It is believed that Jews appeared in Pińczów in the 14th century. King Kazimierz Wielki granted Pińczów Jews a plot of land for a new synagogue, while the legendary Esterka gave the chair of Elijah, an indispensable object for the ritual of circumcision. The first documented reference to Jews in Pińczów comes from 1576[1.1].
The town owners guaranteed Jews tolerance and economic freedom. Zygmunt Myszkowski granted a wide range of privileges to the Jews in 1594, including a right to buy plots of land for building a synagogue, house of prayer, houses for a rabbi, cantor and teacher[1.2]. However, the Jewish population was forbidden to settle in Mirów, which was then an independent town[1.3]. A stone synagogue, built between 1594-1609, has survived the test of timeMurowana synagoga pińczowska [online]|http://www.sztetl.org.pl/pl/article/pinczow/11,synagogi-domy-modlitwy-i-inne/4624,synagoga-przy-ul-klasztornej/]]. It was made of stone and brick and built on a rectangular plan[[refr:. A meeting place for women was built on a rectangular plan and situated above the vestibule. The prayer hall was covered with a barrel vault with lunettes. The 17th century polychrome is located in the vestibule. In the interwar period the late-Renaissance synagogue was already considered to be unique as far as synagogue architecture is concerned. Until 1939, silvers and a chair called kise shel Elijahu used during circumcision were kept in the synagogue.
The successors continued the policy of supporting Jewish community. Stanisław Kazimierz Myszkowski granted new privileges to Jews. As a result, the town thrived economically. Jewish traders and merchants had contacts not only in Pomeranian towns but also in such localities as Wiedeń. The positive attitude towards Jews manifested itself on many occasions. For example, Jews were given permission to establish new schools, expand cemeteries and built new synagogues. Jews were guaranteed peace during prayers and anybody who dared to interrupt a mass in a synagogue was severely punished.
Jews and Christians arrived in Pińczów at the time of Myszkowski family. It became one of the biggest towns in the province and had one of the biggest Jewish communities in the First Polish Republic. For that reason, ziemstwo had its headquarters in Pińczów and the Council of Four Lands convened here on three occasions.
Józef Mrozik states: “Neither the Swedish Deluge nor the Northern War impeded the increase of importance and prestige of the Pińczów Jews in the then Lesser Poland” [1.4].
In 1682, the next owner of Pińczów - Stanisław Kazimierz Myszkowski – not only let the 429 local Jews brew mead and distill vodka but also build the second synagogue[1.5]: “The heirs of the town (…) took care of them, provided security and awarded them with privileges” [1.6].
The role of the Jewish circles in the town may be confirmed by the fact that in 1673, 1674 and 1681 the sittings of the Council of Four Lands took place in Pińczów. Between 1692-1764, it was the seat of ziemstwo and the Pińczów rabbi became its leader. In 1708, the Jews paid 2,000 zlotys of the poll tax and in 1736 – 6,658 zlotys. Some estimated the number of Jews here at 5,000[1.7]. According to Józef Mrozik, towards the end of the 17th century, the Jews accounted for 52% of the total population.
Two brick synagogues, one wooden as well as several cheders existed here in 1748[1.8]. The town had 155 (44.4%) Jewish houses in 1769; in 1789 it was inhabited by 1,879 Jews, which constituted 61.1% of the total population. It should be mentioned that in the 18th century, two farm settlements called Byczków and Pasturka existed near Pińczów. They were established by the Wielopolskis who, after margrave Jósef Władysław Myszkowski’s death, took over Pińczów in 1729. The Jews living in the above-mentioned settlements were involved in agriculture.
In 1830, Jan Szaniawski, the heir of Pińczów, repealed “some of the taxes paid by the Pińczów Jews, among others, on the cemetery and on the rabbi’s confirmation, as well as resigned from his due tribute in a form of Christmas presents. At the same time, he gave them land to build a new cemetery, situated east of Mirów at the road to Busko”[1.9].
In the mid-19th century, Pińczów was inhabited by 2,877 Jews, i.e. 70% of the total population. In 1848, the kehilla already owned two brick synagogues, a house of prayer, a hospital (serving also as an old people’s home), bathhouse, rabbi’s house, cattle and poultry kosher slaughterhouse, gravedigger’s house and two cemeteries[1.10]. At the time of the January Uprising, 4,868 people lived in Pińczów, of whom 3,299 were Jewish (67.8%).
