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{Page 36}

The History of the Jews of Rzeszow (cont.)

by Dr. N. M. Gelber

Chapter 4: The community

The Jews were already a unique community by virtue of the agreements and privileges with the owner of the city from the time of the establishment of the city. These privileges are not available to us, but they are mentioned in various proclamations and edicts.

Like all communities in Poland, the community was based on rights and duties in the areas of religion, education, and financial conduct. Twelve parnassim (administrators) stood at the head of the community. These included four department heads, four monthly administrators who oversaw communal affairs, the rabbi, and the three judges of the rabbinical court. Other officials included the sexton, a trustee, collectors, and the council with 26 members. In Rzeszow, the monthly parnas was required to call a meeting of the members at the termination of his term, at which he was to present an accounting of the income and expenditures of the community, with the authorization of the gubernator of the owner of the city.

On April 13, 1733 the palace forbade the monthly parnassim to leave the city on their own business during their term of office. The reason given was that in their absence, their colleagues would refuse to fill their obligations, and as a result, affairs such as the head tax and wiederkauf would be left in disarray. If it was urgently necessary for him to leave the city, he was required to inform the palace authorities. According to the edicts, a parnas with a three month term served as the executor for all of the decisions and affairs of the community. In the event of laxity in accounting during his term, all of the parnassim would be held accountable, and would be punished by the palace authorities.

In communal matters such as loans, agreements, contracts, and debts, not only the monthly parnas, but also all of the members of the council would have to appear before the authorities.

In 1699 the Polish Sejm issued the following edict with regard to the Jews of Rzeszow: “The Jews of Rzeszow and others who have contracts with that community should pay their taxes to the autonomous Jewish leadership. The Jewish elders from the outlying regions are not required to pay, since the head tax is the responsibility of the community. The Jews who live in the estate of the szlachta (nobleman) are not required to pay.”

The parnassim were not allowed to be connected by family ties. However, from 1740, family ties were permitted after the death of the wife. The parnassim were elected for one year according to the Universal of January 1, 1724. The elections would take place on the intermediate days of Passover. From 1746, the elections took place on March 1. In exceptional cases, parnassim would be elected for two years. The parnassim did not always meet with the approval of the community, and at times there was opposition from the Jewish population, who complained to the owner of the city and asked that measures be taken against their dereliction in their duties.

In 1757, Teodor Hieronim Lubomirski appointed an investigative committee to look into the internal affairs of the community. The committee, via its trustees, submitted a list of complaints, in which it noted that the monthly parnassim acted perversely in collecting taxes and imposed fines upon the entire community; that they issued divorce documents [19] against the wishes of the Rabbi and without his knowledge; that they were lenient in the imposition of taxes with their relatives who owned stores and in that manner negatively affected the agreed upon quota of taxes; and that they used graft in front of the government and the palace in order to obtain positions and leases, and they gave gifts from the communal coffers for that purpose. The Rabbi was the arbiter of law, the preacher and judge according to the edicts of the council from 1757, as personally explained by Rabbi Barak Lewkowicz in his letter to the prince in 1758 [20].

The rabbi was appointed by the owner of the city from amongst the candidates presented to him by the community. It is not known from when the owner of the city began to exercise the right to appoint the rabbi. It is a fact that Jerzy Lubomirski notes his right in this area in his “Universal” of January 30, 1736, in which he described the entire election process. According to this “Universal”, during ten weeks following the death of the rabbi, the Jews were to identify candidates from within the community and from without; as many as they would desire, the more the better. After an investigation was made as to which of them is the most fitting and appropriate, the selected candidate would receive the approbation of the owner of the city, and would begin serving in his capacity as rabbi of the community. Campaigns would take place, and much propaganda would be issued during the time of the elections. The parnassim of the community caused difficulties in the selection of candidates. The above mentioned “Universal” notes this, as follows: (Starsi przez prywatne racje nie czynia staranie o rabina – so that the elders for personal reasons do not make efforts to bring to town a rabbi). On the other hand, the candidates attempted to win the favor of the owner of the city with the help of the officials, and by means of gifts. For example, Rabbi Barak Lewkowicz expended large sums of money for this purpose. Shaul Lewkowicz did not agree to accept the position due to fear of conflict with the parnassim.

