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The Jewish Community of Szczuczyn

Szczuczyn

A town in the district of Bialistok, north-eastern Poland.

Szczuczyn, which lies 96 kilometers north-west of Bialistok, is on record as from the 14th century, but it was granted the status of a town, together with the right to hold five yearly fairs and a weekly market day, only at the end of the 17th century. In 1742 a hospital was established in the town. A few Jewish families lived in Szczuczyn. In the 18th century and their number increased in the 19th century, mostly in consequence of the movement of Jews from the villages to the towns.

In 1808 the number of the Jews in the town was 675, being 31% of the total population. In 1897 their number increased to 3,336 - 66% of the total.

The Jewish community of Szczuczyn had a large synagogue, built in the 18th century, two study-houses and a number of small shtiebels (prayer and study places). At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th the community’s spiritual leader was rabbi Yosele, famous in the Jewish world as a great scholar of the torah and the halakhah and as an outstanding yet modest person. He was honored as a holy man also by the Christians, and Polish farmers used to ask him to bless their fields. When he died in 1931, large number of people attended his funeral, among them rabbis from all over Poland. The last rabbi of Szczuczyn was rabbi Eliahu Zvi Ephron.

Three heders, a talmud-torah school and a yeshiva were supported by the community and the town’s council. At the end of the 19th century a "heder metukkan" (reformed heder) was established, where secular subjects were also taught, as well as a Hebrew school. At the beginning of the 20th century a Hebrew heder was formed and also two classes of a state school, mostly for girls. After World War I there were also Jewish teachers in the Polish state school and the headmaster was Jewish. The talmud-torah school had six classes and one yeshiva class. The graduates of the local schools continued their studies at the gymnasium of the neighboring town Grajewo, 14 kilometers north-east of Szczuczyn, At the yeshiva of Grajewo or at yeshivot of other towns. Generally, the community of Szczuczyn was culturally in close contact with the community of Grajewo. Two libraries held thousands of books in Yiddish, Hebrew, and Polish.

Agudat Israel founded in 1925 a school for girls of the “Bet Yaacov” network. That year a state elementary school for the Jewish community was also founded, in which too most of the pupils were girls.

The community had a number of charitable institutions which came to the aid of the needy in bad times. Towards the end of World War I the Jews of Szczuczyn suffered from the hands of the soldiers of the Polish General Haller, who was a proclaimed anti-Semite. The soldiers beat Jews and looted goods and valuables. The charity funds helped to rehabilitate the victims.

The first Jews to settle in Szczuczyn engaged in trade and crafts. There were tailors, shoemakers and tinsmiths. A few Jewish families made a living from home weaving of flax. In the course of time, most of the shops in the town were held by Jews. Brisk trade markets also the weekly market days and the annual fairs.

Small industries, among them distilleries, flour mills and a carpet factory, were set up at the end of the 19th century. In the period between the two World Wars, Szczuczyn had a soap factory, an oil factory, and a grinding mill.

In 1925 unions of the Jewish tradesmen and the Jewish craftsmen were formed, which ran charitable funds and societies. That year Jews established also a cooperative bank, which had 350 members.


“Bnei Zion”, the first Zionist organization in Szczuczyn , was formed in 1898. It had a library and a reading-room in Hebrew, Yiddish, and Polish. It also held evening classes for adults for Hebrew and Hebrew literature, history of the Jewish people, geography of Eretz Israel and English. A branch of the Zionist organization was established in 1916, and gradually also local branches of the Zionist parties. From 1920 branches of their youth movements were also set up. In 1925 “He-Halutz” operated in the town a training Kibbutz, to prepare pioneers for settling in Eretz Israel. Additional training Kibbutzim were operated by the youth movements “Betar” and “Poalei Agudat Israel”.

Apart from the Zionist organizations, “Agudat Israel” and the “Bund” were also active in the town. The “Bund” had a library and a drama circle. A few Jews were members of the Communist party.

The sport activities of the community were organized by “Maccabi”. There was also a drama group which performed plays, and proceeds went to the various charitable organizations.

The Jews of Szczuczyn were suitably represented in the town’s council - out of 24 councilors, 16 were Jewish.

At the beginning of the 1930’s, during the economic crisis, the Jews suffered from an economic boycott and from injuries to their person and property by members of the N.D. (Narodowa Demokracja - a Polish political party with a declared anti-Semitic program).


On the eve of World War II, some 3,000 Jews were living in Szczuczyn , 55% of the town’s total population.


The Holocaust Period
When World War II broke out (September 1, 1939) Jews from Szczuczyn escaped to Bialistok and Lomza. The German army entered the town on the 7th of September. Already on the following day Jews were stopped on the streets and taken away for forced labor. On the 9th of September Jewish men of the ages 16 - 50 were ordered to report for registration. About 350 men were concentrated in the old synagogue and sent to Germany for forced labor.

On the 12th of September the Germans set fire to all the synagogues and the scrolls of the torah. On the 23rd of September the Germans withdrew from the area in accordance with their agreement with the U.S.S.R. (based on the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact of August 1939) and the Soviets took over. The town was annexed to the U.S.S.R. and the life of the Jews continued under that regime. Communist Jews were integrated into the local authorities but some Jews were held up in apprehensions of rich people and owners of property. A number of wealthy Jewish families were deported to Russia.

In January 1940 the Germans took the Jewish men of Szczuczyn, who had previously been taken away for forced labor, into a wood near Sobibor. With them were also Jews from other places, 650 men in all. There they were shot by the Germans and left to die. Those who survived and were able to move tried to cross the border into the Soviet territory, some were caught and deported to camps in Siberia and only a few managed to return to their home town.

When the Germans attacked the U.S.S.R. (22 June 1941), Szczuczyn was bombed from the air and a whole street went up in flames. A few Jews managed to escape from the town before it fell to the Germans. Some 2,000 Jews remained in Szczuczyn. When the Soviet troops retreated, the Germans kept forcing their way eastward and the town was left practically under no authority. On the 28th of June Polish bands forced into Jewish homes and murdered whole families. 300 corpses of men, women and children were thrown into anti-tank ditches near the town. Jewish women appealed to Polish dignitaries and German officers who had come to the town. Only patrols of German troops stopped the riots. On the 24th of July Polish policemen again murdered some 100 Jews in the town’s Jewish cemetery.

On the 8th of August 1941 Gestapo men came to Szczuczyn. On their orders, the Jews were concentrated in the market place and divided into a number of groups. Meanwhile, one of the streets was fenced off by barbed wire and set to be the Jewish ghetto. Women, children and young men and boys were taken into the ghetto, 15 members of a Judenrat were appointed, as well as 4 Jewish policemen. The groups which were not taken to the ghetto, comprising old men, young girls and some of the young men, were murdered in the Jewish cemetery. Among them was the community’s rabbi, rabbi Ephron.

Those who were crowded in the ghetto suffered hunger and deprivation. Many became sick and died.

On the 2nd of November 1942 the ghetto was liquidated. All who were still there were sent to the transit camp of Bogusza, and from there, in December, to the extermination camps of Treblinka and Auschwitz.

Szczuczyn was liberated by the Red Army on the 26th of January 1945.

Place Type:
Town
ID Number:
215688
Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People
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Zoludek

 

Belarussian: Жалудок (Žałudok)

Yiddish: זשעלודאָק (Zhaludok)

Russian: Желудок (Zheludok)

Polish: Żołudek

Lithuanian: Žaludkas

 

A small town in the district of Grodno, Belarus.
 

Zoludek is situated about 100 km from Vilna, near the river Niemen, in a region of forests and pastures, which was under Polish rule since the 15th century.

 

Following the partitions of Poland, at the end of the 18th century, the region was annexed by Russia. It was part of independent Poland until the outbreak of the Second World War.

 

21st Century

In Zoludek there are Jewish houses and a former Jewish school which was in use in the 1930s.

The Jewish street of 19th century Zoludek is to some extent in place to this day.

A native of Zoludek describes Jewish life centring around surrounded by the synagogue with the traditional rituals of the life of Jews, the holidays and Shabbat. Some gatherings were held in the synagogue yard. The synagogue was consecrated beginning of the 20th century and features a particular northern facade.

The Jewish cemetery has about 500 graves from 1800-1916. A few hundred meters distance is a memorial to those killed in 1942.

 

Prominent Figures

Avrokham Leib Shalkovich (Ben Avigdor), a native of Zoludek (b. 1867) was a prominent writer amongst the first to influence literature in the Hebrew language. With the publication of Sifrey Agora, the theme of realistic imagery prominent in Europe of those days was highlighted. Avrokham Leib also established printing and publishing houses, and a publishing partnership for foreign language translations.

Also born in Jewish Zoludek, Pinkus Kremen (b. 1890) was a learned artist. In Paris he befriended Modilyani. His works are predominantly still lives and landscapes, mostly moderate expressionist. Exhibitions were held in various places in Europe and the USA.

 

History

Jews lived in Zoludek in the first half of the 19th century, when about 280 Jewish families were established there. By the end of the century the Jewish inhabitants numbered about 1370, out of a total population of 1900.

The town had a synagogue, a prayer house, a heder and a Talmud torah. Well-known rabbis officiated there. Rabbi Haim Rutenberg-Mischkovsky, the Zadik, was in office from 1865 to 1880 and he was also the presiding judge. He was succeeded by the Gaon Rabbi Eliahu Moshe Levin, editor of the book Yad Eliahu (Questions and Answers in the Halacha).