In 1882, a huge fire destroyed almost all the houses located in the square including a bookstore set up in 1859 that belonged to Icek Josek Rapoport. In 1899, three fires occurred in the town. The same year, Izaak Rapoport opened printing houses and bookstores.
At the end of the 19th century, Hasidim began to arrive in the town. The first court was established by Chaim Miler Finkler.
When Poland regained independence, Pińczów had 7,740 residents including 4,324 Jews. According to J. Tambor “in the interwar period, the Jews accounted for 60% of the population and created their own world with their own language, religion and customs, a world of people with payots who wore yarmulkes and black clothing. The Orthodox Jews settled the area around the square and the synagogue and along Krakowska Street”[1.11].
The level of material prosperity among the population was diverse. In 1918, as many as 37% members of the kehilla were considered poor and were exempted from paying dues.The Census from 1921 revealed that Pińczów had 7,749 inhabitants, of whom 3,418 were Polish and 4,324 were Jewish. The majority of them lived in cramped and single-storied buildings.
The Jews were mostly craftsmen or store owners. The Jewish intelligentsia included two doctors, a medical assistant, dentist, religion instructors and printers[1.12]. The Rapaport, Rajt, Gold, Komioł, Wajsman, Rosenberg and Rottenberg families were regarded as the most affluent[1.13]. Engel Witel, to whom Brzeźno belonged, was a significant landowner. The right to pay with PKO checks was bestowed upon Nuta Fajwel Eisenberg, Rafael Zalcberg, the People’s Bank, the Cooperative Bank and the Cooperative Merchant Bank[1.14]. The merchants and craftsmen had at their disposal merchant, cooperative and people’s bank, where the shareholders were also Jews. Some bigger enterprises belonging to Jews included printing houses of Icek Rapoport, Rafael Zalcberg, tannery of Chaim David Rojt, sparkling water factories of Josek Deutschberger, Josek Etfer and David Fryd, and mills of Mendel Gezuntheit and Henoch Szwugier. A significant role in craft belonged to shoe upper makers, cap makers, tailors, saddlers, carpenters and shoemakers. They traded on a larger scale in textiles, cattle, wood, haberdashery, horses, books, dairy, seeds, shoes, groceries, iron and flowers[1.15]. It is a close look at that very trade: “…the Jewish shops, cramped hovels, stacked with bookshelves, boxes, and piles of goods of different sort, beginning with barrels of herring and with petroleum and carriage smear ending. (…) Yet, these shops had one advantage – they provided everything”[1.16]. They also served quite delicious meals. In a beer house belonging to Herszkowicz one could eat excellent goose meat with peas and pepper.
Two famous musicians, Zelmer Majer and Benjamin Jaźwic, represented cultural life of the town. A library (1,100 volumes) of the “Tarbut” Jewish Educational-Cultural Association was set up here in 1922.
Between 1918-1939, most Jews lived at the market, Independence Square and in Złota, Krakowska and Buska Streets.
In 1924, Pińczów was regarded as a big kehilla. The kehilla authorities included Dr. Josek Feliks, Chaim Rojt, Icek Kalb, Szloma Baruch Grinfeld, Icek Rapaport, Nuta Nisenberg, Leser Kreinraich, Mordka Gold, Szapsia Rapaport, Chaim Mordka Orbach, Szymon Wajc, Lejbuś Gold, Abram Zochen Rozenblum, Zelik Awner, Szaja Brauner, Zelig Rodel and Nisen Melnik[1.17].
According to the surviving files from 1925, the kehilla board estimated that the revenue would settle at 37,625 zlotys including 6,075 zlotys from dues, 300 zlotys from sitting places in the synagogue, 1,000 zlotys from the burial plots, 300 zlotys from marriages and 200 zlotys from births. The slaughtering was supposed to bring the rest. But the actual revenue was a mere 28,173 zlotys[1.18], although the slaughterhouse worked at full speed. 7,000 head of cattle, 3,200 head of calves, 25,000 geese and 15,000 hens were slaughtered. Some of them were being sold outside Pińczów, mainly in Kraków and Silesia.
