impression is as though an entire tribe of Israel is becoming extinct.”

1862 | The Siren Call of HaTsefira

While the Haskala, the Jewish Enlightenment movement, was born in Western Europe, its echoes soon reached the eastern part of the continent as well, and Poland in particular. One of the seminal events illustrating the roots put down by the Haskala movement in Poland was the founding of the periodical “HaTsefira” in Warsaw. “HaTsefira” became one of the most highly-regarded Hebrew newspapers and sought to take a real part in the process of secularizing the Hebrew language and turning it from a liturgical tongue to a living, everyday medium.
The newspaper gained steam in the late 1870s, when the editorial board was joined by Nachum Sokolov, journalist, author and Zionist-national thinker, who in his latter years served as President of the World Zionist Organization. Sokolov gradually reduced the emphasis of “HaTsefira” on popular science, giving it a serious journalistic and literary character instead. Under his leadership the periodical became a daily in 1886, and soon stood out as the most influential Hebrew newspaper in Eastern Europe, until it died out in the decades between the World Wars.
All of the most prominent Hebrew writers of those days published their works in HaTsefira: Mendele Mocher Sforim, Y.L.Peretz and Shalom Aleichem in the 19th century, Dvorah Baron, Uri Nissan Genessin, Shalom Ash and Yaacov Fichman in the early 20th century, and just before WW1 it was home to the works of a few promising youngsters, including Nobel-winning authour Shmuel Yosef Agnon and acclaimed nationalist poet Uri Zvi Greenberg.

1900 | Warsaw

In the first decade of the 20th century Warsaw became the capital of the Jews of Poland and a global Jewish center. The city was home to the headquarters of the political parties, many welfare institutions, trade unions, and Jewish newspapers and periodicals published in a variety of languages. Prominent in particular was juggernaut of literary and publishing activity in this city from the 1880s to the eve of WW1.
Among the most famous literary institutions of the period were the Ben Avigdor Press, which ignited the realist “New Movement” in Hebrew literature; Achiassaf Press, founded by the tea magnate Wissotzky, which operated in the spirit of Achad Haam and published books of a Jewish-historical nature; the HaShiloach newspaper, which was copied from Odessa and was edited for a year by Chaim Nachman Bialik (later anointed national poet of the State of Israel), the newspapers “HaTsofeh” and “HaBoker” and more.
All these and many others were produced at hundreds of Hebrew printing presses which popped up like mushrooms after a rain. This industry attracted Jewish intellectuals who found work writing, editing, translating and doing other jobs required by publishing and the press. In his essay “New Hebrew Culture In Warsaw” Prof. Dan Miron wrote that: “All the Hebrew writers of the time passed through Warsaw, some staying for years and others for a short time”.
Also famous were the “literary tribunals”, especially that of author Y.L. Peretz, who held a sort of salon or court at his home which was frequented by eager literary cubs. These would submit their callow works to the revered giant of letters and tremblingly await his verdict. The Peretz court was far from the only one, though. Jewish writers and intellectuals arrived from all over Russia to “literary houses”, “salons” and other establishments, convened mostly on Sabbaths and holidays to discuss matters of great import. One of the most famous of these was the home of pedagogue Yitzchak Alterman, whose lively Hanukkah and Purim parties drew many intellectuals. These, we assume, served as inspiration for little Nanuchka, the host's son, later to become famous as poet Nathan Alterman.

Jewish Demographics In Warsaw

Year | Number of Jews
1764 1,365
1800 9,724
1900 219,128
1940 393,500
1945 7,800


1918 | The First Jewish Party in Poland

Upon the end of WW1 the Jews of Poland also fell victim to the game of monopoly played by Poland against its neighbors, particularly Soviet Russia. The Poles accused the Jews of Bolshevism, the Soviets saw them as capitalists and bourgeoisie, and these accusations turned into dozens of pogroms and tens of thousands of Jewish murder victims.
In 1921, after 125 years under various occupiers, Poland once again became a sovereign and independent state. At first the future seemed bright. The new Polish constitution guaranteed the Jews full equality and promised religious tolerance. However, like many of the supposedly democratic states formed between the two world wars, the regime in Poland also swayed between the values of Enlightenment and equality and an ethnic-based nationalism.
This was the unstable reality under which the Jews of Poland lived for 18 years, until the start of WW2. During these years the Jews experienced some bad times, during which for example they were banned from public office, and were discriminated against in matters of taxation and higher education admissions, where quotas were set limiting the number of Jews at the universities. At other times, mostly under the reign of Jozef Pilsudski (1926-1935), who was known for his relative opposition to anti-Semitism, the edicts issued against the Jews were eased.
During the Pilsudski era the Jewish parties combined to form a joint list for the legislative elections, winning 6 seats in the Sejm (lower house of the Polish parliament) and 1 in the senate, which made them the sixth-largest party. This was a mere 11 years before the outbreak of WW2 and the Holocaust of Polish Jewry.
One of the most influential figures among Jewish political leadership in Poland was Yitzhak Gruenbaum (Izaak Grünbaum), leader of the General Zionists Party, who foresaw the rise of dictatorial elements in the Sejm and made aliyah in 1933. He was right. From 1935 until the German invasion Poland was ruled by an openly dictatorial, anti-Semitic regime. During these four years some 500 anti-Semitic incidents took place, the system of “ghetto benches” was put in place, separating Jewish and Polish students at universities, and the employment options of Polish Jews were limited to such a degree that the Jewish community of Poland, numbering over three million people at the time, was considered the poorest diaspora in Europe.

