The oldest records confirming the existence of a Jewish community in Iwaniska date back to 1578. Probably, in the first period of the community's existence, there was a small Jewish Community Co-operative belonging to the Jewish religious community in Opatów. However, it was not until the 1720s that the number of Jews in the town became large enough to establish its own community. Local Jews must have also been wealthy because in 1629 they already had their synagogue in Iwaniska.
There are very few references concerning the relations between Christians and Jews in Iwaniska. However, it is known that in 1648, a trial took place here for an alleged ritual murder.
At the end of the 18th century, the religious community in Iwaniska had 12 houses, 15 cottages, a town hall, a hospital and a school cottage. The average number of dwellers in the buildings was 3.4 persons per house.
In the mid-19th century, Christians were forbidden to serve or work for the Jews. The prohibition was issued as a consequence of the conviction of a woman from Iwaniska, who allegedly had given children to Jews for performing ritual rites[1.1]. It is worth mentioning that during the November Uprising, the Jewish population of Iwaniska subsidised military formations (the so-called insurgent parties). At that time, the Jewish community donated 20 zlotys to the Sandomierz Cavalry[1.2].
At the dawn of the Second Polish Republic, the Jews from Iwaniska participated in the process of voluntary liquidation of servitudes on the domains of Iwaniska owned by Tadeusz Morawski, where Stanisław Morawski was the plenipotentiary. The representatives of the townsmen were: Moszka Baran, Berek Czernikowski, Chaskel Grinbaum, Dawid Hersz Sztalryd, Lejbus Goldman, Jankel Kona, Berek Szauchmacher and Szyja Floderwasser. The agreement concluded on 28 March 1922 stipulated that the burghers had the right to pasture their cattle and fowl on the manorial field of the Błonie, while the forestry servitudes were abolished.
The regulation of servitudes was also important for the Jewish community, as there was a significant proportion of farm owners among the Jews of Iwaniska. These included: Brucha Chirszman, Sura Smuklerz, Gitla Blumenfeld, Dawid Kan - a farm of 9,200 morgen; Izrael Goldsztejn - 12,150 morgen; Lejzor Zaleman, Icek Zaleman, Lejbuś Zaleman, Nachma Zaleman - 3,130 morgen; Icek Kryształ together with Józef Kojanka - 3,150 morgen; Szyfra Teperman - 1,125 morgen; Dawid Kan's son - 2,140 morgen; Jankiel Kan - 132 poles; Jankiel and Icek Mandelbaum - 2,150 morgen; Berek Tajchman's son - 1,185 morgen; Moszek Kopiel - 100 poles; Shai Blumenfeld's son and Szmul Wajsdorf - 40 poles; Berek Czermichowski, Szyma Dyzenchas, Chaskiel Grynbaum - 40 poles; Israel Flodenmasen's son and Jankiel Shtarkman - 40 poles; Tobias Morgensztern's son - 40 poles; Shasi Shlizingier's son - 40 poles; Szyja Flodermaser, Szmul Wertman, Lejbuś Guła - 40 poles; son of Josek Pilemacher - 40 poles; son of Ruchla Kan and Giersz Teperman - 40 poles; Chama Nachtygal, Mosek Cytryn, Mendel Mindelmilen and Chaim Rozenbaum - 40 poles; Dawid Shtalryd, Leibus the Worker - 40 poles; Shmarja Pramerman, son of Shizma Zalcer, son of Mellich Shafir - 40 poles; son of Abram Wagman, Chil Wagman - 40 polesLeibus Garbarski, son of Wolf Tishman, son of Chama Teperman, Moszek Grynszpan, son of Chaim Grynszpan - 40 poles; Majer Lipowicz, son of Gierszka Hera, Josek Zeleman - 40 poles; Moszek Kopersztych, Lejbuś Goldman, Moszek Rozenberg - 40 poles; Jankiel Rosenberg, Jan Draździewicz - 40 poles; Nusta Ejzenberg son, Szmul Ejzenberg son - 40 poles; Daniel Wartman's son - 40 poles; Moszek Szmit's son, Mendel Szmit's son - 40 poles; Nuchmin Kaplański's son, Josek Wilner's son - 40 poles; Moszek Watman, Izrael Klajmic, Hersz Teperman son of Berek, Hersz Kalma Teperman - 40 poles; Lenk Zylberk's son, Benjamin Teperman's son - 40 poles; Josek Kaplański, Hersz Rostman, Tawel Kiperberg - 40 poles; Kalman Lipowicz, Szmul Czereśnia, Rystka Tymerman, Chama Mandel - 20 poles; Herszla Wajntuch, son of Yankel Tajntuch, Pinkus Fryd, son of Abram Irański - 20 poles; Berek Szuchmaszer - 10 poles; son of Chaskel Czereśnia - 40 poles; Moszek Baran, Majlech Wagman - 40 poles; son of Abram Boresztajn - 40 poles; son of Josek Shifir, Shmul Mandelszys, Rajzel Padeszta - 40 poles; Fajga Cukier, Moszek Teperman, Herszla Teperman - 30 poles; Moszek Fajntusek, Izrael Borensztein - 30 poles; son of Ejzyk Kon and Bayl Wajnberg - 40 poles; Chaim Ejdelkop - 50 poles; Leibus Ejdelkop - 50 poles; son of Majer Teperman - 40 poles; son of Nuta Grynszpan - 25 poles.
