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Łódź

1. The Beginnings of Jewish Settlement in Łódź (L)

(Until its recognition as an industrial town in 1820)

Alt-statishe-shul (old city synagogue in Łódź from the 1930's)

"Alt-statishe-shul" (old city synagogue in Łódź from the 1930's).

There is no mention of a Jewish presence in L before the 18th century. The townlet was then the property of the bishops of Kujawy. It was economically poor and not attractive to Jewish settlement, though there is no evidence that such settlement was forbidden. The records of the bishopric of Kujawy confirm that there were Jews in L at the beginning of the 18th century; and the poll-tax registers of the town and the nearby villages in the years 1775-1784 show that there were a few Jewish families of lessees and innkeepers. From 1775 to 1781 the lessee Joachim and his wife lived in the brewery in L, and in 1788 there were three Jewish families in the village of Chojny: the lessee Avram and the innkeepers Hillel and Salomon. In 1781 the innkeeper Yosef and his family lived in L, and in Chojny there were two families (Baruch and Salomon Markowicz), while in the village of Baluty there was the lessee Icek and his family. In about 1784 two families settled in L - those of the innkeepers Szaja Abramowicz and Lewek Jakubowicz; in Chojny that of the innkeeper Yosek; and in Baluty the lessee Salomon and his family.

During the Prussian occupation uniform urban rights were decreed, as was a secularization of ecclesiastically-owned towns - and these measures also influenced the increase in the number of Jews in L and the surrounding villages in the years 1793-1806, and led to a slight redistribution in their occupational structure. This was also the tendency present in the period of the Principality of Warsaw, as well as in the early years of the Kingdom of Poland. In 1793, of the 191 inhabitants of L (not counting the surrounding villages) there were 11 Jews, belonging to three families - of a lessee, a tanner, and a tailor. The national census of 1808 showed 58 Jews in L, or 13.4% of all its inhabitants. In the survey carried out in 1809 by the mayor there were 98 Jews. A list of Jewish households registered with the community in 1810 gives 25 families, totalling 98 persons (14 families in L and 11 in the adjacent villages), their occupational structure being as follows: 12 innkeepers and lessees (eight of them in the villages); one agriculturalist (and innkeeper); one distiller; one lessee (in one of the villages); four shopkeepers; three tailors; one baker; and three hired workers.

Occupational Structure in L in 1821

OccupationChristiansJews
1. Trade
Total323
Purveyors of drinks38
Shopkeepers-11
Spice and salt merchants-3
Wool merchants-1
2. Workshops
Total2423
Tailors-9
Bakers-8
Butchers32
Tanners-3
Glaziers-1
Shoemakers 8-
Carpenters2-
Carters2-
Tinsmiths and locksmiths2-
Sieve makers2-
Building carpenters1-
Engravers1-
Coopers1-
Bleachers1-
Millers1-
3. Others
Total12413
Dealers in religious articles12
Teachers-1
Agriculturalists74-
Hired workers and servants499

By 1820 the Jews formed 33.89% of the total population and played an important part in the economic life of the town. They were especially prominent as merchants and craftsmen, the traditional spheres of Jewish activity. This development continued parallel with the transition of L from an agricultural to an industrial and commercial townlet - and by 1820 only a third of the inhabitants worked in agriculture.

Some of the merchants and craftsmen engaged in additional activities, such as selling cloth, salt, or drinks. Those dealing with religious articles included the beadle, who was also a barber.

In the pre-industrial period most of the Jews in this economically depressed townlet were also poor. According to the property evaluation of 1821, four Jewish families possessed property worth 2,500-6,000 zloty, twelve 1,000-1,500 zloty, and 42 families less than 500 zloty (of these, 23 families had property worth less than 100 zloty, and one family had nothing at all).

Until 1793 the few Jews of L were unable to form a separate congregation, but belonged to larger communities in the area. In 1775 they came under the community of Strykow, and in 1782 that of Lutomiersk. Not until the period of the Prussian occupation did a congregation take shape in L, while its primary institutions came into being under the Principality of Warsaw. Among the founders of the community was Pinchas Zajdler (who came from Przedborz in 1795), Pinchas Zonenberg (who came from Leczyca in 1797), and Lewek Haber (who came from Lutomiersk in 1801). Zonenberg and Haber were also shochtim (ritual slaughterers), and acted in effect as the spiritual leaders of the community before it was able to appoint a rabbi. Following complaints from members of the community, the authorities dismissed them as shochtim, and instead appointed Dawid Herszkowicz, who was also a cantor. According to a document of 1809 the first leaders of the community were Pinchas Zajdler and Moshe Fajtlowicz. The rivalry between these two and their mutual slandering led to the authorities holding an election to the community council in 1810. Fourteen members of the community voted for Pinchas Zonenberg and Mendel Moskowicz. Under their leadership the main institutions of the community were established. The synagogue in Dworska (Wolborska) Street and the adjacent poor-house were built in 1809. In 1811 a plot of nearby land measuring 13-35 metres was purchased as a cemetery. This tiny cemetery was constantly enlarged through the purchase of additional land, and was extant until 1892, after which it was known as the “Old Cemetery” in Wesola Street. On the consecration of the cemetery a Chevra Kadisha (Burial Society) was established and in the course of a year also took upon itself care of the sick.