The County Authority made a post-inspection record in which attention was given to the two synagogues, two cemeteries and three dwelling-houses which were in dire need of renovation. The fact that the board accepted applications written in Yiddish was deemed inappropriate. In reality, the Jews, who used only Hebrew or Yiddish every day, spoke faulty Polish. The post-inspection records and budget plans give us insight into the inner situation of the kehilla. The inspection record from 9 June 1927 reveals that the dues for the years 1925-1926 at the amount of 3,668.40 zlotys were not collected. The kehilla did not pay the obligatory dues to the Health Fund for which it was financially penalized with the amount of 1,816.65 zlotys[1.19]. The inspector stated that the essential legal documents were carelessly stored and the minutes from the meetings of the board were missing. What is important, the budgets were never drawn up on time which was due to the fact that the president of the board was a ninety-year-old Rabbi Jehuda Rapoport[1.20]. After his death, the secretary Mielnik took over all the duties connected with the kehilla affairs. With the authorities’ consent, the assistant rabbi Wolf Knobel assumed all the religious duties. The annual salaries of the assistant rabbi and the shochets were 2,400 zlotys and 2,200 zlotys, respectively.
During the election for the Board in 1927, some disputes and abuses occurred between the Orthodox and Zionist members and thus the County Authority invalidated the elections. After the following round of voting, it turned out that the Board was to be headed by Nuta Ejzenberg, who got to work quite energetically. It was assumed that the revenue would be 43,146.16 zlotys including 29,500 zlotys from the ritual slaughtering and 9,525 from the dues[1.21]. The list made for the needs of the board showed that 4,976 Jews (620 families) lived in the kehilla of which 287 families were appointed to pay the dues. The assumption was that 333 families were impoverished and were exempted from paying them. In 1928, the budget revenue was supposed to be approximately 35,000 zlotys. The dues were to be paid by 394 families and the average due was between 4-78 zlotys. The Board intended to get 4,976 zlotys from them. When the annual budget was drawn up, it turned out that the assumed revenue was lower by 8,554.81 zlotys than expected and the situation created a lot of difficulties[1.22]. In December 1928, the president of the Board Rabbi J. Rapoport died. The duties in the kehilla fell on the secretary Melnik and the religious care on the assistant rabbi Wolf Knobel.
The budget for the year 1929 estimated the revenue amounting to 36,16,44 zlotys. The main source of revenue was supposed to be the slaughtering. It was assumed that 1,300 head of cattle (5 zlotys each), 1,963 head of calves (2 zlotys each) and 21,660 head of different types of poultry would be slaughtered. The burial plots were to bring 215 zlotys, the cemetery monuments – 70 zlotys, reading the Pentateuch – 301 zlotys, reserving seats in the synagogue – 10 zlotys. Other incomes were to amount to 250 zlotys[1.23]. The kehilla dues would be paid by 418 families with the average due ranging from 4 to 80 zlotys. Next year, 379 families were appointed to pay the dues and the average payment was between 1-22 zlotys. The immovable property of the kehilla was valued at 150,000 zlotys. It was planned in the budget for the year 1930 that the revenue would be 31,926 zlotys including 25,731 zlotys from the slaughtering and 4,959 zlotys from the dues. 22,265 zlotys were apportioned for the staff salaries, 4,602 zlotys for investments[1.24]. The average due was 15.50 zlotys.
The surviving budget allows us to ascertain the identities of the people who worked for the kehilla. W. Knobel served as an assistant rabbi, Szoel Rozenblum was the kehilla’s secretary, Symcha Kaufman and Wolf Lubelski worked as shochets, Josek Horowicz was a slaughterhouse inspector, Ajzyk Wanderman performed the role of a religious supervisor, Jankiel Rozencwajg were slaughterhouse inspectors and Nusyn David Buchbinder worked as a gravedigger[1.25]. In 1931, Pińczów was inhabited by 4,976 Jews. 379 families were appointed to pay the dues, 133 families were exempted. The dues were between 3 and 50 zlotys. Apart from the very town residents, dues were also paid by the Pińczów Jews who lived temporarily in Kozubów, Góry, Młodzawy and Ryczywół. The budget amounted to 45,415 zlotys. Continuous hesitations while planning the budget proved that the board was not familiar with the kehilla’s current situation and as a result, the County Authority intervened all the time in the work of the board. Under the pressure maintained by the Authority, the amount of 9,449 zlotys was spent on renovation of the buildings in the kehilla and 1,440 zlotys were appropriated for the Talmud Torah[1.26].