The rabbi received four guilder per week, as well as gifts for the holidays or other general sums. Rabbi Herszko Radomski received 120 guilder in lieu of gifts. The rabbi was exempt from payment of taxes. The rabbinical court, which was headed by the rabbi, consisted of from four to six members, and the sexton (shamash) served as the secretary. The cantor also served on the court. According to the agreement, the court had civil matters and simple criminal matters within its jurisdicti.

According to the “Universal” of 1757, the authority of the rabbi was defined as follows: the court of the rabbi had within its jurisdiction all civil matters, such as debts, divorces, marriages, and inheritances. In order not to act against justice, the rabbi could not bring principals to a public appearance in his court, nor could he bring the guilty parties to arbitration [21]. The court ledger, which always had to be in the possession of the community, was always in the custody of the rabbi.

The court was authorized to impose monetary fines, and imprisonment, as well as excommunications that were to be announced publicly in the synagogue.

According to the edicts of the palace in the years 1706, 1728, and 1757, the rabbinical court was authorized to decree an excommunication with the knowledge of the heads of the community, and with a permit from the palace. Of course, the writs of judgement were issued in the Hebrew language, and if they affected matters of immovable property [22] they would be translated into Polish and registered in the ledgers of the city.

If the accused did not act in accordance with the judgement, the rabbi would request the assistance of the judicial arm of the palace. The court and the rabbi received set payments for their court functions.

In a special edict of the palace, it is mentioned: “Aby Rabin, jak jajsprawiedliwiej sadzil I od dekretow nie zdzieral” (“So that the Rabbi would judge in the fairest way and would not charge based on the decree”).

From one Jewish judgement that took place in front of the civic court, it is known that the sexton (shamash) was paid fifty guilder for his investigation and appeal.

Communal Organizations

The following organizations filled specific roles in communal life: the burial society (Chevra Kadisha), and the directorship of the hospital, the poorhouse and the cemetery. These institutions presented their accounting during public meetings. The community purchased land for two cemeteries.

Talmud Torah [23] Organizations

The rabbi wrote a letter to the prince in 1751 informing him of the appointment of an administrator for the Talmud Torah, who would oversee all educational matters. The community also maintained a treasurer, a trustee, and collectors.

The sexton filled all the usual roles, such as keeping order in the synagogue, serving as the secretary of the religious court and of the parnassim, as well as of all of the aid organizations in the communal offices.

Trustees

The trustees would oversee the kashruth [24] of meat and wine. They would also supervise the weights and measures, in particular with respect to outsiders who would come to the fairs of the city. The collectors set up committees to arrange for the payment of dues and taxes by all Jews.

The community was a unique administrative unit in the financial realm. We have in our hand material from an unusual gathering in 1757, which enables us to understand the status of the community. Such gatherings also took place in 1705 and in the 17th century. The primary source of income was form the communal tax, which was paid by every member of the community based on a valuation of each person’s property by an appraiser. The imposition of new taxes could be authorized by a meeting of the heads of the community. At such a meeting, four appraisers were elected, two from the community and two from the masses. They were sworn in in the synagogue in the presence of the town clerk, the palace instigator, and the entire Jewish community.

Footnote 1 (apparently the text of the oath).

I am an appraiser of the synagogue of Rzeszow, authorized by the governors of the palace, in accordance with the law and the ancient custom, having been elected by the trustees of the synagogue in order to determine payments and taxes. I swear before the Master of the World, the Omnipotent, who created heaven and earth, seas and dry land, air, plants, and also us – that I accept upon myself the position of appraiser in order to determine taxes, payments, and fees for the citizens, without taking into account any family connections, without showing favoritism to rich or poor, without being swayed by gifts or promises, and without any suspicion of damaging my fellow. I will arrange the appraisal justly in relation to the citizens, without making exception for myself. I will establish the appraisals based on the amount of property, and I will record them faithfully in the ledgers, and bring them for the approval of the government having been translated precisely into the Polish language, and signed by myself. If I act unjustly during the work of appraisal, if I am influenced by personal gain, then let me be destroyed by G-d who brought a flood upon the world and saved only eight souls [25]; may I be annihilated by G-d who destroyed five cities including Sodom and Gomorrah; may the fires of hell burn me; may I be strangled by G-d who spoke to Moses from the burning bush and hewed with his own hands the two tablets of the covenant; may I be put to death by G-d who drowned the hosts of Pharaoh in the Red Sea, may I be killed by G-d who sustained the wandering children of Israel for many years in the desert.