The minutes of the foundation meeting of the Chevra Kadisha in 1811 mentions the presence of a rabbi - head of the rabbinical court of L, Rabbi Yehuda Aryeh, the son of the rabbi of Widawa. However, in the official petitions to the authorities in 1814 he is described by the community simply as dayan (judge), with a salary of 300 zloty a year. In 1818 he left the town for unknown reasons, and was replaced by R. Pinchas Heller of Rozprza. He too presumably served as dayan, as his successor, R. Mendel Wolf Jerozolimski, who took up office in 1814, was the first to receive a wage of 900 zloty - a fitting remuneration for a rabbi.

The revenues of the tiny community of L were meagre: the sale of seats in the synagogue or of burial plots, and slaughtering fees. The leaders of the community managed its affairs without any sort of bookkeeping. Despite the indigence of the community and neglect of its institutions (no cheder until 1822, a synagogue in need of repair, etc.), the community's importance grew, and in 1822 it had already embraced the Jews of the surrounding villages (Mileszki , Beldow), and numbered 74 families, comprising 282 souls.

II. The Jews of L in the Years 1820-1864

A. The Struggle for Dwelling Rights. Establishment of the Jewish Quarter

In 1820 L appeared in the list of manufacturing towns. 1823 saw the start of a flow of textile workers from abroad, mainly from Germany. From 1823 to 1828 the textile industry in L developed, and at the end of this period some 2,000 persons were making a living from it. Sizeable factories, employing hundreds of workers had already been established. The town's population expanded by 534%. Growth continued in the following decades, though with brief interruptions (during the crises of 1843-1847 and 1853-1854). The following important events in the town's development may be mentioned: in 1835 a steam engine was set up in Ludwig Geyer's spinning mill, and the number of his workers rose to 500 by 1841; in 1842 the ban on the export of spinning machines from England was lifted and their import to L increased: in 1850 customs duties between Poland and Russia were removed, and this meant unrestricted exports of material to Russia; the Crimean War (1853-1855) meant increased demand for cloth to the military. A major step was taken by Karol Scheibler, who in 1854-1856 established a spinning mill with 18,000 spindles and a mechanical weaving mill for cotton. L's intensive industrialisation lay behind a general population increase from 767 in 1820 to 33,417 in 1863, i.e. some 43 times as many.

Somewhat different was the growth of the Jewish population in this period - 22 times, from 259 in 1820 to 5,633 in 1863. The percentage of Jews in the general population of the town was lower than that of other industrial towns in the kingdom. There were several reasons for this. The weavers and industrial workers who came from abroad included almost no Jews, since the Jews in their countries of origin were not engaged in textiles as a craft and an industry. However, other branches of trade and crafts in L held inadequate attraction to any large number of would-be immigrants. Migration of Jews was also subject to severe restrictions, including Jewish settlement in the new industrial towns - but in 1822 a Jewish quarter in L was decided upon.

There were attempts to limit the dwelling rights of Jews in L and to force them into a narrow area (a ghetto) even before the official government decree on this subject. As early as 1820 the pastor Czerwinski requested the authorities to ban Jews from living in the vicinity of the church, as their vociferous prayers interfered with his services. In that same year the district authorities issued a decree laying down the dwelling rights of the Jews in the old town. Jews living in Wolborska and Nadrzeczna Streets were required to furnish proof that they obeyed the royal decree of 1809 (concerning the Jewish quarter in Warsaw) i.e. that they did not wear traditional Jewish clothes or sport sidelocks and beards, and that they sent their children to the public schools. The Jews of L were forbidden to live in other streets, and those who did were obliged to sell their houses to Christians. However, the decree mentioned no date of implementation, and thus lost its validity. This matter dragged on until 1822, when another decree was issued fixing the Jewish quarter in L, according to which Jews were permitted to live on the south side of Podrzeczna , Rynek and Wolborska Streets, and to acquire land there for building houses, on condition that they upheld the rules from 1809 described above. From 1827 on Jews were forbidden to live anywhere else than in the quarter assigned to them. Exceptions to this rule were granted to two families only, provided that they were “Europeanized”, i.e. did not wear traditional clothes, knew Polish, French or German, and sent their children to the public schools - and provided that they possessed property to the value of at least 20,000 zloty and were “useful” to the country, such as establishing factories, building stone houses on empty plots, engaging in banking or retail trade, or were doctors , artists, or other artisans. At first, this privilege was quite worthless. Before 1840 no Jew in L was seen wearing European clothes, and in the poor Jewish community there were no 20,000 zloty property owners. A negative aspect of the decree as specified by the authorities was that Jews who bought wooden houses from Christians were obliged to demolish them and build stone houses instead.

