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History of Jews in Zgierz until 1862 (cont.)

The Living Restrictions of the Jews of Zgierz

Due to various legal reasons, the economic development of Zgierz lagged behind that of Lodz. This eased the struggle of the Zgierz Jews for their living rights. The leadership of the town was interested in its economic development. Therefore, they paid close attention when Jews took up residence in the forbidden streets of Zgierz. The most important thing that the municipality concerned itself with was that Jews should build brick houses. The living restrictions affected the lower class primarily, mainly Orthodox Jews, who settled in the quarter very quickly. If one wanted to live outside the quarter, one had to wear gentile garb and to send their children to Christian schools, conditions to which no Orthodox Jew would agree.

According to the ordinance regarding the Jewish quarter, the Jewish home dwellers were allowed the right to live in their homes for five years following the beginning of the ordinance. During the course of that time period, the houses had to be sold to Christians. Jews did not hurry to fulfil the ordinance. In the meantime, the Polish revolution took place in the year 1831. The progressive Polish royal leadership succeeded in the November revolution. Members of the undercover revolutionary regime stood at the head of the royal committee responsible for internal affairs, which was responsible for deciding upon Jewish living rights. The committee decided that the Jewish quarter impedes the acculturation of the Jews to European civilization. No visible changes in the Jewish quarter took place. It was not abolished. However, fewer Jews were driven into the quarter. Jews became bolder, and presented petitions to be allowed to live outside of the quarter, where Germans had built factories and enterprises. Some even acquired dwellings there without special permission.

In the revolution of 1831, Zawodski, the commissar of the Leczyca region, who certainly did not have any special love for Jews, became gentler. Regarding the request of Elias Majdan (Mirdan?) for permission to live outside the quarter, Zawodski issued the following directive to the president of the city of Zgierz:

“Regarding the necessity of expanding the living place of the Old Believers in the city of Zgierz, and the need to inhibit the spread of the cholera epidemic, and also regarding the declaration of the Old Believer Elias Mirdan that he intends to follow the ordinances” (dressing in European fashion, sending his children to school, and knowing a language), “and the Old Believer wishes to live outside the (Jewish) quarter”. “Therefore, the regional commissar permits the Old Believer Elias Mirdan to live on Szeradzer Street.” (This is obviously referring to the portion of the street that did not belong to the quarter). “Elias Mirdan is also permitted to conduct a leather business, and to build houses.”

A very short time after the November uprising, when the royal regions of Congress Poland began to display liberal inclinations toward the “Old Believers”, Jews of Zgierz, as can be seen from the archival documents, began to settle outside the quarter. These liberal tendencies did not last for long. After the uprising died down, the anti-Semites again began to drive the Jews into a ghetto (“quarter”) and to expel them from their dwellings outside of the quarter. Alas, this also affected the Jewish homeowners in the quarter. In the Zgierz archives, there is a document of a request “to the all-powerful commissar of the Leczyca region”, dated January 12, 1832, and written by Avraham Kaliski.

In the name of Jews, owners of immovable property on Lodzer Street (in the quarter), Kaliski requested that the commissar prohibit Jews to live in Zgierz outside the quarter, since they, the owners of places and houses “have assurances from the regime that Szeradzer Street is designated as the quarter (for Jews), and have built houses on the muddy terrain that remain vacant. The ordinance was signed by the monarch (referring to the Russian Czar), and was broken by lower officials” – thus did Avraham Kaliski complain in his request to the all-powerful commissar of the Leczyca region.

The commissar of the Leczyca region, who quickly became affiliated with the anti-Semitic royal reactionaries after the failed revolution, made reference to this request of Avraham Kaliski when he reproved the president of Zgierz for not only failing to fulfil the order of the commissar to evict the Jews who lived outside of the quarter with the help of the police, but also for overlooking with indifference the fact that more Old Believers were taking ownership of residences outside of the quarter. The commissar demanded that the president immediately evict Jews who illegally “infiltrated the area outside the quarter”.

The president of Zgierz was greatly frightened by the warning, and ordered the secretary of the local police to immediately evict the Jews from the areas outside the quarter. No special arrangements would be made for Elias Majdan, since he had no intention of remaining as a resident of the city.