In the interwar period, Jews in Iwaniska possessed a bathhouse, a wooden synagogue school, a brick synagogue and slaughterhouses, as well as two Jewish cemeteries - the new and the old one[1.3]. Fees for ritual slaughter for the religious community in Iwaniska were as follows: 6 zloty per ox and cow, 3.50 zloty per calf, sheep or goat, 1.20 zloty per turkey, 1 zloty per goose, 45 grosz per duck, 35 groszy per hen or rooster [1.4]. There were also plans to build a new slaughterhouse for birds. Unfortunately, it was not possible to build it, but a primitive butchery was founded in the buildings owned by one of the shochetim. In 1918, many Jewish houses were destroyed in the great conflagration of the town.
In the interwar period, the Jewish population was mostly involved in crafts, trade, and, to a smaller extent, in agriculture. Jews Dawid Akierman and Aron Rozenberg were owners of the local watermills, Moszek Rozenberg owned a motor-mill and Josek Fajntuch – a sawmill. Among the craftsmen active in Iwaniska there were: hat makers Ch. M. Fuks and W. Zylberman; barber M. Audajczer; leather stitchers: J. Frymerman, Sz. Goldwaser, J. Grynberg, Z. Rotenberg and M. Watman; tailors: K. Goldminc, A. Grunblat, J. Laufer; bakers: W. Floderwasser, A. Gajefogiel, N. Hochman, L. Sztajberg, Sz. Wajsdorf, M. Kopersztyk; saddler Ch. Ehrlich; butchers: M. Bornsztajn and I. Grynszpan; carpenters: M. Fajntuch, I. Kryształ, S. Milgram; shoemakers: M. Ajdelkopf, H. Apolet, W. Rozenbaum, and Sz. Watman. Large-scale businesses included lingerie shops of B. Dyzenhaus and F. Podeszwa; mercer’s shops of H. Golsztajn, F. Klajman, H. Lederman, J. Lederman, J. Rottenberg, M. Wajs, and M. Wajsdorf; haberdasheries run by B. Blumenfeld, M. Blumenfeld, and M. Zalcman. I. Birensztajn, M. Frymerman, and S. Grynszpan were involved in large-scale cattle trade; Szmul Broner and Mojżesz Rotenberg – trade in dairy products; Szmul Dyzenchaus, Szmul Goldwasser, H. Rotnberg, Z. Rotenberg, M. Watman – hides; M. Broner, M. Brygider, R. Goldhar, W. Hirszman, J. Lenart, A. Majerowicz, M. Majerowicz, M. Sztajman, J. Urman, T. Zajdenwar – foodstuffs; M .Brygider, H. Goldman, L. Goldman, Ch. Grynbaum, I. Rotenberg, S. Rotenberg – tobacco; Ch. Gutman, M. Sztajman, Ch. Weigman, M. Zalcman – grain; J. Goldhar, M. Najman, L. Zalcman – iron.[1.5]
In the 1920s, the board of the religious community in Iwaniska had very serious problems to satisfy the needs of the Jewish community properly. The letter from the starost of Opatów to the voivode of Kielce of 11 May 1926 assessed the board very harshly:
...one of the most inefficient Jewish communities in the district is the community in Iwaniska. Apart from the lack of preparation of the board to manage the public money, the community board was very tardy in fulfilling its duties, its cashiering was unbearable and so was the office. According to the starost, one of the reasons for this state of affairs is the lack of an educated person on the board. However, the official sees a solution to help the incompetent residents: The occasional inspections from my side, as the supervisory authority, are not enough for such an inexperienced Board to master its duty: there must be a permanent control from the Government for at least half a year, which on the one hand, by stopping the inept independence of the Community Board, will be able to give the right direction to the work in the future and will be able to make up for the hitherto shortcomings in the economy [1.6].
