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Chaim Siemiatycki

Chaim Siemiatycki (1908-1943) Poet.

Born in Tykocin, Poland, into a rabbinical family, he moved to Warsaw and contributed poems to several periodicals. A first collection of his poems entitled Oysgeshtrekte Hent was published in 1935. A second volume (Tropns Toy) followed in 1938. During the Nazi occupation of Warsaw, Siemiatycki found refuge in Bialystok. In 1941 he moved to Vilnius, Lithuania, where he lived in the ghetto. He was shot dead in Lithuania, in a forced labour camp.

Date of birth:
1908
Date of death:
1943
Place of birth:
Tykocin
Personality type:
Poet
ID Number:
213196
Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People
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Yiddish: טיקטין, Tiktin

A town in the Podlaskie Voivodeship, northeastern Poland. 

21ST CENTURY

The Small Synagogue, which was built at the end of the 18th century and refurbished during the 1970s, was converted into a museum. The museum includes an exhibition about Tykocin’s Jewish community during World War II (1939-1945). The basement has a restaurant that serves Jewish food.

The Great Synagogue, which was built in 1642, was partially damaged during the war and in 1965. The building was restored during the 1970s and converted into a museum. The museum includes a collection of Jewish artifacts, and organizes events in honor of Jewish holidays. In 2013, the Great Synagogue in Tykocin was voted one of the new seven wonders of Poland. Behind the Great Synagogue is a wooden house with a Star of David.

The Jewish cemetery, which was established shortly after the Jews arrived in the 16th century, has a number of tombstones that have remained standing.

The mass grave of the Jews of Tykocin is marked. Memorials by the grave commemorate the mass murder that took place there.  

 

HISTORY

In 1522 the Gashtolds, the noble family that owned Tykocin, invited 10 Jewish families from Grodno to settle in the town. These Jewish families were given sites to build homes, and were later allowed to establish shops, a synagogue, a cemetery, and an autonomous community. A 1536 charter stated that legal cases between Jews and non-Jews would be jointly decided by the rabbi and the head of the town council.

By 1576 there were 54 houses owned by Jews. At that point, most worked as wholesale traders of salt, spices, and cloth. Their rights were confirmed by special royal privileges in 1576 and 1639. In 1642 a synagogue was erected in the Baroque style.

As the community grew, it eventually became independent from the Jewish community of Grodno. Eventually, between 1621 and 1654, the communities of Tykocin and Grodno engaged in a prolonged power struggle involving which would have authority over the communities of Choroszcz, Zabludow, Gorodok, and Wasilkowl Tykocin ultimately prevailed.

Tykocin became one of the most important communities in the region during the 17th and 18th centuries, and eventually grew to include the communities of Podlasie (Siemiatycze, Wysokie Mazowieckie, Miedzyrzec Podlaski, Bransk) and eastern Masovia (Ciechanow). It was also the chief community in the province of Tykocin. The community’s prominence and influence would last through the 18th century.

In 1623 Tykocin severed its ties with the Council of Lithuania, and instead affiliated with the Council of Four Lands.

In 1660, during the Polish-Swedish wars, the Jews of Tykocin suffered at the hands of the Swedish army, as well as Polish troops led by General Stefan Czarniecki.

Rabbis who served the Jewish community of Tykocin until the end of the 18th century included Menahem David b. Isaac, a student of Moses Isserles (the Rama); Samuel Eliezer Edels, who served during the 1620s; Joshua b. Joseph, the author of the Talmudic commentary Penei Yehoshua (early 1630s); Isaac Aizik b. Eliezer Lipman Heilperin (1667-1681); Elijah Shapira, the head of the rabbinical court of Prague who became the nonresident rabbi of Tykocin in 1703; and Shalom ben Eliezer Rokeach (1756-1766).

In 1765 there were 2,694 Jewish taxpayers in Tykocin and the nearby villages. That number dropped to 1,652 (56% of the total population) in 1808.

In 1815 the town was annexed to Congress Poland, and the Russian administration allowed Jews to settle freely in the area. As a result, the population once again increased. There were 2,701 Jews (64% of the total population) living in Tykocin in 1827. By 1857 that number had grown to 3,456 (70% of the total). In 1897 Tykocin’s Jewish population was 2,484 (59% of the total).

The Jews of Tykocin worked in small trade and crafts during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Later, during the interwar period, Jews manufactured brushes and prayer shawls. Additionally, Jews were active politically and culturally during this period. A number of Zionist parties were active in the town, particularly HeHalutz. Agudas Yisroel was also active, and established a Beis Yaakov girls’ school. There was also a Tarbut school.

In 1921 there were 1,401 Jews living in Tykocin (49% of the total population).  

 

THE HOLOCAUST

Tykocin was occupied by the Germans at the end of June 1941. A pogrom broke out within days of the start of the occupation, led by local Poles, with the encouragement of the Germans, and Jewish property was looted. Jews began to be conscripted for forced labor, and their freedom of movement was restricted.

On August 25, 1941, the town’s Jews were ordered to assemble in the market square. After a selection, about 1,400 people were transported to the outskirts of the town, where they were killed. Some Jews succeeded in hiding, but were ultimately caught and executed the next day by the Polish police. About 150 people were sent to the Bialystok Ghetto.

 

POSTWAR

A few of the survivors returned to Tykocin after the war, but they were subject to attacks by gangs of Polish nationalists that were active in the area. As a result of the violence, the Jews left Tykocin.

A memorial book, Sefer Tykocin, was published in Tel Aviv in 1949.

The Great Synagogue and the Small Synagogue buildings were restored in the 1970s.