Economic factors played a role in all of these struggles regarding the residency rights of the Jews of Zgierz. Jews took the risk of living outside of the quarter, where the center of business and manufacturing was being built up. It was developing very poorly, since the German manufacturers preferred to settle in Lodz, which had special conditions favorable to a large textile center. The Zgierz municipality, which was interested in the growth of the city, recognized the Jewish entrepreneurial expertise in business and manufacturing, and therefore permitted Jews to live outside the quarter, in the center of the city, in violation of the ordinances of the anti-Semitic Leczyca regional commissariat.

The well-to-do Jews who purchased places and built houses in the Jewish quarter, with the hope that there would be an influx due to the ordinances of the regime and that they would be able to obtain good rent money, were disappointed in that Jews did not wish to move into the ghetto, and they had to pay high taxes for their empty houses. This was indeed evident from the above-mentioned “request” of Avraham Kaliski. As well, a Christian element was interested in Jewish living rights in all of the streets. There were some Christians who rented dwellings to Jews, and would have to evict them. The owners of these dwellings did not wish to forgo their rent that was being paid by the Jews, and interceded for them.

The commissar of the Leczyca region did not cease demanding from the president of Zgierz that he evict the Jews from outside the quarter. The deputy of the higher authorities threatened the president with disciplinary fines if he does not submit a report indicating that he has evicted those Jews who live outside the quarter without appropriate residency permits.

In the spring of 1832, the Zgierz burmistrz informed the commissar of the Leczyca region that all of the Jews have been evicted from their places outside the quarter. In a second letter the burmistrz declared to the commissar that he has informed all of the citizens of the old city of Zgierz as well as the Old Believers, that as of July 1, 1832, nobody would be permitted to live in a place that has not been designated for that person. Police fines would be imposed for violation of the ordinance. The elder Rafaelowa Dobrszynska was informed that she can remain in her house outside of the Jewish quarter even after July 1, 1832, but with the restriction that she must not rent dwellings to any Jew, and she must sell her ownership to a Christian.

In the letter from the burmistrz to the commissar it is written that this ordinance excludes those Jewish homeowners who have a concession from the regime regarding their ownership. They are allowed to remain in their homes following July 1, 1832.

On that date, the first stage of the struggle of Zgierz Jewry for their living rights in all streets of the city ended.

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The Development of the Jewish Quarter and the Situation in the City

After overcoming a variety of economic challenges, Zgierz began to develop as an industrial city in the Lodzer textile region. By 1825, the city already had cobblestone streets, two marketplaces, 300 houses (mainly brick) in which lived merchants and manufacturers. Such a report was written by the Polish statesmen of that time, the priest Stanislaw Stasicz. The number of Jewish merchants and manufacturers is not brought down in Stasicz' report. However, from the constant accusations that were made against Jews for building houses in the industrial center, it is clear that Jews were penetrating in that area, and they conducted their businesses and enterprises.

Jews would generally come to Zgierz without having any other means, so they would settle in the Jewish quarter and eventually build dwellings there, which were not in accordance with the building codes of the civic authorities. The representative of the industrial section of Zgierz complained to the Mazowian Wojewodztwo commission that in the old city as well as in the Jewish quarters, houses were being built, “more accurately – huts”, that do not have architectural approval. On the streets, uncleanness prevails, and the residents hang dirty laundry outside. Wood is lying everywhere, and broken ditches impede the outflow of water.

This report illustrates of picture as to how the Jewish quarter was built in Zgierz. The newly arriving Jews set themselves up, plunked down their belongings, procured wood and proceeded to build dwellings. The local authorities even assisted the Jews in building houses, but only in the Jewish quarter.

Regarding the request of Daniel Diwan to the Zgierz civic authorities for lumber to build a dwelling on Lodzer Street #6 (in the quarter), the burmistrz of the city of Zgierz wrote to the Leczyca regional commissar that one must be given a permit to be allowed to obtain wood from the local forests, as well as to build a house. The regional commissar from his side sent a notice to the Zgierz forestry office, asking them to give Daniel Diwan the needed lumber for building.

At the same time when Jews were being crowded into the ghetto, there were empty lots in the new city (Neistadt), not needed by the German manufacturer immigrants who were building the new industrial center in Zgierz. The “artisans” as they were known in official documents, only set up covered wagons in the lots that they obtained, and then they moved on to nearby Lodz, where the new textile center was developing in earnest.

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We have already mentioned the case of the Christian homeowner Kaszochowska, who submitted a request in 1832 to the Mazowian Wojewodztwo commission to not be required to evict a Jew who rented a dwelling in her house, which was located outside the quarter.