The Pińczów kehilla specificity manifested itself in the form of the make-up of the board, which was prone to frequent changes and that led to continuous disputes among its members. In 1931, the president of the board became Nuta Ajzenberg and its members were Szyja Brona, Icek Kalo, Chaim Nusyn Orbach, Chaim David Rojt, Luzer Ehrenreich and Zyl Rodel[1.27].
In 1931, a delegation of the Jews from Pińczów participated in the Zionist Congress in Basel, and two years afterwards in Prague.
While drawing up a budget plan for the year 1932, some arrears from dues were found. It looked as follows: 214 zlotys for 1925, 878 zlotys for 1926, 975 zlotys for 1927, 3,285 zlotys for 1928, 3,089 zlotys for 1929, 2,002 zlotys for 1930 and 4,544 zlotys for 1931. Such discrepancy must have influenced the kehilla economy. Despite the situation, in 1932, a considerable amount of 43,491 zlotys was planned on the side of revenue including 27,751 zlotys obtained from the slaughtering. The expenditures included annual salaries of kehilla secretary Jonas Mandelbaum – 2,160 zlotys, cantor Herol Tekiel – 480 zlotys, teachers Szyja Kasztański – 720 zlotys, Joel Solarz – 250 zlotys, shochets Smycha Kaufman – 4,800 zlotys, Wolf Lubelski – 4,800 zlotys, supervisor Ajzyk Wanderman – 3,360 zlotys and Jankiel Rozencwajg – 1,200 zlotys. The information contained in the budget allows us to ascertain that a teacher in the Talmud Torah was Herszel Abeli, in Bejs Jakow, Bela Walc, and the guard of the kehilla buildings – Stefan Ozdoba. One thousand zlotys was appropriated for charity and 250 zlotys for the Gemilut Chased[1.28].
In 1933, the board was headed by Fuel Brama and the members elected were Pinkus Rubin, Aron Wanderman, Tobiasz Zajd, Nusyn Eisenberg, Moszek Werdyner, Abel Kinrus, Icek Kalb and Joel Wajnsztat[1.29]. In the face of the increasing poverty, the new board decided to reduce the salaries of the kehilla clerks.
In 1933, the estimates predicted that the slaughtering would bring 27,750 zlotys, the dues – 10,738 zlotys and other sources – 4,985.04 zlotys, which in total amounted to 43,491.04 zlotys. The salaries of the community officers were to amount to 19,950 zlotys, cost of investments – 5,795.44 zlotys and charity – 3,000 zlotys. In 1933, an Orthodox Szapsia Rapoport became a rabbi.
In the 1930s, as similarly to other towns, there were anti-Semitic incidents. School headmaster Stanisław Kwiecień informed the school inspector that an unknown missionary set the Catholic children against the Jews: “In consequence of these incitements (…) some hostile attitudes could be observed among the Catholic students towards the Jews and they assumed forms of inscriptions on school desks that read: “away with Jews” [1.30].
In 1937, the Pińczów kehilla numbered 3,700 Jews and the board consisted mostly of nonpartisan members. 401 families were supposed to pay the dues[1.31]. The movable property of the kehilla was valued at 150,000 zlotys, the immovable property at 100,000 zlotys and debt at 20,000 zlotys.
The Germans invaded Pińczów on 5 September 1939. 3 thousand Jews were gathered in the established ghetto. A few dozen of people were shot in a series of executions. Jews were assigned to force labour which included cutting of peat. In exchange, they received some amount of flour. In October 1942, transports of Jews to Treblinka began. Jews went on their foot to Jędrzejów, where they were loaded onto carriages. Many of them tried to hide in nearby villages, but the majority was found – as a result, 71 people were allegedly killed in the Bocucki forest[1.32].
- Boratyn I., Gród biskupów. Żydów, protestantów, „Gazeta Lokalna. Dodatek do Gazety Wyborczej” 1998, nr 50.