1939 | The Holocaust of the Jews of Poland

September 1st, 1939, the day the Nazis invaded Poland, was etched into the collective Jewish memory in infamy. Of 3.3 million Jews who lived in Poland on the eve of the Nazi invasion, only around 350,000 survived. Some 3 million Polish Jews were exterminated in the Holocaust.
The annihilation of the Jews of Poland took place step by step. It began with various decrees, such as the gathering of Jews in ghettos, the obligation to wear an identifying mark, the imposition of a curfew in the evenings, the marking of Jewish-owned stores and more – and ended with the execution of the “Final Solution”, a satanic plan of genocide, which culminated in the deportation of the Jews of Poland to the extermination camps of Auschwitz, Majdanek, Sobibor, Chelmno and Treblinka – all located on Polish soil.
One of the best known expressions of resistance by the Jews of Poland to the Nazi plan of annihilation was the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. The revolt symbolized a triumph of spirit for the Jews of the ghetto, who embarked on it although they knew that their chances of winning or even surviving were nil.
Alongside the armed resistance by the Jews of the ghetto there was also cultural resistance. In October 1939 Emanuel Ringelblum – a historian, politician and social worker – started the “Oneg Shabbat” (“Sabbath Delight”) project in the ghetto, in which he was joined by dozens of intellectuals including authors, teachers and historians. This collective produced many works of writing on various facets of life in the ghetto, and thus became an archive and think tank dealing with current events while documenting them for future historians' reference.
In August 1942, in the midst of the deportation of the Jews of Warsaw, the archive was divided in three and each part buried for safe-keeping. Two of the three parts, secreted in metal crates and two milk jugs, were found after the war. These two parts, located in 1946 and 1950, serve to this day as imported first-hand sources on Jewish life in the ghetto, and also as testament to the courage and spiritual strength of the intellectuals whose only weapons were the pen and the camera.

2005 | Jewish Renaissance in Poland?

At the end of WW2 there were some 240,000 Jews living in Polish territories, 40,000 of them who survived the camps and another 200,000 refugees, returning from the Soviet Union territories. The displaced Jews lived in poverty and cramped conditions, and were treated with hostility by the general population despite their attempts to integrate into Polish society. In July 1946, just a year after the war ended, this hostility erupted in a pogrom in the city of Kielce. The pretext for the murder of 42 out of 163 Holocaust survivors in the city, and the wounding of most of the rest? The ancient blood libel about matza and Christian children.
This is where the Zionist movement swung into action, managing to smuggle about 100,000 of the remaining Jews in Poland to Israel under the “Bricha”, or “Escape” movement.
After WW2 Poland became a Communist country, which it remained until 1989. 1956 saw the start of the “Gomulka Aliyah” (named after Wladislaw Gomulka, Secretary General of the Polish Communist party), which lasted for a few years and brought some 35,000 more Jews to Israel from Poland. In 1967 Poland cut off relations with Israel and in 1968, amidst an anti-Semitic incitement campaign, another few thousand Jews made aliyah. This practically brought an end to the Jewish community of Poland.
At the start of the new millennium, Poland was considered the greatest mass grave of the Jewish people. The numbers speak for themselves: Before WW2 there were around 1,000 active Jewish communities in Poland, but in the year 2000 only 13 remained. Before the war Warsaw was home to almost 400,000 Jews. In 2000 only 1,000 Jews remained.
And then, at the start of the new century, a so-called “Jewish Renaissance” took place in Poland, and is still going on today. In 2005 a museum was opened across the street from the Warsaw Ghetto, where 1,000 years of Jewish history in Poland are on display. Once a year a Jewish festival is held in Krakow, exposing thousands of curious visitors from all over the world to Jewish songs and dance, kleizmer music and Yiddishke food. The Jewish theater is thriving (although it includes but one Jewish actor), and around the country “dozens of “Judaica Days” and symposiums on Jewish topics are held annually.

* All quotes in this article, unless otherwise stated, are from “From a People to a Nation: The Jews of Eastern Europe, 1772-1881”, Broadcast University Press, 2002

Gora Kalwaria

A town in the Mazovian Voivodship, Poland.

Dzialoszyn

Town in the subdistrict of Wielun, district of Lodz, south central Poland.

Dzialoszyn was decreed a town at the beginning of the 15th century. The Jewish settlement there started at the beginning of the 17th century, but its development started only towards the end of the century. Already at the beginning of the 18th century the Jews made up the majority of the town`s inhabitants, and were the biggest community of all the Jewish settlements in the Wielun area. Jews from a hundred neighboring settlements and from five towns, namely Krzepice, Pajeczno, Praszka, Wieruszow and Wielun itself, belonged to it. During the first half of the 19th century these five towns became independent Jewish communities.

At the head of the Dzialoszyn community were rabbis, but it employed also a dayan and a maggid, and had traditional community organizations. Its outstanding rabbis at the beginning of the 19th century were Rabbi Nathan Hacohen and Rabbi Moshe, a pupil of the "Seer" of Lublin and the Maggid of Kozenice. His well-known works were Tikune Shabbath, Mishpat Shabbath and Geuloth Israel. At the end of the century Rabbi Shlomo David Margulith, author of the Chidushe Meharashdam served as the community`s rabbi.

A conflagration in the mid-18th century, ravaged houses and properties and impoverished the community of Dzialoszyn. Since then it suffered from the contraction of its power. An additional fire in 1888 hurt more than one hundred Jewish families, who were left with nothing. High tenancy charges to the landowners burdened the community`s budget, and it had therefore to borrow money from the nobles and clergymen. In 1740 the archbishop forbade the Catholics to trade with Jews and demanded immediate payment of the debt and interest from the Jewish community. At the end of the 18th century the Jews found their livelihood from commerce in agricultural products and artisanship. Jews acquired the franchise for brewing beer and serving wine in inns. Jewish merchants marketed wool, rpoduced by the villagers, to the Silesian cloth industry. They grew rich and even donated money to build a yeshiva in Jerusalem. However the textile and wool crisis and the end of commerce between Poland and
Silesia decreased their income. From there on they concentrated on small commerce in the markets and villages and on tailoring. This situation remained constant during the years between the two world wars. Even the repair of the synagogue was too expensive for them and the Warsaw Jewish community extended its help.

Antisemitism and the economic boycott of the 1930s led to wounded. The courts did not use their power against the rioters and the incidents against the Jews increased. In February 1937 a gmiluth chassadim fund was inaugurated by the joint and former community members living abroad. In July of the same year the cemetery was desecrated.

