Szlichtyngowa was a typical private town in which the owner held full power. In the charter granted to the locality on 11 July 1645, its founder and first owner, Johann von Schlichting, introduced an absolute ban on Jewish settlement. His descendants, however, were less rigorous and allowed Jews to reside in the town.

Secondary sources do not provide a consistent answer as to when the first Jews appeared in Szlichtyngowa. According to Dariusz Czwojdrak, it happened in the mid-18th century or later. However, Heppner and Herzberg conclude, on the basis of an analysis of municipal records, that Jewish settlement began earlier, ca. 1713. This theory seems probable, since at the time the town owner was seeking to revive the local economy after the wartime destruction and plague of 1709–1710. Around the same period, the von Schlichting property in nearby Górczyna was ravaged in a series of fires. All this may have contributed to the landlords allowing Jews to settle in the town.

The Jews living in the von Schlichting domain were mainly involved in petty trade, importing goods from Głogów and Frankfurt an der Oder. They did not own houses in the town. The religious community was organized in a similar way as the one in nearby Bojanów. It comprised 22 families, 160 people in total. It was obliged to pay a poll tax of 12 groschen per person to the royal treasury. In addition, the estate owners collected an annual fee of 2 thalers and 20 silver groschen as well as one groschen for the cemetery. The kehilla also paid all municipal taxes and 2 silver groschen per family to support the activity of the town council.

The date of the construction of the first synagogue in unknown. According to preserved sources, on 15 October 1824 the community concluded an agreement with the von Schlichting family pursuant to which it was entitled to use a square located at the end of Pfortengasse Street. The parcel held a dilapidated synagogue in need of thorough renovation. The community was obliged to erect a new building at its own expense and cover all administrative and maintenance costs. The kehilla paid an annual rent of 5 thalers to the von Schlichting family for the right to use the parcel.

Among preserved documents from the period when Szlichtyngowa came under the Prussian rule (1793), there is correspondence exchanged between the local kehilla and the king. The community needed to contact the king in various matters since Prussia exercised much greater control over the Jewish population as compared to the authorities of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. An interesting example is a letter of 12 March 1794 in which Fishel Moses, a Jew from Szlichtyngowa working as mohel and teacher, asked the king for permission to marry Fegel, daughter of Zachariah Aaron. A marriage permit required meeting specific conditions – this is why the clerk who handled Fishel Moses’s request wrote that the applicant and his descendants were protected Jews, that he had turned 25, and that his profession would allow him to provide for the family. The clerk also reported that the applicant had already obtained a permission from the kehilla elders, owned property with total value of 400 thalers, and had agreed to pay all fees connected with the wedding. Therefore, the clerk recommended that a marriage permit should be granted and asked the king to approve this decision.[1.1] The Prussian law also imposed restrictions on the movement of Jews. A good example is an application filed by mohel and teacher Lazarus Jakob Kastellan from Międzyrzecz dated 12 November 1799. In the letter, Kastellan asked for permission to move to Szlichtyngowa. The clerk handling the case stated that the applicant would work in Szlichtyngowa as a mohel, that he did not have any debts, and that he had met all necessary obligations. It was therefore recommended to grant the permission to move.[1.2]

The community records of 1830 list the following representatives of the kehilla: 1) Fab. Rinkel, 2) Berel Rinkel, 3) Marcus Rinkel, 4) S. W. Sachs, 5) Rob. Sachs, 6) Jos. Loewn, 7) Sim. Sachs, 8) Salom. Lewi, 9) Jak. Levi, 10) Heim. Levi, 11) Schoeps Jacob, 12) Hirsch Löbel Jacob, 13) Sam. Hirschstein, 14) H. Hirschstein, 15) H. Hirschstein, 16) Saul Hirschstein, 17) Salom. Munk, 18) Herz Noa, 19) Elias Noa, 20) Salom. Baruch, 21) Sam. Lebel Dunziger, 22) Sal. Wolf Benjamin, 23) Vict. Willer, 24) Rath Kosch, 25) Bernh. Leipziger, 26) Heim. Schlesinger, 27) Joel Speier, 28) Abrah. Meier, 29) Eli Hanne, 30) H. Rinkel. Next to the pos. 15, 20, 21, 29, and 14 there is a note which reads: “they left a long time ago and it is uncertain whether or not they will come back.”[1.3]