If I have sworn a false oath, may this earth be my burial place, and may it swallow me as it swallowed up Dathan and Aviram; may the plague of leprosy come upon me in the manner that Elisha brought the plague upon Gehazi; may I be stricken with hunger just as Moses was inflicted with hunger on Mount Sinai when he was receiving the ten commandments; may all of the curses written in the Torah with regard to one who swears a false oath fall upon me; may I be turned into a pillar of salt just as was the wife of Lot; may the plague of rubella inflict me and never leave me; may I become as dry and arid as the Mountains of Gilboa, which were cursed by King David. If I swear falsely, may I be chased out of the covenant of Abraham; may G-d inflict me with eternal shame, and punish me by sending me, my body and my sole into the inferno. So help me G-d, and may He continue to do so, by virtue of his holy name, Amen Selah.

From the time that the appraisers began listing the property of a resident until the work was finished, the resident was forbidden, under the threat of severe fines, to leave the room. The appraisers were responsible for evaluating the merchandise, and for checking carefully into those who did not maintain an inventory of merchandise, such as the moneylenders who would lend money for interest.

The tax rate was set up in percentage points according to a yearly rate, which could change with the agreement of the owner of the city. This was also the law with regard to the head tax, which was the only government tax imposed on the Jews, and was paid by anyone who had any income at all, with the exception of those who worked in no set profession, widows, servants, owners of retail stalls, orphans, beggars, and those supported by others.

There were 250 income tax payers (zarobkowy) in Rzeszow in 1757. 26 annual tenants and 40 people without a set profession did not pay. The average weekly rate was 1.5 guilder. The smallest individual sum was two groszy, and the largest weekly individual rate was 300 guilder, which was 15,600 guilder annually. 90 Jews each paid 10 groszy, 94 paid 1 guilder, and 59 paid up to 6 guilder, of these 7 paid more than 6 guilder. After the appraisal was completed, a list was prepared and affixed to the door of the synagogue.

The payers were given the right to appeal the tax in front of the governors of the palace. If it was determined that they had been appraised unjustly, the appraiser would be fined 200 grzywny (grzywny – a monetary fine), and imprisoned for a half a year. If the appeal was rejected, the plaintiff would be fined with the same fine. The “Korupka kupiecka” tax was imposed on all merchants. Its rate was 24 groszy for each 100 guilder. In 1736, the tax rate was raised to two guilder per 100 guilder, according to a decision of the heads. The income from the Korupka tax was not defined according to the accounting of 1739, due to the nepotism of the heads of the community, who evaluated the merchandise of the wealthy Jews at low values, and due to stubbornness and chutzpah [26] refused to show their books, and did not pay the dues to the collectors. In particular when the Korupka tax was leased out, the merchants caused great difficulty with regard to the collection of the tax, on the pretext that the lessees take double profits for themselves. The lessees never collected the entire leased amount, and for the most part they only collected half the amount. In 1736, the community collected 12,000 guilder from the Korupka tax. In 1739 the lessee paid 4,500 guilder. In 1740 he was required to collect 6,000 guilder. In 1757, they collected 7,500. The reduction in income endangered the existence of the community, and therefore it was decided to introduce changes to improve the Korupka tax. A committee of sixteen members was established, with authorization from Lubomirski, and the following stipulations were introduced: 1) Anyone who imported merchandise from outside the city was required to present a list of merchandise to the administrators of the Korupka tax who were appointed by the parnassim of the city before he unloaded his wagon; 2) The administrators of the Korupka tax were permitted to inspect the merchandise, and if it turned out that anything was missing from the list, they were authorized to confiscate the excess. One half would be turned over to the palace, and the other half to the heads of the community; 3) The merchants of the city were required to present themselves before the administrators on Fridays with a list of merchandise, which noted how much had been sold that week. They were required to present themselves even if nothing was sold; 4) If anyone sent a Jew on a mission, he was required to give to the administrators a pledge with the estimated value of the Korupka tax which would be due from the mission; 5) Those who resided on Christian property were not to pay the tax from the property, but rather from the merchandise; 6) Merchants from the outside who imported mead into the city to sell to the taverns were to pay two guilders per hundred; 7) Merchants from the outside who purchased wax in Rzeszow were to pay one guilder per hundred.