The Gaon Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitz was elected as the town's rabbi in 1903. Later he became the rabbi of Moscow. Rabbi Zvi Arieh Lurie officiated from 1913 to 1933. The last rabbi of the town was his son-in-law, Rabbi Elhanan Sorotzkin, son of the well-known Rabbi Zalman Sorotzkin. He was imprisoned and exiled to Siberia by the Soviets. At the end of the Second World War he immigrated to Eretz Israel.

In 1920, a Hebrew school was opened in the town. In 1930 it became part of the tarbuth system of schools. It had a national Zionist orientation and its curriculum included Hebrew and Judaism. At that time a school which belonged to the Z.I.S.O. (Central Jewish School Organization) was established; its language of tuition was Yiddish.

The educational institutions were maintained by the community. The Polish government was against Jews studying separately and did not support these establishments. When the region was taken over by the Soviet Union in 1939, the tarbuth schools were abolished.

The inhabitants of Zoludek were merchants, shop keepers and craftsmen. Some traded in grain which they bought from the local peasants and shipped to Germany. In 1930 Zoludek became part of the national railway network and from then on the grain was transported by train. The economic situation was unstable and influenced by the changes of borders in the region.

Zionist activities in Zoludek started after the First World War. In 1922 a Hehalutz branch was established and in 1925 a branch of Hehalutz Hazair. Haliga Lemaan Eretz Israel Haovedet organized Zionist activities and collected money for the Keren Kayemet and Keren Hayessod. The Zionist movement was strengthened by the visits of the emissaries from Eretz Israel.

The writer Abraham Leib Shelkovitz, whose pen name was Ben Avigdor, and the painter Pinhas Kremien of the Paris school of art and a member of the academy of arts in France, were both from Zoludek.

Rabbi Shmuel Levin, director of the Jewish people's bank was a well-known philantropist.

At the outbreak of the Second World War, there were some 2200 Jews in Zoludek, that is about 90% of the total population.


The Holocaust Period

The German army occupied Zoludek on June 27, 1941. The Germans set the town on fire and almost all the Jewish homes were burned down. Jews were obliged to wear the yellow star and pay ransom. In July 1941, 22 young Jews who worked for the Germans were killed because they did not wear the yellow badge.

On November 1, 1941, the Zoludek Jews were rounded up in the ghetto in Orlowa street, which was the only street not destroyed by the fire. Some 300 Jews from the nearby town of Orlowa were taken there. According to records of the committee of Lithuanian communities, Jews lived in Orlowa since the beginning of the 18th century. During the winter of 1941-1942, the Germans killed Jews from both towns with help of polish policemen. In one case 32 Jews from Orlowa were murdered in a single day, and on another occasion 28 Jews from Zoludek.

The ghetto was surrounded by German soldiers and Ukrainian and Polish policemen on May 8, 1942. In the morning the Jews were driven from their homes to the market place where a selection was made by two S.S. officers, Lopold Windisch and Rudolf Werner. After the war the two S.S. men were put on trial and sentenced to life imprisonment. 81 craftsmen were selected and assembled in the synagogue. The others, more than 1500, were killed and buried in a common grave. Jews who tried to hide were caught and killed by Polish policemen. The 81 surviving craftsmen were transferred to the Szczuczyn ghetto and from there, in September 1943, to the extermination camp.

A week before the liquidation of the Zoludek ghetto, 140 young Jews were sent to the labor camp Skribowo and later transferred to the Lida ghetto. The few who succeeded in escaping from the ghetto joined a group of Jewish partisans under the leadership of the Beilsky brothers and groups of Russian partisans.

Some Jewish fighters were killed in the battles with the Germans and were mentioned in dispatches by their Soviet command, among them Shlomo Shifmanowitz of Zoludek. About 30 men survived, one of them was Baruch Levin, nominated for the title hero of the Soviet Union, but immigrated to Israel before receiving the high award.

At the end of the war most of the survivors immigrated to Eretz Israel and some to the USA.

Stopnica

A small town near Busko, in Kielce province, central Poland.

Jews settled there in the 17th century. They owned 12 houses in the town in 1663. The Jews of Stopnica had certain trading rights in this period and were exempt from services to the governor (starosta). They were granted a royal privilege in 1752 authorizing their communal autonomy and rights to engage in trade and crafts, the latter being regulated by an agreement concluded in 1773 between the leaders of the community and the municipal authorities. The representatives of the province (galil) of sandomierz, within the framework of the councils of lands, convened in Stopnica in 1754 and 1759. There were 375 Jews paying the poll tax in Stopnica and 188 in the surrounding villages in 1765. Between 1823 and 1862 the authorities of Congress Poland placed difficulties in the way of Jewish settlement in Stopnica because of its proximity to the Austrian border. In 1869 Stopnica lost its status as a city. During the 19th century Chasidism gained influence within the community. The Jewish population numbered 1,014 (49% of the total) in 1827; 1,461 (69%) in 1857; 3,134 (71%) in 1897; and 3,328 (76%) in 1921. They were mainly occupied in small-scale trade and crafts, including tailoring, shoemaking, and carpentry, and in carting.

During the German occupation Stopnica belonged to the general government, Radom district, in Busko county. At the outbreak of World War II there were about 2,600 Jews in Stopnica. In the course of the fighting the town center - mainly inhabited by Jews - was burnt down. After the Germans entered, shooting Jews on the streets became a common phenomenon. The Jews were compelled to pay a high contribution (fine) and in order to ensure payment the Germans took as hostage leading Jewish personalities, some of whom were killed. On the eve of Passover 1940, 13 Jews were dragged from their homes and shot.

An open ghetto was set up but the Jews were forbidden under penalty of death to leave it. Tailoring workshops were established, providing the craftsmen with some employment and small wages. The number of Jews grew gradually with the influx of deportees and refugees from Plock, Gabin, Radom, Lodz, and Cracow, and in 1942 from the surrounding villages. By November 1940 there were 3,200 Jews in Stopnica; in May 1941, 4,600; in April 1942, 5,300; and in June 1942, 4,990. On the eve of Passover 1942, the police shot the president of the Judenrat and his son. On November 5-6, 1942, the liquidation of the ghetto took place. The German police and Ukrainian formations, with the help of the Polish police and the fire-brigade, shot 400 old persons and children at the cemetery, sent 1,500 young men to labor camps in Skarzysko-Kamienna, and drove the remainder, about 3,000, on foot to the train station in Szczuczyn (Shchuchin). On the way many were killed. Jews caught in hiding in the ghetto were shot or included in the transport. The victims were sent by train to Treblinka. In Stopnica itself about 200 young Jewish men and women remained alive, employed in workshops and on road building. This group was sent in January 1943 to labor camps in Sandomierz and Poniatow.

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: sekretariat@jewish.org.pl
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

אורליה
 

Orlya

בלרוסית: Аграгарадок Орля / אורליה; פולנית: Orla Grodzienska; יידיש: אורלוווע.

כפר במחוז הרודנה (גרודנו) בבלרוס, עד מלחמת העולם השנייה בפולין.

התיישבות היהודים באורלה מתועדת כבר ממחצית המאה ה-17. הקהילה הייתה עשירה ושילמה את המיסים כחלק מגליל טיקטין לועד מדינת ליטא. ב- 1750 הוקם במקום בית עלמין. במשך השנים הקהילה ירדה מגדולתה.

רבני הקהילה: ר' אהרן ב"ר פסח - הרב הראשון של אורלה שמוזכר בתעודות, רבי אליעזר ב"ר צבי הירש - כיהן באורלה בסוף המאה ה-18 ומשם עבר לכהן בגרודנו, רבי חיים לייב מישקובסקי - כיהן באורלה בסביבות 1860, וממנה עבר לכהן בז'ולודק , רבי ישראל יהונתן ירושלימסקי - כיהן אחרי הרב מישקובסקי, ונפטר בימי מלחמת העולם הראשונה (1917). חתנו של הרידב"ז וחותנו של הרב יחזקאל אברמסקי.

ערב מלחמת העולם הראשונה הקהילה היהודית מנתה כ-400 איש. בימי מלחמת העולם הראשונה (1918-1914) שותקה כלכלת הכפר, היהודים גם סבלו מביזה ואלימות מצד חיילי הצבא הרוסי. ההגירה מכפר שהחלה עוד תרם המלחמה התעצמה. ב-1921 אוכלוסיית הכפר מנתה 195 יהודים מתוך 579 של כלל האוכלוסייה (30%), רוב אוכלוסיית המקום הייתה בלרוסית.

בתום מלחמת העולם הראשונה נוסדה פולין העצמאית. הכפר נכלל בגבולותיה של פולין בתום מלחמת פולין-רוסיה סובייטית 1918- 1921.

 

תקופת השואה

ב- 1 בספטמבר גרמניה פלשה לפולין. ב-17 בספטמבר ברית המועצות פלשה לפולין וספחה שטחי פולין המזרחיים עד נהר הבוג ונהר נארב. אורלה גרודזנסקה עברה לשליטת ברה"מ. השלטון הסובייטי התחיל מייד בדיכוי התרבות הפולנית והיהודית. אנשים אשר לדעתם של השלטונות הסובייטים הפריעו לכינונו של משטר חדש גורשו לסיביר.

ב-22 ביוני 1941 גרמניה הנאצית פלשה לברית המועצות. ארלה גרוז'ינסקה נכבשה מספר ימים מאוחר יותר. מיד עם הכיבוש הגרמני התחילה התעללות ביהודים. ב-7 באוקטובר הגרמנים ציוו למנדל גלאי להקים יודנראט. הידנראט נדרש למסור לגרמנים רשימת היהודים בכפר ולספק אנשים לעבודות כפייה. ב-2 בנובמבר יהודי אורלה הועברו לגטו ז'ולודק הסמוך.

