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[Pages 53-54]

Chapter 3: The Trial against the Jesuits

Translated by Myra Yael Ecker


The Jews of Lwów in the days of Henryk Walezy and Stefan Batory. The Jesuits demand the synagogue within the town. The verdict of the royal tribunal. The nobles backed the Jews against the Jesuits. The compromise and return of the synagogue to the ownership of the Jews. The development of the community within the town. The fires in the years 1616, 1623. Towards the disaster of 1648.

After the death of Sigismund August (1572), during the interregnum, the Jews of Lwów waited with worry and anxiety for the things to come under the new king, whose name and nature they did not yet know.

In the meantime they were obliged to contribute to the cost of keeping 50 soldiers whom the municipality had recruited due to the danger that threatened the town during that period of emergency. In 1573, these expenses amounted to 1586 Gulden 15 Groszy, of which the Jews paid 297 Gulden 15 Groszy. In 1574, these expenses were 264 Gulden, and in 1575, they were 1218 Gulden, with a quarter of the two sums paid for by the Jews.

Henryk Walezy [Alexandre Édouard de Valois; later Henri III of France] (1573–1574), the son of Catherine de Medici instigator of the“St. Bartholomew's Day massacre”, was chosen in 1573. Although his selection rested on the Jewish doctor Salomon Askenazy [Aszkenassy], who had acquired the Turkish Vizier Sokollu for his candidacy – he did not like Jews. According to the Jewish historian Hilary Nussbaum,[1] he did not want to ratify the general privilege of the Jews, nor the privileges of the Jews of Reissen. Nonetheless, in 1600, in the claims presented by the Lwów community leaders to the committee regarding the Jesuits, Nachman ben Izak stated explicitly that in 1574, Henryk Walezy had ratified the privileges of the Jews of Lwów.[2] He also granted to the Ruthenians at Lwów total freedom of trade, after they had sent a special delegation to the Sejm at Warsaw (1572), but that was not accepted by the municipality, which forcibly evicted the Ruthenian merchants from the fairs.

The King's Catholic fervour increased the hatred towards the Jewish people among the Catholic masses.[3] His rule did not last long. Once he heard that his brother had died leaving no male heir, he fled to France. Thirteen months after he had fled, Stefan Batory Prince of Transilvania was elected King of Poland (1576–1586). En route to his coronation at Kraków, he stayed at Lwów where he was received by the citizens with open arms. After he was crowned, he ratified the privileges of the different ethnic peoples of Lwów. He treated the Jews sympathetically. In a special order of the 5th July 1576, he protected them against blood libel allegations, emphasizing that false allegations had reached him. As a result even their detractors admitted that they had accused the Jews of murdering Christian children, or of taking the sacramental bread (Hostia) for cursing and blasphemy, and that in every case it was invariably proven that lies had been testified against them. Therefore, the King prohibited to impute such guilt on the Jews. Were a Jew to be punished by death in such a trial, the accuser would receive measure for measure. Apart from that the King determined that the municipalities be responsible for all damages caused to the synagogues and Jewish cemeteries, and that in such cases the municipalities could expect severe punishments. In 1578, the King spent the entire winter at Lwów. In the same year a Jew filed a lawsuit against the Starosta Mikolaj Herburt of Felsztyn [Fulsztyna], known also by his name Odnowski. The Starosta declined to attend, but the King did not accept his refusal, since both the Starosta and the Jews were subjects to his rule.

Considering the townspeople's complaints that the municipality's entire authority lay in the hands of advisors, Batory reorganized the composition of the municipality (the consuls), and he established that the town council be enlarged by additional 40 men. Also that it be composed of advisors, judges and another 40 men (quadraginta viri), half of whom were to be elected by merchants and half by craftsmen, and that without their consent it would be prohibited to create expenses, or to set taxes and financial levies.

Assigning such a team did not suit the Jews who found it easier to deal with the advisors than with the merchants and craftsmen, who considered the Jews their competitors. Thence forth the Jews required assets in order to settle their affairs with the advisors and members of the team, which always entailed special expenses.

Nevertheless, due to Stefan Batory's sympathy with the Jews, the council was swayed to sign an agreement with the Jews, bringing an end to the conflict between them and the town which had lasted since 1521.