At the beginning of the 20th century the influence of socialist ideology was felt by the Jewish youth, who became active in collecting money donations for the 1905-07 revolution and shop strikes. Zionist organizations too were youth. The community council was headed by Agudath Israel and the Orthodox current. However their influence diminished with the consolidation of the Zionim Klalim, who opened a popular library in 1930. At the end of the 1920s a library and drama circle were opened by the Bildung society.

The Jewish community of Dzialoszyn numbered some 2000 persons on September 1, 1939.

The Holocaust Period

At the outbreak of war in September 1939 Dzialoszyn was bombed and destroyed. Most of the town`s Jewish inhabitants fled to nearby Pajeczno and worked there as forced laborers. The Joint extended a helping hand to the Jewish community of Pajeczno. From the end of 1941 the Jewish quarter became a walled ghetto and life inside this area was a continuous hunt after forced laborers. In August 1942 the town`s Jews were transferred to the Chelmno extermination camp a group of 250 Dzialoszyn Jews fled at the beginning of the war to Kielezyglow. But they too were sent in august 1942 to their death at the Chelmno camp.

Wierzbnik Starachowice


A town in the district of Kielce, central Poland.

The town stands on the river Kamienna, a tributary of the Wisla, near the Skarzysko-Ostrowiec railway line. Wierzbnik was founded in 1624 on the left bank of the river.


After the partitions of Poland (in the years 1772-1795), the district became part of Czarist Russia.

In 1939 Wierzbnik and Starachowice were united and received the status of a town. Since 1949 it is called Starachowice.


Jews came to the area in the mid-17th century and settled in Wierzbnik towards the end of the 18th century.

At about the end of the 19th century, or beginning of the twentieth, Wierzbnik received the status of an independent community and Rabbi Jacob Arieh Gershonowitz Morgenstern, from the town of Lukow, was appointed the community's rabbi. The last rabbi of Wierzbnik was Rabbi Ben-Zion Rabinowitz.

The beth-midrash building was completed in 1910. The offices of the community and Talmud tora school were built nearby. At the same time, a mikve (purification bath) was opened. The local cemetery was also used by Jews of the surrounding areas.

The organized community had a beth midrash, which was used as a central prayer house. There were many Hassidic "stiblach", among them those of the Gur, Amshynow, Sokolow, Cmielow, Ozarow and Wonhock Hassidim. The children of the community studied in the heders.

In addition to heders, the community had other educational institutions, among them the Mizrachi and Beit Jacob schools, as well as a Tarbut Hebrew school. A Talmud tora school for families of limited means functioned between the two world wars. For a time it was financed by the joint which also provided free meals for the children.

The Beit Joseph yeshiva was founded in the 1930s and functioned only for a few years. At this period the polish government attached the Jewish community of Wanhock to Wierzbnik one.

The Jewish population was involved in the public life of the town. Its representatives took part in municipal affairs and acted on the community's behalf in its relations with the Polish authorities.

The rich forests in the vicinity of Wierzbnik were the basis for the development of a timber industry. Its various branches were sources of income for Jews. Plywood factories and saw mills were owned by the Jewish families Heller, Lichtenstein and Kalmanson.

In the middle of the 19th century, the Jewish family Rotband from Warsaw, set up a foundry and metal factory in Starachowice, which had big deposits of high-quality iron ore. At the beginning of the 20th century, this plant developed into the big "Starachowice Works". In 1920-1922 it was nationalized by the polish government and became a military industry, employing about 20,000 workers, none of whom were Jews.

At this time the Heller family, who owned an international timber industry corporation, founded a modern plywood factory and saw mill. These enterprises were a source of income for the Jewish population in Wierzbnik and also supported welfare organizations as well as social and cultural institutions of the Jewish community.

Jewish inhabitants in Wierzbnik also earned their living by trade, and various services to the inhabitants of Starachowice and the surrounding villages. A market day was held in Wierzbnik once a week. Jews and Poles had good-neighborly relations. The local polish population refused to cooperate with the government when - due to the wave of antisemitism which swept Poland following the economic crisis in the 1930s - the authorities declared a boycott on business and trade with Jews.

The Jews who had fled from Russia after the 1917 revolution and were employed by local factories causes the arousal of Jewish national and Zionist awareness in Wierzbnik.

At the beginning of the 20th century, a local branch of the Histadrut Hazionit was established which trained Haluzim for Aliya to Eretz Israel. Later on, branches of the Mizrachi, Revisionist and Poaley Zion Smol, and of the youth movements Gordonia, Betar and Zionist Youth, as well as the sports organizations Maccabbi and Gwiazda were set up. Hassidim from all the stiblach were members of the Agudat Israel branch which was established in the town.

The Tarbut school contributed to the popularity of the Hebrew language and became the center for the town's cultural and social activities.

At this time, the head of the community was Shmuel Puchaczevsky, the last holder of that office in Wierzbnik.

In 1939 about 3,200 Jews were living in Wierzbnik, out of a total population of some 40,000.


The Holocaust Period

With the outbreak of World War II (September 1, 1939), Wierzbnik-Starachowice was bombed from the air. Most of the Jews fled from the town, but they returned after a few days.

On September 5, 1939 the German army occupied the town. Each day new regulations were issued, placing restrictions on Jews. They were ordered to wear a yellow patch, to hand over their jewellery, silver and gold coins to the Germans. They were not allowed to frequent public places or to have contacts with the non-Jewish population. Food was rationed. Jews were rounded up on the streets and sent to forced labor. From time to time the community had to pay ransom, which the Germans called contributions.

At the end of Yom Kippur that year, the beth hamidrash was set on fire and all the tora scrolls were burned. The fire also destroyed the nearby building, housing the community's offices and Talmud tora.

In the spring of 1940 , refugees from Lodz and Plock arrived in the town. The Jewish quarter was overcrowded, which resulted in the spread of diseases. The community set up a shelter and soup kitchen for the needy. The ghetto was established in May 1940. At the beginning it was not closed, and it was possible to buy food in the town. Later, trade stopped, the ghetto was closed, and the number of destitute people increased.

