The Jews from Żarnowiec and nearby villages, such as Chlina, Koryczany, Łany Wielkie, Łany Małe, Małoszyce, Otola and Wola Libertowska constituted a kehilla. The Jews in Żarnowiec mainly occupied with craft and trade or they ran inns and breweries in villages.

Towards the beginning of the 19th century, there were 150 houses in town, eighty five of which belonged to Catholics and 65 to Jews. The population of Zarnowiec numbered 900 people, including 400 Jews[1.1] . In 1822, the number of inhabitants amounted to 1,257 people and in 1865 it increased to 1,801.

Both Polish and Jewish residents made a living of craft, trade and agriculture. Sometimes they combined those jobs. A lot of people were shoemakers, bricklayers, coopers and butchers[1.2] . According to “Izraelita”, among the Jews there were shoemakers - musicians, shoemakers - water-carriers, shoemakers- fruit farmers but sometimes craftsmen were also melammeds or cantors [1.3].

The economic situation after World War I was very difficult: “at least 300 people required regular help, especially Jewish people[1.4] .

After World War I, Żarnowiec was incorporated into the Olkusz County. Local Jews were not engaged in politics, but they only wanted to support their families. That is why, there were no anti-Jewish feelings, which happened in other places just after World War I when Poland had regained its independence. In 1930, the population of Żarnowiec was 2,127 people, including 920 Jews. Most of them made a living of cottage industry and hawking. The unemployed were hired for building the road from Żarnowiec to Wolbrom. Fairs took place every Monday. The following enterprises belonged to Jews in the 1930s: S. Sztajnberg’s linen factory, J. Biderman and M. Sultanik car body shop, A. Cukierman, H. Szpigler’s gaiters enterprise, J. Dębski’s windmill, the bakeries of Ch. Holcman and A. J. B. Langiers, the butcher’s shops of J. M. Brandwajchendlers and M. Meszerman, the shoemaker’s workshop of I. Nucher and W. Lejman’s carpenter’s workshop.

P. Cymerman, Ch. Epsztajn, R. Hocherman. J. Klajner, H. Minc, H.Rotner traded in textiles; G. Bachmajer traded in fancy articles, M. Retman traded in kitchenware; A. Fligielman, S. Hendler, R. Klapfer traded in leather; F. Klajder, M. Lederman, M. Szalowicz traded in clothes; J. Grosfeld, M. Klajner, A. Rappoport, Z. Rotgeber, H. Honigman traded in grain and A. Cukierman traded in iron. There were a lot of groceries, which were ran by the following Jewish citizens: J. Frydman, Ch. Gliksztajn, A. M. Golds, J. Grosfeld, J. Gryn, H. Rotner, Ch. Szroda, J. Sztajnberg, R. Wajngarten[1.5] .

The first managing board of the kehilla consisted of three members: Chaim Epsztajn, Dawid Gliksman and Rubin Cukierman. In 1923, the Court of Peace in Olkusz imposed a fine of 200,000 Marks on the community’s president Ch. Epsztajn and on D. Gliksman for not having the fee list prepared[1.6].

The Jewish community possessed two synagogues, a prayer house, a mikvah, a meadow and two cemeteries. The Charity Organization Gemiłus Chesed was active at that time. The community consisted mainly of Orthodox Jews. Icek Juda Hagerman was rabbi from 1895. Aron Rappaport, Majer Kornberg, Izrael Icek Grosfeld, Wolf Sapsia Szpiro, Moszek Gliksztajn, Smul Berek Welner, Josek Sznieniawski, Herszlik Lipnicki were elected to the new managing board[1.7] . Four of them were merchants, and there was one medic, one farmer, one cap-maker and one watchmaker. Icek Mitelman was the secretary.

According to the documents preserved, the charge for ox or cow slaughter amounted to 6 zloty. They charged 1.50zl for calf slaughter, 0.50zl for goose slaughter and 0.20zl for hen slaughter[1.8] . In 1924, the Ministry told the managing board to modify the budget within 14 days because they claimed that the income from slaughter, which was estimated at 3,800zl, was underpriced. They corrected it for 4,380zl, but the Ministry claimed that it still was not true[1.9] . Finally, they estimated the income from slaughter at 5,000zl. Moreover, they planned to receive 1,000zl from other fees.

In 1925, the Jewish Community consisted of 1,780 people, with 118 families chosen to pay the fees[1.1.9] . The managing board estimated its income from fees at 1,140.10zl, 4,390zl from slaughter, 150zl from cemetery charges, 270zl from the mikvah, 20zl from circumcision and 5zl from meadow lease. As for the expenses, I. J. Hagerman’s salary (he was rabbi), which was initially estimated at 1,500zl, was the main expense for the community. The assistant rabbi, Załma Szajbler, obtained a salary of 900zl per year. The community had problems with Szajbler all the time, as he constantly demanded a pay rise.

The Ministry did not accept the budget in 1925, as it was not signed properly. The documents were kept in the house of the kehilla’s managing board president, which was regarded as an irregularity. The inspection revealed that members of the Funeral Brotherhood took money from families of the deceased, which was against the law. Other irregularities revealed during the inspection of 26 November 1925 concerned charges for the mikvah, which were considered too low, and the same applied to the income obtained from reading the Pentateuch roll; besides it was discovered that records were not regularly done in the community’s registers[1.10] .

In 1926, the income in the budget was estimated at 12,490.95zl. However, the real income amounted only to 8,656.07zl. The problems of the community were the same as in the previous year[1.11] , as people living in Żarnowiec were poor.