The community board elected in 1924 was composed of: Nachman Zalcman, Szmul Wajsdorf, Lejbuś Goldman, Emanuel Grynszpan, Lejzor Watman, Berek Teperman, and Szloma Czereśnia. Apart from Sz. Wajsdorf, who considered himself an Orthodox Jew, all board members were non-affiliated. Most worked as merchants.[1.7] During an audit carried out by the representatives of the local government, the board’s activity was deemed “incompetent,” but in reality many changes were impossible to implement due to widespread poverty. This is why the fee for slaughter of oxen or cows was much lower in Iwaniska than in other communities. Under the pressure of the county authorities to increase revenues, in 1926 the board decided to change the slaughter tariff, setting the fees at 6 zlotys for a head of cattle, 4 zlotys for calves, and 0.5 zlotys for poultry. As the income from slaughter was low, so were the salaries of shochetim – each received 1,300 zlotys a year.
In 1925, the Ministry of Religious Beliefs raised Rabbi Widerman’s salary from 4,329 zlotys to 4,800 zlotys. The Ministry claimed that the declared income of 6,100 zlotys from slaughter was miscalculated, as it should amount to 10,000 zlotys. The auditor stated that: “…the people of Iwaniska are reluctant to pay contributions.”[1.8] The local governor complained that “…there is not a single intellectual” among the members of the community board.[1.9] The kehilla maintained a synagogue, a mikveh, a cheder, and an unfenced cemetery with an area of 1 ha.
In 1926, the community board expected to receive 14,692 zlotys in revenue, including 9,000 zlotys from slaughter. Selected 226 community members were obliged to pay contributions for a total amount of 1,625 zlotys. The local government deemed this sum too low, but the board argued that the arrears for the years 1924–1925 already amounted to 3,412 zlotys and there was little hope of ever recovering them. Rabbi Icek Jankiel Widerman received an annual salary of 5,133 zlotys, and the shochetim – 1,680 zlotys each.
The mikveh was in immediate need of renovation. Hence, on 30 January 1927, the board composed of Emanuel Grynszpan (president), Lejbuś Goldman, Szmul Wajdorf, and Nachman Zalcman[1.10] decided to raise the slaughter fee: from 6 to 8 zlotys for cows, from 3.5 to 4 zlotys for calves, from 0.5 to 0.7 zlotys for ducks, and from 0.35 to 0.5 for hens. In 1927, the revenue of the community was planned at 18,408 zlotys, but the treasury of the kehilla eventually received 4,438 zlotys less. Arrears in contribution payments amounted to 3,070 zlotys.
The following year, having received numerous letters from the county authorities, the community adopted a draft budget with total income of 12,951.57 zlotys from slaughter and 1,150 zlotys from contributions paid by 147 people. The expenditure comprised salaries of 2,300 zlotys for shohetim Sztajnowicz and Chałupnik and 600 zlotys for secretary Nusenbaum. A sum of 300 zlotys was allocated for renting the rabbi’s flat, 2,000 zlotys for the renovation of the mikveh, and 325 zlotys for health services for community members. Assistant rabbi Widerman was to be paid 5,288 zlotys a year. The year 1928 saw changes in the composition of the community board, with Nusyn Zalcman becoming its president. In the 1928 budget, the assistant rabbi’s salary was increased by 700 zlotys, and the shochetim’s salary – by 20 zlotys. Benefits were granted to two widows: Rabbi Szapiro’s widow received 730 zlotys a year, and shochet Grynberg’s widow received 312 zlotys.
In 1928, the elections to the board of the religious community in Iwaniska took place. The community board was still dominated by unexperienced people. The predominance of Orthodox Jews was noticeable as well. Nachman Zalcman was the president and his deputy was Lejbuś Goldman. Elected to the board of the religious community were: Szmil Wajsdorf, Gmariel Grynszpan, Jankiel Goldman, Lejbuś Watniem, Berek Teperman, Szlama Czereśnia. The president maintained his function until the elections in 1930. In the opinion of the starost of Opatów, he was not a good official: “The former president [Mr Zysman - K.G.] not interested at all in the affairs of the community stepped down and his place was taken by Berek Teperman, who carried out a lot of work and devoted considerable efforts to improve the economy of the community”[1.11].