In the tiny Jewish quarter there were 19 wooden houses and five stone ones, most of both types consisting of one storey only. The crowding became intolerable, in view of the fact that in 1825 342 persons lived in the area, and in 1841 - 1,359. But Christians too lived in the Jewish quarter. The prices of houses and building plots increased threefold.

Despite the difficult conditions the Jews began building energetically in the area assigned to them. The first stone houses had been built in the old town market as early as 1825. However, this construction work was not sufficient to reduce the overcrowding, and the need to extend the area grew more and more urgent. Not only the Jews were interested in such enlargement; the municipality too looked forward to building connecting roads to the quarter; while the Christian owners of houses and plots looked forward to higher prices for these. Thus requests for extending the area were made not only by Jews but also by Christians, with the support of the municipality. In 1841 the Governor presented the central authorities with a plan for the Jewish quarter, with additional streets: on the north side of Podrzeczna and Wolborska, three sides of the market in the old town, the streets Drewnoska and Stodolniana, and part of Zgierska (Piotrkowska) Street. The reponse of the authorities was ambiguous: they did not endorse the plan, but they recommended that the construction work begun by the Jews of L be continued. This was a sort of temporary permit, which did not in any way guarantee the investments in building nor permanent dwellings for the inhabitants of the new part of the quarter, whose expansion was the result of a fait accompli. The central authorities only gave their official approval to these new streets in 1861, and added four streets to the quarter.

From 1841 to 1851 the Jews built in the market area 11 stone houses with several storeys, and in the side streets seven wooden houses. Nevertheless, even the extended quarter was inadequate for the rapidly increasing Jewish population of L: from 1,359 in 1841 to 3,050 in 1857 to 5,380 in 1862. To the overcrowding in the quarter was added the enormous amount of stored material in a confined space, as well as the transitory presence of many buyers. The city authorities searched for a solution, and tried to limit and even forbid, additional settlement of Jews in the quarter. With the help of police and soldiers attempts were made to remove Jews from the area, on the pretext that they were in no position to buy a building plot or a wooden house and to erect a stone house in its stead. All these obstacles and restrictions failed to stem the flow of Jews from the vicinity, for their material circumstances forced them to earn their living in the rapidly developing industrial town. These Jews settled in the town without permission. The mayor described the flow of illegal Jewish migrants as follows: “The Jews employ various tricks in order to force their way into the town. First comes the man as a worker seeking employment, and when he has a roof over his head his wife arrives as a domestic servant, and when she has established herself by this ruse the two join forces, and after some years of renewing their permit they become inhabitants and have no wish to leave the town.” There also came Jews who met the requirements of the decree, i.e. with 20,000 zloty, and in 1848, when this sum was reduced to 9,000 zloty, the number of arrivals increased considerably. Living conditions in the quarter went from bad to worse, and the struggle for the right to live in L grew more obdurate and difficult. This situation continued until the decrees of the Tsar in 1862, which annulled the restrictions on Jewish dwellings in the towns of the kingdom.

As stated, Jewish habitation in all the new quarters was forbidden, despite the fact that the legal basis for this ban was unclear. The German inhabitants of these areas demanded an official and unequivocal ban on Jewish dwellings there. Though no such decree was issued, until 1840, when Lodka was incorporated in L, Jewish settlement was forbidden or fraught with obstacles. For example, in the first decade of the “New Town” not a single Jew settled there. Only in 1833 did Ludwig Mamrot, the well-known retailer of yarns from Kalisz, succeed, after persistent efforts, in obtaining permission to open a yarn warehouse in the “New Town”. Some years later permission to live there was also granted to the wealthy retail merchants David Lande and Shmuel Yechezkiel Zalcman. Until the decree reducing the property level from 20,000 to 9,000 zloty few families were allowed to settle in the “New Town”. Between 1851 and 1857 permission was granted to 18 Jewish merchants, most of them dealing in textile raw materials and products. But Jews also settled there without permission: in 1859 the number of illegal dwellers was 28, and no later than 1861 were there 74 Jewish families, totalling 312 persons (not counting families omitted from the municipal register).