הצפיפות בגטו ז'ולודק הייתה גדולה. גורל יהודי אורלה היה כגורל יושבי גטו ז'ולודק. ב-10 בנובמבר 1941 נרצחו בגטו 28 יהודים, ב-1 במרס 1942 נרצחו עוד 32 יהודים.

ב-9 במאי 1942 הנאצים רצחו בבורות מחוץ לעיירה כ-1,400 יהודים. רצחו גם את היהודים הבורחים שנתפסו. חלקם של הבורחים הצטרפו ליחידות הפרטיזנים.

כ-80 יהודים בעלי מלאכה נשלחו לגטו שצ'וצ'ין ולגטו לידה. גורלם היה זהה לגורלם של ושבי הגטאות ההם, נרצחו.

 

לאחר השואה

כנראה שחלק מהיהודים שניצלו בפרטיזנים חזרו אחרי שהצבא האדום שיחרר את האזור באביב 1944. לא ידוע אם נשארו. בית העלמין שליד הנהר נהרס ברובו. נותרו רק כמה עשרות מצבות שלמות בחלקם. השטח לא מגודר ומשמש כמרעה.

 

נובי קורצ'ין

Nowy Korczyn

שם נוסף: Nowe  Miasto Korczyn  / נובה מיאסטו קורצ'ין

עיירה בנפת בוסקו במחוז שוויינטוקשיסקיה, פולין.

בשנת 1258 הנסיך הפולני בולסלב החמישי "הביישן" מעניק זכויות עיר ליישוב שהקים 3 ק"מ מזרחית מארמון הולדתו בסטארי קורצ'ין (Stary Korczyn - קורצ'ין הישנה). העיר החדשה להבדיל מהישנה כונתה נובה מיאסטו קורצ'ין ("העיר החדשה קורצ'ין"). ליישוב הוענקו זכויות לערוך מספר ירידים שנתיים וימי שוק שבועיים. הישוב החדש חולש על הנהר נידה, לא הרחק מהמעבר על נהר הוויסלה ובצומת של שתי דרכי מסחר: נדרך מקרקוב אל רוס של קייב (היום אוקראינה) והדרך מקושיצה ההונגרית (היום בסלובקיה) לעיר סנדומייז' בפולין. הנסיך בולסלב בנה במקום מנזר פרנציסקני וארמון מעץ. בשל מיקומה האסטרטגי, מרכז כלכלי וצומת דרכי מסחר העיר הייתה אחד המקומות החביבים לקיום כינוסים תקופתיים של בני האצולה הפולנית בחבל פולין קטן.

בשנת 1300 פשט על האזור הנסיך של רוס של קייב ושרף את הארמון מעץ. המלך הפולני קזימייז' השלישי "הגדול" (שלט בשנים 1370-1333) בנה במקום ארמון מבוצר מאבן, הקיף את העיר בחומת מגן ותעלת מים שמימיה ניזונו מאגם מלאכותי צ'ראוריה ((Czartoria שנכרה לשם כך. המלך וולאדיסלב השני לבית יאגללו הליטאי ומלכי פולין שששלטן אחריו ישבו בקרקוב אך לעיתים קרובות נהגו לנפוש, להתארח ולחתום על חוזים עם שליטי האזור ב נובה מיאסטו קורצ'ין.

בשנת 1474 שריפה כילתה מרבית בתי העיר. כדי לעזור בשיקומה העיר קיבלה פטור מכל תשלומי חובה ומיסים למשך 12 שנה. לאחר שתי שריפות נוספות העיר הורשתה לגבות מס מהסחורות והתבואה שעברו דרכה לנמלי הים הבלטי.

בשנת 1579 מלך פולין זיגמונט השני אוגוסט הקים בעיר בית חולים ובית עירייה. בזמן הזה היו במקום 19 מבשלות בירה, 22 מפעלים להתססת תבואה עבור המבשלות, 3 טחנות קמח, 7 בתי מטבחיים ואסמים לשמירת התבואה לפני שהועברה על דוברות לגדנסק. בעיר הוקם בית חרושת לייצור תותחים, רובים, חומרי נפץ ותחמושת. בעיר היו כמה בתי מרחץ והייתה מערכת מפותחת לאספקת מים.

לאחר שבשנת 1592 המלך זיגמונט השלישי וואזה העביר את מרכז השליטה של מלכות פולין מקרקוב לוורשה, אצילי פולין קטן איבדו מכוחם וגם העיר נובה מיאסטו קורצ'ין החלה לדעוך. ב-1606 מרדו האצילים המקומיים במלך פולין. המרד כשל, אך במהלך הקרבות נשרפו רוב בתי העיר. הפלישה השוודית (1655-1650) גרמה להרס נוסף למקום. ארמון המלך נהרס. העיר איבדה את מרכזיותה הכלכלית והפוליטית. ב-1702, תוך כדי מלחמות הצפון, העיר סבלה מהרס נוסף. ב-1776, במטרה לחדש את כלכלת העיר מועצת העיר נתנה אישור לשימוש באבנים מטירת המלך ההרוסה לבניית מבנים בעיר, ביניהם גם בניית בית כנסת.

לאחר החלוקות הרבות של פולין בין המעצמות השכנות נובה מיאסטו קורצ'ין  נכללה בתחומי מלכות פולין כחלק מאימפריה הרוסית. בשנת 1869, בגלל המרידות הרבות של הפולנים נגד האימפריה הרוסית, ובדומה לרוב ערי מלכות פולין, המקום איבד את זכויות העיר והפך לכפר. זמן קצר אחר כך היישוב שינה את שמו לנובי קורצ'ין (Nowy Korczyn).

בתקופה של מלחמת העולם הראשונה (1918-1914) נובי קורצ'ין מצאה את עצמה במרכז הקרבות ונכבשה על ידי האוסטרים בעזרת הלגיון הפולני של צבא אוסטריה שלחם בפיקודו של יוזף פילסודסקי.

בין שתי מלחמות העולם נובי קורצ'ין נכללה ברפובליקה הפולנית המחודשת.

 

היהודים בנובי קורצ'ין

היהודים מתועדים לראשונה בנובי קורצ'ין בתחילת המאה ה-16, האיזכור הראשון על כך הוא משנת 1530. בשנת 1557 מוזכר בעיר הסוחר אברהם ובשנת 1558 יש איזכור על מלווה בריבית יהודיה בשם אנה יעקובובסקה. בשנת 1564 רשומות בעיר כמה משפחות יהודיות אשר שילמו את מיסי המלך בפלפל. ב-1569 הקהילה היא כבר בעלת בית כנסת ובית עלמין. (בית העלמין הוקם כנראה בשנים 1569-1554). היהודים רשאים לגור בשכונה מחוץ לעיר אך בשנים 1569-1566 יש להם כבר אישור לבעלות על ארבעה בתים בתוך העיר. היהודים הפעילו בשכירות את הטחנות של העיר, מה שהבורגנות המקומית לא ראתה בעין יפה.

הפלישה הזרות לפולין, של השוודים (1655-1650) ושןב של השוודים ביחד עם הקוזקים וההונגרים ב-1657 גרמו להרס רב בעיר.  כדי לאושש את כלכלת העיר, ב-28 במאי 1659 המלך יאן קאז'ימייז' העניק ליהודים כתב זכויות, ואישר להם לבנות בית כנסת, להקים בית עלמין והבטיח להם חופש כלכלי. הרובע היהודי הוקם באזור שיפוטו של מושל העיר.

בשנת 1676 הקהילה מנתה מעל 100 יהודים משלמי מס העיר.

ב-1702 בית הכנסת נהרס בקרבות מלחמות הצפון ונבנה מחדש ב-1724.

בשנות שילטונו של המלך אוגוסט השלישי סאס (1763-1733) הרב המקומי היה גם נציגו של המלך. גידולה ושיגשוגה של האוכלוסייה היהודית בעיר גרמה לבורגנות המקומית ב-1744 לדרוש מהמלך לגרש את "צאצאי ישראל" מהעיר. המלך לא נעתר לבקשות. ב-1759 אישר המלך אוגוסט השלישי את בחירתו של רב הקהילה, הרב שאול בן שמחה שמחביץ. ב-1765 הוקם בית עלמין חדש בנוסף לישן. ב-1775 המלך סטאניסלב אוגוסט העניק ליהודים מכתב המגן אותם מפני כוחו וסמכותו של מושל העיר. ב-1776 מועצת העיר החליטה לפרק את טירת המלך ההרוסה ולבנות מאבניה בנייני ציבור. ב-1779 המלך סטאניסלב אוגוסט פוניאטובסקי נתן אישור לבניית בית כנסת ואבנים שנלקחו מטירת המלך שימשו גם לבניית בית הכנסת על הגבעה החולשת על העיר. ב-1777 המלך סטאניסלב אוגוסט הקים ועדה לבוררות הסכסוך בין היהודים והנושים הנוצרים שלהם. ב-1779 היהודים התלוננו בפני המלך שמועצת העיר לא עושה כלום כדי לשלם את חובה והמושל מיקולאי ריי אף איים על הרב שאול בסנקציות.

ב-1787 היה בבעלות הקהילה בית כנסת, בית עלמין וחדר. בנובי קורצ'ין התגוררו 499 יהודים ובסטארי קורצ'ין אשר השתייכה לקהילת נובי קורצ'ין,  התגוררו 66 יהודים.