A second committee composed of nine members issued a proclamation to the Jews with the threat of severe excommunication that they were to pay all of their dues. They imposed a fine of fifty grzywny on the clerk and collectors if they were not vigilant on their supervision of the payment of taxes. Anyone who refused was required to pay this fine. This gathering decided not to lease out the Korupka tax for three years, in order to be able to verify how much the Korupka tax would bring in annually.

The Jews Zitman, Yokel Efromowicz, Yosef Efromowicz and Shlomo Mendelowicz were required to bring in 6,000 guilder as payment for the lease without fee, and for the good of the community they were required to make a fundamental revision in the payment of the tax. They intended to go over all the lists of the merchants and to prepare two copies of each list, one for the committee and the second for the parnassim in order to ensure the collection of the amounts due. The parnassim and collectors were promised appropriate assistance from the palace.

As a result of these reforms, the value of the Korupka tax never fell below 6,000 guilder after 1740, and it even reached 7,000 guilder.

3) [27] The Korupka tax from Kosher meat served as an important source of income for the community from the middle of the 18th century, since a Kosher butcher shop was established in 1760.

The palace attempted to unify all of the butchers in the city by setting up leases and payments for ritual slaughter (shechita), and to impose supervision by both Christians and Jews. This attempt did not succeed. All of the income from the Korupka from the local butcher shops amounted to 2,000-3,000 guilder in the 18th century, which was half the amount of the lease.

The payments that were received from alternate suppliers of Kosher meat should be added to the Korupka tax from Jewish slaughter. In 1757, this brought in 520 guilder.

4) Monopolum tytoniu – the tax from the sale of tobacco. In the 18th century the community received the monopoly for tobacco sale in the city. In 1757, this monopoly brought in 1,000 guilder (or at least 800 guilder). This amount was paid to the owner of the city for the lease.

5) Independent serving of liquor (szynk wolny). The rights to produce and serve kosher and non-kosher mead and wine to all of the Christian residents was given to the Jews by an exceptional permit from the owner of the city. They received the right of free pro-finance at the same time that Jews were given permission to own houses that had been previously owned by Catholics.

So that the owner of the city would receive some sort of profit from this, the palace issued a “universal” which removed the ban on pro-finance on the Jewish homeowners whose property had originally been owned by Catholics. The income from the fees was given to the community, and in return for this the community paid a set sum to the owner of the city. The community paid 1,080 guilder in lease fees to the palace in 1757.

6) The community had other sources of income: 1) Income from the exclusive right to manufacture and sell gunpowder, which was granted to them in 1727 by Jerzy Lubomirski in order to increase the income of the community. However because of difficulties and dangers, this enterprise was given over to the city in 1731. 2) In 1728 the community received the exclusive right to produce kosher milk. According to the contract, the community was supposed to received a certain measure of milk from the farms of the owner of the city, in return for 1,800 guilder. The owner of the city tried to insure that no Jew would manufacture kosher cheese and butter himself. Any Jew who owned cows would pay a certain sum to the community. This monopoly was given to the community in perpetuity. 3) Income from the lease of a boat belonging to the owner of the city for the purpose of exporting merchandise to Danzig. The community leased the tax (szkuta) from Jerzy Lubomirski in 1730 for 3,360 guilder, and agreed that no Jew would be allowed to ship merchandise to Danzig other than by using this boat. The community received the profits from the rental of place on the boat for merchandise. The rental fee included the payment of tax and other expenditures. The community still leased this boat in 1757.

7) The head tax was included in the income of the community. In 1765 the community paid 1,202 guilder in head tax.

8) Income from funerals, weddings, payments to the court, and other non-regular payments from members of the community – for a total of 1,000 guilder.

9) Payments from towns, villages, and banquet halls nearby Rzeszow. In the years 1757-1770, the amount was 1,826 guilder.