The question of the Jewish quarter had repercussions for Nowe Baluty or Baluty - from 1915 a quarter of L itself - which was densely populated by Jews, mainly poor. The village of Baluty lay close to the Jewish quarter and met the demands of population and building. Agriculture was not viable and the high price of accommodation in L and the overcrowding of the Jewish quarter resulted in hundreds of buyers of cheap housing. Moreover, the Jews who settled there were free of all the legal and administrative restrictions otherwise incumbent on Jewish dwellings in L. In view of this circumstance, two enterprising merchants from L, Icek Blawat and Icek Birencwajg contacted a Baluty landlord and purchased from him 408 morag (about 1.4 acres) of land to be sold off in lots. The seller assured the buyers that he would obtain permission to establish an industrial settlement on the site and even have it granted urban status. With this in mind, the lessees began in 1858 to plan building plots, streets and buildings for the new settlement. The authorities, however, refused to approve the site as an industrial and urban area. The initiators did not give up, but declared the area to be agricultural - but in fact did not abandon their project of an urban settlement. In 1860 then, some 145 plots were distributed (of a morag , ie. about 15 square yards, or two each). Some 30 wooden and two stone houses were erected in the area. The efforts of the municipality to halt the continued development of the Baluty quarter did not bear fruit, due to its chaotic character. In that same year of 1860 the specific social and occupational structure of the inhabitants of Baluty, Christian and Jewish, was already evident: of the 95 Jewish families living there 84 were of workers and craftsmen, and ten of merchants - while only one family was engaged in agriculture. The population structure of the Christians was similar. This typical social and occupational structure in Baluty underwent no radical changes in the next 50 years, at the end of which the quarter had 100,000 inhabitants. But Baluty's continued status as a village, administratively subordinate to the village of Radogoszcz, had a negative influence on its development. The situation was chaotic: the necessary investments in the town and its health services were not made; the streets were narrow, unpaved and unlit; there were no sewers. The Russian authorities were obdurate in refusing to incorporate Baluty in L for fear of the influence of the proletariat, potentially revolutionary, on the rest of the city's population. And therefore, until the First World War the Baluty quarter, with its 100,000 inhabitants, remained attached to Radogoszcz. Even after Baluty's incorporation in L in 1915, under the German occupation, and also in the inter-war period, no adequate steps were taken to renovate the quarter and transform it into a healthy and normal part of the town.

B. The Economic and Occupational Structure of the Jews and their Material Situation

The tables below show the economic and occupational structure of the Jews of L in the period 1820-1861. Occupational classifications by the community and the municipality were not identical, and this accounts for the differences in data between Tables 1 and 2.. For example, the community omitted some groups that did not pay taxes (servants, beggars), while the municipality included them in the servant category. Lessees, innkeepers, restaurateurs, and owners of real estate were grouped together by the community as “trade”, whereas the municipality placed them in separate categories. The data show that in the 40 years of L's industrial development the traditional occupational structure of the Jews remained essentially unchanged. Their share in trade, crafts, transport, leasing, food, and the services, and among real estate owners, was considerable - while their participation in the liberal professions and in agriculture was insignificant. The reason for the latter was first and foremost the limited individual and civil rights of the Jews in the Kingdom of Poland, but also the absence among them of any traditional attachment to certain industries prevalent in L. The increase in the number of Jewish merchants and pedlars was seven times that of the percentage of Jews in the total population. The merchants and craftsmen in the 1830s and 40s comprised a third of all Jewish earners. The percentage engaged in trade and brokerage rose continuously and in 1861 made up almost half of all Jewish earners.

Table 1. Occupational Composition of the Jews in L, 1820-1861: Community Data

Year182018301842185018551861
OccupationNr.%Nr.%Nr.%Nr.%Nr.%Nr.%
Trade2339.02121.47830.114238.221.435.735944.8
Industry & crafts2339.03636.79336.014037.621135.226533.0
Liberal professsions23.455.1197.3164.3457.5222.7
Religious articles11.7--72.741.1101.7--
Workers & servants915.21010.25019.35414.59115.28710.8
Carters--11.1--143.8244.0384.7
Others11.72525.5124.620.540.7324.0
Total59100.098100.0259100.0372100.0599100.0803100.0

Table 2. Occupational Composition of the Jews of L in 1861: Municipality Data

OccupationNumberPercent
Servants49635.8
Pedlars and shopkeepers21415.4
Owners of capital and real estate20614.8
Craftsmen18613.4
Hired workers101 7.3
Lessees, innkeepers and restaurateurs695.0
Factory owners, workers and workers at home producing for factories443.2
Transport493.5
Commissionaires, and collectors of taxes and public revenues110.8
Liberal professions and public services30.2
Others80.6
Total Jewish earners1,387100.0

3. Comparison of Christians and Jews Engaged in Given Occupations (Percent)

(Population distribution in 1861: 88.9% Christians and 11.1% Jews)
OccupationChristians (%)Jews /%)
Transport19.780.3
Pedlars and shopkeepers27.672.4
Lessees and innkeepers77.023.0
Restaurateurs30.869.2
Craftsmen77.522.5
Owners of capital and real estate81.718.3
Servants86.613.4
Commissionaires, and collectors of taxes and public revenues88.211.8
Hired workers95.54.5
Factory owners and workers, and workers at home producing for factories98.41.6
Liberal professions and clerks98.81.2
Agriculturalists100.0-
Others71.128.9