A second citizen of Zgierz, Bartolomiej Nikel, went further in his request to the Warsaw royal committee in 1836, and made a request on behalf of the residents “that they be granted all rights for living freely and conducting business in the entire city of Zgierz”. In justification of his request, Nikel wrote: “The city has fallen greatly in the realm of industry, so that the manufacturers and homeowners do not have the means of livelihood, for the rental income from their own homes has been taken away, while a significant segment of the population is unfortunately not able to lease dwellings.”

In his request, Nikel did not mention which portion of the population did not have the rights to rent houses. Therefore, the homeowners who had their properties in the Jewish quarter, Bonifacy Witkowski, Kruszewski, and others, quickly wrote a request. In their request to the royal commission, they asked that the Jewish quarter be left as is, along with all of its ordinances and agreements. These included the agreement between the regime and the Germans in 1821, which forbade Jews from living and purchasing property in the new industrial quarter, as well as the ordinance of 1824 regarding the creation of the Jewish quarter.

The request from the Christian homeowners in the quarter was supported by the Zgierz municipality. The royal committee, which handled both requests, gave preference to the homeowners in the quarter, and confirmed that Jews have no rights to settle in all of the streets of Zgierz. The royal committee expressed its conclusion that “Only because they wished to charge a higher rent from the tenants, there was a need for some manufacturers and homeowners to enter into a partnership with Old Believers, and therefore permit them to become tenants in houses that are found in the center of the city.”

The royal committee finally rejected the unjustified request of Bartolomiej Nikel, which he made in the name of the manufacturers, and recommended to the Wojewodztwo committee that they uphold the details of the aforementioned agreement.

The decision of the royal committee in answer to Nikel's request was also sent as a rescript to the commissar of the Leczyca region, and from there to the president of the city of Zgierz. He informed Bartolomiej Nikel that “the royal committee for spiritual and internal affairs and societal development” has rejected his request regarding permitting Jews to live in all of the streets of Zgierz. The city president advised Mr. Nikel that not only must he not make any request which are against the status quo, but also that he should come to his office where the rescript of the royal committee would be read to him.

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The Struggle of the Zgierz committee with the Local Authorities for a Place to Erect the First Synagogue

In the 1830s, the Jews of Zgierz, despite all of the restrictions of residency rights, felt quite secure in their new settlement. As has been mentioned, the town had an organized community (Dozor Buzniczy) already in 1824. In 1836, the community proceeded to build a synagogue. The first efforts in that direction involved acquiring a permit from the local authorities to place a synagogue leader (szkolnik) in the community. From the available documents, it is not clear what sort of function this would have had. They only explain as follows:

In the beginning of the year 1836, the Zgierz communal leadership endeavored to ask the local city president to appoint David Taranczyk as synagogue leader. In the request to the city president, signed by the dozors Berek Warmwasser, Elias Majdan and Chaim Lubraniecki, they asserted that the community decided to pay from its coffers for a synagogue leader with a salary of 100 Polish Zloty a year. “The synagogue is in need of a synagogue leader, and we have appointed the Old Believer Taranczyk for this purpose. He is a local resident, is capable, settled in his personal affairs, holding his calm, is moral, and nobody has any suspicions regarding him.”

Along with the request (“declaration”) the communal leadership enclosed 60 Polish Zloty as official payment for the concession which was to be given to the synagogue leader. Thereby, the dozors confirmed that prior to David Taranczyk, the Zgierz community had no synagogue leader.

The synagogue leader, which was in actuality an official office, had to take an oath of allegiance to the Russian Czar prior to assuming his post. David Taranczyk took such an oath in December 1832.

The application from the communal leaders, which received the confirmation of the Zgierz city president, was sent to the commissar of the Leczyca region, and from there to the Mazowian Wojewodztwo committee, which in June 1836 issued a nomination to the Old Believer David Taranczyk as the synagogue leader of the Zgierz house of prayer.

At the same time, the Zgierz community purchased a lot upon which to build a synagogue. A notice regarding the purchase was presented to the city president, and was then forwarded to the Leczyca regional commissar, who in turn requested the city president to conduct an investigation about the land transaction. The investigation revealed that the lot was noted by mortgage number 244, and was situated on Lodzer Street, that is to say in the Jewish quarter. It had previously belonged to the local priest. Samuel Gszegazewski, a Christian, purchased the lot that was sold by the priest for an appropriate price. The place was swampy, and Gszegazewski conducted ameliorations, and sold the lot to the community for 600 Zloty. According to the declaration, Gszegazewski also paid the priest for watching over the lot. Someone issued an accusation against Gszegazewski for selling church land to Jews, upon which a synagogue is to be built.