בשנים 1867-1823 השלטונות הרוסים הגבילו את ההתיישבות היהודית בעיר בגלל קרבתה לגבול עם האימפריה האוסטרית. באותו הזמן (1827) העיר מנתה 1,232 יהודים אשר היוו 51,4% מכלל התושבים. בשנת 1866 נחנך בית הכנסת שבנייתו ושיפוצו נמשכו שנים. הבניין, מהמפוארים בממלכה, היה מקושט בציורי קיר ולידו פעלו בית מדרש, בית חולים ובית מחסה לעניים ששימש גם כבית זקנים.

כשקורצ'ין איבדה את זכויות העיר ב-1869 התגוררו במקום כ-3,300 תושבים, מהם כ-2,300 יהודים (69.7%). ב-1885 נשרף בית הכנסת של הקהילה. השיפוץ ארך כמה שנים ובמסגרתו והורחב בית הכנסת ובפרט ועזרת הנשים שלו.

האוכלוסייה הנוצרית התייחסה בעוינות להודים אך ללא אלימות. הפולנים האשימו את היהודים בהעסקת נשים פולניות אשר סיגלו לעצמן את שפת היידיש והמנהגים היהודיים. כמו כן, הסוחרים היהודים הואשמו בעידוד  שיכרות. 

ב-1921, במפקד האוכלוסין שנערך בפולין העצמאית שקמה לאחר מלחמת העולם הראשונה, נמנו בנובי קורצ'ין 2,478 יהודים אשר היוו 67,3% מכל התושבים במקום. בתקופה שבין שתי מלחמות העולם היהודים עסקו במסחר זעיר ובמלאכה, כגון עיבוד עורות, קליעת סלי נצרים, עיבוד קורות עץ וחייטות. במקום התקיימה פעילות תרבותית ופוליטית ערה. בעיירה יש יצוג לרוב המפלגות, ביניהן פועלי ציון, החלוץ, השומר הדתי, המזרחי, אגודת ישראל, הרוויזיוניסטים, הבונד והמפלגה קומוניסטית. במקום פעלו מספר ספריות שבהן התקיימו קורסים לעברית. חינוך הילדים התקיים בבתי ספר של הרשתות "יבנה" ו"בנות יעקב". בקהילה פעלה חברת "גמילות חסד". הרב יוחנן סילמן כיהן כרב העיר.

בשנות ה-1930, בזמן המשבר הכלכלי בפולין, היחסים עם האוכלוסייה הנוצרית היו מתוחים. השלטונות הורו ליהודים להשתמש במסמכים הרשמיים של הקהילה בשפה הפולנית בלבד ולהסיר את הכיתוב באות עברית צהחותם הרשמי של הקהילה. הפולנים גם הגבילו את התשלומים שגבתה הקהילה על שירותיה. השלטון קבע את גובה המשכורות של הרב יוחנן סילמן, של משגיח הכשרות שמואל בלומנטל, של השוחטים משה פלדשטיין, בורובסקי והמרה ושל פקיד הקהילה הרמאץ'.

בשנת 1931 הקהילה מנתה 2,820 יהודים אך בשנת 1937 מספר היהודים ירד לכ-2,530 שהם היוו 80% מכלל תושבי העיר.

הפולנים הלאומנים קראו לחרם על המסחר עם היהודים. 170 משפחות היו זקוקות לסיוע. יוצאי הקהילה בארצות הברית הקימו אירגון לעזרה בשם "ארגון אפשטיין". באביב 1939 לקראת חג הפסח שלח האירגון 1,400 זלוטי למשפחות נזקקות ו-700 זלוטי לתלמוד תורה המקומי.

תקופת השואה

ב-1 בספטמבר  גרמניה הנאצית פלשה לפולין1939. הגרמנים כבשו את נובי קורצ'ין ב-8 בספטמבר מיד התחילו להתעלל ביהודים והחלו החטיפות לעבודות כפייה. כעבור שבועיים הוקם יודנראט אשר תפקידו היה לדאוג לתשלום כופר בסך 20,000 זלוטי אשר הוטל על היהודים ולספק יהודים לעבודות הכפיה.

באביב 1941 הוקם גטו פתוח בכמה רחובות קטנים ואליו הועברו 2,478 יהודי נובי קורצ'ין והסביבה. באפריל 1941 הובאו לגטו יהודים ממערב פולין וכ-300 יהודים מהעיר ראדום. מספר תושבי הגטו הגיעה לכ-3,700. הצפיפות והמצוקה היו גדולים. היודנראט, בעזרתו של האירגון היהודי לעזרה הדדית, ה"יס.ס." שמרכזו היה בקרקוב, הקים מרפאה לטיפול במחלת הטיפוס וכמו כן הפעיל  מטבח ציבורי שסיפק מדי יום 200 ארוחות לנזקקים. הגרמנים ניצלו את היהודים לעבודה בבתי מלאכה ("שופים") לתפירה, לסנדלרות ולנגרות עבור הצבא הגרמני.

ב-2 באוקטובר 1942 כיתרו את הגטו יחידות ס"ס, כוחות של ז'נדרמים גרמנים ומשטרת עזר של אוקראינים. היהודים שנאספו נלקחו ברגל לתחנת הרכבת בשצ'וצ'ין (Szczuczyn) המרוחקת כ-20 ק"מ. במתקשים ללכת הגרמנים ירו במקום. בתחנת הרכבת בשצ'וצ'ין צורפו ליהודים מנובי קורצ'ין יהודים מפאצאנוב (Pacanow). כולם נדחקו לקרונות משא והוסעו למחנה ההשמדה בטרבלינקה.

בגטו נובי קורצ'ין נשארו כ-70 יהודים, ביניהם חברי היודנראט ומשפחותיהם, חברי המשטרה היהודית והמשפחות. הם נצטוו לאסוף את הרכוש שנותר מאחור. אליהם הצטרפו עוד כ-270 יהודים שברחו ליערות הסביבה או שיצאו ממקומות מחבוא והורשו על ידי הגרמנים להשאר בבתי הגטו.

ב-24 בנובמבר 1942 חלקם של הנשארים נשלחו לעבודה במפעליHASAG  בסקאז'יסקו קאמיינה (Skarzysko Kamienna) ובמחנות עבודה באזור קיילצה. הגטו חוסל סופית במאי 1943, הזקנים נרצחו במקום והצעירים נשלחו למחנה עבודה בקיילצה.

לאחר השואה

ב-22 ביוני 1944 הצבא הנסובייטי שחרר את מזרח פולין עד לובלין ושם נעצר. בסוף יוני 1944 נובי קורצ'ין היתה חלק מ"מדינת הפרטיזנים החופשית" אשר הוכרזה על ידי המחתרות הפולניות ה"ארמייה קראיובה" ו"בטליוני חלופסקייה" על השטחים עד נהר הוויסלה ומעבר לה שעוד לא שוחררו. ה"אוטונומיה" תקיימה במשך מספר שבועות עד שהגרמנים דיכאו אותה. נובי קורצ'ין שוחררה על ידי הצבא האדום ב-17 בינואר 1945.

שרדו את השואה כ-30 יהודים, חלקם שרדו את מחנות העבודה וחלקם במסתור. המשפחה של יושב ראש היודנראט מצאה מסתור מבעוד מועד אצל משפחת מאציאגובסקי (Maciągowski) הפולנית, מספר יהודים הוסתרו על ידי המשפחות פיבובארצ'ק (Piwowarczyk) וקוקוצ'ק (Kukuczak).

בניין בית הכנסת ההרוס בחלקו שנבנה מאבני הטירה המלכותית שימש לאחר המלחמה כמחסן לתבואה. שרד בו המקום המסוגנן של ארון הקודש. היום המבנה ריק והוכרז כמסוכן. בית העלמין הישן אשר הוקם בסביבות 1569-1554 נהרס כולו  - אין זכר למצבות, על שטחו נבנו מחסנים שונים.

בית העלמין החדש אשר הוקם ב-1765 נהרס על ידי הנאצים, המצבות נלקחו כחומר בניית כבישים ולחיזוק שפת הנהר. מה שנותר נלקח על ידי האוכלוסייה המקומית. השטח שימש כשטח חקלאי. תודות למאמצים של ישראל מאיר גבאי בית העלמין נוקה, גודר מחדש, הוקמו מחדש כמה מצבות שנמצאו בסביבה. בשטחו של בית הקברות הוקם אתר עם 3 מצבות לזכר הצדיקים המקומיים: הרב יוסף ברוך אפשטיין, הרב קלונימוס קלמן אפשטיין בן יוסף ברוך אפשטיין היהודי והרב חיים מאיר בן קלונימוס קלמן אפשטיין.

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The Jewish Community of Szczuczyn

Szczuczyn

A town in the district of Bialistok, north-eastern Poland.

Szczuczyn, which lies 96 kilometers north-west of Bialistok, is on record as from the 14th century, but it was granted the status of a town, together with the right to hold five yearly fairs and a weekly market day, only at the end of the 17th century. In 1742 a hospital was established in the town. A few Jewish families lived in Szczuczyn. In the 18th century and their number increased in the 19th century, mostly in consequence of the movement of Jews from the villages to the towns.

In 1808 the number of the Jews in the town was 675, being 31% of the total population. In 1897 their number increased to 3,336 - 66% of the total.

The Jewish community of Szczuczyn had a large synagogue, built in the 18th century, two study-houses and a number of small shtiebels (prayer and study places). At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th the community’s spiritual leader was rabbi Yosele, famous in the Jewish world as a great scholar of the torah and the halakhah and as an outstanding yet modest person. He was honored as a holy man also by the Christians, and Polish farmers used to ask him to bless their fields. When he died in 1931, large number of people attended his funeral, among them rabbis from all over Poland. The last rabbi of Szczuczyn was rabbi Eliahu Zvi Ephron.