Table 4. Persons Engaged in Trade, 1862: Municipality Data

OccupationChristiansJews
Merchants trading abroad2545
Merchants trading in Poland;1640
Shopkeepers1221
Pedlars2131
Makers of cheap clothes (1860, 1861)-5
Brokers-72
Commercial agents12
Timber merchants32
Glass merchants23
Corn merchants-2
Grease candle merchants5075
Booksellers31
Purveyors of tobacco and snuff366
Lottery agents-3
Sellers of salt6545
Purveyors of alcoholic beverages652
Restaurateurs-10
Café owners-10
Publicans83
Lessees of houses857
Lessees of flour mills71
Lessees of cattle-4
Owners of capital and moneylenders3 1
Total402390

It will be seen from Table 4 that the number of Jews and Christians engaged in trade was almost equal, but there were differences between them as regards the form and type of trade. The Jews tended strongly towards domestic and foreign trade (textiles), and were predominant in marketing these products. They also made up the majority of shopkeepers and pedlars, dealers in cheap clothing and in the service branch (restaurants and cafés). The monopoly trade (sale of spirits, tobacco and salt), as well as the leasing of houses and flour mills, was in the hands of the privileged section of the town, namely the German merchants. It should also be noted that the division presented in the tables between Jewish merchants and pedlars is not completely accurate, as many merchants dealt with more than one product.

Mention should be made of some pioneer merchants in L: Yehuda Ciesielski - goldsmith (from 1853 on); the first booksellers in L - Lipman Wajchselfisz, and - from 1848 - Yankel Gutsztadt (non-Jewish booksellers first made their appearance in the 1860s); the first purveyor of medicine in L was also a Jew - Pinchas Zajdler (in the 30s).

A special role was played by the Jewish merchants in trade connected with the textile industry, which formed the basis of L's development, namely in the supply of raw materials and the marketing of products. This activity required contacts with foreign merchants, knowledge of the markets, and credit-giving potential. Almost half the merchants of L dealt in yarn and textile products. In the 1820s the most affluent of the Jewish merchants, Moszek Wolkowicz-Lipski and Mendel Orbach, invested their capital in the wool trade. In 1824-1831 several Jewish merchants opened in L a warehouse for cotton yarns, namely Avram Bronowski, Leyzer Berger, Shmuel Chaskel, and Lewek Brzezinski, as well as the two largest retailers in the kingdom - Ludwig Mamrot and David Lande. In 1844 of the 15 owners of cotton warehouses in L 14 were Jews, and up to 1851 their number almost doubled. The annual turnover of some large merchants was more than 100,000 zloty. The yarn (mainly the expensive foreign variety) was sold to weavers for cash, on credit, or in return for work. Interest on credit was not high: 3-6% over three months. Credit was given frequently without any collateral (mortgage or the like), so that the debtor did not have to possess property. This credit was essential for the existence of the small weavers.

No less important was the work of the Jewish merchants selling the textile wares. The prominent weavers from Germany and Czechoslovakia could not sell their products directly, owing to lack of capital to buy raw materials, and because they were not acquainted with the Polish market outside L. The clothing outlets (for cotton, linen, and wool) concentrated in the Jewish quarter in the old town were inadequate for the sale of the growing volume of production - even though some of their owners enjoyed a considerable turnover. Nor did the bi-weekly markets held in L from 1846 on, with large quantities of goods on display, including textiles, solve the marketing problem. The Jewish merchants were resourceful and dynamic, and organized their marketing by means of a broad network of agents, commercial travellers, door-to-door pedlars, etc. One of the foremost exponents of this marketing system was Avram Bronowski.

In the 1840s domestic production flooded the internal market of the Kingdom of Poland, and the textile industry stagnated. Only the abolition of customs between Russia and Poland in 1850 enabled the industry in L to sell its products on the huge Russian market. The pioneers of exports to Lithuania, White Russia, Ukraine, and even central Russia, were the merchants Meir Berlin, from Minsk, and Mordechai Helman Midanowicz, who settled in L. Even the local merchants - Janek Ginsberg, Adolf Wolf Lande , and others - began to organize marketing in Russia on a large scale. The descriptions of markets in Poltava at that time tell of scores of Jewish stalls and stall-holders selling L's products.