In 1578, Batory confirmed two of the privileges granted by his

[Pages 55-56]

The Synagogue of Rabbi Izak Nachmanowicz

predecessors, according to which the Jews of Lwów were entitled to conduct any trade, just as other traders. During his reign the community leaders Izak ben Nachman and his sons Nachman and Mardochaj [Marek] built a new synagogue named“The Synagogue of Turei Zahav [Golden Columns].” Five years later Izak and his wife bought a plot adjacent to the synagogue, which his son Mardochaj utilized for its enlargement.

The family of Rabbi Izak ben Nachman remained for several years at the head of the community, and established important public enterprises and institutions.

After the death of Stefan Batory (1586), in order to protect the town from attacks by gangs during the interregnum, the Jews again participated in maintaining 250 soldiers. They contributed 104 Ducats toward the cost, only on that occasion they paid disproportionately more than other sections of the population. Consequently, the Jews who considered themselves wronged by such disproportionate demands, refused to pay the annual payment of 50 Gulden to the municipality, which was levied on them in the 1581 contract.

King Sigismund III, immediately after his coronation on the 25th March 1588, also issued at Kraków a regulation convenient to the Jews. Also, in the general privileges granted to the Jews of Poland in 1600, the Jews were taxed in all fields of trade throughout the country, equally as the Christians, so that the circumstances of the Jews of Lwów did not alter.

In the days of Sigismund a grave event befell the life of the community of Lwów:

On the 1st September 1591, against the wishes of the Church and the other religious sects, Archbishop Solikowski brought in a festive procession the first Jesuits (3 in number) to Lwów, gave them a small church and housed them in a private house.

The Jesuits sought in vain a place for their monastery and church. Archbishop Solikowski lobbied the municipality, but it refused to accommodate them, claiming that it had no space. The clergy at the cathedral did not view them favourably either, especially since they planned to establish a school at Lwów, which would have reduced the number of pupils at the Catholic school, and consequently their income. Despite those objections, the Jesuits who immediately after their arrival established the“Collegium Societatis Jesu Leopolisansis”, had no intention to forgo Lwów. The Jesuits were not deterred, and decided to search a place for their buildings within the Jewish Quarter. Without prior warning they declared that the new synagogue which Izak ben Nachman (Nachmanowicz) had built, was constructed without a license from the king, even though all their claims were incorrect.

During the Piast dynasty in Poland, the construction of synagogues was unrestricted. The sole restriction was that the synagogue not be externally adorned, or differ in size from other houses. The Church and the synods strove to restrict the freedom to build, such that the synod of 1542 at Piotrków[4], led by the infamous enemy of the Jewish people, [Bishop] Piotr Gamrat, decreed that the King should not allow the building of new synagogues, but only the repair of existing ones.[5] That decree was further toughened by the synod at Gniezno in 1589, in a decision of protest against the magnificent synagogues which the Jews had constructed in the royal towns, asking that the King should forbid it in a severe regulation.

And in fact King Wladyslaw IV determined clearly that the Jews should not dare construct new synagogues, and Alexandre forbade even the repair of the old synagogues.

After the synagogue was burnt down in 1571, the Jews of Lwów faced great difficulties to rebuild it again. Izak ben Nachum, who stood at the head of the community, decided to purchase a plot for the synagogue which would be his private property.

In 1578 he began to negotiate the purchase of the plot“Olesko Square”, on which stood only the ruins of the“horse treadmill” [młyn koński] as well as the adjacent vacant plot, for which he required a license from the town council, the commission of forty, the clergy and the King.

On the 24th September 1580, the town council decided to sell the plot to Izak ben Nachum, and within two days the purchase

[Pages 57-58]

was concluded at the cost of 1500 Gulden, and Izak was given the right to the property. On the 24th March 1581 he was granted a license from the King. During that period, the patricians and the well–to–do circles – such as: Kampian, Abrahamowicz, Boimów family, Lorencowicz – erected magnificent buildings in the Renaissance style, built by the Italian builders and architects Pietro di Barbone, Petrus Italus and Paulus Italus [Paolo Romano]. Paulus constructed the Ruthenian church (Cerkiew Woloska) on Ruska Street, distinguished by its Renaissance style, and Rabbi Izak invited him to construct the synagogue on the plot on which the“horse treadmill” had stood. Paulus erected the building in the Gothic style, and finished it in 1582. During the construction, Izak tried to obtain a license from Archbishop Solikowski too, in order to avoid disputes with the synod's decision. But despite all the efforts and recommendations the Archbishop refused to consent, so as not to oppose the synod's decision. Nevertheless, Izak finished the building. On the facade facing the square, Paulus built for him his residence (27 Blacharska Street), and the entrance to the synagogue was solely through his house. Naturally, at prayer times Rabbi Izak permitted the worshipers to enter the synagogue through his house. Outwardly, however, the building was the private synagogue of Rabbi Izak's family.