Three heders, a talmud-torah school and a yeshiva were supported by the community and the town’s council. At the end of the 19th century a "heder metukkan" (reformed heder) was established, where secular subjects were also taught, as well as a Hebrew school. At the beginning of the 20th century a Hebrew heder was formed and also two classes of a state school, mostly for girls. After World War I there were also Jewish teachers in the Polish state school and the headmaster was Jewish. The talmud-torah school had six classes and one yeshiva class. The graduates of the local schools continued their studies at the gymnasium of the neighboring town Grajewo, 14 kilometers north-east of Szczuczyn, At the yeshiva of Grajewo or at yeshivot of other towns. Generally, the community of Szczuczyn was culturally in close contact with the community of Grajewo. Two libraries held thousands of books in Yiddish, Hebrew, and Polish.

Agudat Israel founded in 1925 a school for girls of the “Bet Yaacov” network. That year a state elementary school for the Jewish community was also founded, in which too most of the pupils were girls.

The community had a number of charitable institutions which came to the aid of the needy in bad times. Towards the end of World War I the Jews of Szczuczyn suffered from the hands of the soldiers of the Polish General Haller, who was a proclaimed anti-Semite. The soldiers beat Jews and looted goods and valuables. The charity funds helped to rehabilitate the victims.

The first Jews to settle in Szczuczyn engaged in trade and crafts. There were tailors, shoemakers and tinsmiths. A few Jewish families made a living from home weaving of flax. In the course of time, most of the shops in the town were held by Jews. Brisk trade markets also the weekly market days and the annual fairs.

Small industries, among them distilleries, flour mills and a carpet factory, were set up at the end of the 19th century. In the period between the two World Wars, Szczuczyn had a soap factory, an oil factory, and a grinding mill.

In 1925 unions of the Jewish tradesmen and the Jewish craftsmen were formed, which ran charitable funds and societies. That year Jews established also a cooperative bank, which had 350 members.


“Bnei Zion”, the first Zionist organization in Szczuczyn , was formed in 1898. It had a library and a reading-room in Hebrew, Yiddish, and Polish. It also held evening classes for adults for Hebrew and Hebrew literature, history of the Jewish people, geography of Eretz Israel and English. A branch of the Zionist organization was established in 1916, and gradually also local branches of the Zionist parties. From 1920 branches of their youth movements were also set up. In 1925 “He-Halutz” operated in the town a training Kibbutz, to prepare pioneers for settling in Eretz Israel. Additional training Kibbutzim were operated by the youth movements “Betar” and “Poalei Agudat Israel”.

Apart from the Zionist organizations, “Agudat Israel” and the “Bund” were also active in the town. The “Bund” had a library and a drama circle. A few Jews were members of the Communist party.

The sport activities of the community were organized by “Maccabi”. There was also a drama group which performed plays, and proceeds went to the various charitable organizations.

The Jews of Szczuczyn were suitably represented in the town’s council - out of 24 councilors, 16 were Jewish.

At the beginning of the 1930’s, during the economic crisis, the Jews suffered from an economic boycott and from injuries to their person and property by members of the N.D. (Narodowa Demokracja - a Polish political party with a declared anti-Semitic program).


On the eve of World War II, some 3,000 Jews were living in Szczuczyn , 55% of the town’s total population.


The Holocaust Period
When World War II broke out (September 1, 1939) Jews from Szczuczyn escaped to Bialistok and Lomza. The German army entered the town on the 7th of September. Already on the following day Jews were stopped on the streets and taken away for forced labor. On the 9th of September Jewish men of the ages 16 - 50 were ordered to report for registration. About 350 men were concentrated in the old synagogue and sent to Germany for forced labor.

On the 12th of September the Germans set fire to all the synagogues and the scrolls of the torah. On the 23rd of September the Germans withdrew from the area in accordance with their agreement with the U.S.S.R. (based on the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact of August 1939) and the Soviets took over. The town was annexed to the U.S.S.R. and the life of the Jews continued under that regime. Communist Jews were integrated into the local authorities but some Jews were held up in apprehensions of rich people and owners of property. A number of wealthy Jewish families were deported to Russia.

In January 1940 the Germans took the Jewish men of Szczuczyn, who had previously been taken away for forced labor, into a wood near Sobibor. With them were also Jews from other places, 650 men in all. There they were shot by the Germans and left to die. Those who survived and were able to move tried to cross the border into the Soviet territory, some were caught and deported to camps in Siberia and only a few managed to return to their home town.

When the Germans attacked the U.S.S.R. (22 June 1941), Szczuczyn was bombed from the air and a whole street went up in flames. A few Jews managed to escape from the town before it fell to the Germans. Some 2,000 Jews remained in Szczuczyn. When the Soviet troops retreated, the Germans kept forcing their way eastward and the town was left practically under no authority. On the 28th of June Polish bands forced into Jewish homes and murdered whole families. 300 corpses of men, women and children were thrown into anti-tank ditches near the town. Jewish women appealed to Polish dignitaries and German officers who had come to the town. Only patrols of German troops stopped the riots. On the 24th of July Polish policemen again murdered some 100 Jews in the town’s Jewish cemetery.

On the 8th of August 1941 Gestapo men came to Szczuczyn. On their orders, the Jews were concentrated in the market place and divided into a number of groups. Meanwhile, one of the streets was fenced off by barbed wire and set to be the Jewish ghetto. Women, children and young men and boys were taken into the ghetto, 15 members of a Judenrat were appointed, as well as 4 Jewish policemen. The groups which were not taken to the ghetto, comprising old men, young girls and some of the young men, were murdered in the Jewish cemetery. Among them was the community’s rabbi, rabbi Ephron.

Those who were crowded in the ghetto suffered hunger and deprivation. Many became sick and died.

On the 2nd of November 1942 the ghetto was liquidated. All who were still there were sent to the transit camp of Bogusza, and from there, in December, to the extermination camps of Treblinka and Auschwitz.

Szczuczyn was liberated by the Red Army on the 26th of January 1945.

Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People

Nowy Korczyn
Orlya
Poland
Stopnica
Zoludek

נובי קורצ'ין

Nowy Korczyn

שם נוסף: Nowe  Miasto Korczyn  / נובה מיאסטו קורצ'ין

עיירה בנפת בוסקו במחוז שוויינטוקשיסקיה, פולין.

בשנת 1258 הנסיך הפולני בולסלב החמישי "הביישן" מעניק זכויות עיר ליישוב שהקים 3 ק"מ מזרחית מארמון הולדתו בסטארי קורצ'ין (Stary Korczyn - קורצ'ין הישנה). העיר החדשה להבדיל מהישנה כונתה נובה מיאסטו קורצ'ין ("העיר החדשה קורצ'ין"). ליישוב הוענקו זכויות לערוך מספר ירידים שנתיים וימי שוק שבועיים. הישוב החדש חולש על הנהר נידה, לא הרחק מהמעבר על נהר הוויסלה ובצומת של שתי דרכי מסחר: נדרך מקרקוב אל רוס של קייב (היום אוקראינה) והדרך מקושיצה ההונגרית (היום בסלובקיה) לעיר סנדומייז' בפולין. הנסיך בולסלב בנה במקום מנזר פרנציסקני וארמון מעץ. בשל מיקומה האסטרטגי, מרכז כלכלי וצומת דרכי מסחר העיר הייתה אחד המקומות החביבים לקיום כינוסים תקופתיים של בני האצולה הפולנית בחבל פולין קטן.

בשנת 1300 פשט על האזור הנסיך של רוס של קייב ושרף את הארמון מעץ. המלך הפולני קזימייז' השלישי "הגדול" (שלט בשנים 1370-1333) בנה במקום ארמון מבוצר מאבן, הקיף את העיר בחומת מגן ותעלת מים שמימיה ניזונו מאגם מלאכותי צ'ראוריה ((Czartoria שנכרה לשם כך. המלך וולאדיסלב השני לבית יאגללו הליטאי ומלכי פולין שששלטן אחריו ישבו בקרקוב אך לעיתים קרובות נהגו לנפוש, להתארח ולחתום על חוזים עם שליטי האזור ב נובה מיאסטו קורצ'ין.

בשנת 1474 שריפה כילתה מרבית בתי העיר. כדי לעזור בשיקומה העיר קיבלה פטור מכל תשלומי חובה ומיסים למשך 12 שנה. לאחר שתי שריפות נוספות העיר הורשתה לגבות מס מהסחורות והתבואה שעברו דרכה לנמלי הים הבלטי.

בשנת 1579 מלך פולין זיגמונט השני אוגוסט הקים בעיר בית חולים ובית עירייה. בזמן הזה היו במקום 19 מבשלות בירה, 22 מפעלים להתססת תבואה עבור המבשלות, 3 טחנות קמח, 7 בתי מטבחיים ואסמים לשמירת התבואה לפני שהועברה על דוברות לגדנסק. בעיר הוקם בית חרושת לייצור תותחים, רובים, חומרי נפץ ותחמושת. בעיר היו כמה בתי מרחץ והייתה מערכת מפותחת לאספקת מים.

לאחר שבשנת 1592 המלך זיגמונט השלישי וואזה העביר את מרכז השליטה של מלכות פולין מקרקוב לוורשה, אצילי פולין קטן איבדו מכוחם וגם העיר נובה מיאסטו קורצ'ין החלה לדעוך. ב-1606 מרדו האצילים המקומיים במלך פולין. המרד כשל, אך במהלך הקרבות נשרפו רוב בתי העיר. הפלישה השוודית (1655-1650) גרמה להרס נוסף למקום. ארמון המלך נהרס. העיר איבדה את מרכזיותה הכלכלית והפוליטית. ב-1702, תוך כדי מלחמות הצפון, העיר סבלה מהרס נוסף. ב-1776, במטרה לחדש את כלכלת העיר מועצת העיר נתנה אישור לשימוש באבנים מטירת המלך ההרוסה לבניית מבנים בעיר, ביניהם גם בניית בית כנסת.