According to the accounts of the supervising council, the breakdown of the income in 1757 was as follows:

1) Korupka tax from merchants – 7,000 guilder; 2) Tobacco monopoly – 1,000 guilder; 3) income from kosher slaughter (shechita) – 520 guilder; 4) independent serving of liquor – 1,200 guilder; 5) money from transport – 216 guilder; 6) income from the “weekly” payments – 15,600 guilder; 7) Korupka tax from kosher slaughter – 3,000 guilder; 8) ceremonies – 1,000 guilder; 9) head tax – 1,200 guilder; 10) payments from villages, towns, and banquet halls in the area – 1,826 guilder. The total was 32,562 guilder.

Expenditures included payments to the kingdom, to the city, to the palace, and to the community. There were regular and non-regular expenses. This following list is from 1736. In 1757, the total expenditure was 12,351 guilder.

Regular expenses [28]

  1. Head tax -- 1,200 guilder
  2. This includes payments to the palace that were paid in weekly installments, and therefore called tygodniowe (weekly). According to an affidavit from the Jews from January 6, 1732, the amounts paid by weekly installments are as follows [29].

    1. Income from the surplus of the Korupka – 5,000
    2. From the monopoly of the production of Kosher meat – 1,800
    3. From the tobacco monopoly – 800
    4. From free serving of mead and wine – 1,800
    5. Concessions – 300
    6. Concession of dyes – 400
    7. Szarwark – 1,000
    8. In lieu of exemption from tolls – 1,296
    9. Fracht (freight) – 3,360
    10. Expenditures for horseshoes that were imposed on the Jews (Podkowne) – 500

    Subtotal 16,736

  3. Expenditures of the community for the trumpeter for the night watches – 104
  4. To the civic instigator – 120

    Mail – 104

    Night watches – 234

  5. Expenditures of the community for the Rabbi – 312; the cantor – 156; the sexton – 104; the treasurer – 208; the trustee – 156. Subtotal – 936
  6. Interest for communal debts – 3,710
  7. Payments to the church according the agreement in lieu of wax stone – 84

Total – 22,211.22

In 1757 they paid 12,357 guilder, including 200 guilder for 50 measures of barley for the palace stables, and 43 guilder and 18 groszy for the clerk.

The excess of income over expenditures was used for the maintenance of the Talmud Torah, the hospital for the poor, as well as for non-regular expenses such as: fixing gates, bridges, payments for wagons and horses (podwody), emissaries to the owner of the city, salary for commissars, payments to palace officials (they were required to pay half, as were the Catholics), payments to the clerk (podskarbi), as well as to the national Jewish clerk. The communal treasury was located in the synagogue until 1757, and in 1757 it was transferred to the palace for the purpose of – according to the words of the palace council – removing it from suspicion and for protection.

The keys to this treasury were in the hands of three people; the palace gubernator, the communal parnas, and the clerk.

All income had to be registered into the journal during the course of a six hour period. This normally took place on Fridays between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m., since that was the day that the collectors brought in all of their income for the week, the lessees brought in all of their quotas, and the administrators of the Korupka tax brought in their required sums. A receipt was issued for each sum. The gubernator was aware of every expenditure. The accounts were calculated each quarter.

The monthly parnas gave the accounts, the money, and the keys to his successor each month.

Even though there was an excess of income over expenditures, the community borrowed money from private people and churches.

The masses complained to the committee in 1757 that: “znienosne od starszuycy krzywdy dolegliwosci, uciemiezenia, tudiezniegodziwe… kontrybucye do publicznej kasy… o niewyplanacie prowizy, dlugow, o faworyzowanie swoich w podatkach”. ("The unbearable harm, pain, oppression from the elder as well as unjust...contributions to the public treasury... about the unpaid commissions, debts,
about the favoritism of their own in taxes.")

The debts of the community increased between 1457 and 1750. In 1757 the debts were 19,000 guilder. The parnassim did not submit accounts. In 1750 the first monthly parnas did not submit accounts at all. In 1751 the third monthly parnas left Rzeszow and also did not submit accounts. In 1752 the parnas Meir Berkowicz fled Rzeszow. No accounts were given in 1753, and in 1754 the parnas Marek Elkowicz was fired.

Footnote 4: In the year 1757 a dispute broke out between the community and the Jewish artisans. The ruler of the city, Prince Hieronim Lubomirski convened a special meeting in order to clarify the matter. The results were to the benefit of the community, and against the artisans.