Those fit for work were employed at the Starachowice Works, which supplied the German army and later became part of the Hermann Goering Werke. Rumours of mass exterminations reached the town and Jews tried to obtain permits for work in factories essential for the war effort.

On October 27, 1942 - 16th day of the month of Heshvan the Wierzbnik-Starachowice ghetto was liquidated.

The Jews were taken at dawn to the market place and surrounded by SS troops, Polish policemen and Latvian units. The Latvians beat the Jews and robbed them. Those who had work permits were separated by force from their families and sent to labour camps at Strzelnica and Majowka near the town. Others, considered fit for work, were taken to the local saw mills and the electricity plant. The remainder of the ghetto population were deported to the death camp of Treblinka. Jews who had not been in the market place that morning and were found in the ghetto were shot on the spot. That day, 5000 Jews were sent to death and about 1500 sent to labor camps.

Thousands died in the labor camps in the region of whilst others were killed or deported to death camps following selections, separation of the fit from the unfit for work.

In 1944, the Jewish fighting organization (Z.O.B.) Succeeded in making contact with men in the labor camps and gave them money to buy food. This contact encouraged Jews to escape from the camps. Some of those who escaped were killed by the German and Ukrainian guards, others were murdered by antisemitic Polish partisans who were members of the Armia Krajowa. In July 1944, the camps were liquidated and the inmates deported to Auschwitz.

Many young Jews of Wierzbnik-Starachowice fought the Germans in the ranks of the Polish army. Some of them, who had escaped to Russia at the outbreak of the war, joined the Red Army. Those who had escaped from the ghetto and labor camps joined local partisans and cooperated with Polish partisans, who were members of the Armia Ludova.

A partisan unit called Garbaty, under the command of a man from Wierzbnik, Jechiel Bravermann, was well known for its daring operations.

After the war most of the Jewish survivors of Wierzbnik immigrated to Israel. Some went to U.S.A. Canada and other countries. The few Jews who returned to their home town after the end of the war, were murdered by Polish marauders.

The local Jewish cemetery still exists. It has over 200 tomb stones with Hebrew inscriptions.

Kamieńsk 

A town in Radomsko County in the Łódź Voivodeship, Poland.

Kamiensk, a town on the land of Polish noblemen since 1374, lost its status in 1870.

Jews arrived in Kamiensk, on the Warsaw-Kattowice-Vienna highway, at the beginning of the 18th century. Originally they belonged to the community of Przedborz, and later to the community of Rozprza. In the late 18th century they set up independent institutions. The first two wooden synagogues burnt down. The last was built in 1905, and beside it a hekdesh. A cemetery was consecrated in 1830.

The Kamiensk rabbis represented the Chassidic sects. The first, Rabbi Chaim Stern, a pupil of the "Chozeh" of Lublin, was in contact with the "Tsadik". He was removed from his post because of the opposition of the Kock Chassidim. Rabbi Israel Stiglitz of the Radomsko dynasty was a possek halacha. The last rabbi of Kamiensk, was Reuben Rabinowitz, a decendent of the "Yehudi" of Pishkha, who stressed the importance of studying the thorah.


Most Jews of Kamiensk earned their livings as small traders, artisans and innkeepers. A few worked in the textile industry and vacation services.

Agudath Israel dominated the Kamiensk community and established the Bnoth Agudath Israel in 1930. Despite resistance fom the Gur Chassidim a youth group founded a Shalom Aleichem library in 1931.

Anti-Semitism and the economic crisis led to riots in 1937. Scores of Jews left Kamiensk.

In 1939 the Jewish community of Kamiensk numbered 834 persons.


The Holocaust Period

The town was almost entirely destroyed by German artillery fire in September 1939. About half of the Jewish population fled the town. At the end of 1940, some 350 local Jews and 170 refugees lived in Kamiensk. In the summer of 1942 their number increased to 598.

In October 1942, some 500 Jews were transported from Kamiensk to their death at the Treblinka extermination camp. Several Jews in hiding were handed over by the Poles to the Germans.

Kaluszyn

A town in Warszawa province, east central Poland.

 

History

Jews lived there almost from the date of its foundation and always formed the majority of the population. There was an organized Jewish community from the beginning of the 17th century which established educational and cultural institutions. The most notable rabbi of the community was Meir Shalom Rabinowicz (1896-1902). Mordecai Mottel Mikhelson, one of the wealthiest merchants of the town during the 19th century, assumed the role of shtadlan. The community numbered 1,455 (80% of the total population) in 1827; 6,419 (76%) in 1897; 5,033 (82%) in 1921; 7,256 (82%) in 1931; and approximately 6,500 on the eve of the Holocaust. Jewish economic activity included industrial enterprises, such as pottery, flour mills, the weaving of prayer shawls, the fur trade which employed many Jewish workers, and crafts, notably tailoring and carpentry. The community administration elected in 1924 was composed of six members for Agudat Israel, five for Mizrachi, and one Zionist.


The Holocaust Period

The German army entered Kaluszyn on sept. 11, 1939, and on the same day almost the whole Jewish population was concentrated in the main church and tortured for three days. A few hundred Jews managed to leave during the first months of Nazi rule, many of them crossing into Soviet-held territory. In March 1941 almost 1,000 Jews left for Warsaw. The Jewish population had decreased to approximately 4,000 by the beginning of 1942. On September 25, 1942, almost all were deported to the Treblinka death camp where they were exterminated. On October 28, a ghetto was established in Kaluszyn that was virtually a forced labor camp, where the Germans concentrated a few hundred Jews from Kaluszyn and the vicinity who had managed to escape or hide during the former deportation. In November 1942 another group of Jews from Minsk Mazowiecki was deported to the Kaluszyn ghetto.


All were exterminated in December 1942, when the Kaluszyn ghetto was liquidated. The Jewish community was not reconstituted after the war.

פראגה
Praga Warszawska

ביידיש: פראג

רובע של העיר וורשה, פולין, הנמצאת על הגדה המזרחית של נהר הוויסלה. עד 1791 הייתה עיר עצמאית.