לאחר החלוקות הרבות של פולין בין המעצמות השכנות נובה מיאסטו קורצ'ין  נכללה בתחומי מלכות פולין כחלק מאימפריה הרוסית. בשנת 1869, בגלל המרידות הרבות של הפולנים נגד האימפריה הרוסית, ובדומה לרוב ערי מלכות פולין, המקום איבד את זכויות העיר והפך לכפר. זמן קצר אחר כך היישוב שינה את שמו לנובי קורצ'ין (Nowy Korczyn).

בתקופה של מלחמת העולם הראשונה (1918-1914) נובי קורצ'ין מצאה את עצמה במרכז הקרבות ונכבשה על ידי האוסטרים בעזרת הלגיון הפולני של צבא אוסטריה שלחם בפיקודו של יוזף פילסודסקי.

בין שתי מלחמות העולם נובי קורצ'ין נכללה ברפובליקה הפולנית המחודשת.

 

היהודים בנובי קורצ'ין

היהודים מתועדים לראשונה בנובי קורצ'ין בתחילת המאה ה-16, האיזכור הראשון על כך הוא משנת 1530. בשנת 1557 מוזכר בעיר הסוחר אברהם ובשנת 1558 יש איזכור על מלווה בריבית יהודיה בשם אנה יעקובובסקה. בשנת 1564 רשומות בעיר כמה משפחות יהודיות אשר שילמו את מיסי המלך בפלפל. ב-1569 הקהילה היא כבר בעלת בית כנסת ובית עלמין. (בית העלמין הוקם כנראה בשנים 1569-1554). היהודים רשאים לגור בשכונה מחוץ לעיר אך בשנים 1569-1566 יש להם כבר אישור לבעלות על ארבעה בתים בתוך העיר. היהודים הפעילו בשכירות את הטחנות של העיר, מה שהבורגנות המקומית לא ראתה בעין יפה.

הפלישה הזרות לפולין, של השוודים (1655-1650) ושןב של השוודים ביחד עם הקוזקים וההונגרים ב-1657 גרמו להרס רב בעיר.  כדי לאושש את כלכלת העיר, ב-28 במאי 1659 המלך יאן קאז'ימייז' העניק ליהודים כתב זכויות, ואישר להם לבנות בית כנסת, להקים בית עלמין והבטיח להם חופש כלכלי. הרובע היהודי הוקם באזור שיפוטו של מושל העיר.

בשנת 1676 הקהילה מנתה מעל 100 יהודים משלמי מס העיר.

ב-1702 בית הכנסת נהרס בקרבות מלחמות הצפון ונבנה מחדש ב-1724.

בשנות שילטונו של המלך אוגוסט השלישי סאס (1763-1733) הרב המקומי היה גם נציגו של המלך. גידולה ושיגשוגה של האוכלוסייה היהודית בעיר גרמה לבורגנות המקומית ב-1744 לדרוש מהמלך לגרש את "צאצאי ישראל" מהעיר. המלך לא נעתר לבקשות. ב-1759 אישר המלך אוגוסט השלישי את בחירתו של רב הקהילה, הרב שאול בן שמחה שמחביץ. ב-1765 הוקם בית עלמין חדש בנוסף לישן. ב-1775 המלך סטאניסלב אוגוסט העניק ליהודים מכתב המגן אותם מפני כוחו וסמכותו של מושל העיר. ב-1776 מועצת העיר החליטה לפרק את טירת המלך ההרוסה ולבנות מאבניה בנייני ציבור. ב-1779 המלך סטאניסלב אוגוסט פוניאטובסקי נתן אישור לבניית בית כנסת ואבנים שנלקחו מטירת המלך שימשו גם לבניית בית הכנסת על הגבעה החולשת על העיר. ב-1777 המלך סטאניסלב אוגוסט הקים ועדה לבוררות הסכסוך בין היהודים והנושים הנוצרים שלהם. ב-1779 היהודים התלוננו בפני המלך שמועצת העיר לא עושה כלום כדי לשלם את חובה והמושל מיקולאי ריי אף איים על הרב שאול בסנקציות.

ב-1787 היה בבעלות הקהילה בית כנסת, בית עלמין וחדר. בנובי קורצ'ין התגוררו 499 יהודים ובסטארי קורצ'ין אשר השתייכה לקהילת נובי קורצ'ין,  התגוררו 66 יהודים.

בשנים 1867-1823 השלטונות הרוסים הגבילו את ההתיישבות היהודית בעיר בגלל קרבתה לגבול עם האימפריה האוסטרית. באותו הזמן (1827) העיר מנתה 1,232 יהודים אשר היוו 51,4% מכלל התושבים. בשנת 1866 נחנך בית הכנסת שבנייתו ושיפוצו נמשכו שנים. הבניין, מהמפוארים בממלכה, היה מקושט בציורי קיר ולידו פעלו בית מדרש, בית חולים ובית מחסה לעניים ששימש גם כבית זקנים.

כשקורצ'ין איבדה את זכויות העיר ב-1869 התגוררו במקום כ-3,300 תושבים, מהם כ-2,300 יהודים (69.7%). ב-1885 נשרף בית הכנסת של הקהילה. השיפוץ ארך כמה שנים ובמסגרתו והורחב בית הכנסת ובפרט ועזרת הנשים שלו.

האוכלוסייה הנוצרית התייחסה בעוינות להודים אך ללא אלימות. הפולנים האשימו את היהודים בהעסקת נשים פולניות אשר סיגלו לעצמן את שפת היידיש והמנהגים היהודיים. כמו כן, הסוחרים היהודים הואשמו בעידוד  שיכרות. 

ב-1921, במפקד האוכלוסין שנערך בפולין העצמאית שקמה לאחר מלחמת העולם הראשונה, נמנו בנובי קורצ'ין 2,478 יהודים אשר היוו 67,3% מכל התושבים במקום. בתקופה שבין שתי מלחמות העולם היהודים עסקו במסחר זעיר ובמלאכה, כגון עיבוד עורות, קליעת סלי נצרים, עיבוד קורות עץ וחייטות. במקום התקיימה פעילות תרבותית ופוליטית ערה. בעיירה יש יצוג לרוב המפלגות, ביניהן פועלי ציון, החלוץ, השומר הדתי, המזרחי, אגודת ישראל, הרוויזיוניסטים, הבונד והמפלגה קומוניסטית. במקום פעלו מספר ספריות שבהן התקיימו קורסים לעברית. חינוך הילדים התקיים בבתי ספר של הרשתות "יבנה" ו"בנות יעקב". בקהילה פעלה חברת "גמילות חסד". הרב יוחנן סילמן כיהן כרב העיר.

בשנות ה-1930, בזמן המשבר הכלכלי בפולין, היחסים עם האוכלוסייה הנוצרית היו מתוחים. השלטונות הורו ליהודים להשתמש במסמכים הרשמיים של הקהילה בשפה הפולנית בלבד ולהסיר את הכיתוב באות עברית צהחותם הרשמי של הקהילה. הפולנים גם הגבילו את התשלומים שגבתה הקהילה על שירותיה. השלטון קבע את גובה המשכורות של הרב יוחנן סילמן, של משגיח הכשרות שמואל בלומנטל, של השוחטים משה פלדשטיין, בורובסקי והמרה ושל פקיד הקהילה הרמאץ'.

בשנת 1931 הקהילה מנתה 2,820 יהודים אך בשנת 1937 מספר היהודים ירד לכ-2,530 שהם היוו 80% מכלל תושבי העיר.

הפולנים הלאומנים קראו לחרם על המסחר עם היהודים. 170 משפחות היו זקוקות לסיוע. יוצאי הקהילה בארצות הברית הקימו אירגון לעזרה בשם "ארגון אפשטיין". באביב 1939 לקראת חג הפסח שלח האירגון 1,400 זלוטי למשפחות נזקקות ו-700 זלוטי לתלמוד תורה המקומי.

תקופת השואה

ב-1 בספטמבר  גרמניה הנאצית פלשה לפולין1939. הגרמנים כבשו את נובי קורצ'ין ב-8 בספטמבר מיד התחילו להתעלל ביהודים והחלו החטיפות לעבודות כפייה. כעבור שבועיים הוקם יודנראט אשר תפקידו היה לדאוג לתשלום כופר בסך 20,000 זלוטי אשר הוטל על היהודים ולספק יהודים לעבודות הכפיה.

באביב 1941 הוקם גטו פתוח בכמה רחובות קטנים ואליו הועברו 2,478 יהודי נובי קורצ'ין והסביבה. באפריל 1941 הובאו לגטו יהודים ממערב פולין וכ-300 יהודים מהעיר ראדום. מספר תושבי הגטו הגיעה לכ-3,700. הצפיפות והמצוקה היו גדולים. היודנראט, בעזרתו של האירגון היהודי לעזרה הדדית, ה"יס.ס." שמרכזו היה בקרקוב, הקים מרפאה לטיפול במחלת הטיפוס וכמו כן הפעיל  מטבח ציבורי שסיפק מדי יום 200 ארוחות לנזקקים. הגרמנים ניצלו את היהודים לעבודה בבתי מלאכה ("שופים") לתפירה, לסנדלרות ולנגרות עבור הצבא הגרמני.

