First Jews arrived to Przytyk in the 17th century. “A great number of Masovian Jews belonged to kehillot in the northern part of the Sandomierskie Province (Kozienice, Przytyk, Ryczywół)”[1.1]. A stone synagogue was built in the first half of the 17th century. The local Jewish cemetery, situated on the right bank of the Radomka River next the road leading to Radom, was most likely founded in the second half of the 17th century[1.2].
In 1676, there were eight Jewish taxpayers in Przytyk. In 1734, the local Jews paid a total of 150 zlotys in poll tax. In 1787, the Jewish community had 452 members, owning 84 houses in the town[1.3]. They were mostly engaged in trade and running licensed inns. In 1790, the community had 643 members, 292 of whom lived in Przytyk itself.
In 1830, 1,060 Jews lived in Przytyk. They constituted 86.2% of the entire population of the town[1.4]. Nonetheless, Przytyk developed very slowly; in 1868, it had 1,440 residents and one year later it lost its municipal rights. In 1890 and 1910, it was inhabited by 2,290 and 3,000 people, respectively.
The Jewish and the Polish population of Przytyk lived a generally peaceful life, but occasional disputes did break out between the two ethnic groups. As described by Father Jan Wiśniewski: “In the mid-18th century, Jews in Przytyk became so rowdy that they refused to return the interest they were due to the church from the capital invested in the synagogue. As a result, excommunication was applied against perfidos judeos: Lejbuś, Herszek, Eljasz, Icek, Mosiek, Lejzor, Raszel, Juda, Rakocz, Szmul, Marek, Gierszon, Lewek, Kalman, Mendel, Berek, Juda, and others. The punishment was also directed against their synagogue, which was to be sealed shut”[1.5].
In 1860, the tsarist authorities launched an investigation into the operation of the local Burial Society, which was declared illegal. The interrogations showed that it had been active for decades. Even though an impressive synagogue already existed in Przytyk, the local community sought to obtain permission for the construction of another house of prayer in the years 1896–1900.
The period of World War I proved disastrous to Przytyk and its population. The locality was largely destroyed; in 1915, many people were forced to live in makeshift cabins or move to other localities. According to the 1921 census, the first to be held after the restoration of Polish independence, Przytyk had a population of 2,300 people, including 1,205 Jews[1.6].
In the interwar period, Przytyk held the status of an urban settlement in the Radom District. In 1930, it had 2,302 inhabitants, including 1,852 Jews (80% of the population). The Jewish community made a living off crafts, trade, and farming. Jewish artisans played a prominent role as capmakers, tailors, bakers, and butchers. Many merchants traded in silk, haberdashery, stationery, and beer and tobacco[1.7]. Weekly markets were held in Przytyk every Monday, attracting tradesmen for nearby towns and villages. There was a power station in the town, owned by Lejbuś Rozencwajg. “Autobus,” one of the several local transport companies, was run by Pinkus Kornafel, and another one by Moszek Rubinsztajn. Loans were offered by the Merchants’ Credit Union. In 1939, the population of Przytyk included 149 craftsmen, 121 merchants, four mill owners, three transport company owners, two medics, and one teacher. Most of the craftsmen were tailors and shoemakers. There was also a large group of traders in cattle, horses, and grain. According to Regina Renz, in 1929 50% of the inhabitants of the town were of modest means and 20% lived in poverty. In 1939, the former constituted two thirds of the population, and the latter – almost one third[1.8].
In the years 1918–1939, the Przytyk kehilla had jurisdiction of all Jews living in Przytyk, Kostrzyń, Mogielnica, Klwów, Wyśmierzyce, and Białobrzegi. It had a stone synagogue, a prayer house, a bath house, a cheder, and a cemetery with an area of 0.2 ha. The synagogue was renovated in the years 1925–1926. The construction of a beth midrash commenced in 1928. In 1929, the kehilla employed a rabbi, two mohelim, a secretary, a grave digger, and a shammes[1.9]. As indicated by preserved records, the kehilla had a relatively small revenue of 25,000–26,000 zlotys. The main source of income was ritual slaughter (15,000 zlotys). The community also gained 9,000 to 10,000 zlotys from membership fees, and additional funds from funeral services (200–600 zlotys for each burial). The membership fees varied from 5 to 100 zlotys. On a single occasion in 1934, the “Horacy S.A.” company was requested to pay a fee of 200 zlotys.