The organisation of the community required expenses to be incurred in order to maintain it and buildings belonging to it. The biggest income came from slaughterhouses and contributions paid by the residents. However, Jews in Iwaniska were not much wealthy. This is evidenced by the increasing number of people exempt from community fees, as well as low amounts allocated for charity or their complete lack. [1.12]. The budget shortfall was also caused by the difference between the planned profits from municipal contributions and their actual receipts. As a consequence, arrears and thus municipal debts increased. Attention was already drawn to this problem in the 1920s. One of the remedies was to be the introduction of an indirect tax in the form of a fee on kosher slaughter. In 1930, the budget of the religious community in Iwaniska amounted to 1,635 zlotys.
In 1930, Berek Teperman was the president of the community of Iwaniska, the post of secretary was held initially by Szmil Wajsdorf (salary - 600 zlotys) and later by Nysenbaum (salary - 650 zlotys). Members of the board included Lejbuś Goldman and Jankiel Goldman. Jankiel Icek Widerman was a rabbi, drawing a salary in the amount of 5,988 zlotys. The community also employed two shochetim (Ch. Sztajnowicz and J. Chałupniak), each of whom earned 2,320 zlotys. The position of collector was held by Fajntuch [1.13]. At that time, there was the Jewish Craftsmen's Union (Polish: Związek Rzemieślników Żydów) functioning in Iwaniska, which had 70 members. Out of the total number of payers, which was 295, 198 people were drawn to pay the community contribution, namely: 7 people for 150 zlotys - 1,050 zlotys, 3 people for 100 zlotys - 300 zlotys, 5 people for 30 zlotys - 150 zlotys, 4 people for 20 zlotys - 80 zlotys, 13 people for 15 zlotys - 15 zlotys, 48 people for 10 zlotys - 480 zlotys, 78 people for 5 zlotys - 390 zlotys, 40 people for 3 - 120 zlotys.
In 1930, the amount of 2,765 zlotys was received from the synagogue contribution. It was not a considerable amount. Small income from communal fees and low number of Jewish community qualified Iwaniska to the group of small Jewish communities. Additionally, when looking at the number of people exempt from fees and those who could only afford the lowest fees, it can be concluded that the commune was also poor. These words are confirmed by the report of the Starost of Opatów of 12 November 1929: “The community of Iwaniska, with a population of 1,520 souls, including 196 contributors, is one of the poorest in the district and is constantly in difficult financial conditions that make it difficult to carry out a rational economy”[1.14].
The elections to the community board were held again in 1931. Izrael Brukiew was elected the president of the board, his deputy became Berek Teperman and the secretary was Nysenbaum. Other members of the board included: Lejbuś Pracownik, Lejbuś Najman, Abram Wajnberg, Kopiel Goldmic, Pinkwas Fryd. Jankiel Goldman was the community cashier. Jankiel Icek Widerman continued to serve as rabbi. The elected board could not reach any agreement. It consisted of 4 Zionists and 4 Orthodox believers - supporters of the local rabbi. The members of the board could not reach an agreement: “The president of the community, who, together with the secretary, would like to govern the community on his own without allowing control by the other members, is quite aggressive”. The relations between the president and the rabbi did not go well, which led to conflicts within the board. At the beginning of the 1930s, this arrangement was permanent - two opposing groups of Zionists and Orthodox tried to eliminate each other from the board. The community was the one that lost on that conflict. Among the archival materials, the author did not find the settlement of disputes between the members of the board. It is certain, however, that in 1933 a new board was elected, consisting of: president Jankel Laufer, members: rabbi Widerman, Abram Grynblat, Abram Wajnberg, Joel Goldhar, Pinkwas Fryd, Moszek Chaskiel Ajdelkop, Hersz Lejb Rostman, Jankiel Goldman.
The audit of 1932 showed that the board owed 500 zlotys to Rabbi Jakób Icek Widerman, 72 zlotys to Binem Lerman, and 679.11 zlotys to physicians for their medical services, which amounted to the total debt of 1,251.22 zlotys.
According to the county authorities, the town had 1,450 Jewish residents in 1933. The community expected to receive 12,700 zlotys from slaughter, 2,379 zlotys from contributions, and 1,429.44 zlotys from other sources, giving a total revenue of 16,336.44 zlotys. The expenditure was to include 5,690 zlotys for the rabbi, 6,532 zlotys for the kehilla authorities, 530 zlotys for other fees, 2,200 zlotys for investments, and 1,286 for miscellaneous expenses.