- Dziubiński A., Pińczowskie rozmaitości, Pińczów 2000.
- Dziubiński A., Znojek J., Żydzi i synagoga Stara w Pińczowie, Pińczów 2002.
- Mrozik J., Żydzi w Pińczowie, „7 Żródeł” 2001, nr 3.
- Penkalla A., Żydowskie ślady w województwie kieleckim i radomskim, Radom 1992.
- Sabor A., Sztetl. Śladami żydowskich miasteczek. Działoszyce – Pińczów – Szydłów – Chęciny, Kraków 2005.
- Tambor J., Społeczeństwo żydowskie w Pińczowie, Pińczów 1998.
- Znojek B., Renesansowa synagoga, [w:] Muzeum Regionalne w Pińczowie, Pińczów 2003.
- [1.1] A. Sabor, Sztetl. Śladami żydowskich miasteczek. Działoszyce – Pińczów – Chmielnik – Szydłów – Chęciny, (2005), 45.
- [1.2] A. Dziubiński, J. Znojek, Żydzi i synagoga Stara w Pińczowie, (2002), 5.
- [1.3] I. Boratyn, Gród biskupów. Żydów, protestantów, ‘’Gazeta Lokalna” - dodatek do „Gazety Wyborczej”- 1998, no. 50; Miasto Myszkowskich, „Gazeta Wyborcza, 29, (2006).
- [1.4] J. Mrozik, Żydzi w Pińczowie, „7 Żródeł”, 3, (2001), 47.
- [1.5] J. Muszyńska, Żydzi w miastach województwa sandomierskiego i lubelskiego w XVIII wieku, (1998), 31
- [1.6] A. Dziubiński, Pińczowskie rozmaitości, (2000), 43.
- [1.7] E. Wiśniowski, Prepozytura wiślicka do schyłku XVIII wieku, (1976), 66.
- [1.8] A. Penkalla ‘’Żydowskie ślady w województwie kieleckim i radomskim”, (1992), 73.
- [1.9] A. Dziubiński, J. Znojek, Żydzi i synagoga Stara w Pińczowie, (2000), 10.
- [1.10] A. Sabor, Sztetl. Śladami żydowskich miasteczek. Działoszyce – Pińczów – Chmielnik – Szydłów – Chęciny, (2005), 31.
- [1.11] J. Tambor, Społeczeństwo żydowskie w Pińczowie, (1998), 3.
- [1.12] APK, UWK I, sign. 1561, k. 306.
- [1.13] J. Mrozik, Żydzi w Pińczowie, „7 Żródeł”, 3, (2001).
- [1.14] List of the participants of the P.K.O. cheque transaction, (1933), 570.
- [1.15] The Directory of Poland (including the Free City of Gdańsk) for trade, industry, crafts and agriculture, (1930), 257-258.
- [1.16] Z. Gruda, Miasteczko nad Nidą, in: J. Wyrozumski (ed.), Pińczów i jego szkoły w dziejach, (1979), 273.
- [1.17] APK, UWK I, sygn. 1511, k. 39.
- [1.18] APK, UWK I, sign. 1651, k. 17.
- [1.19] APK, UWK I, sign. 1601, k. 1.
- [1.20] APK, UWK I, sign. 1601, k. 2.
- [1.21] APK, UWK I, sign. 1601, k. 3.
- [1.22] APK, UWK I, sign. 1561, k. 8.
- [1.23] APK, UWK I, sign. 1561, 75.
- [1.24] APK, UWK I, sign. 1516, k. 21.
- [1.25] APK UWK I, sign. 1561, k. 86.
- [1.26] APK, UWK I, sign. 1561, k. 395 – 410.
- [1.27] APK, UWK I, sign. 1601, k. 170.
- [1.28] APK, UWK I, sign. 1651, k. 464.
- [1.29] APK, UWK I, sign. 1651, k. 257.
- [1.30] A. Dziubiński, J. Znojek, Żydzi i synagoga Stara w Pińczowie, (2002), 17.
- [1.31] APK, UWK I, sign. 3354.
- [1.32] A. Sabor, Sztetl. Śladami żydowskich miasteczek. Działoszyce – Pińczów – Szydłów – Chęciny, (2005), 63.