In 1915, Izrael Shapiro, an Orthodox Jew, became the rabbi of Przytyk. He was officially appointed to the position in 1931, when he passed an exam in Polish in the Provincial Office in Kielce. Most of the members of the community were Orthodox, which meant that Shapiro received a relatively high pay of 6,300 zlotys a year. The governor of Radom held his work in high esteem and appreciated his eye for detail in keeping accurate birth, death, and wedding records. The rabbi was alo highly thought of by the kehilla members[1.10]. The secretary earned 1,200 zlotys, and the mohel – 4,300 zlotys. The community financed the upkeep of the synagogue, cemetery, bath house, and slaughterhouse. Some of the money was allocated to subsidise the cheder, beth midrash, and the Interest-Free Credit Union. The latter received a yearly donation of 1,000 zlotys. Ca. 200 zlotys was given to charity, and 50 zlotys to those who emigrated to Palestine[1.11].
An inspection of the cemetery was conducted in 1930. It was concluded that the wall needed renovating and the paths required to be tidied. The board designated 200 zlotys for that purpose, but the planned repair works were not implemented, with the money eventually used for the renovation of the beth midrash and the bath house. The cemetery was renovated in 1931 at the cost of 300 zlotys.
The 1931 election to the community board saw fierce competition between the supporters of Agudath Israel, the Zionists, and the Bundists. Moszek Frydman was elected community head, while Izrael Cymbalista, Chaim Kaczka, Abram Koen, Nuta Lindenbaum, Izrael Ryba, Szaja Tober and Josek Zycholc became members of the board. According to the Radom governor, the board enjoyed a good reputation and was open to cooperation with the Polish government.
Jankiel Cukier, the local shochet, died in 1931. A contest for the post was announced soon after his death, with five candidates originally meant to participate. However, Hersz Załcszyrer, late Cukier’s son-in-law, entered at the last moment. The resulting conflict had to be settled by the rabbinical court. Jankiel Taub, a rabbi from Radom, was the arbitrator designated by the board, while Hersz Załcszyrer was represented by Chaim Rabinowicz, a rabbi from the town of Szydłowiec. Court proceedings were presided over by Abran Abwlla Rapaport, a rabbi from Kielce. The court ruled that Hersz Załcszyrer should be paid 4,000 zlotys by the board, but he would not be eligible to carry out ritual slaughter (shechita) in the Przytyk kehilla. Following this verdict, Symcha Binem Lipszyc from Baranów was employed as the local shochet[1.12].
In 1933, there were 2,986 Jews living in Przytyk. In its planned budget, the community board assumed it would gain 17,000 zlotys from ritual slaughter (shechita), 11,888 zlotys from membership fees, and 1,800.31 zlotys from other sources; this would render a total revenue of 30,688.31 zlotys. Naturally, it was impossible to collect the planned amount as the growing economic crisis started to affect the local population. The community spent 6,300 zlotys on the rabbi’s salary, 10,385 zlotys on the salaries of the other kehilla officials, 4,400 zlotys on investments, 200 zlotys on charity, 7,333.21 on other expenses.
The propaganda of the National Democratic Party resulted in a boycott of Jewish companies in 1935. Poles set up about fifty small businesses[1.13] which traded with the local farmers, putting the Jews on the sidelines. A baker by the name of Zajde complained: “I have been out of business for 16 weeks and the peasants refuse to buy anything from me”[1.14]. The boycott put many Jewish families in a difficult predicament. The local Jews went as far as to form a 20-strong self-defence group, headed by Zionist Icek Frydman.
On 9 March 1936, anti-Jewish riots broke out at the market in Przytyk. They were triggered by a quarrel between a Jewish baker and a Polish peasant selling his produce. The incident sent shock waves all over the country and the world at large because of its tragic outcome: Stanisław Wieśniak, a Pole, and two Jews – Josek Minkowski and his wife Chaja – were killed. Over 20 other people, 17 of whom were Jewish, suffered injuries[1.15]. The victims were buried in the local cemetery. During the funeral service, speeches were delivered by Doctor Szendrowicz and Izaak Rubinstein, rabbi and member of parliament. All shops in the town were closed down that day[1.16], and the Bund announced a protest strike which would be held on 18 March.
At the beginning of June 1936, 57 people (Polish and Jewish) involved in the riots were put on trial. In 1939, a commemorative plaque was put up in the cemetery with the following inscription: “Josek Minkowski, killed during the Przytyk unrest”[1.17]. The ceremony of unveiling the plaque attracted a crowd of ca. 2,000 people. Chaim Berkowicz from Przytyk delivered a speech recalling that tragic day. Later on, the crowd went to the synagogue to pray for the victims of the riot.
Numerous public festivals were organised in the town to break the monotony of everyday life. Chancia Frydman Honig from Przytyk recalls: ‘We prepared ourselves carefully for every festival and we did our best to celebrate it merrily and in accordance with our traditions’[1.18].
