At the beginning of the 17th century, a Jewish butcher lived in Kruszwica. However, it was not until 1810–1811 that a larger group of Jews settled in the town. In 1812, Kruszwica had 11 Jewish residents. The community continued to slowly grow over the following years.
An independent kehilla was likely formed in Kruszwica in the late 1820s or early 1830s. Its statutes were adopted on 13 April 1834. Before gaining autonomy, the local Jewish community had formed part of the Jewish kehilla in Inowrocław. In 1839, the Kruszwica community applied to once again join the Inowrocław kehilla, most likely due to financial difficulties. However, the merger was never finalised. In 1858, the Kruszwica kehilla had 194 members, and in 1907 – 91. Apart from the town itself, the community included nine nearby villages located with the lordships of Kruszwica and Chełmce.
A synagogue was erected in Kruszwica in 1858. Religious education was provided to local children by cantor Marcus Caro (he had five students in 1907). At the turn of the 20th century, the community was headed by H. Cohn, A. Michaeli, Dr Aronsfeld.[1.1]
After 1920, the majority of Kruszwica’s residents moved to Germany. The local Jews worked mainly as merchants. In 1939, the following people made a living from trade: Fiszel Engel, Jochna Feldmann, Nastka Feldmann, Mojżesz Grojnowski, Szlamowicz, M. Paździerski, Salo Pieterkowski, and Sajda Radziejewska. In 1921, the community had 25 members, in 1923 – 22, in 1925 – 35, and in 1932 – 19.
Since May 1920, the community was headed by Dr. Heimenn Aronsfeld (chairman of the board, he also served as the rabbi), Emil Seelig, and Caezar Freudenthal. Their deputies were Eliasz Witkowski and Salo Pieterkowski. After the election of 1923, the only former members to remain on the board were H. Aronsfeld and S. Pieterkowski. In 1923, the board chairman moved to Germany. In order to make sure that community members had access to all institutions and to avoid the seizure of kehilla property by the state, the board signed a tenancy agreement with the representatives of the Inowrocław kehilla: L. Levy and Baruch Wiener. The document went into force on 1 July 1948 and was applicable to the synagogue, one residential house, and the cemetery. In 1932, the agreement was terminated and the above real estate became the property of the Inowrocław community.
After the Kruszwica community lost its autonomy, it plunged into financial and administrative chaos. It did not employ any officials and parents were forced to take over responsibility for the education of their children. The collapse of the kehilla was epitomised by the resignation of S. Pieterkowski from the post of community head. On 30 July 1925, he handed over the post to Berta Unger. In the years 1924–1929, the community did not maintain a budget. All expenses were covered from the funds obtained from member contributions.
In 1928, the Kruszwica kehilla once again started to seek autonomy and appointed a new community board. Its members were: Joel Dawid Rachwalski (chairman; he later moved out of town and was replaced by S. Pieterkowski), Chil Majer Paździerski, Louis Myrants, and deputies: Maurycy Wilczyński and Menachem Feldman. On 15 March 1932, the mayor of Kruszwica became the commissioner of the Jewish community. He was responsible for organising the last election to the board before the kehilla was once again incorporated into the Inowrocław community. The election was held on 12 October 1932; the new board comprised Chil Majer Paździerski (chairman), Moszek Feldman, and Jeszua Feldman. The Kruszwica community owned a synagogue with adjacent annexes (4 Poznańska Street). Its value in 1930 was assessed at 5,000 zlotys, and the equipment at 300 zlotys. A residential building owned by the kehilla was situated next to the synagogue. It accommodated a house of prayer (18 Poznańska Street) and had a value of 10,000 zlotys. The Jewish cemetery was located at Fabryczna Street. It had an area of 1.5 morgens, including an adjacent garden (600 zlotys).
In the 1930s, religious services were provided by cantor and butcher Szlingerbaum and rabbis Jakub Kohn (until 1933) and Stanisław Simon (since 1935), all commuting to the town from Inowrocław. Several boycotts of Jewish enterprises were organised in Kruszwica in December 1937.
After the outbreak of the war in 1939, most local Jews fled the town before it was seized by German troops. A group of Jews was present in the territory of Kruszwica since September, October, and November 1939, comprising mainly people from Inowrocław and other urban centres, perhaps also some local Jews. They were murdered in Łagiewniki, Przedbojewice, and Różniaty. The synagogue in Kruszwica was demolished at the turn of 1940.
- Guldon Z., “Żydzi w miastach kujawskich w XVI–XVIII wieku,” Ziemia Kujawska 1993, vol. 9.
- Heppner A., Herzberg I., Aus Vergangenheit und Gegenwart der Juden in den Posener Landen, Koschmin – Bromberg 1904–1908.
- Kawski T., Gminy żydowskie pogranicza Wielkopolski, Mazowsza i Pomorza w latach 1918–1942, Toruń 2007.
- Kawski T., “Społeczność żydowska na pograniczu kujawsko-wielkopolskim w XX wieku,” [in:] Z dziejów pogranicza kujawsko-wielkopolskiego. Zbiór studiów, ed. D. Karczewski, Strzelno 2007, pp. 161–187.
- Łaszkiewicz T., “Z dziejów Żydów na Kujawach Zachodnich w okresie międzywojennym,” [in:] Albert Abraham Michelson, noblista z Kujaw. Studia i materiały, ed. D. Kurzawa, Strzelno 2007, pp. 62–70.
- [1.1] Heppner A., Herzberg I., Aus Vergangenheit und Gegenwart der Juden in den Posener Landen, Koschmin – Bromberg 1904–1908, passim; Guldon Z., “Żydzi w miastach kujawskich w XVI–XVIII wieku,” Ziemia Kujawska 1993, vol. 9. p. 101.