פראגה התפתחה מכפר קטן על גדת הנהר וויסלה בשנת 1432 מול העיר העתיקה של ווארשה ורובע מאריינשטאט של היום, והפכה לעיר בעלת זכויות שניתנו לה מידי המלך הפולני וולאדיסלב הרביעי וואזה
בשנת 1648. מקורו של השם פראגה במילה הסלאבית הוא " פראז'יצ'", שפירושה "לשרוף", "לברא", "לבער" חלקת יער להתיישבות. פראגה נחשבת עד המאה ה-21 לפרוור נחשל ומוזנח של ורשה.

בימיה של מלכות פולין היהודים שילמו מיסים למלך או לנסיך בלבד. בגלל הפטור מתשלום מיסים עירוניים, תושבי הערים בפולין לא היו מעוניינים בהתיישבות היהודים בתחומן ועל כן היהודים היו לרוב מתיישבים באדמות האצילים, שם קיבלו זכויות מיוחדת שעבורן שילמו מסים לבעלי הקרקעות.

רק בתחילת המאה ה-19 קיבלו היהודים זכות להתגורר בוורשה. עד אז, בגלל האיסור להתגורר בוורשה, היהודים גרו בתחומה של פראגה ועיר ורשה שילמו רק מיסים זמניים לשהות קצרת מועד. בשנת 1755 הסיים (הפרלמנט) הפולני נתן רשות ליהודים להתיישב בפראגה ולייסד קהילה יהודית. אולם, היהודים ישבו בפראגה זמן רב לפני כן והפכו למעשה את פראגה ל"העיירה היהודית" של וורשה.

בתחילת המאה ה-19 בפראגה התגוררו כ-5,000 יהודים, ובאמצע המאה ה19- הם היוו כ-33 אחוז מהאוכלוסייה. במחצית המאה ה-20 היהודים היו כבר 40 אחוז מכלל האוכלוסייה.

הלבוש היהודי המסורתי ברחובות פראגה היה מראה נפוץ ולא הפליא איש. לרוב היהודים עסקו במסחר. השווקים ומרכזי מסחר של פראגה משכו אליהם אנשים מכל פולין. אך היו בקרב יהודי פראגה גם בעלי מלאכה, כגון בנאים, נגרים, חייטים, שוחטים, רופאים, עורכי דין, בעלי הוצאות ספרים, אומנים וכו'. פראגה, שהייתה בנויה מעץ, סבלה תדיר משריפות. היהודים האמידים בנו בתי מידות מאבן ובתי כנסת ומקוואות ותרמו על ידי כך לפיתוחה של העיר המודרנית. הסוחר והרוקח יוזף רוז'יצקי הקים בפראגה שוק סחורות ששימש את כל האזור. שוק זה מתקיים עד היום וידוע בשם "באזאר רוז'יצקי".

הדמות של ברק יוסלביץ קשורה במיוחד עם פראגה. ברק יוסלביץ, או בשמו בעברי דב בר בן יוסף, נענה בספטמבר 1794 לקריאתו של הגנרל טאדוש קושצ'ושקו למרד נגד השלטון הרוסי, והקים ביחד עם יוסף ארונוביץ יחידה יהודית של פרשים קלים. הגדוד מנה 500 מתנדבים מבין תושבי פראגה, מומן כולו בידי ברק יוסלביץ. היהודים קיבלו את ברכתם של רבני פראגה והיתר לחימה בשבת. הקהילה היהודית של פראגה גם דאגה לאספקת המזון הכשר. שלא כמו הפולנים, החיילים היהודים קיבלו היתר לגדל זקנים וללבוש בגדים מסורתיים. בקרבות פראגה ב-4 בנובמבר 1794 הגדוד היהודי, שלא הספיק לעבור אימונים ממושכים, הושמד. נותרו בחיים רק 20 איש אשר נשבו, ביניהם ברק יוסלביץ. יוסלביץ הורשה לצאת לגלות, לצרפת ואיטליה, שם לחם בגבורה במסגרת הלגיונות הפולניים בדרגת קולונל עד מותו בקרבות בשנת 1809. שמו הונצח באחד מרחובותיה של פראגה.

פראגה נשרפה כמה וכמה פעמים: בשנת 1656 נשרפה תוך כדי הכיבוש השוודי. ב-4 בנובמבר 1794 חיילות הגנרל הרוסי סובורוב, תוך כדי הכיבוש ודיכוי המרד הפולני של קושצ'יושקו, ערכו טבח המוני באוכלוסייה האזרחית של פראגה שברובה הייתה יהודית. הטבח הזה ייזכר בהיסטוריה כ"השחיטה של פראגה". גם שני גשרי העץ אשר יעברו את פראגה לוארשה נשרפו בפקודת הגנרל הרוסי סובורוב כדי למנוע מהחיילים הרוסים להמשיך ולטבוח באוכלוסייה של וורשה.

ב 5 בספטמבר 1915, תוך כדי קרבות מלחמת העולם הראשונה, הכוחות הרוסיים הנסוגים בפני הגרמנים פוצצו את שלשת הגשרים על נהר הוויסלה, שחיברו בין פראגה לוארשה. ב 9 באוגוסט 1915 הרוסים עזבו את פראגה והמקום נכבש ע"י הגרמנים.

תקופת השואה

כאשר הגרמנים הכניעו את וורשה ב-28 בספטמבר 1939, הם נעצרו על נהר הוויסלה ולא חצו אתו לפראגה. פראגה נותרה מחוץ לאזור הכיבוש הגרמני במשך יומיים. ככל הנראה הגרמנים נעצרו על הוויסלה כדי לאפשר לכוחות הסובייטים להשתלט על חלקים בפולין, על פי ההסכם "מולוטוב-ריבנטרופ” לחלוקת פולין.

לאחר שהנאצים תחמו את גטו וורשה בשנת 1940, יהודי פראגה הוכרחו לעבור לגטו וורשה, משם נשלחו אל מותם במחנה ההשמדה בטרבלינקה.