ב-2 באוקטובר 1942 כיתרו את הגטו יחידות ס"ס, כוחות של ז'נדרמים גרמנים ומשטרת עזר של אוקראינים. היהודים שנאספו נלקחו ברגל לתחנת הרכבת בשצ'וצ'ין (Szczuczyn) המרוחקת כ-20 ק"מ. במתקשים ללכת הגרמנים ירו במקום. בתחנת הרכבת בשצ'וצ'ין צורפו ליהודים מנובי קורצ'ין יהודים מפאצאנוב (Pacanow). כולם נדחקו לקרונות משא והוסעו למחנה ההשמדה בטרבלינקה.

בגטו נובי קורצ'ין נשארו כ-70 יהודים, ביניהם חברי היודנראט ומשפחותיהם, חברי המשטרה היהודית והמשפחות. הם נצטוו לאסוף את הרכוש שנותר מאחור. אליהם הצטרפו עוד כ-270 יהודים שברחו ליערות הסביבה או שיצאו ממקומות מחבוא והורשו על ידי הגרמנים להשאר בבתי הגטו.

ב-24 בנובמבר 1942 חלקם של הנשארים נשלחו לעבודה במפעליHASAG  בסקאז'יסקו קאמיינה (Skarzysko Kamienna) ובמחנות עבודה באזור קיילצה. הגטו חוסל סופית במאי 1943, הזקנים נרצחו במקום והצעירים נשלחו למחנה עבודה בקיילצה.

לאחר השואה

ב-22 ביוני 1944 הצבא הנסובייטי שחרר את מזרח פולין עד לובלין ושם נעצר. בסוף יוני 1944 נובי קורצ'ין היתה חלק מ"מדינת הפרטיזנים החופשית" אשר הוכרזה על ידי המחתרות הפולניות ה"ארמייה קראיובה" ו"בטליוני חלופסקייה" על השטחים עד נהר הוויסלה ומעבר לה שעוד לא שוחררו. ה"אוטונומיה" תקיימה במשך מספר שבועות עד שהגרמנים דיכאו אותה. נובי קורצ'ין שוחררה על ידי הצבא האדום ב-17 בינואר 1945.

שרדו את השואה כ-30 יהודים, חלקם שרדו את מחנות העבודה וחלקם במסתור. המשפחה של יושב ראש היודנראט מצאה מסתור מבעוד מועד אצל משפחת מאציאגובסקי (Maciągowski) הפולנית, מספר יהודים הוסתרו על ידי המשפחות פיבובארצ'ק (Piwowarczyk) וקוקוצ'ק (Kukuczak).

בניין בית הכנסת ההרוס בחלקו שנבנה מאבני הטירה המלכותית שימש לאחר המלחמה כמחסן לתבואה. שרד בו המקום המסוגנן של ארון הקודש. היום המבנה ריק והוכרז כמסוכן. בית העלמין הישן אשר הוקם בסביבות 1569-1554 נהרס כולו  - אין זכר למצבות, על שטחו נבנו מחסנים שונים.

בית העלמין החדש אשר הוקם ב-1765 נהרס על ידי הנאצים, המצבות נלקחו כחומר בניית כבישים ולחיזוק שפת הנהר. מה שנותר נלקח על ידי האוכלוסייה המקומית. השטח שימש כשטח חקלאי. תודות למאמצים של ישראל מאיר גבאי בית העלמין נוקה, גודר מחדש, הוקמו מחדש כמה מצבות שנמצאו בסביבה. בשטחו של בית הקברות הוקם אתר עם 3 מצבות לזכר הצדיקים המקומיים: הרב יוסף ברוך אפשטיין, הרב קלונימוס קלמן אפשטיין בן יוסף ברוך אפשטיין היהודי והרב חיים מאיר בן קלונימוס קלמן אפשטיין.

אורליה
 

Orlya

בלרוסית: Аграгарадок Орля / אורליה; פולנית: Orla Grodzienska; יידיש: אורלוווע.

כפר במחוז הרודנה (גרודנו) בבלרוס, עד מלחמת העולם השנייה בפולין.

התיישבות היהודים באורלה מתועדת כבר ממחצית המאה ה-17. הקהילה הייתה עשירה ושילמה את המיסים כחלק מגליל טיקטין לועד מדינת ליטא. ב- 1750 הוקם במקום בית עלמין. במשך השנים הקהילה ירדה מגדולתה.

רבני הקהילה: ר' אהרן ב"ר פסח - הרב הראשון של אורלה שמוזכר בתעודות, רבי אליעזר ב"ר צבי הירש - כיהן באורלה בסוף המאה ה-18 ומשם עבר לכהן בגרודנו, רבי חיים לייב מישקובסקי - כיהן באורלה בסביבות 1860, וממנה עבר לכהן בז'ולודק , רבי ישראל יהונתן ירושלימסקי - כיהן אחרי הרב מישקובסקי, ונפטר בימי מלחמת העולם הראשונה (1917). חתנו של הרידב"ז וחותנו של הרב יחזקאל אברמסקי.

ערב מלחמת העולם הראשונה הקהילה היהודית מנתה כ-400 איש. בימי מלחמת העולם הראשונה (1918-1914) שותקה כלכלת הכפר, היהודים גם סבלו מביזה ואלימות מצד חיילי הצבא הרוסי. ההגירה מכפר שהחלה עוד תרם המלחמה התעצמה. ב-1921 אוכלוסיית הכפר מנתה 195 יהודים מתוך 579 של כלל האוכלוסייה (30%), רוב אוכלוסיית המקום הייתה בלרוסית.

בתום מלחמת העולם הראשונה נוסדה פולין העצמאית. הכפר נכלל בגבולותיה של פולין בתום מלחמת פולין-רוסיה סובייטית 1918- 1921.

 

תקופת השואה

ב- 1 בספטמבר גרמניה פלשה לפולין. ב-17 בספטמבר ברית המועצות פלשה לפולין וספחה שטחי פולין המזרחיים עד נהר הבוג ונהר נארב. אורלה גרודזנסקה עברה לשליטת ברה"מ. השלטון הסובייטי התחיל מייד בדיכוי התרבות הפולנית והיהודית. אנשים אשר לדעתם של השלטונות הסובייטים הפריעו לכינונו של משטר חדש גורשו לסיביר.

ב-22 ביוני 1941 גרמניה הנאצית פלשה לברית המועצות. ארלה גרוז'ינסקה נכבשה מספר ימים מאוחר יותר. מיד עם הכיבוש הגרמני התחילה התעללות ביהודים. ב-7 באוקטובר הגרמנים ציוו למנדל גלאי להקים יודנראט. הידנראט נדרש למסור לגרמנים רשימת היהודים בכפר ולספק אנשים לעבודות כפייה. ב-2 בנובמבר יהודי אורלה הועברו לגטו ז'ולודק הסמוך.

הצפיפות בגטו ז'ולודק הייתה גדולה. גורל יהודי אורלה היה כגורל יושבי גטו ז'ולודק. ב-10 בנובמבר 1941 נרצחו בגטו 28 יהודים, ב-1 במרס 1942 נרצחו עוד 32 יהודים.

ב-9 במאי 1942 הנאצים רצחו בבורות מחוץ לעיירה כ-1,400 יהודים. רצחו גם את היהודים הבורחים שנתפסו. חלקם של הבורחים הצטרפו ליחידות הפרטיזנים.

כ-80 יהודים בעלי מלאכה נשלחו לגטו שצ'וצ'ין ולגטו לידה. גורלם היה זהה לגורלם של ושבי הגטאות ההם, נרצחו.

 

לאחר השואה

כנראה שחלק מהיהודים שניצלו בפרטיזנים חזרו אחרי שהצבא האדום שיחרר את האזור באביב 1944. לא ידוע אם נשארו. בית העלמין שליד הנהר נהרס ברובו. נותרו רק כמה עשרות מצבות שלמות בחלקם. השטח לא מגודר ומשמש כמרעה.

 

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: sekretariat@jewish.org.pl
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

Stopnica

A small town near Busko, in Kielce province, central Poland.

Jews settled there in the 17th century. They owned 12 houses in the town in 1663. The Jews of Stopnica had certain trading rights in this period and were exempt from services to the governor (starosta). They were granted a royal privilege in 1752 authorizing their communal autonomy and rights to engage in trade and crafts, the latter being regulated by an agreement concluded in 1773 between the leaders of the community and the municipal authorities. The representatives of the province (galil) of sandomierz, within the framework of the councils of lands, convened in Stopnica in 1754 and 1759. There were 375 Jews paying the poll tax in Stopnica and 188 in the surrounding villages in 1765. Between 1823 and 1862 the authorities of Congress Poland placed difficulties in the way of Jewish settlement in Stopnica because of its proximity to the Austrian border. In 1869 Stopnica lost its status as a city. During the 19th century Chasidism gained influence within the community. The Jewish population numbered 1,014 (49% of the total) in 1827; 1,461 (69%) in 1857; 3,134 (71%) in 1897; and 3,328 (76%) in 1921. They were mainly occupied in small-scale trade and crafts, including tailoring, shoemaking, and carpentry, and in carting.

During the German occupation Stopnica belonged to the general government, Radom district, in Busko county. At the outbreak of World War II there were about 2,600 Jews in Stopnica. In the course of the fighting the town center - mainly inhabited by Jews - was burnt down. After the Germans entered, shooting Jews on the streets became a common phenomenon. The Jews were compelled to pay a high contribution (fine) and in order to ensure payment the Germans took as hostage leading Jewish personalities, some of whom were killed. On the eve of Passover 1940, 13 Jews were dragged from their homes and shot.