In 1937, the community board was dominated by religious non-affiliated deputies. The community had 2,000 members, and 152 families were obliged to pay the community fee. The movable property of the kehilla had an estimated value of 3,000 zlotys, real estate – 24,000 zlotys, and the liabilities amounted to 919 zlotys.
In 1939, just before the outbreak of World War II, the property of the religious community in Iwaniska was 27,000 zlotys allocated in movables and real properties. The budget amounted to 8,852 zlotys, and it was executed in 82%. A rabbi and two shochetim worked for the benefit of the community. It also owned a cheder and a house of prayer. The number of its members was 1,748. The board was influenced by the orthodox party Aguda, although some members considered themselves non-partisan.
During the occupation, the Germans did not establish a ghetto in Iwaniska. Until 15 October 1942, the Jewish population was allowed to live in their homes, although some Jews were deported to the ghetto in Klimontów under various circumstances. Under these conditions, a resistance movement developed, although it encountered opposition from the Chasidim. However, some people managed to escape. A positive role was also played by the local authorities, including the Polish mayor and police commander, who warned Jews against “operations” prepared by the German occupier. This is what happened in the autumn of 1942, when the Jews warned in time managed to bury religious books and objects of worship in the cemetery. There was also a mass escape of as many as 300 people, most of whom, unfortunately, were later caught by the Germans and killed. On 15 October 1942, all the Jewish inhabitants of Iwaniska (1,600) and Klimontów were first transported to the ghetto in Chmielów, and then to the extermination camp in Treblinka.
- State Archive in Kielce, 1st Kielce Provincial Office, ref. no. 1625, sheet 146, ref. no. 1625, sheet 100; ref. no. 1752, sheets 359–365, ref. no. 2602, sheet 326., ref. no. 1625, fol. 11, 19.
- Burchard P., Pamiątki i zabytki kultury żydowskiej w Polsce, Warszawa 1990.
- Iwaniska, [in:] The Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust, eds. Sh. Spector, G. Wigoder, vol. 3, New York 2001, p. 552.
- Księga Adresowa Polski (Wraz z wolnym miastem Gdańskiem) dla Handlu, Przemysłu, Rzemiosł i Rolnictwa, Warszawa 1930, p. 211.
- Saletra W., Żydzi wobec powstania listopadowego 1830–1831 roku – na przykładzie województw krakowskiego i sandomierskiego, [in:] Z przeszłości Żydów Polskich. Polityka – Gospodarka – Kultura – Społeczeństwo, eds. J. Wijaczka, G. Miernik, Kraków 2005.
- [1.1] Wiśniewski J., Dekanat opatowski, Radom 1909, p. 159.
- [1.2] Saletra W., Żydzi wobec powstania listopadowego 1830–1831 roku – na przykładzie województw krakowskiego i sandomierskiego, [in:] Z przeszłości Żydów Polskich. Polityka – Gospodarka – Kultura – Społeczeństwo, eds. J. Wijaczka, G. Miernik, Kraków 2005, p. 95.
- [1.3] State Archive in Kielce, 1st Kielce Provincial Office, 1918–1939, ref. no. 1516, sheet 27.
- [1.4] State Archive in Kielce, 1st Kielce Provincial Office, 1918–1939, ref. no. 1625, sheet 3.
- [1.5] Księga Adresowa Polski (Wraz z wolnym miastem Gdańskiem) dla Handlu, Przemysłu, Rzemiosł i Rolnictwa, Warszawa 1930, p. 211.
- [1.6] State Archive in Kielce, 1st Kielce Provincial Office, 1918–1939, ref. no. 1750, sheet 17.
- [1.7] State Archives in Kielce, Kielce Provincial Office, ref. no. 1501, fol. 199.
- [1.8] State Archives in Kielce, Kielce Provincial Office, ref. no. 1752, fol. 359, 361, 364.
- [1.9] State Archives in Kielce, Kielce Provincial Office, ref. no. 1756, sheet 17.
- [1.10] State Archives in Kielce, Kielce Provincial Office, ref. no. 1625, fol. 36.
- [1.11] State Archive in Kielce, 1st Kielce Provincial Office, ref. no. 1625, sheet 146.
- [1.12] State Archive in Kielce, 1st Kielce Provincial Office, ref. no. 1563, sheet 122.
- [1.13] State Archive in Kielce, 1st Kielce Provincial Office, ref. no. 1625, sheet 107; ref. no. 1626, sheet 394.
- [1.14] State Archive in Kielce, 1st Kielce Provincial Office, ref. no. 1625, sheet 100; ref. no. 1752, sheets 359–365.