ב-1 באוגוסט 1944 לאור התקדמות הצבא האדום מהמזרח, מרדו הפולנים בוורשה ופראגה נגד הגרמנים. הצבא האדום הגיעה ב-15 בספטמבר 1944 לגדות הוויסלה, ומלבד יחידות קטנות של צבא ברלינג ("קושצ'יושקו"), נמנע מלחצות את הוויסלה. הצבא האדום שיחרר את פראגה ונעצר. המורדים הפולנים בוורשה לא קבלו מהצבא האדום עזרה ממשית והמרד דוכא ע"י הגרמנים. ב-2 באוקטובר 1944 וורשה נכנעה.
וורשה שוחררה מהכיבוש הנאצי רק ב-17 בינואר 1945.

בזמן מלחמת העולם השנייה נהרסו כ-25 אחוז מבתיה של פראגה, בניגוד לשכנתה ממול, וורשה, שמרכזה נחרב לחלוטין בעקבות הלחימה נגד הכיבוש הגרמני ב- 1939, המרד של גטו וורשה ב-1943 והמרד הפולני ב-1944.

לפראגה המשוחררת, שברובה נשארה ללא פגע, חזרו היהודים שהצליחו להסתתר בתוך האוכלוסייה הפולנית. אליהם הצטרפו יהודים מהשטחים המשוחררים של פולין וטיפין טיפין התחילו להתרכז בפראגה. במקום הוקם הוועד היהודי לעזרת הניצולים בבניין של בית החינוך היהודי ברחוב יאגלונסקה 28. בפראגה היה ניסיון לחדש את החיים היהודיים במקום וורשה ההרוסה.

בבית הכנסת של פראגה ברחוב יאגלונסקה, ששרד את הרס המלחמה, נערכה ב-21 ביולי 1945 התפילה הראשונה לאחר המלחמה.

בית הקברות היהודי של פראגה הוקם בשנת 1784 על שטח שנקנה על ידי הסוחר, הבנקאי והנדבן היהודי שמואל (שמול סלומון) זביטקובר. השטח נקרא עד היום בשם "שמולוביזנה". בית הקברות ידוע בשם "בית קברות של ברודנו". בית הקברות בברודנו שימש בעיקר את האוכלוסייה הענייה של וורשה, כי עשירי היהודים נקברו בבית הקברות שהוקם מאוחר יותר בוורשה בסמוך לרובע היהודי שם. בית הקברות של ברודנו הוזנח, החומה סביבו פורקה, המצבות נגנבו או שימשו לבנית כבישים ולחיזוק הגדות של נהר הוויסלה . בזמן השואה הגרמנים אסרו לקבור בו יהודים והקבורות היו רק בבית הקברות של אוקופובה שליד הגטו בוורשה .

רק בשנת 1988 קרן שמעון ניסנבאום הקימה מחדש חומה סביב בית הקברות של ברודנו בפראגה, בנתה שער כניסה מהודר ואספה מצבות שנתגלו במקומות שונים וריכזה אותן באתר אחד.

בדצמבר 2012 אתר בית הקברות "ברודנו" בפראגה עובר לטיפולה של הקהילה היהודית בוורשה. מעטים הביקורים של משלחות הנוער מישראל בבית הקברות "ברודנו" בפראגה.

הרכוש היהודי ונכסי הקהילה היהודית עד מלחמת העולם השנייה, ביניהם בתי החרושת, בתי הכנסת, מקוואות, בית האקדמאים (מנחם בגין שהה בו בזמן לימודיו באוניברסיטת וורשה), בית החינוך היהודי ע"ש ברגסון , שרדו את השואה כמעט ללא פגע. הקהילה היהודית המקומית וגם יהדות העולם לא דאגו לתחזק ולשמר את מורשת הקהילה היהודית של פראגה. חלקם של מהמבנים נהרס ופורק וחלקם שינו את ייעודם.

עירית וורשה וארגון הקהילה היהודית בוורשה בעזרת כספים מקרן של האיחוד האירופי חנכו בשנת 2014 מוזיאון למורשת פראגה הכולל גם היסטוריה של יהודייה. המוזיאון ממוקם במתחם בית הכנסת ברחוב טארגובה 50/52, בפראגה.

 

Skierniewice

A town in Lodz province, central Poland.

Jews settled there at the end of the 18th century. M. Balaban mistakenly attributed a charge of host desecration in 1562 as occurring in Skierniewice in his Historja Zydow w Krakowie i na Kazimierzu, 1 (1931), 156. There were 73 Jews residing in Skierniewice (7% of the total population) in 1808, and 216 (11%) in 1827. At first, up to about 1850, the Jews there buried their dead in the Jewish cemetery at lowicz. Between 1827 and 1863 most of the Jews were allowed to reside only within the limits of a special quarter.

An organized community was established in 1850, and some years later a large synagogue was erected. In 1970 the building was in use as a municipal club. Jews engaged in small trade and crafts, such as weaving, shoemaking, and tailoring, in transportation, horse dealing, and services to the local Russian army garrisons. In the second half of the 19th century the influence of Chasidism, mainly of Gur and Aleksandrow, grew among the Jews of Skierniewice. In 1886 the Admor of Worky (Warka), Simon Kalish, moved his court to Skierniewice. At the end of the 19th century the rabbi of the town was Meir Jehiel Ha-Levi Holzstock, later Admor of Ostrowiec. The Jewish population numbered 766 (29% of the total) in 1857; 2,898 (36%) in 1897; and 4,333 (33%) in 1921. At the beginning of World War I, in 1914, most of the Jews were expelled from Skierniewice by the retreating Russian army, and the refugees did not begin to return to their homes until 1916. After the end of the war branches of the Zionist parties, the Bund, and Agudat Israel were organized in the town.

On the outbreak of World War II there were about 4,300 Jews in Skierniewice. The German army entered the town on September 8, 1939, and persecution of the Jewish population began. In 1940 over 2,000 Jews from Lodz and the towns in its vicinity were forced to settle in Skierniewice, whose Jewish population grew to about 6,500. In December 1940 a ghetto was established, but after two months all the Jews were ordered to leave and settle in the Warsaw ghetto. By the beginning of April 1941 there were no Jews left in Skierniewice. They shared the fate of Warsaw Jewry.