The Jews of L found an important source of income in concessionary functions for various state, municipal and community revenues. Almost all the known concessionnaires of consumption revenues in the L area in 1860-1861 were Jews. They employed a large number of clerks and inspectors, who also included Jews. Jews were lessees of marketing in spirits, beer, and mead. There were also many Jews among the lessees for marketing of salt. Jews held concessions for many smaller public revenues: state lottery agencies, stamping weights and measures, bridge tolls, and revenues from the municipal slaughterhouses. A purely Jewish source of income was the government tax on kosher meat, which was particularly profitable; as well as the collection of smaller incomes from the community, such as lease of the mikveh (ritual bath), sale of seats in the synagogue, being called to the reading of the Law, etrog fees at Succoth, and income from the circumcision ceremony.

Crafts and light industry were important elements in the economic-occupational composition of the Jews of L. As was the custom in the rest of the Kingdom of Poland,the Jewish craftsmen of L were subject to restrictions in membership of the craft guilds. Typical of Jewish occupations were those of the least profitable trades: tailors, hatters, glovers, tinsmiths, tanners, and glaziers.

In the traditional Jewish occupation - tailoring - there was, until the 1830s, a preponderance of Jews. Among the craftsmen registered as tailors in 1826 there were 13 Jews and two Christians. At the time these two were probably symbolic members of the guild in order to function, as Christians, as its master and deputy master. In the 30s and 40s many Christian tailors, mainly Germans, settled in L. Until the end of 1840 the tailors' guild numbered 11 Jews and 19 Christians. This too was the case with journeymen and apprentices. The guild was not free of internal competition, often of an ethnic character. Apart from their membership of the official guild, the Jewish tailors in the 20s founded their own clandestine guild (“chevra” - company), which had a mixed professional-religious basis. Its members paid subscriptions, established their own synagogue, and practised mutual aid, such as supporting the orphans of poor tailors. In 1843 the leaders of this company were Yaakov Wagowski, Cadek Glupczynski, and Shimshon Liberman. The purpose of the company was to defend its members against the competition of the local Christian tailors, and against the infiltration of non-local tailors, Jews as well as non-Jews. In 1843 the authorities instigated an inquiry into the clandestine guild. The tailors investigated naturally maintained that its character was purely religious. Interference of this sort did not deter the company from waging a bitter struggle against Jewish tailors coming into L from outside, and whose numbers increased in the 50s to the extent that neither the official guild nor the municipal authorities could contain them. In 1855 the guild testified that 20 unlicensed Jewish tailors were working in L., and in 1859 this number had apparently increased to 80. The “clandestine” tailors lived mainly on the fringes of the town, in Chojny and Baluty, and they formed the nucleus of the many producers of cheap clothing thereafter.

Furs and hats were purely Jewish branches. When their craft guilds were established in 1850, it transpired that ten of the eleven furriers were Jews, and these had difficulty in finding Christians to act as masters of the guild. This problem continued until 1862, when the guild restrictions on Jews were lifted - and for the first time two Jews were elected to the guild mastership.

The baking trade contained few Jews, both in the guild and in the baker shops. More numerous were the Jews who baked cakes and beigels “illegally”, and sold them to houses and at the markets. There were more Jews among the butchers - 12 out of 27 in 1859. This was due to the matter of kashrut. Watchmakers and jewellers in L consisted at first only of Jews, and they formed a majority later also. Most of the Jewish soap manufacturers were just workers employed in making Sabbath candles. In the 60s Becalel Bronowski and Majerowicz opened a plant to produce grease candles and soap, which in 1862 employed seven workers.

Marginal to trade and industry was the cloth firm of Mordechai Heber, with two employees. Heber was also one of the first petroleum merchants in L. He was known in the community as the collector of the Chevra Kadisha, and the street where his shop lay (Aleksandryjska, afterwards Zydowska) was called by the Jews the “Street of Mordechai the Collector”. To this branch also belonged two workshops producing safety-pins, press-buttons, and needles: that of David Litman (five machines, employing in 1845 four apprentices and three trainees); and of Shmuel Hochman (two machines, employing in 1846 two apprentices and two trainees).

An important task in the period of L's expansion was that of the Jewish contractors. The most prominent of them, such as Icek Ajzner and Lewek Parzenczewski, undertook in 1825 to build ten houses each. Yosef Brzezinski was a builder of wells and pumps (1846), and also a builder of schools in the surrounding townlets. In 1860 the contractor Icek Fajgin built the town's abattoir, while in 1862 Zusman Zysman supervised the paving of L's streets.

