Rzepiennik Municipality is divided into four villages, the biggest of which is Rzepiennik Strzyżewski, where a considerable number of Jewish people arrived and settled down. First references concerning the Jews date from the end of the 18th century, the time when they settled down here. In the subsequent years, they built a synagogue and a mikvah. The Jewish inhabitants were different from the villagers of Rzepiennik in terms of speech, apparel, customs, traditions and faith.
In 1831, there were already 159 Jewish inhabitants here, which amounted to at least 20 families. 

The Jews established their own community in the second half of the 19th century. It had its own register branch office. It included not only Rzepiennik, but also Sitnica, Turza and Staszków. At the time, they already had a synagogue, a mikvah, a cemetery, and a rabbi [1.1]. In 1886, there were 264 Jews in the village, which constituted 15% of the entire population of Rzepiennik. An independent kehilla was established in 1870. Baruch Temper was the rabbi in 1892, and in the 1920s, Szymon Wels was an assistant judge [1.2]. Toward the end of the 19th and at the start of the 20th century, the Jews of Rzepiennik started leaving the village on a mass scale

In 1910, as much as 55% members of the kehilla in Rzepiennik Strzyżewski lived outside the village, and in 1921 the rate decreased to 33%[1.3]. The information concerning the percentage of the Jewish population in relation to the rest of the people inhabiting Tuchów is available as well. In 1910, the Jews constituted 12% (224 people), and in 1921 – 12 % (241) of the entire population of the village [1.4].
On June 18, 1919, the Jewish community of Rzepiennik Strzyżewski sent a letter to the president of the Israeli Community in Kraków asking for help. The letter[1.5] reads:

The undersigned Jewish community in Rzepiennik Strzyżewski has made a request with the Starostwo (County governor’s office) in Gorlice (copy attached).
At the same time, the undersigned community sent another copy of the request to the chief delegate Dr. Gałecki in Kraków.
It is an urgent matter for the local Jewish population. The Christians, instigated by anti-Semitic agitators do not want to sell grain, butter, eggs and other victuals to the Jews. The local provision committee does not take care of supplying the Jews with food. It is not a cliché, but, unfortunately, a sad truth that the local Jews will suffer famine if the authorities do not distribute flour and other victuals.The best way out would be for the Starostwo (County governor’s office) to let establish a separate Jewish provision committee. At the worst, the Starostwo should make a decision to allow two Jews to sit on the provision committee. The undersigned community is addressing you with an urgent request for your personal intervention with Dr. Gałecki, so that D.r Gałecki instructs the Starostwo in Gorlice to investigate the case and take care of it as best as it can.
The community would like to express its gratitude to Mr. President for his courtesy and the trouble. Community supervisor Abraham Gast

The response for the community in Rzepiennik Strzyżewski came in the form of a letter
[1.6]:

Dear Representatives of the Jewish community in Rzepiennik Strzyżewski
With reference to the letter of the Respected Community supervisor of the 11th instant, I declare that I personally talked to Delegate Dr. Gałecki today who stated that he did not receive the letter mentioned by the Respected Community. Mr. Delegate, whom I handed the copy, promised me that he would instantly issue an order to the Starostwo in Gorlice.

In the years 1922-26, Rzepiennik Strzyżewski had 1,802 inhabitants, of whom 224 were Jewish, which constituted 12.4% of the entire population[1.7].

In the interwar period, the Jews of Rzepiennik Strzyżewski bought two trade certificates from the Kraków Chamber of Commerce and Industry[1.8].

In the list containing the results of the elections to the Jewish communities in the years 1919-1926, there is information about the elections in Rzepiennik Strzyżewski, but there is no date of the elections. There were 160 people who had the right to vote; the Orthodox Jews received 5 mandates, the non-partisans candidates got 3 mandates. The other parties: the Zionists and the Progressive fail to obtain any mandates. During these elections, Juda Spat and Moses Wachs sat on the local commission[1.9].A fragment devoted to Rzepiennik Strzyżewski can be found in the 1929 Poland business directory (Trade, Industry, Handicraft, and Agriculture). The information contained in the directory indicates that Rzepiennik was a village, and at the same time the seat of the municipality belonging to Gorlice County. The county court was situated in Biecz, and the district court in Jasło. In 1929, there were 1,790 inhabitants in the village, and among them: landowner Szaja Regenbogen, midwife M[]. Rynduch, drapers E[]. Führor, R[]. Traurig, S[]. Wolf; carpenter S[]. Wolak; barber N[]. Kranz; wheelwright J[]. Madej; blacksmith W[]. Roman; tailor H[]. Leder, miller W[]. Dudek; bricklayer J[]. Sopala; bakers J[]. Bursztyner, A[]. Matner; sellers of miscellaneous goods: D[]. Dembisz, A[]. Gast, W[]. Gomułka, J[]. Kirschenfeld, B[]. Rohana; butchers: W[]. Czapliński, J[]. Stamler; joiner J[]. Sopala; shoemakers J[]. Bajorek; locksmith J[]. Bajorek; tobacconists J[]. Baumker; sellers of alcoholic beverages: J[]. Baranker, C[]. Stamler, J[]. Szymański, St[]. Wulepka; grain trader Abraham Teller[1.10].