The commissar of the Leczyca region requested outright that the Zgierz city president should send in documents that demonstrate that the lot that the communal leadership purchased from Gszegazewski was indeed his own. On November 25 1838, the commissar, under the threat of a fine, repeated his request to send in proof within eight days regarding the purchase of the lot upon which the community wishes to build a synagogue.

The further handling of this affair is not known, due to the lack of authentic documents.

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The Activity of English Missionaries During that Time

At the same time that the Jews of Zgierz, with great effort and despite all of the decrees, established a religious communal life in the town, the Leczyca region sent in English evangelical missionaries, and charged them with the sad task of converting Jews. In accordance with the dangerous activities that were taking place within the royal Polish Catholic religious authorities, the Leczyca regional commissar issued a request to the bergermeisters of the region that they should supervise the activity of the missionaries “who have permission to occupy themselves with inviting Jews to the Christian faith”.

The missionaries were boundless in their efforts to convert Jews. However, they were not noted for their success with the Zgierz Jews. They found only three dissidents who endeavored to adopt the Christian faith: Lewin Winkler, Maria Pinkus and Jakob Dombrowski. All three came from outside of the Zgierz vicinity, and probably had little connection to Judaism. Dombrowski served for two and a half years with the Franciscan priests in the village of Lagiewniki, between Zgierz and Lodz. There, he studied the catechism. The priests of the Franciscan order did not pay their servant for his work. He left Zgierz so as to convert in the village – thus did the apostate claim in his petition to the commissar of the Leczyza region, requesting permission to adopt the Christian faith.

Those apostates made no impression upon the Jewish people of Zgierz. There remains no trace of them, neither in folklore nor in memory, contrary to what is usually the case in families who tragically suffer from apostasy. Fortunately, those apostates had no effect upon the Jewish community of Zgierz, whose members remained faithful to the traditional observant Jewish lifestyle, as is reflected in the Zgierz archival documents.

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The Ban Against Erecting “Posts With Taught Wire” in the Jewish Quarter

Two documents exist in the archives, which describe a severe ban against the Old Believers erecting posts with taught wire or chains near their houses. This ban was issued by the Mazowian Wojewodztwo commission on September 4, 1834, and is published in “Dziennik Wojewodzki” number 168.

From the stringency of the ban, and from the demand of the regional commissar to the burmistrz of Zgierz and of other cities to uphold the ban rigorously, it can be understood that this was not meant to refer to ordinary posts, chains and wire near Jewish houses, but rather to the “eruv” [1] which was made around Jewish homes, so that one could carry on the Sabbath. The eruv, poles with chains around Jewish homes, caught the eye of the Polish authorities in such a major fashion that the Leczyca regional commissar obligated the burmistrz of Zgierz and the civic authorities of other towns to announce the ban against erecting posts and chains near Jewish houses three times in the synagogue. After that, Jews who do not follow the ban would be severely arraigned.

The struggle to erect an eruv lasted for over a year. Firstly, in January 1836, in the “Dziennik Wojewodzki” number 202 a permit was published for the Old Believers: “In the streets which are populated by the people of that faith, it is permitted to put up posts of a specified height and connect them with chains of wire or iron”. The permit was sent by the secretary of the Leczyca regional commissar to the burmistrz of Zgierz and to the civic authorities of other towns with the following warning: “It must be strictly observed that the chains should be made of thin wire or iron”. Those who put up thick chains “which irritate the eye and make the street ugly, must immediately replace them with other ones.”

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The Zgierz Civic Committee for Expanding the Jewish Quarter

Following the Polish revolt against the Russian occupational regime in 1831, Zgierz and other cities that were developed industrially entered into an economic crisis. As a punishment for the revolt, the Czarist authorities imposed a toll-boundary between Poland and Russia. The wool-working enterprises in Zgierz, which were primarily conducted by the Russian Mark, were shut down. The textile manufacturers who immigrated and settled in Zgierz, therefore moved their enterprises to nearby Lodz.

Jews played a very important role in the commerce with the Lodzer textile merchants. Lodz also had a Jewish quarter, and the Jews of Lodz, as the Jews of Zgierz, struggled greatly for their rights to live in the entire city.