Before 1862 conditions were unfavourable for the development of the textile industry of the Jews of L. The difficulties affected the contractors, the workshop owners, and of course the workers. This, despite the fact that, according to the regulations of 1816, Jews were allowed to pursue all occupations - but the weavers' guilds not only rejected Jews as members, but also did their utmost to stop Jewish weavers from producing, including efforts to prevent them receiving permits to open their plants. In spite of all these obstacles, in the period 1840 to 1860 some Jews succeeded in learning the weaving trade and beginning production. The first to hold stand with their new profession were Aron Gierszon, Adolf (Avraham) Likiernik, and Avram Frydman. Defying the restrictions, Aron Gierszon opened his weaving mill in 1839, with two looms, and by 1849 was already one of the largest producers of cotton, with a staff of 29 weavers. In difficult conditions Avraham Likiernik began his dyeing plant, but in 1854 went over to weaving, and soon was employing 19 workers at 13 looms; while in 1861 these had grown to 42 workers and 28 looms. Likiernik also employed 70 persons who worked at home. His products were displayed at the Industrial Exhibition in St. Petersburg in 1861. The weaving craftsman Avram Frydman moved to L from Sompolno, and in 1842 opened a cotton spinnery with 6 looms. After years of intense struggle with the weavers' guild on the question of his professional rights, Frydman succeeded in enlarging his plant, and in 1861 was employing 22 workers. In the 50s Jewish weaving mills in L underwent considerable development.

The following comparative table shows the gradual increase of Jewish involvement in the textile industry:

Linen and cotton manufacturingWool manufacturing
Craftsmen & skilled workersHelpersCraftsmen & skilled workersHelpers
YearTotalOf these JewsTotalOf these JewsYearTotalOf these JewsTotalOf these Jews
18602,437224,859661860716492164
18612,501314,880651861816550175
18621,860353,890751862816560180

An almost exclusive Jewish occupation was the manufacture of laces and ribbons. In the years 1841-1844 of the seven lace craftsmen six were Jews. These workshops were small, employing only the owners and their families. The number of looms were never more than five or six (mostly two or three). In the production of cotton wool from weaving waste the Jews had no competition, as this work was injurious to health. In 1847-1862 cotton wool carders and their helpers were only Jews (one carder in 1847, two in 1860, and four in 1861-2). Among textile printers there was in 1843 one Jew only, Yitzhak Gothelf. Before the 60s there were no Jews among stocking-knitters or cutters of woollen cloth. Until 1862 there were in L three large cotton mills. The largest of them was built and set in operation in 1847 in Wolczanska Street by David Lande, a retailer of yarns from Kalisz. The machines were imported from England, and were driven by steam. At the height of its development - in 1858 - it had 30 machines with 6,292 spindles, operated by 160 craftsmen and workers. In 1849 Avraham Moshe Prussak from Plock established a spinning and weaving mill in Koscielna Street. In 1861 this plant contained 40 looms, with 132 workers. Prussak, a chassid from Kock, employed only Jews, to ensure that no work was done on sabbaths or festivals. In the cotton mill set up in 1858 in the settlement of “Mania” by Moritz Zand from Czestochowa there were in 1861 three machines and 900 spindles, operated by 50 workers.

The 1860s saw the beginnings of a Jewish proletariat in the textile industry. In 1861-1862 the number of Jewish propertyless workers in their homes and in small industries (230-240) increased sixfold, compared to the number of self-employed Jewish weavers (42 craftsmen or workshop owners); in the same period the parallel increase for the Christian proletarians was double. Nevertheless, when large industries developed in L in the 60s, and many Christian proletarians became craftsmen and industrial workers, the Jewish weavers had no part in the process. They did not succeed to any extent in entering the large plants, with their modern machinery. They lacked a tradition in and a talent for this work; keeping the sabbath was also a hindrance; and Christian craftsmen were preferred. All these factors stood in the way of Jewish industrial employment. Work at home, which developed alongside the industrial expansion, became the only “free” sphere in which Jews could operate, and to this sphere came the masses moving into L from the small towns in the area. In the course of time the Jews were mainly to be found in minor manual production units, with the exception of occupations connected with metalwork, such as blacksmiths, locksmiths, tinsmiths, and safety-pin makers (in 1861 there were only 18 Jews in these sectors). There was an increase in the number of Jewish carters and porters: in 1861 there were 38 of the former and 10 of the latter. A few Jews were stonecutters, stone layers, and builders.

The disparity in material terms among the Jews of L in the early years of the town's industrial development reflected their economic and occupational structure and its specific nature. Tax registers of the community and other documents of the period show that the number of wealthy Jews (house-owners, rich merchants, large factory and warehouse owners) rose to 8% of all Jewish earners; 20% belonged to the comfortably-off (medium-sized merchants, large workshop owners, house-owners); while the masses without means or the downright poor formed 60% of the workers (hired hands, home-workers, pedlars, door-to-door sellers, and “lumpenproletariat”). Several Jewish occupations gave them a bare living. In 1846 tailors in L earned 400 zloty a year, glaziers about 350, glovers and bookbinders 300 - while factory workers earned 600-900 on the average, and in certain crafts up to 2,000. Those on the lowest rung of the ladder were the makers of cotton-wool, soap-makers, and bakers. There were many poor among the various small merchants, the worst-off being middlemen and wandering pedlars. At times their net earnings were 30-50 zloty, Miserable too were the wages of day labourers, servants, and cheder teachers.