In 1927, it was noticed that people did not want to pay the fees of their own free will. Actually, some sources of income were difficult to plan sensibly, e.g. cemetery charges. Six people died in the years 1924-1925; in 1926- four people; in 1927- two people.

In 1928, the unpaid fees amounted to 4,545zl [1.12]. In the same year, out of 888 people living in Żarnowiec 150 people were chosen to pay the fees. Thirty eight families were exempted from paying them. The fees ranged from 5zl to 60zl. The highest fees were paid by eight families. The managing board owed 3,160 zl in total to the shochetim Berek Wajngarten and Henochowa Manela, to the secretary Mitelman,and to the rabbi and assistant rabbi.

In 1930 Majer Kornberg was elected president of the managing board, whereas the following citizens were elected as members: rabbi I. J. Hagerman, Josek Grosfeld, Aron Rappoport, Wolf Szapsia Szpiro. In the budget the income amounted 10,135.22 zl, including 6,548.40 zl from slaughter, 978 zl from , fees, 210 zl from the mikvah, 600zl from selling the wood in the cemetery, 65 zl from land lease [1.13]. According to the county authorities on 27 May 1931, the managing board did not solve many current issues, e.g. they did not establish the rabbi’s salary, the shochetim salaries, cemetery charges. What is more, many fees were not collected and the register of births and marriages was missing.

According to the records from 1932, the kehilla’s registers were properly kept. However, the shochet H. Mandela slaughtered poultry in a dirty slaughterhouse and the shochet B. Wajgarten kept a garbage can next to the slaughterhouse. Moreover, they both did not give the receipts from the slaughter to the managing board, which made it difficult to count slaughtered animals.

An inspection of the real estate revealed that the Jewish Community owned a brick synagogue in Warszawska Street. Next to the main hall, there was the rabbi’s prayer room and the women’s gallery. The so called “old synagogue”, made of wood, was also situated in Warszawska Street. The mikvah, adjacent to the new synagogue, was on lease. However, there was no official contract of lease. The cemetery was located by the road leading to the village of Chliny. Moreover, the managing board owned a field, which was on lease as well. The fees from reading the Pentateuch roll were collected by Herszkowicz, who purchased candles for the synagogue and cleaned both synagogues.

In 1933, according to the county authorities, the managing board was supposed to obtain an income of 1,531.50zl from the fees, 8,500 zl from slaughter and 1,751.84 zl from other sources. In total, they wanted the managing board to earn 11,883 zl. The annual balance sheet revealed that they managed to obtain 9,845.72 zl. For instance, they received 7,106.60zl from slaughter instead of the planned 8,500 zl. As far as the expenses are concerned, they planned to spend 3,600 zl on the rabbi’s salary and 7,200 zl on the salaries of other officials[1.14] .

The managing board grew bigger at that time. Apart from the president M. Kornberg, it consisted of the following members: Herszlik Gotlieb, Izrael Żarnowski, Jakób Szmul Herszkowicz, Kałma Wajntraub, Szloma Tatarka, Miszek Gold and Szymon Wolf Szpringer. In the letters addressed to the authorities they wrote: “ The managing board of the Community emphasizes the terrible living conditions of the Jews from Żarnowiec [1.15]”. The truth was that the trade weakened considerably. What it more, there were no orders for shoemaker’s and tailor’s services. People did not have money to spend.

In 1933, 118 families were chosen to pay the fees. However, fifty families were exempted from paying them, because of their poverty. The lowest fee amounted to 5zl. While the budget for 1933 was being prepared, it was discovered, that a lot of fees from previous years remained unpaid[1.16] , respectively: 57.50zl in 1929; 205 zl in 1930; 614 zl in 1931 and 655 zl in 1932.

The tax on slaughter revealed to be 8zl for ox slaughter, 3zl for calf slaughter, 0.70zl for goose slaughter and 0.40zl for hen slaughter [1.17].

In 1938, 574 Jews lived in Żarnowiec. The managing board consisted mainly of politically non-aligned members at that time. Sixty one families were chosen to pay fees. The movables were estimated at 18,150zl and the real estate at 46,000zl, the debt amounted to 2,104zl.





  • [1.1] S. Piwowarski, The history of Żarnowiec in the years 1795-1918, in: Żarnowiec. Sketches from history, ed. W. Passowicz, Cracow 1998, p. 76
  • [1.2] W.J.Jaskłowski, Żarnowiec and nearby. Historical and etnographical outline, Lvov 1910, p. 64
  • [1.3] „Izraelita” 1913, no. 35
  • [1.4] S. Piwowarski, The history of Żarnowiec in the years 1795-1918, in: Żarnowiec. Sketches from history, ed. W. Passowicz, Cracow 1998,p. 87
  • [1.5] The Address Book of Poland (along with W.M. Gdańsk) for trade, industry, craft and agriculture, Warsaw 1930, p. 322
  • [1.6] APK, UWK I, file no. 1404, c. 215
  • [1.7] APK, UWK I, file no.. 1501, c. 193
  • [1.8] APK, UWK I, file no.. 1752, c. 221
  • [1.9] APK, UWK I, file no..1400, c.292
  • [1.1.9] APK, UWK I, file no..1400, c.292
  • [1.10] APK, UWK I, file no...1400, c. 304
  • [1.11] APK, UWK I, file no... 1678, c. 51
  • [1.12] APK, UWK I, file no... 1678, c. 184
  • [1.13] APK, UWK I, file no... 1678, c. 24 - 28
  • [1.14] APK, UWK I, file no. 1593, c. 5.
  • [1.15] APK, UWK I, file no. 1678, c. 803
  • [1.16] APK, UWK I, file no. 1678, c. 814, 815
  • [1.17] APK, UWK I file no. 1678, c. 834