At a council meeting in 1757, the amounts of the debts, which were now 71,816 guilder, were publicized. The interest was 3602 guilder and 15 groszy per year.

   

Debt

Interest

1

To the Pierrian School

15,000

700

2

To the Franciczeks of Krosno

2,000

144

3

To the Paulists of Stara Wiecz

7,080

354

4

To the Franciczeks of Zamosz

2,000

70

5

To the priest of Rzeszow

2,000

70

6

To the bank of the Orthodox

1,000

35

7

To Mr. Bosier of the old city

1,400

14

8

To the Pierrian Order

1,000

70

9

To the local church

4,000

140

10

To the Natalia organization

500

16

11

To Father Kowacziawicz of Glogow

1,500

52.15

12

To the Luszinski fund

500

17.15

13

To the Paskowicz fund

1,500

65

14

To Mrs. Kranot

270

13

15

To Father Piotkowski

3,700

150

16

To Fushman of Santik

1,000

60

17

To Szaknowicz

200

16

18

To the priest of Kaszminicz

3,000

150

19

To the priest of the old city

2,000

70

20

To the priest of Lunka

3,000

120

21

To Mrs. Masolwicz

1,500

75

22

To Mrs. Sztaraczowa

2,400

120

23

To Paszginska Wajciczowska

700

35

24

To the priest of Tyczyn

1,000

80

25

To Szliwinski

3,000

120

26

To Father Slowinski

1,200

69

27

To Konfortina Kaplanska

900

32

28

To the wife of Zaklicin

2,700

270

29

To Starzinski

2,000

200

30

To the Bernardine church

1,456

104

31

To the Hospital Fund

2,500

170

       
 

Total [30]

71,816

3602.15

Poverty and paucity of livelihood was common among the Jews. In 1764, the engraver Moszkowicz gave over his destroyed home in the old city to the palace, due to his bad situation. It was without windows, an oven or a door into the courtyard. Jewish merchants left the city due to their poverty.

During the 18th century, the debts of the community rose to more than 100,000 guilder.

In 1703, court cases took place in Rzeszow, where the Jews were accused of killing Christian babies. In five places there were individual Jews who abandoned their religion and converted to Catholicism. We are only aware of the numbers between 1753 and 1765, where there were 15 conversions to Catholicism. The following families have Jewish roots: Wajowski, Nowici, Czerwiecki, Wrzeszinowski, Dobrowolski, as well as some members of the Jakobowski and Koppel families.

Regarding the Organizations of the Council of the Four Lands

Rzeszow belonged to the province of Rusin for administrative purposes [31], however at the end of the 17th century when Przemysl received an independent government, Rzeszow belonged to that new administration. At the beginning of the 18th century, a controversy began between Przemysl and Rzeszow with regard to Rabbi Yechezkel Yehoshua Feivel Teomim Frankel. He first served in Przemysl and later moved to Rzeszow, at which point Przemysl rescinded his rabbinic title and chose Shmuel Mendelowicz of Lvov to be the rabbi of Przemysl. This matter came before a sitting of the Council of the Four Lands in Jaroslaw. Rzeszow was excluded from the regional council, and belonged as an independent city that was affiliated with the general Polish council. In this matter, Rzeszow came out from under the control of Przemysl, and became part of a special region that was headed by the cities of Dobromil and Jaroslaw.

The first time that Rzeszow is mentioned in the protocols of the Council of the Four Lands was in 5424 (1662). Rzeszow was allotted a portion of the sum of 105,000 guilder in tax that was imposed on all of the Jews of Poland as a gift to Czan. As well, several amounts were adjudicated between the Council of the Four Lands and the Lithuanian Council. In 1671 (5432), the leaders of Rzeszow were called to judgement before the Jaroslaw council. Zalman, the shamash of the holy community of Rzeszow was excommunicated and banned due to his refusal to obey a decree of the captains of his country. He was banned from serving as a shamash in Rzeszow or in any other land until he accepted the judgement of the council of Jaroslaw. That same year, Rzeszow was summoned before the council of Jaroslaw, since “they are under a ban with regard to the boundary, and they are Heaven forbid, not cautious”.