The anti-Semitic attitude of the secretary of the Leczyca region, as was the case in general with the administrative council in royal Poland, which was the central authority in Poland established by the Czarist regime of Nikolai I – did nothing to improve the economic situation in Zgierz, which had taken a sharp turn for the worse.

“Following the ill-fated revolution (the November Uprising of 1831)” – states a document from 1838 – “the manufacturers moved away from the city. The houses were empty on Strikowska and Szeradzka Streets. A few of these houses are not yet completed, and stand as testimony to the devastation in the city.”

The municipal leadership of the town, along with the president who bore the non-Polish name Blumenfeld, came together for a meeting in the president's chancellery. The protocol of the meeting, which took place in March 1838, depicted Jewish life in the involuntary Jewish ghetto:

“The population of the quarter is growing in a reasonable fashion due to the immigration of families from other cities, as well as natural growth. No new houses can be built. Three or four families, of reasonable size, live in one room, even in small rooms. Such living conditions violate the police rules for health reasons.”

On account of the situation, the meeting with the city president decided that they should agree to the aforementioned “request from the Old Believers” and expand the quarter by including the nearby Strikowska and Szeradzka Streets. Thus, the empty houses will be filled up, the unfinished houses will be completed, and the empty lots will have structures built upon them. The population will find themselves in a better health situation, and thereby, the bad conditions that can endanger also the health of the Christians will be removed..

The protocol was forwarded to the commissar of the Leczyca region, along with the request to enlarge the quarter in accordance with a submitted plan and a list of the Jewish families who live there. The reply came in due course from the regional commissar, indicating that, in accordance with the respect of the royal committee for inner and spiritual affairs and general health, after April 1836 – he can not agree to the request of the municipal authorities to enlarge the Jewish quarter.

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The Supervisory Authorities Struggle Against the Jews who Settled Outside of the Quarter in Zgierz

Due to the dearth of authentic documents, it is impossible to determine the growth of the Jewish population in Zgierz in general, and in Jewish quarter specifically, during the time frame that is being written about. However, it is clear that Jews immigrated to Zgierz from other town, and this increased the crowding in the Jewish quarter.

Despite the ban, Jews settled outside the quarter. The Zgierz civic authorities did not take the matter seriously, and allowed Jews to live in the new areas. Regarding the territory, a sharp struggle broke out between the supervisory authorities and the Zgierz municipality, as we can surmise from the archival documents: the president of Zgierz was fired by the authorities for tolerating the settling of Jews outside the quarter.

In June 1844, the Leczyca regional commissar requested the municipal authorities of Zgierz to strictly uphold the ban that forbade Jews to settle outside the quarter. The Jews who, under the protection of the former city president Borodiszcz, illegally encroached on other quarters, should immediately be evicted. They must be informed of this.

The newly appointed Zgierz city president, whose name does not appear in the documents, immediately began to implement the request of the supervisory committee, and demanded that the following Jews leave the areas that are outside the quarter within 48 hours and move into the original quarter that was designated for the Old Believers: Daniel Zlotnik, the widow Cymber with her son-in-law, Walik Makowski, Walk Rubensztejn, the widow Dobrzynska, David Dawidowicz, and David Kaliski.

From among the aforementioned, only the widow Rafaelka Dobrzynska (her husband was Rafael), issued an accusation to the Leczyca commissar against being evicted from outside the quarter. She had already lived there for thirteen years, and owned a tavern. In her accusation, she wrote: “now, I would have to move the tavern to the middle of the Jewish quarter, I would be left without means of livelihood. I am a poor widow, quite old, without the means to a livelihood. The wretched tavern gives me my only means of livelihood.” The widow requested “the all-powerful commissar” to allow her to remain in her dwelling.

The Leczyca regional commissar wrote the following on the request: “The decision of the Mazowian gubernatorial authorities must be executed precisely, and the instructions must be followed immediately” (that is to say, the widow must settle in the Jewish quarter, and sell her house to a Christian). On May 13, 1941, a second Jew, Avraham Pinkus Kaliski, submitted a request to the royal committee in Warsaw regarding the expansion of the Jewish quarter in Zgierz. The documents provide no details about the person of Avraham Pinkus Kaliski (one document is signed by Chaim Pinkus Koliski). From his “signature” (thee circles), it is obvious that he was unable to read or write. His request regarding the expansion of the Jewish quarter made its way through all of the levels of authority, namely: the royal committee in Warsaw, the Mazowian gubernatorial authorities (that is what the previous Wojewodztwo was referred to in documents from the year 1841 and onward), the Leczyca regional commissar, and finally – the municipal authorities of Zgierz. All of those levels of authority considered Kaliski's request regarding the expansion of the Jewish quarter, and the request was finally rejected. All documents from the above mentioned levels of authority were copied to the Zgierz civic authorities.