The above period also marked the rise of a particular group - the liberal professions. These contained persons active in the internal affairs of the Jewish community - in the spheres of religion, schools, health services, and legal advice. The two latter groups gradually moved away from the Jewish institutions and formed the nucleus of doctors and lawyers of the future. In the 1820s Shlomo Aharonovicz was the barber, the medical orderly, and the beadle of the community. In the course of time additional medical orderlies were invited to serve in the infirmaries and poor-houses (in 1844 five of the eight orderlies in L were Jews). The general consensus regarding these, and even more so the many unskilled orderlies operating without a licence, was far from favourable. At the end of the 40s the first qualified doctors settled in L, amongst them Jews. Held in particular esteem was the doctor Manes Goldrath, one of the first academes in L. At the end of the 50s another Jewish doctor was practising in L - Adolph Wolberg, and in 1862 the town contained several qualified doctors. It is probable that at this time Doctors Orbach and Tugienhold also began their work there. In 1859 the first qualified midwife, Gittel Bach, settled in L. There were no authorised lawyers in L at this time, and legal aid was given by unlicensed consultants: in 1859 there were nine of these, three of them Jews.

C. Way of life, society, and religion

Until the 1860s the dominant way of life in Jewish society was the traditional. The only change was the gradual infiltration of Chassidism - the schools of Kock, Przysucha and then Gur - and its ascendancy in religious and spiritual life, and the way of life in general. The children studied in cheders, not all of whose teachers were of high standard (in many instances they were merchants or pedlars who had lost their property). In 1862 there were 22 teachers in private cheders (the community did not register religious schools). In the course of time Jewish teachers of secular subjects made their appearance, for example Bernard Landau from Czestochowa, noted as having graduated from a government institute of higher learning. In 1861 he founded a boarding-school, where he taught the sons of “cultural” Jews. This period also saw the opening of secular Jewish elementary schools. In 1860 a private school of this type - without official authorization - started in Smiertelnej Street, and some time afterwards Adolf Szarlam opened a similar and much acclaimed establishment in Srednia Street (40 pupils in 1864).

The development of the Jewish community in L brought with it greater prestige for the rabbinate. After R. Mendel Wolf Jerozolimski the post was occupied by R. Hillel HaCohen from Lutomiersk. After him, in 1832, came R. Yeheskiel Naumberg, scion of an old German rabbinical family. His period of office (he died in 1856) was marked by intrigue and controversy in the community around his person. Time and again members of the community tried to remove him from office. This background of frequent unrest and quarrels was present in many other towns, for example with regard to fees for ritual slaughtering. Added to this was the fact that R. Naumberg was a chassid of Kock, and was opposed by other chassidim, or by opponents of chassidism. His great-grandson was the well-known Yiddish writer H.D. Nomberg. In 1857 R. Moshe Lipszyc was appointed rabbi - he was then the rabbi in Dobrzyn - due to his being a chassid of Kock, of whom there were many at the time, and to being a nephew of the celebrated R. Zalman Lipszyc of Warsaw, the author of “Chemdat Shlomo” .

The growth of the community and the increased duties of the rabbinate led to the appointment of two dayanim in 1858: R. Lemel Maroko and R. Yehuda Naumberg (son of the deceased rabbi). A cantor was also retained. Until 1850 the shochet Herszek Uszerowicz, as was the custom in many communities, also served as the cantor. After his death Leyzer Perlmutter officiated as cantor only, and he was known in L. as Leyzerke the Cantor. In the 60s the community employed 3-4 shochtim, and one of them, Gedalia Halpern (the cantor from Tuszyn) afterwards (from 1876 on) prayed in the synagogue that was built in Wolczanska Street.

Over a period of 60 years the Jewish community of L became the second largest community after Warsaw, and was one of the largest in the world. This enormous expansion of the Jewish population in the second half of the nineteenth century was due to removal of the restrictions on Jewish migration by the Tsarist decree of 1862, and the transformation of L into the “Manchester of Poland” in that period generated a population growth of Jews and non-Jews alike. The town owed its leap forward in the 1890s to its industrial prosperity. The decrease in the Jewish population in the first decade of the 20th century, however, arose from the recurrent economic crises and the oppressive governmental and administrative measures of the Russian authorities in the wake of the revolution of 1905, as well as from the considerable Jewish emigration from the area to the United States. The Jews who streamed into L came from the impoverished townlets in the vicinity (and even from further afield), seeking the bare essentials of a living. The last decade of the 19th century also saw an increased wave of migration to L from the Jews within the Russian Empire known as “Litvaks” - these included entrepreneurs, and small and large merchants in search of better investment opportunities. After the pogroms of 1882 conditions for trade and industry in the Governorship were unfavourable.

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