Over the years, the size of the community was steadily declining and thus its wealth continued to shrink, which forced the kehilla officials to introduce various austerity measures. As was standard practice for Jewish communities facing similar problems, the Szlichtyngowa kehilla dismissed permanent officials and instead concluded agreements with independent individuals. In the second half of the 19th century, it was not uncommon for rabbis, teachers, or butchers to work concomitantly in several communities. This was also the case of Szlichtyngowa, which since 1 January 1844 used the services of the rabbi of Wschowa. The agreement concluded by the kehilla with Rabbi Loewenstamm has been preserved to the present day. It reads:

Wschowa, 1 January 1844

On this day, the chairman of the Jewish kehilla in Szlichtyngowa, Mr Joseph Baruch, and representatives, Mr Bernhard Leipziger, Mr Simon Sachs, and Mr Joseph Benjamin, have concluded the following agreement with Rabbi Mendel Loewenstamm from Wschowa.

  1. Pursuant to the report dated 30 of the preceding month, the kehilla in Szlichtyngowa has selected Rabbi Loewenstamm as its rabbi.
  2. The kehilla agrees to pay the rabbi an annual salary of 10 (ten) thalers. The salary shall be paid in two instalments, namely 5 thalers on 1 April and 5 thalers on 1 October.

The rabbi shall be obliged to perform the following duties against payment:

  1. Per engagement within the same class [tax rate – translator’s note] – 1 thaler.
  2. Per wedding with dowry up to 500 thalers or […] – 3 thalers, and with dowry over 500 thalers – ½ %.
  3. Per entirely foreign wedding in which the bride and the groom are friends [of the rabbi – translator’s note], the rabbi receives 1½ %.
  4. In case of each wedding, the groom in particular is obliged to cover the rabbi’s travel costs.
  5. No one shall be allowed to enter into marriage in Szlichtyngowa without the rabbi’s permission.
  6. The rabbi is obliged to grant the title of Khaves or Moren to kehilla members according to thier skills; he shall be paid 15 thalers for granting the former and 1½ % for the latter.
  7. Rabbi Loewenstamm undertakes to commute to Szlichtyngowa twice a year at the kehilla’s expense, stay in the town on Sabbath night and conduct a service, supervise the mohel, and rule on any matters related to religion as well as treat the kehilla as his own.

Read, approved, and signed. (5 signatures): Mendel Loewenstamm, rabbi; Baruch, chairman of the board; representatives Bernhard Leipziger, Simon Sachs, Joseph Benjamin.[1.4]

In January 1844, the kehilla employed a new mohel, Michael Großkopf, already approved by the new rabbi from Wschowa.[1.5]

In 1890, only 21 Jews lived in Szlichtyngowa. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that in the years 1912–1913 the decision was made to dissolve the community and merge with the kehilla in nearby Wschowa. The Szlichtyngowa community finally ceased to exist in 1913. The parcel holding the synagogue was sold at an auction.[1.6]

Just before World War II, only one Jewish family lived in Szlichtyngowa. They were Alfred, Edith, and Jutta Guttmacher. During the war, the family was deported to Berlin, and in 1944 transported to the Nazi German extermination camp in Auschwitz. None of them survived the Holocaust.

Bibliography

  • Czwojdrak D., Z dziejów ludności żydowskiej w południowo-zachodniej Wielkopolsce, Grabonóg 2004.
  • Heppner A., Herzberg J., Aus Vergangenheit und Gegenwart der Juden und der jüdischen Gemeinden in den Posener Landen, Bromberg 1909, p. 919.
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Footnotes
  • [1.1] Secret Prussian State Archives in Berlin, II HA Generaldirektorium, VI Schlichtingsheim, no. 2807, sheet 1.
  • [1.2] GStA PK, II HA, VI Schlichtingsheim, no. 2807, sheet 3.
  • [1.3] Heppner A., Herzberg J., Aus Vergangenheit und Gegenwart der Juden und der jüdischen Gemeinden in den Posener Landen, Bromberg 1909, p. 920.
  • [1.4] Centrum Judaicum Archives in Berlin, 1,75 A Schl 3, no. 1, # 7019, ff. 13–13a. Translated into Polish by Ewa Ochwiejewicz.
  • [1.5] Centrum Judaicum Archives in Berlin, f. 14.
  • [1.6] Archives of Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, ref. no. 116/11.