On May 2, 1842, a few years after he submitted the request for expanding the Jewish quarter, Avraham Chaim Pinkus Kaliski was summoned to the Zgierz civic authorities. There, he was told that “his request regarding the expansion of the quarter for the Old Believers can not succeed appropriately, since the motives to justify it are not that clear. There are still available places in the quarter for Old Believers that can be built up and one can find there many dwellings for rental.”

A protocol was written up regarding the entire matter, which Kaliski signed with three circles, as one who was not able to write.

In all of the rescripts from the royal committee regarding Kaliski's request that were sent to the Zgierz civic authorities, it was stressed that the municipal authorities must evict from outside the quarter “the Old Believers who have settled there in the year 1833. They must unconditionally settle in the Jewish quarter.”

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The Struggle For Rights of Residency Outside (Extra) the Quarter

In the 1850s, Jews who immigrated to Zgierz strengthened their struggle for living rights outside the quarter. Those who submitted various requests were for the most part Jews of means or those who had vocations that were desirable for the town. These included the assistant barber-surgeon [2] Zygmunt Rszepkowicz, the barber-surgeon Meir Jakubowicz, the merchant Wolf Glicksman, and the manufacturers Jozef Weiland, Shimon Waldberg, the Librach brothers and others. The requests of those Jews to live outside the quarter were the cause of a lengthy correspondence between the Zgierz city president, the municipal authorities, the regional authorities, and the central regime in Warsaw.

It is interesting to see the motives that were given by the various petitioners for living rights outside of the quarter. The assistant barber-surgeon Zygmunt Rszepkowicz wrote in his request (April 1839) that he lived in Zgierz from 1821, he was the first barber-surgeon in town, and is needed by the local doctors Funkensztejn and Tuczinski, as well as many other people who have faith in him. Rszepkowicz complains in his request that if he does not live in the center of town, the town will not be able to make appropriate use of his services. On account of this motive, he requests the city president obtain a permit for him to live “in one of the streets that is settled by Catholics”.

In Rszepkowicz' request, the following is written: “He is permitted to live with Rafaelski, in the house of the Old Believer Josek Brzezinski”. This house was indeed outside of the Jewish quarter; however it is not in the “extra quarter” where Jews were permitted to live only with special permits.

A second barber-surgeon with appropriate qualifications, Meir Jakubowicz, who lived in Zgierz from 1826 and made a request to live in the “extra quarter”, conducted a correspondence with the various municipal offices and the central authorities in Warsaw between March 1843 and September 1844. Jakubowicz also stressed in his position his needed work for the city, and he requested the president of the city of Zgierz to consider the various motives that justify a Jewish barber-surgeon to live outside (extra) of the quarter:

  1. My service as a barber-surgeon.
  2. I wear different garb than is usually worn by the Old Believers.
  3. I took the barber-surgeon exams in the Kielce and Sandomierz gubernias, and I possess a diploma from doctors offices in those gubernias testifying to my qualifications as a barber-surgeon.

The Zgierz magistrate dealt with the matter in a special meeting. The protocols testify strongly to Jakubowicz' good deeds as a barber-surgeon for the city: “When the cholera epidemic and other illnesses spread in the city, Jakubowicz always was available to serve the sick from various walks of life. His activities were conducted without reward.” He also performs small operations under the supervision of doctors.

The protocol from the magistrate's meeting, which dealt with the request of Jakubowicz to live outside of the quarter, was sent to the police chief of the Leczyca region (powiat). The official wrote on the document that he found no reason to justify Jakubowicz to live outside of the quarter.

The Zgierz civic authorities were not satisfied with the answer, and they sent the request to higher authorities, asking for permission for Jakubowicz to live provisionally outside of the quarter. In this request of April 1844, the beneficial activities of the Jewish barber-surgeon among the Zgierz population was even more clearly described. The request states the following:

“The city of Zgierz has a population of over 7,000, excluding the temporary residents of the city. Various illnesses would not be taken care of without the help of the medical and barber-surgical arts. The latter has been conducted recently in the city by Meir Jakubowicz, the qualified barber-surgeon.”