Zyrardow

Town in Warszawa province, east central Poland.

Jews began to settle there in the 1840s. There were 2,310 Jews (23% of the total populaton) living in Zyrardow in 1897, most of whom were employed as workers and clerks in the local textile factories, while others engaged in small trade, crafts, tailoring, building, carpentry, transport, and mechanics. The Jewish population numbered 2,547 (12% of the total) in 1921, and 2,726 in 1931.

At the outbreak of World War II there were about 3,000 Jews in the town. The German army entered the town on September 8, 1939, and immediately began to terrorize the Jewish population, including public executions. During 1940 about 1,000 Jews from other places in Poland were forced to settle there. In February 1941 the entire Jewish population of Zyrardow was made to leave the town. Most of them went to Warsaw and shared the plight of Warsaw Jewry.

The community was not reconstituted after the war.

Pultusk

A town in Warsaw (Warszawa) province, Poland.

Although there were some Jews in Pultusk in 1486 a settlement as such did not develop because of the privilege de non tolerandis judaeis granted to the Masovia region during the 16th century by the Polish King, Sigismund II Augustus. Even temporary residence for Jews was authorized only by special permit. The prohibition was temporarily abrogated after the Grand Duchy of Warsaw was created in 1807 but renewed with the establishment of the Polish Kingdom in 1815, according to the decision of the Congress of Vienna. The decree was finally abolished in 1866. During the 19th century the Jewish population increased; there were 118 Jews in 1810 (5.1% of the total population), 4,769 in 1856, and 6,950 (45.7%) in 1909. During World War I many Jews fled to Warsaw, so that by 1921 the number had decreased to 5,919 (about 46% of the total population). In independent Poland the Jewish population rose again and by 1931 there were 8,300 Jews (49.2% of the total) in the town.

Despite its proximity to Warsaw, Pultusk did not develop as a center of commerce and crafts mainly because it was removed from railway junctions. Nevertheless, a considerable number of Jews were craftsmen, particularly tailors. Because of the surrounding forests, there were a number of sawmills so that carpentry as well as trade in wood and furniture developed. However, economic difficulties led many Jews to emigrate. In 1894 many wealthy Jews left when a cholera epidemic broke out. During the 19th century the community supported various activities, the most important of which was social relief to the needy. Between the two world wars a Jewish educational program was developed. It attracted most of the community's elementary and secondary school students. Jews were represented in the municipal administration; about one-half of the delegates elected in 1922 and 1927 were Jews.

The leadership of the Jewish community itself was elected democratically for the first time in 1927. Its 12 members consisted of representatives of the craftsmen (5), Zionists (3), and Agudat Israel (4). In 1931 the community elected four Zionists, one member each of the Mizrachi, Po'alei Agudat Israel, and independent parties and two Gur (Gora Kalvarya) Chasidim.

The oldest synagogue was erected between 1805 and 1815. It burnt down and was rebuilt in 1854.

Among the rabbis of Pultusk were Rabbi Joshua Trunk (from 1853 to 1861), Rabbi Chanokh Zundel b. Jacob Grodzinski, who belonged to the Mitnagedim (appointed in 1878), and Rabbi Chayyim Meshullam Ha-Kohen (1909 to 1929), known for his Zionist tendencies. The last rabbi of Pultusk was Rabbi Israel ber Lowenthal, who emigrated to Palestine at the outbreak of World War II and died there in 1942.

The city was captured by the Germans on September 7, 1939, and by September 11, 14 Jews had been shot. During the holdiay of Sukkot, 1939, the Germans deported all the Jews to the other side of the Narev river, in the Soviet zone of occupation. All Jewish property was looted, and on the way to the border Jews were maltreated and many were killed.

Many of the deportees found temporary shelter in Bialystok and surrounding cities under the Soviet administration, where they were subjected to administrative restrictions and met with difficulties in finding housing and work. In the summer of 1940 many were deported to the Soviet interior.

Sokolow Podlaski

Town in Warszawa province, Poland.
 

History

A Jewish community was first organized there at the end of the 16th century. In 1665 the owner of the town, Jan Kazimierz Krasinski (1607-1669), granted the Jews judicial powers among other rights, and accorded Jewish craftsmen the same status as that of the Christians. In the 18th century many Jews engaged in such crafts as weaving, tailoring, furriery, and tanning; they also engaged in wholesale commerce of agricultural produce and cloth. There were 163 Jews who paid the poll tax living in Sokolow in 1765. The Jewish population numbered 1,186 (37% of the total population) in 1827; 2,275 (62%) in 1857; 4,248 (59%) in 1897; 4,430 (55%) in 1921; and 5,027 in 1931. Sokolow became noted as a center of Chasidism. During the middle of the 19th century Rabbi Elimelech was Rabbi of Sokolow, and during the 20th century, the Tzaddik Isaac Zelig Morgenstern (d. 1940), a great-grandson of Menahem Mendel the Tzaddik of Kotsk, held rabbinical office and acted as leader of the Chasidim.

After World War I, the economy of the town was disrupted as a result of anti-semitic activities. In 1937-38 there were attacks on Jews accompanied by bloodshed.
 

The Holocaust Period

On the outbreak of World War II there were 4,000 Jews in Sokolow. The German army entered the town on September 20, 1939, and immediately began terrorizing the Jewish population. On September 23, 1939 the Day of Atonement, the Germans set the local synagogue on fire. In the summer of 1941 a ghetto was established in Sokolow. The Jews there were deported to Treblinka death camp on sept. 22, 1942. They offered considerable passive resistance, some hiding themselves, but about 500 of those found in hiding were shot on the spot. Another 700 succeeded in fleeing into the surrounding forests, but most of them were shot by German armed units who searched the forests. Groups of young Jews joined small partisan units operating in the vicinity. One group entered the Bialystok region and joined the guerillas there.

The Jewish community was not reconstituted in Sokolow Podlaski after the war. Organizations of former residents were established in Israel, the United States, France, and Argentina.

