We do not know when exactly Jews started to appear in Kodeń. It may be assumed that first Jewish settlers arrived here as early as 1623 and that the first synagogue was erected towards the end of the 17th century, but neither finds unanimous confirmation in any archival documents. According to some sources, Jews appeared in Kodeń ca. 1725 or even as late as the end of the 18th century.
The preserved historical data only includes figures from 1857, when Kodeń had 748 Jewish residents (34% of the total population of the town). The local Jews mostly made a living from trade and crafts (tailoring and shoemaking). In the second half of the 19th century, the community fell into decline. This was due to the considerable deterioration of living conditions following a fire of the town and the cholera epidemic which decimated Kodeń’s population in 1873.
In the interwar period, in spite of the difficult economic situation, the Kodeń kehilla began to slowly recover, though the number of the Jewish residents of the town decreased dramatically towards the end of the 1930s. There were various Zionist organisations active in the town, as well as the leftist Bund (its branch was established in the town as early as 1905) and the Orthodox Agudath.
When Kodeń was invaded by Germans in late September 1939, there were ca. 100–273 Jews in the town (figures vary depending on the source). In the spring of 1940, a group of 105 refugees was displaced to Kodeń from Kraków. In September 1942, all the Jews held in the Kodeń Ghetto were relocated to Międzyrzec Podlaski and then deported to the Treblinka death camp. The Germans also destroyed the local synagogue and Jewish cemetery.
- “Koden,” [in:] The Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust, eds. S. Spector, G. Wigoder, vol. 1, New York 2001, p. 640.
- Oshrin J., Koden – A shtetl no more, Hackettstown 1996 [online] https://www.jewishgen.org/Yizkor/koden/Koden.html [Accessed: 2 Dec 2020].