The request from the magistrate to the higher authorities, signed by the Zgierz city president and councilors, made mention of the above-mentioned decision of the police authorities, and requested the higher authorities to issue at their discretion a provisional permit for Jakubowicz allowing him to live outside of the quarter, for if he is found far from the center of town “in the quarter of the Old Believers”, there would be the danger of a delay in treatment for those people who require his help.

The magistrate of Zgierz added several confirmations to this request: Meir Jakubowicz is fluent in the Polish and German languages, both orally and in writing, and his two children, Aharon and Jakob, between the ages of 8 and 10 years old, are registered in the Catholic elementary school where they attend regularly. They conduct themselves well, and display exemplary diligence in their studies, which earns them recognition.

The confirmation from the school was signed by the teacher Traborski, the supervisor of the Catholic elementary schools in the Zgierz parish. It was also confirmed by Father S. Hirszberger.

All of these requests and confirmation were obviously intended to encourage the police chief of the Leczyca region to request from the Mazowian gubernatorial authorities to permit Jakubowicz to live outside the Jewish quarter. The regional police chief appended his recommendation for the Jewish barber-surgeon onto the documents that were sent by the Zgierz magistrate and police authorities.

On September 3, 1844, Jakubowicz received the decision of the authorities of the Mazowian gubernia, which granted him provisional permission to live outside the quarter in the city of Zgierz.

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The Zgierz Civic Committee for the Rights of Jews of Means to Live Outside (Extra) the Quarter

In the following years, the Zgierz municipality strongly interceded for the rights of Jews who possessed means and who were needed to live outside the quarter. The head of the city kept in mind the economic development of the city, which severely lagged behind the development of its younger sister – Lodz. The gubernatorial and central supervisory authorities in Warsaw, with their anti-Semitic politics, barely took into account the economic conditions of Zgierz, and did not permit Jews of means to live outside the quarter.

During the years 1846-1848, a correspondence took place regarding permitting Shimon Waldberg to open a textile factory for the production of “kort” and “cashmere” cloth outside the quarter. Waldberg was already operating the factory and 20 workshops. In the opinion of the magistrate, he had fulfilled all of the obligations that were required of the Old Believers. The police authorities of the Leczyca region held the same opinion as the Zgierz municipality, and the Waldman's request was sent on to the governing authorities in Warsaw.

The request was rejected by the governing authorities in Warsaw, with the justification that Zgierz already had the well-known Maues factory that produces the same textiles that Waldberg mentioned in his request.

Shimon Waldberg appealed to the governor, and made mention of the ordinance of Duke Namjestnik of 1824, which “permitted Old Believers to live outside the quarter if they establish factories”. In his request to the governor, Waldberg demonstrated that his factory was one of the most significant in Zgierz, and that it employed 70 people who would have no means of living if the development of the enterprise is hampered.

The Jewish manufacturer also disproved the claim that there was already such a factory in Zgierz. One could not hope for a better one. He further claimed that “our factories will soon be at the level of those outside the country. The regime must support the development of new factories, , for the factories of Malts and Maues (Germans) do not possess exclusive patents for manufacture.”

Finally Waldberg asked, in his request to the governor, to be permitted to maintain his factory outside the quarter without the rights to live there. The Jewish manufacturer received such permission from the governing authorities on February 27, 1847.

In the same time period (1846-1848) similar things took place with two Jewish manufacturers, the brothers Feivish and Henech Librach. They belonged to the Librach family who were textile manufacturers in Ozorkow and Lodz. No financial connection existed between the family members.

The Zgierz magistrate strongly interceded to allow the Librachs to conduct a textile factory with 20 workshops outside the quarter, and to allow them to live there. In his request to the supervisory authorities, he listed several of his possessions.

As he did with the case of Waldbergs, in his report to the gubernatorial authorities in Warsaw, the official of the Leczyca region supported Librach's request to be granted a concession to live and conduct a textile factory outside of the quarter, in the house of the Metner heirs on Blotene (Muddy) Street number 191. The governing authorities in Warsaw requested that the Leczyca regional authorities clarify: whether the Librachs are the entrepreneurs who own a textile factory in Ozorkow, whether they are the owners of such a factory in the Jewish quarter, and whether their enterprise has neglected the manufacturing trademark of the cloth professionals that is authorized by the governing authorities. After receiving the answer from the Leczyca regional official that the Librachs do not own any other factory other than what they have established in Zgierz, that they are in compliance with the manufacturing trademark, as that all of the residents in their homes have declared that they would not wear Jewish garb, and that they would send their children to Catholic schools – in October 1849, the Warsaw governing authorities permitted the Librach brothers to conduct a factory and to live outside of the quarter in Zgierz.