In the year 5439 (1678), it is mentioned that in a letter of November 12, 1678, Stanislaw Lubomirski, the wojewoda (governor) of the province of Rusin, requested from the council of the city of Breslau that they not force the Jews of Rzeszow who are subordinate to him to pay their dues to the Jewish leaders of the Kingdom of Poland.

In 5443 (1722) [32] – [apparent error in 1722 date], at the time of the signing of a decree, three rabbis of Poland, the rabbi of , and Rabbi Moshe the son of Yitzchak Eizik Charif of Rzeszow are all signatories. It is probable that he was included among the deliberators as well.

In 5447 (26 Elul), Rabbi Ezriel of Rzeszow signed a document as one of the leaders of the Council of the Four Lands. On July 5, 1692 the Jewish leaders, including Rabbi Leibish the son of Shmuel of Rzeszow (who also visited the fair of Breslau in 1685) promised to intercede to the leaders of the Kingdom of Poland who would be at the forthcoming Jaroslaw fair that Krzysztof Bresler “would come during the next two months with appropriate resources regarding his claim which he claims from them and from all of the Israelites in the Kingdom of Poland.”

In 5459 (26 Kislev), the signature of Rabbi Yisrael Krakower of Rzeszow appears on an edict issued by the printing house of Zalkowa, which was established by the printer Reb Feivish the son of Aharon Segal.

In the year 5473 (1713-1714), the Jews of Rzeszow paid 5,000 guilder as head tax.

In 1717, Reb Fishel the son of Reb Leib, the trustee of the Council of the Four Lands, allocated the head tax for 1717 among all of the communities and regions. In this list, Rzeszow was allotted a sum of 10,000 guilder due in three payments, with each payment being 3,333 guilder and 20 groszy.

In 5478, the physician Dr. Yitzchak Chazak, who was known as Fortis, signed an edict of the council. He lived in Lvov, Jaroslaw, and later built himself a house in Rzeszow where he served as a physician for the household of Prince Lubomirski in Rzeszow and Count Potocki of Lizhensk. In 1694 he was appointed to the service of the king. He filled important roles in the Jewish community, and he was a parnas of the Council of the Four Lands.

In the years 5462-5470 (1701-1709), Rzeszow paid a set sum via the intermediary in Jaroslaw. According to the allocation of the head tax of the Jews of Poland for 1714, which was prepared by Fishel, a trustee of the Council of the Four Lands, the city of Rzeszow was to pay a sum of 8,676 guilder, as follows: 2,926 guilder in January, 3,750 guilder in May, and 2,000 guilder in August.

In the year 5478, on the 16th of Tammuz (July 15, 1717), as well as the 19th of Kislev 5478, and on November 23, 1717, Reb Shlomo the son of Moshe the head of the court of Rzeszow was a signatory.

On the 2nd of Cheshvan 5708, Reb Shlomo the son of Reb Moshe the head of the court of Rzeszow signed a request to the leaders of Premisla with regard to the honor of Rabbi Yehoshua Feivel Teomim, who did not dwell in his own community according to his claim, due to his debtors [33].

On the 18th of Elul 5481 (1721), Reb Shlomo the son of Moshe of Rzeszow was a signatory.

In 1718 a general allocation of the head tax for 1718 and 1719 was presented to the royal treasury. The sum was 232,700 guilder. Of this sum, Rzeszow and its dependent towns owed 8,180 guilder. In 1718, Rzeszow and its surrounding towns paid 4,480 guilder.

In 5484, the following are mentioned among the rabbis and leaders of Rzeszow: Reb Moshe the son of the rabbi of the holy community of Pinczow Rabbi Naftali Hertz, Reb Lipman Friester and Reb Avraham Yitzchak Chazak the physician. In that year an edict was issued by the council to arrange for the publication of “A Wonderful Composition of Avraham”. This edict was signed by Leib the son of Reb Shmuel of the holy community of Rzeszow, and later the head of the rabbinical court of greater Glogow, Lvov, and Amsterdam.

In 5484 Reb Aryeh Leib the son-in-law of the Chacham Tzvi is mentioned as being the head of the Rabbinical court at that time. In the same year (12th of Elul 5484), Shlomo the son of the head of the head of the rabbinical court of Rzeszow, who lived in Jaroslaw at the time, is a signatory of an edict regarding a shamash from Breslau, Reb Yehuda Leib the son of Reb Mordechai.