An open ghetto was set up but the Jews were forbidden under penalty of death to leave it. Tailoring workshops were established, providing the craftsmen with some employment and small wages. The number of Jews grew gradually with the influx of deportees and refugees from Plock, Gabin, Radom, Lodz, and Cracow, and in 1942 from the surrounding villages. By November 1940 there were 3,200 Jews in Stopnica; in May 1941, 4,600; in April 1942, 5,300; and in June 1942, 4,990. On the eve of Passover 1942, the police shot the president of the Judenrat and his son. On November 5-6, 1942, the liquidation of the ghetto took place. The German police and Ukrainian formations, with the help of the Polish police and the fire-brigade, shot 400 old persons and children at the cemetery, sent 1,500 young men to labor camps in Skarzysko-Kamienna, and drove the remainder, about 3,000, on foot to the train station in Szczuczyn (Shchuchin). On the way many were killed. Jews caught in hiding in the ghetto were shot or included in the transport. The victims were sent by train to Treblinka. In Stopnica itself about 200 young Jewish men and women remained alive, employed in workshops and on road building. This group was sent in January 1943 to labor camps in Sandomierz and Poniatow.

Zoludek

 

Belarussian: Жалудок (Žałudok)

Yiddish: זשעלודאָק (Zhaludok)

Russian: Желудок (Zheludok)

Polish: Żołudek

Lithuanian: Žaludkas

 

A small town in the district of Grodno, Belarus.
 

Zoludek is situated about 100 km from Vilna, near the river Niemen, in a region of forests and pastures, which was under Polish rule since the 15th century.

 

Following the partitions of Poland, at the end of the 18th century, the region was annexed by Russia. It was part of independent Poland until the outbreak of the Second World War.

 

21st Century

In Zoludek there are Jewish houses and a former Jewish school which was in use in the 1930s.

The Jewish street of 19th century Zoludek is to some extent in place to this day.

A native of Zoludek describes Jewish life centring around surrounded by the synagogue with the traditional rituals of the life of Jews, the holidays and Shabbat. Some gatherings were held in the synagogue yard. The synagogue was consecrated beginning of the 20th century and features a particular northern facade.

The Jewish cemetery has about 500 graves from 1800-1916. A few hundred meters distance is a memorial to those killed in 1942.

 

Prominent Figures

Avrokham Leib Shalkovich (Ben Avigdor), a native of Zoludek (b. 1867) was a prominent writer amongst the first to influence literature in the Hebrew language. With the publication of Sifrey Agora, the theme of realistic imagery prominent in Europe of those days was highlighted. Avrokham Leib also established printing and publishing houses, and a publishing partnership for foreign language translations.

Also born in Jewish Zoludek, Pinkus Kremen (b. 1890) was a learned artist. In Paris he befriended Modilyani. His works are predominantly still lives and landscapes, mostly moderate expressionist. Exhibitions were held in various places in Europe and the USA.

 

History

Jews lived in Zoludek in the first half of the 19th century, when about 280 Jewish families were established there. By the end of the century the Jewish inhabitants numbered about 1370, out of a total population of 1900.

The town had a synagogue, a prayer house, a heder and a Talmud torah. Well-known rabbis officiated there. Rabbi Haim Rutenberg-Mischkovsky, the Zadik, was in office from 1865 to 1880 and he was also the presiding judge. He was succeeded by the Gaon Rabbi Eliahu Moshe Levin, editor of the book Yad Eliahu (Questions and Answers in the Halacha).

The Gaon Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitz was elected as the town's rabbi in 1903. Later he became the rabbi of Moscow. Rabbi Zvi Arieh Lurie officiated from 1913 to 1933. The last rabbi of the town was his son-in-law, Rabbi Elhanan Sorotzkin, son of the well-known Rabbi Zalman Sorotzkin. He was imprisoned and exiled to Siberia by the Soviets. At the end of the Second World War he immigrated to Eretz Israel.

In 1920, a Hebrew school was opened in the town. In 1930 it became part of the tarbuth system of schools. It had a national Zionist orientation and its curriculum included Hebrew and Judaism. At that time a school which belonged to the Z.I.S.O. (Central Jewish School Organization) was established; its language of tuition was Yiddish.

The educational institutions were maintained by the community. The Polish government was against Jews studying separately and did not support these establishments. When the region was taken over by the Soviet Union in 1939, the tarbuth schools were abolished.

The inhabitants of Zoludek were merchants, shop keepers and craftsmen. Some traded in grain which they bought from the local peasants and shipped to Germany. In 1930 Zoludek became part of the national railway network and from then on the grain was transported by train. The economic situation was unstable and influenced by the changes of borders in the region.

Zionist activities in Zoludek started after the First World War. In 1922 a Hehalutz branch was established and in 1925 a branch of Hehalutz Hazair. Haliga Lemaan Eretz Israel Haovedet organized Zionist activities and collected money for the Keren Kayemet and Keren Hayessod. The Zionist movement was strengthened by the visits of the emissaries from Eretz Israel.

The writer Abraham Leib Shelkovitz, whose pen name was Ben Avigdor, and the painter Pinhas Kremien of the Paris school of art and a member of the academy of arts in France, were both from Zoludek.

Rabbi Shmuel Levin, director of the Jewish people's bank was a well-known philantropist.

At the outbreak of the Second World War, there were some 2200 Jews in Zoludek, that is about 90% of the total population.


The Holocaust Period

The German army occupied Zoludek on June 27, 1941. The Germans set the town on fire and almost all the Jewish homes were burned down. Jews were obliged to wear the yellow star and pay ransom. In July 1941, 22 young Jews who worked for the Germans were killed because they did not wear the yellow badge.

On November 1, 1941, the Zoludek Jews were rounded up in the ghetto in Orlowa street, which was the only street not destroyed by the fire. Some 300 Jews from the nearby town of Orlowa were taken there. According to records of the committee of Lithuanian communities, Jews lived in Orlowa since the beginning of the 18th century. During the winter of 1941-1942, the Germans killed Jews from both towns with help of polish policemen. In one case 32 Jews from Orlowa were murdered in a single day, and on another occasion 28 Jews from Zoludek.

The ghetto was surrounded by German soldiers and Ukrainian and Polish policemen on May 8, 1942. In the morning the Jews were driven from their homes to the market place where a selection was made by two S.S. officers, Lopold Windisch and Rudolf Werner. After the war the two S.S. men were put on trial and sentenced to life imprisonment. 81 craftsmen were selected and assembled in the synagogue. The others, more than 1500, were killed and buried in a common grave. Jews who tried to hide were caught and killed by Polish policemen. The 81 surviving craftsmen were transferred to the Szczuczyn ghetto and from there, in September 1943, to the extermination camp.

A week before the liquidation of the Zoludek ghetto, 140 young Jews were sent to the labor camp Skribowo and later transferred to the Lida ghetto. The few who succeeded in escaping from the ghetto joined a group of Jewish partisans under the leadership of the Beilsky brothers and groups of Russian partisans.

Some Jewish fighters were killed in the battles with the Germans and were mentioned in dispatches by their Soviet command, among them Shlomo Shifmanowitz of Zoludek. About 30 men survived, one of them was Baruch Levin, nominated for the title hero of the Soviet Union, but immigrated to Israel before receiving the high award.

At the end of the war most of the survivors immigrated to Eretz Israel and some to the USA.

Interior of the Great Old Synagogue, Szczuczyn, Poland, 1916-1917
The Leadership of Hashomer Hatzair, Szczuczyn, Poland, 1921
Farewell photo with a friend who leaving for Eretz Israel, Szczuczyn, Bialistok District, Poland, 1921
The Synagogue at Kilinskiego Street, Szczuczyn, Poland
Jewish Youth from Szczuczyn, Poland 1937
Interior of the Great Old Synagogue built in 1755,
Szczuczyn, Poland, 1916-1917.
Photo taken by the German Army during WWI
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Polska Akademia Nauk, Warsaw)
The Leadership of Hashomer Hatzair, Szczuczyn, Poland, 1921
Farewell photo with a friend who leaving for Eretz Israel,
Szczuczyn, Bialistok District, Poland, 1921
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of the Wertman family, Israel)
THE SYNAGOGUE AT KILINSKIEGO STREET
IN SZCZUCZYN,
BIALYSTOK DISTRICT, POLAND, 20TH CENTURY.
THE SYNAGOGUE WAS BUILT C.1755 AND
DESTROYED BY THE GERMANS IN
SEPTEMBER 1939.
(BETH HATEFUTSOTH PHOTO ARCHIVE,
COURTESY OF FAMILY WERTMAN, RAMAT GAN)
Jewish Youth from Szczuczyn,
Poland 1937.
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Family Wertman, Israel)
Bergstein, Fania
Poetess. Born in Szczuczyn, Poland, Bergstein was active in the Zionist youth movement He-Halutz Ha-Za’ir in her youth and in 1930 immigrated to Eretz Israel where she settled in Kibbutz Gevat.
Bergstein’s collections of poetry include Bazir (1939), Avim Holefot (1950), and Asif (1955). She is also author of the collected prose work, Reshimot (1952) and of Tekhelet ve-Adom (1961), a 10-volume collection of poems, stories and plays for children. She died in Kibbutz Gevat, Israel.
Bergstein, Fania
Poetess. Born in Szczuczyn, Poland, Bergstein was active in the Zionist youth movement He-Halutz Ha-Za’ir in her youth and in 1930 immigrated to Eretz Israel where she settled in Kibbutz Gevat.
Bergstein’s collections of poetry include Bazir (1939), Avim Holefot (1950), and Asif (1955). She is also author of the collected prose work, Reshimot (1952) and of Tekhelet ve-Adom (1961), a 10-volume collection of poems, stories and plays for children. She died in Kibbutz Gevat, Israel.