In September 1939, the German army entered Rzepiennik Strzyżewski and World War II started for the local population. Just like anywhere else in Poland, also here people could feel the terror on the part of the occupiers. There were many bans and limitations imposed on the local population and, gradually, the Jews and the Poles started to be exterminated. Toward the end of 1939, the Jewish population was registered and made to wear patches with the Star of David on them. In 1941, ghettos were established in Bobowa and in Gorlice, and in the spring of 1942, also in Rzepiennik Strzyżewski. On August 11, 1942, the ghetto in Rzepiennik was dissolved, and all the people imprisoned in it were shot to death the same day in the forest Dąbry (reachable through the blue track from the church, 2 km to the east toward the town of Ciężkowice.

On the path in the forest, there is a rock with an inscription: To the place of 364 victims of the war, 200 m. This is a signpost for all those who want to see the site of the murder. Once there, there is a mass grave of the 364 murdered Jews from Rzepiennik and from nearby villages and towns, who were shot dead by the Germans on August 11, 1942. On an unassuming memorial, there is the Star of David, and beneath, Hebrew and Polish inscriptions: To the memory of the 364 victims murdered by the German bullies. On behalf of the Gorlice committee, J. Peller.

The war in Rzepiennik Strzyżewski ended on January 17, 1945 when the Soviet Army reached the village. As early as September 1939, the village was seized by the Germans. In the spring of 1941, the Germans established a ghetto in Rzepiennik Strzyżewski, and in August 1942, in the nearby forest Dąbry, they shot to death 364 Jews
[1.11].Hiding in nearby villages, about 150 Jews from Gorlice County survived the war. They found shelter in sheds, barns, cellars, and forests. The occupiers continued to trace down and kill them. Władysław Martyka from Rzepiennik Strzyżewski provided shelter for Abe Kochane and Barankier, who moved to the USA after the war. Stanisław Gogola, Daniel Kwaśny and Jan Szymański helped to keep the Jews in hiding as well. In his house, in a special place between the boards of a double ceiling, Franciszek Kazanowski from Turza, hid a few Jews from the Peller and Geller families.

A description of the execution, provided by Mrs. Marianna Kiesler, is now kept in the Jewish Historical Institute: Only one man was shooting. It lasted until the evening. The remaining people gathered and waiting on the meadow by the gorge, had to undress. The groups of ten had to go two hundred meters through bushes until they reached a bench, where they were supposed to sit, and there, they were murdered. A young man threw them into a pit and poured lime on them. There was also a child. They took it by the legs, hit it against the bench and threw it into the grave[1.12].

All the Jewish buildings were destroyed during the war or demolished soon thereafter. There are no buildings now in Rzepiennik Strzyżewski that could testify to the fact that Jews once lived in the village. Only the cemetery is left of the Jewish population. It is situated beyond the Health Center (Rzepiennik Strzyżewski 369) in Rzepiennik Strzyżewski on a hillside, nowadays overgrown with forest. During World War II and afterward, the cemetery was being devastated not only by the occupiers, but also by the local inhabitants. The remains of the fence and a few dozen tombstones with wonderful grave reliefs have been preserved to this day.

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Footnotes
  • [1.1] http://www.rzepienniksuchy.republika.pl/miasteczko.html
  • [1.2] Krystyna Samsonowska, Wyznaniowe Gminy Żydowskie i ich społeczności w województwie krakowskim (1918-1939), Kraków 2005, p. 118.
  • [1.3] Krystyna Samsonowska, Wyznaniowe Gminy Żydowskie i ich społeczności w województwie krakowskim (1918-1939), Kraków 2005, p. 62.
  • [1.4] Krystyna Samsonowska, Wyznaniowe Gminy Żydowskie i ich społeczności w województwie krakowskim (1918-1939), Kraków 2005, pp. 64-65
  • [1.5] ŻIH Korespondencja Wyznaniowej Gminy Krakowskie z innymi gminami (Jewish Historical Institute, Correspondence of the Kraków Religious Community with other communities), 609/21 Rzepiennik Strzyżewski.
  • [1.6] ŻIH Korespondencja Wyznaniowej Gminy Krakowskie z innymi gminami ((Jewish Historical Institute, Correspondence of the Kraków Religious Community with other communities), 609/21 Rzepiennik Strzyżewski
  • [1.7] Żydzi w Karpatach Beskid Niski-Bieszczady-Pogórze, Towarzystwo Karpackie Warszawa 1991 ed. Tadeusz Andrzej Olszczański, p. 39
  • [1.8] Krystyna Samsonowska, Wyznaniowe Gminy Żydowskie i ich społeczności w województwie krakowskim (1918-1939), Kraków 2005, p. 74
  • [1.9] Krystyna Samsonowska, Wyznaniowe Gminy Żydowskie i ich społeczności w województwie krakowskim (1918-1939), Kraków 2005, p. 192
  • [1.10] http://www.jewishgen.org/JRI-Pl/bizdir/tableofcontents.htm, Kraków Province, p. 457
  • [1.11] Przemysław Burchard, Pamiątki i zabytki Kultury Żydowskiej w Polsce, Warszawa 1990, p. 220
  • [1.12] http://kirkuty.xip.pl/rzepiennik.htm