In the year 5499, a second shamash from Rzeszow, Reb Wolfe Zelig, is mentioned, in a request that he not be deported from Breslau along with the rest of the Jews. All of the signatories attest to the honesty of Reb Wolfe Zelig. Reb Wolfe Zelig was already in Breslau from 1744, and he became an official shamash of Lvov. It is possible that he was already the shamash of Lvov in 1738. However in that year, he was threatened with the danger of expulsion as were several other shamashim. A law from the year of 1738 disbanded the position of shamash of specific locales, and set their number at three: one for Greater Poland, one for Lesser Poland, and one form Lithuania.

There is a statement from the leaders of the Council of the Four Lands from December 14, 1739 praising the honesty of Reb Wolfe Zelig, and requesting that he be appointed to the position of shamash for the community of Lvov. However, an official permit from the community of Lvov agreeing to his being appointed as shamash is missing. It was decided that Wolfe Zelig and his wife be included among the five people serving as shamash of Lvov, and would benefit from all rights in the same manner as Yehuda Leib, and each one would receive the payments as a middleman. After the death of Yehuda Leib, Zelig Wolfe [34] inherited his position of shamash.

From 1734 to 1735, the Jews of Rzeszow and surrounding towns were required to pay 6,767 guilder in head tax. In 1737, the amount owed by Rzeszow and surrounding areas was 7,560 guilder.

Rzeszow as allocated 7,693 guilder in the allocation of head tax for 1750 (according to an edict of the Council of the Four Lands from 1733-1736, as published in Jerusalem in 5696 (1936)).

In 1756, Rzeszow was allocated 6,753 guilder.

In 1757 (5517), the community of Rzeszow paid 1,200 in head tax.

A participant from the region of Chelm-Zamosz and a participant from the holy community of Rzeszow participated in a meeting of the Council of the Four Lands in 1762, along with the representative from Greater Poland and Lesser Poland.


Translator's Footnotes

19. Hebrew: "gittin", which is the plural of "get", a divorce document drawn up in accordance with a very detailed set of religious laws. Back

20. This sentence seems out of place in this paragraph. Back

21. I am not quite sure of the meaning of this sentence. Back

22. Presumably land. Back

23. Elementary religious education. Back

24. Kashruth refers to the state of being kosher, i.e. to the state of ritual lawfulness of food. Back

25. A reference to the flood at the time of Noach, where the eight people who survived were Noach and his wife, as well as their three sons and their wives. There are many other Biblical references in this oath, including the earthquake that took place during the time of Korach (book of Numbers), the leprosy that the servant of the prophet Elisha was stricken with (II Kings), etc. Back

26. A well-known Hebrew/Yiddish word meaning "nerve" or "brazenness", but whose meaning is best conveyed by leaving it untranslated. Back

27. The next paragraphs, describing various sources of income of the community, are numbered 3 to 9. The numbers 1 and 2 are missing from this , but apparently refer to the income tax and Korupka tax described in previous paragraphs. Back

28. This table is disorganized in the main text, and hard to understand. The subtotals and totals do not add up correctly to the numbers given on the table. Even more curious is the fact that the paragraph preceding this table indicates that it is from 1736, however, there is an internal sublist dates from 1732. I made no attempt to correct the inconsistencies and errors, but rather transcribed the amounts as they are found on the table. The reader should not treat these as exact numbers, but rather as approximations, as there seems to be built in error. In any case, I am not sure if these errors were introduced by the author or editor, or copied from the original documents which were used by the author to produce the text. Back

29. These amounts seem to be annualizations of the weekly amounts. In any case, they do not add up to the subtotal given, but are very close. Back

30. The sums of these tables are also not accurate, but are quite close. I made no attempt to correct the sums, but rather transcribed the numbers exactly as they appear in the text Back

31. I assume that this refers to the area of Rusin, otherwise known as Ruthenia, rather than Russia. However, in the text here, it is spelled as "Russia" in the Hebrew letters. Back

32. The secular year does not match the Hebrew year. From the context of years in this section, I assume that the Hebrew year is correct, and the secular year is incorrect. Assuming this, the secular year would be 1682. Back

33. The meaning of this sentence is unclear. Back

34. Here the order of the names is reversed. I am not sure which name is meant as a surname, and which as a first name. Back

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