 

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Would you like to help us improving the content? Send us your suggestions
Chaim Siemiatycki

Chaim Siemiatycki (1908-1943) Poet.

Born in Tykocin, Poland, into a rabbinical family, he moved to Warsaw and contributed poems to several periodicals. A first collection of his poems entitled Oysgeshtrekte Hent was published in 1935. A second volume (Tropns Toy) followed in 1938. During the Nazi occupation of Warsaw, Siemiatycki found refuge in Bialystok. In 1941 he moved to Vilnius, Lithuania, where he lived in the ghetto. He was shot dead in Lithuania, in a forced labour camp.

Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People

Tykocin

Yiddish: טיקטין, Tiktin

A town in the Podlaskie Voivodeship, northeastern Poland. 

21ST CENTURY

The Small Synagogue, which was built at the end of the 18th century and refurbished during the 1970s, was converted into a museum. The museum includes an exhibition about Tykocin’s Jewish community during World War II (1939-1945). The basement has a restaurant that serves Jewish food.

The Great Synagogue, which was built in 1642, was partially damaged during the war and in 1965. The building was restored during the 1970s and converted into a museum. The museum includes a collection of Jewish artifacts, and organizes events in honor of Jewish holidays. In 2013, the Great Synagogue in Tykocin was voted one of the new seven wonders of Poland. Behind the Great Synagogue is a wooden house with a Star of David.

The Jewish cemetery, which was established shortly after the Jews arrived in the 16th century, has a number of tombstones that have remained standing.

The mass grave of the Jews of Tykocin is marked. Memorials by the grave commemorate the mass murder that took place there.  

 

HISTORY

In 1522 the Gashtolds, the noble family that owned Tykocin, invited 10 Jewish families from Grodno to settle in the town. These Jewish families were given sites to build homes, and were later allowed to establish shops, a synagogue, a cemetery, and an autonomous community. A 1536 charter stated that legal cases between Jews and non-Jews would be jointly decided by the rabbi and the head of the town council.

By 1576 there were 54 houses owned by Jews. At that point, most worked as wholesale traders of salt, spices, and cloth. Their rights were confirmed by special royal privileges in 1576 and 1639. In 1642 a synagogue was erected in the Baroque style.

As the community grew, it eventually became independent from the Jewish community of Grodno. Eventually, between 1621 and 1654, the communities of Tykocin and Grodno engaged in a prolonged power struggle involving which would have authority over the communities of Choroszcz, Zabludow, Gorodok, and Wasilkowl Tykocin ultimately prevailed.

Tykocin became one of the most important communities in the region during the 17th and 18th centuries, and eventually grew to include the communities of Podlasie (Siemiatycze, Wysokie Mazowieckie, Miedzyrzec Podlaski, Bransk) and eastern Masovia (Ciechanow). It was also the chief community in the province of Tykocin. The community’s prominence and influence would last through the 18th century.

In 1623 Tykocin severed its ties with the Council of Lithuania, and instead affiliated with the Council of Four Lands.

In 1660, during the Polish-Swedish wars, the Jews of Tykocin suffered at the hands of the Swedish army, as well as Polish troops led by General Stefan Czarniecki.

Rabbis who served the Jewish community of Tykocin until the end of the 18th century included Menahem David b. Isaac, a student of Moses Isserles (the Rama); Samuel Eliezer Edels, who served during the 1620s; Joshua b. Joseph, the author of the Talmudic commentary Penei Yehoshua (early 1630s); Isaac Aizik b. Eliezer Lipman Heilperin (1667-1681); Elijah Shapira, the head of the rabbinical court of Prague who became the nonresident rabbi of Tykocin in 1703; and Shalom ben Eliezer Rokeach (1756-1766).

In 1765 there were 2,694 Jewish taxpayers in Tykocin and the nearby villages. That number dropped to 1,652 (56% of the total population) in 1808.

In 1815 the town was annexed to Congress Poland, and the Russian administration allowed Jews to settle freely in the area. As a result, the population once again increased. There were 2,701 Jews (64% of the total population) living in Tykocin in 1827. By 1857 that number had grown to 3,456 (70% of the total). In 1897 Tykocin’s Jewish population was 2,484 (59% of the total).

The Jews of Tykocin worked in small trade and crafts during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Later, during the interwar period, Jews manufactured brushes and prayer shawls. Additionally, Jews were active politically and culturally during this period. A number of Zionist parties were active in the town, particularly HeHalutz. Agudas Yisroel was also active, and established a Beis Yaakov girls’ school. There was also a Tarbut school.

In 1921 there were 1,401 Jews living in Tykocin (49% of the total population).  

 

THE HOLOCAUST

Tykocin was occupied by the Germans at the end of June 1941. A pogrom broke out within days of the start of the occupation, led by local Poles, with the encouragement of the Germans, and Jewish property was looted. Jews began to be conscripted for forced labor, and their freedom of movement was restricted.

On August 25, 1941, the town’s Jews were ordered to assemble in the market square. After a selection, about 1,400 people were transported to the outskirts of the town, where they were killed. Some Jews succeeded in hiding, but were ultimately caught and executed the next day by the Polish police. About 150 people were sent to the Bialystok Ghetto.

 

POSTWAR

A few of the survivors returned to Tykocin after the war, but they were subject to attacks by gangs of Polish nationalists that were active in the area. As a result of the violence, the Jews left Tykocin.

A memorial book, Sefer Tykocin, was published in Tel Aviv in 1949.

The Great Synagogue and the Small Synagogue buildings were restored in the 1970s.