At the turn of 1938, the Przytyk kehilla had 3,500 members, including 344 people paying the membership fee. The movables had the value of 5,000 zlotys and the real estate – 75,000 zlotys. The community owned a synagogue, a beth midrash, a bath house, a cemetery, and a building plot. The total debt amounted to 13,500 zlotys[1.19]. All members of the board were Orthodox Jews. For 1939, the kehilla expected a modest income of 13,763 zlotys. Przytyk became a somewhat significant centre of Hasidism, with a number of shtiblekh and numerous Hasidim arriving to the town from Góra Kalwaria, Białobrzegi, Opoczno, Kozienice, and Warka.
During World War II, Germans displaced the Jews of Przytyk to the ghettos in Przysucha and Szydłowiec. Once they arrived there, they shared the fate of other Jews from the region and were sent to the Nazi death camp in Treblinka in the summer of 1942. The occupier destroyed all buildings in the town except for the church and established a proving ground on the levelled site.
- Frydman-Honig Ch., “A filfarbik yiddish lebn,” [in] Sefer Pshitik, ed. D. Sztokfisz, Tel Aviv 1973.
- Gontarczyk P., Pogrom? Zajścia w Przytyku, Biała Podlaska – Pruszków 2000.
- Guldon Z., Krzystanek K., Ludność żydowska w miastach lewobrzeżnej części województwa sandomierskiego w XVI–XVIII wieku. Studium osadniczo-demograficzne, Kielce 1990.
- Muszyńska J., Żydzi w miastach województwa sandomierskiego i lubelskiego w XVIII wieku, Kielce 1998.
- Penkalla A., “Cmentarz żydowski w Przytyku,” Biuletyn Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego 1984, no. 1–2.
- Penkalla A., Żydowskie ślady w województwie kieleckim i radomskim, Radom 1992.
- Renz R., “Ludność żydowska w Przytyku w okresie międzywojennym,” Biuletyn Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego 1988.
- Wogszal M., “Menshn, shtiblekh un institutsyes in Pshitik,” [in] Sefer Pshitik, ed. D. Sztokfisz, Tel Aviv 1973.
- [1.1] J. Muszyńska, Żydzi w miastach województwa sandomierskiego i lubelskiego w XVIII wieku, Kielce 1998, p. 11.
- [1.2] Penkalla A., “Cmentarz żydowski w Przytyku,” Biuletyn Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego 1984, no. 1–2, p. 176.
- [1.3] Guldon Z., Krzystanek K., Ludność żydowska w miastach lewobrzeżnej części województwa sandomierskiego w XVI–XVIII wieku. Studium osadniczo-demograficzne, Kielce 1990, p. 60.
- [1.4] A. Penkalla, Żydowskie ślady w województwie kieleckim i radomskim, Radom 1992, p. 144.
- [1.5] Wiśniewski J., Dekanat radomski, Radom 1911, p. 177.
- [1.6] A. Jelonek, Ludność miast i osiedli typu miejskiego na ziemiach polskich od 1810 do 1960 r., Warsaw 1967, p. 39
- [1.7] Księga Adresowa Polski (wraz z W.M. Gdańskiem) dla handlu, przemysłu, rzemiosł i rolnictwa, Warsaw 1930, pp. 262–263.
- [1.8] Renz R., “Ludność żydowska w Przytyku w okresie międzywojennym,” Biuletyn Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego 1988, no. 3–4, p. 174.
- [1.9] State Archives in Kielce, Kielce Provincial Officie I, ref. no. 1654.
- [1.10] State Archives in Kielce, Kielce Provincial Office I, ref. no. 1479, fol. 6.
- [1.11] State Archives in Kielce, Kielce Provincial Office I, ref. no. 1924.
- [1.12] State Archives in Kielce, Kielce Provincial Office I, ref. no. 1536, fol. 17.
- [1.13] P. Gontarczyk, Pogrom? Zajścia w Przytyku, Biała Podlaska – Pruszków, 2000, p. 51.
- [1.14] Ilustrowany Kurier Codzienny from 8 June 1936.
- [1.15] Renz R., “Ludność żydowska w Przytyku w okresie międzywojennym,” Biuletyn Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego 1988, no. 3–4, pp. 180–183.
- [1.16] State Archives in Kielce, Kielce Provincial Office I, ref. no. 1724.
- [1.17] A. Penkalla, “Cmentarz żydowski w Przytyku,” Biuletyn Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego 1984, no. 1–2, p. 178.
- [1.18] Ch. Frydman – Honig, “A filferbik yiddish lebn,” [in] Sefer Przytyk, ed. D. Sztokfisz, Tel Aviv 1973, p. 115.
- [1.19] State Archives in Kielce, Kielce Provincial Office I, ref. no. 3354.