The two Librach brothers, the first large scale Jewish manufacturers who set up textile enterprises in Zgierz, were the heads of two large families, as can be seen in the declaration that they gave on July 1847 regarding receiving living rights for all family members.

In the Zgierz archives, there are no statistics regarding the number of Jewish manufacturers, merchants and artisans who already lived outside of the quarter in the 1850s. We do know that the number was growing, as can be seen from the petitions of Jews who requested living rights in that part of the city, in order to set up factories or businesses there. The governing authorities took interest in how many Jews already lived in the extra quarter, and they asked the official of the Leczyca region about this at the time that he brought in the request of Chaim Lubraniecki [3] for a permit to live outside the quarter, and to open up a store for both locally and externally manufactured goods. In response to the query, the magistrate of Zgierz presented a list of the Jews who lived outside of the quarter: Jozef Weiland who built a two story house in the old city, and the barber-surgeon Meir Jakubowicz who lived there provisionally with a concession from the Mazowian gubernatorial authorities. That list, signed by the city president and the councilors Jesse and Zigler, dated July 10, 1848, was not exact, since it is clear from the aforementioned documents that there were already more Jews living outside the quarter. The Zgierz civic authorities, who were interested in having more Jews settle there, did not give an accurate number to the governing authorities.

The royal committee dealt with the issue of Lubraniecki. The Jewish manufacturer-merchant obtained the permit to live outside of the quarter, and to conduct his business there. He had to submit the following documents.

  1. A statement from the financial office regarding the financial reserves of his business, and regarding his financial status.
  2. A statement from the magistrate of Zgierz regarding the good moral conduct of the petitioner.
  3. A confirmation from the “cloth guild” that he conducts his business affairs with honesty, and that, in 1831, at the time of the crisis of the cloth weavers, he helped and supported them.

During the course of five months, a correspondence took place between the Zgierz municipality and the central authorities regarding permission for the Jew Blum to live in the Christian area of Zgierz. In August 1849, Gershon Blum was unfortunately ordered for a second time to abandon his home outside of the quarter, and he was informed that he would be evicted within four hours by the police.

Blum reacted to this with a request to the civil governor of Warsaw. The request was supported by the magistrate of Zgierz and the official of the Leczyca region. The city president of Zgierz remarked in his request to the supervisory authorities that outside of the quarter, there are no Christian businesses dealing with fashion merchandise of the type that Gershon Blum intends to deal with. In due course, an answer arrived from the Warsaw regime that due to the situation with Blum's wife, he is provisionally permitted to live outside the quarter with his family until the end of September, 1849. After Mrs. Blum gives birth, the family must immediately settle in the ghetto. The Zgierz city president will be reproved sharply if he allows the Blum family to remain in a dwelling outside of the quarter. The governing authorities threatened the president with dismissal if he purposefully disobeys the statutes regarding the Jewish quarter.

In the years 1850-1851, the documents record only three requests of Jews to live outside of the quarter. Each one of those requests had its own manner of being dealt with, and resolution. All three were supported by the Zgierz municipality and the Leczyca regional official.

TRANSLATOR'S FOOTNOTES

1. An “eruv” is a partition erected around dwellings, streets, or even entire cities, which converts an open area into a “private domain” according to Jewish law, thereby enabling the carrying of objects within that domain. The carrying of objects in an open domain would normally be forbidden on the Sabbath. The laws of eruv are extremely complex, and beyond the scope of this footnote. An eruv can be constructed from posts and wires. In modern cities, the telephone and hydro poles and wires are often used to form a major part of an eruv. Bans on constructing an eruv are often an indication of anti-Semitism. Back

2. The Yiddish word here is 'feldscher', which according to Uriel Weinreich's Yiddish Dictionary is 'an old time barber-surgeon'. This vocation evidently entails some form of medical expertise, and seems to be a form of a physician's aide. Back

3. Here it is spelled Libaniecki, but in all other places it is spelled Lubraniecki. Back

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