The first Jews are presumed to have appeared in Biskupice in 1634. Before that, the Cracow Bishops did not allow the Jewish population to settle in the town[1.1]. In 1685, there were 18 Christian and 5 Jewish houses in Biskupice[1.2].
The first records regarding Jews date from the 18th century. In 1787, there were 459 people living in Biskupice, out of which 173 were Jewish (37% of the whole population). At that time, the number of people in an average Catholic family was 6,3 while in the Jewish family – more than 10.
In 1827, there were 520 people living in Biskupice, including 139 Jews (26%)[1.3]. In 1860, 812 people inhabited the town; 262 of them were of Jewish origin (32%)[1.4]. The Jewish population lived mainly by tailoring and trading in poultry, cattle and salt, while Polish people – by farming[1.5].
In the interwar period a wooden synagogue (burnt in the 1926 fire, replaced with a new brick temple), bet ha-midrash, kehilla's building, mikveh, ritual slaughterhouse and two cemeteries (the old one, not in use, and a new one, established probably at the turn of the century) were all under the spervision of the kehilla.
In 1921, there were 885 people living in Biskupice, including 129 Jews (14%)[1.6]. In 1930, Rabbi Hersz Friedling was the head of the community. The function of the rabbi's helper was held by Jankiel Dawid Laksa from Puchaczów.
During World War II, in September 1940, the Germans formed a ghetto in Biskupice. Around 500 Jews were placed there. Later on, a transport of around 200 Jews from Cracow was brought to the ghetto. In February 1942 a transport with Jews was directed to the Bełżec extermination camp. The ghetto was dissolved in March 1942[1.7]. The majority of the Jewish population from Biskupice died in the concentration camp at Majdanek.
The Germans also destroyed Jewish dwelling houses. The matzevot from the destroyed cemeteries were used to pave roads in the town.
- Center Jewish History Catalog (A catalogue of books) [as of 29 I 2008].
- The Central Database of Shoah (A list of the extermination camp victims) [as of 29 I 2008].
- Yad Vashem Photo Archive (Pictures from before World War II) [as of 29 I 2008].
- [1.1] J. Studziński, Biskupice…, p. 12.
- [1.2] J. Łosowski, Ekspertyza…, p. 5.
- [1.3] E. Przesmycka, Przeobrażenia zabudowy i krajobrazu miasteczek Lubelszczyzny, Lublin 2001, . 262.
- [1.4] Miasteczko rolnicze Biskupice w latach 60-tych XIX wieku [in:] Panorama Trawnik, Year III, No 2/97, p. 8.
- [1.5] J. Łosowski, Ekspertyza…, p. 7.
- [1.6] ABC miast Lubelszczyzny…, p. 82.
- [1.7] Z. J. Hirsz, Miejsca walk i męczeństwa w powiecie lubelskim, Lublin 1974, p. 62.