Zgierz

Russian: Zgerzh

Town in the Łódź Voivodeship, central Poland.

Jews first settled there in the mid-18th century. There were nine Jews living in the town according to a census of 1765, and 12 in 1793. Their main sources of livelihood were the leasing of inns and the sale of alcoholic liquor. Their number had grown to 27 (5% of the total population) in 1808. The situation of the small Jewish settlement deteriorated following the restrictions imposed on the industrial cities by the government of Congress Poland. In 1824, by order of the Warsaw authorities, the Jews of Zgierz, with few exceptions, were compelled to move to a separate small quarter. There they numbered at first 30 families, increasing in the following 25 years to 400 families, although only 24 one-story houses were built in the quarter during that time. In 1851-55 a few streets were added to the Jewish quarter, and in 1862 the restrictions on residence were abolished completely.

Jews were also discriminated against in an agreement signed on March 30, 1821, between the Polish administration and German immigrants, in which Jews were prohibited from acquiring real estate in the new quarters and from manufacturing or selling alcoholic beverages in the whole town. This became the prototype for similar agreements with other towns.

Despite these restrictions the Jewish population grew, numbering 356 in 1827 (8% of the total) and 1,637 (20%) in 1857. According to data of 1848, Jews engaged in crafts (46 tailors, 10 hat makers, 11 in the foodstuff branch), and 43 in trading, while 46 were hired workers. In this period cotton and wool mills were founded by Jewish industrialists. An organized community functioned from 1824. A wooden synagogue was built in the 1840s, a mikveh (purification bath) and poorhouse were erected in the 1850s, and a large stone synagogue in 1860, followed by a large bet midrash in the 1880s. The first rabbi of the community, Shalom Tzevi Ha-Kohen (officiated 1827-77), founded a yeshivah. His son, Solomon Judah, author of Neveh Shalom, was rabbi from 1898 to 1940.

The first Jewish school with Russian as the language of instruction was founded in Zgierz in 1885. Toward the end of the 19th century several modern chadarim of the haskalah movement were organized, one by Jacob Benjamin Katzenelson, father of the poet Itzhak Katzenelson. The Hebrew poet David Frischmann was born in Zgierz. In 1912 the Yagdil Torah organization was founded, which supported many religious educational institutions. There were cultural associations for literature, art, drama, and sport, and in 1912 a branch of Tze'irei Zion was founded, which was active in the cultural sphere, stimulating interest particularly in the Hebrew language and press.

During World War I the Zgierz community instituted a special tax to provide for Jews in Zgierz suffering from hunger or disease. Conditions for Jewish workers in Zgierz were particularly poor, and the community administration sent an appeal (September 28, 1920) to local Jewish industrialists to employ Jewish workers. Polish workers used anti-semitic arguments to oppose Jewish industrialists who favored the employment of Jewish workers. The Jewish population numbered 3,543 in 1897, 3,828 in 1921, and 4,547 in 1931.

In 1939 there were 4,800 Jews in Zgierz (about 20% of the total population). Immediately after the German occupation persecution of the Jewish population began. On December 27, 1939, about half the total Jewish population - some 2,500 persons - were expelled to the town of Glowno. The rest either managed to escape or were deported across the border to central Poland. A few Jewish tailors and shoemakers, who worked for the Germans, were allowed to remain in the town. In January 1942 they were sent to Lodz ghetto.

Minsk Mazowiecki

A town in east central Poland.

Minsk Mazowiecki received urban status in the first half of the 15th century, but Jewish settlement did not develop there until the close of the 18th century. From the beginning, and particularly during the second half, of the 19th century, the number of Jews increased until they were the majority in the town. In 1827 there were 260 Jews in a general population of 770, while by 1864 they numbered 620 (46.3% of the total population). In 1897 there were 3,445 Jews (55.6%). During World War I the number of Jews decreased as a result of migration to Warsaw and other large centers. In 1921 the Jewish population numbered 4,130 (39.3%). During the period between the two world wars the Polish population increased considerably, while the Jewish population grew at a slower rate. On the eve of World War II 5,845 Jews lived there.

The Jewish community was not at first independent; at the close of the 18th century the rabbi also served the Kaluszyn community. During the 19th century Chasidic groups such as those of Gur (Gora Kalwaria) and Parysow gained in strength, and the court of the tzaddik of Minsk Mazowiecki was established by Rabbi Jacob Perlov at the close of the 19th century. After World War I his successor, the Tzaddik Alter Israel Simeon, removed his seat to Warsaw. There were eight Jews among the 24 members of the municipal council elected in 1927. The Jewish population's political affiliations may be deduced from the 1931 elections to the community council, which included seven members of Agudat Israel, four craftsmen, and one member of right Po'alei Zion. The Jews of Minsk Mazowiecki earned their livelihood principally from small trade and crafts. During the 1930s they aroused the jealousy of the Polish tradesmen and craftsmen, who declared an economic war on them. As a result of this struggle, severe anti-Jewish riots broke out in May 1936, which were fomented by the antisemitic Endecja party and destroyed the means of livelihood of the Jews.

Antisemitic agitation was particularly violent in the town on the eve of World War II. In 1940 about 2,000 Jews from Pabianice, Kalisz, and Lipno were forced to settle in Minsk Mazowiecki. In August 1940 a ghetto was established and on August 21, 1942, the great aktion in Minsk Mazowiecki took place when about 1,000 were shot on the spot. Almost all of the rest of the Jewish population was transferred to the Treblinka death camp and exterminated there. Only two groups of workers in the town camp in the Rudzki factory; and the second, with over 500 men, was placed in a camp in the Kopernik school building. Another several hundred succeeded in fleeing the town. Some of them organized small partisan units which became mixed Jewish-Russian units and operated for some time in the region. On December 24, 1942, the Germans shot 218 workers from the Kopernik camp. On January 10, 1943, this camp was liquidated. On the same day the Jewish prisoners offered armed resistance, during which a few Germans were killed or wounded. On June 5, 1943, the camp in the Rudzki factory was liquidated and all its inmates were shot. No Jewish community in Minsk Mazowiecki was reconstituted.