It was that synagogue on which the Jesuits focused their attention in 1600. The opposing municipal camp informed them that the municipality had sold to the Jews plots which had not belonged to it. Here the Jesuits found a suitable opportunity to reach their goal – to acquire a plot on which to construct a collegium and church. They began to research the legal basis by which the Jews had purchased the plot on which the synagogue stood, and according to what license had they erected it.

They relied on their connections at the royal court, and they also succeeded with the help of the royal court's preacher, the priest Piotr Skarga, to convince the King to send to Lwów a commission assigned to find for the Jesuits the site they required. The King ordered the Starosta of Lwów, Jerzy Mniszek, to support and assist them in all their endeavours. The Jesuits complained to the King about the municipality for its illegal sale of the plot, and about the Jews for their purchase and possession of property which was against the law. Both parties in the dispute insisted that they acted in the spirit of the law, and therefore their deal was valid. Apparently, the committee was unsuccessful in its efforts. After a new head of the Order (superior), Adrian Radzimski was elected new efforts were made for the King to appoint a new committee.

In 1603, the King appointed a new committee to investigate the question

Interior of Rabbi Izak Nachmanowicz's Synagogue

of building plots at Lwów, and in his letter to the municipality he recommended that the municipality transfer to the Jesuits any plot selected by the committee. On the 24th November 1603, the King's letter to the municipality was read out at the Jewish synagogue, and the community leaders were invited to appear before the committee, with the warning not to dare interrupt. It was thus clear that the committee intended to proffer to the Jesuits the plot the synagogue stood on.

In the meantime the patron of the Jesuits, Archbishop Jan Dymitr Solikowski had died, and his appointed successor Jan Zamojski, student of the Kraków Academy, was not among the sympathisers of the Jesuits. On the 10th October 1603, two committee members arrived at Lwów: Adam Stadnicki (the Starosta of Przemyśl), Stanislaw Stadnicki; the other members: Hieronim Gostmoski (Voivode of Poznan), Stanisław Garwawski and Jan Świętosławski did not come. Just at the time they arrived at Lwów, a controversy broke out among the townspeople: the committee for soldiers' wage payments coerced the traders to pay a large sum which greatly angered people. At the same time the Sejmik (the regional parliament) of Reissen assembled at Lwów; among its members were many opponents of the regime who hated the Jesuits and were also hostile towards the King. The regional Jewish committee of Reissen, Podolia, Volhynia and Podlasie [Podlachia], also met at the same time. The deliberations with the royal committee were set to be held at the offices of the municipality. Before these began, the three town's advisors approached the Sejmik and requested from Stanislaw Zolkiewski, member of the committee for soldiers' wage payments, to protect the town's affairs, since

[Pages 59-60]

the traders had contributed large sums just a few days earlier. Zolkiewski went to the seat of the municipality, checked the committee members' certificates, and left the hall. Meanwhile, arguments broke out within the Sejmik about the plots that were sold to the Jews. 18 speakers spoke in favour of the Jews and only two delegates sided with the Jesuits. The debate at the municipality continued, the community representatives arrived, headed by Rabbi Izak ben Nachman, and expressed their objection to the debate as they did not recognize the authority of the commissaries, only two of whom attended, rather than the five members of the committee; the town of Lwów, governed by the Magdeburg Law, was not subject to the jurisdiction of commissaries. The deputy–Starosta Poradowski, counter claimed against them that the commissaries had the authority of the committee even if only two of them attended, and the town was subject to their jurisdiction as they were not a law–court of the nobles, but rather representatives of the King's law–court. Representatives of the Jews and of the town submitted their petition to the Sejm against such an interpretation, and demanded that the legal authority of the committee be verified. The Jesuits wanted to avoid the matter being submitted to the Sejm, since most of their objectors were found there. Therefore, they insisted that the deputy–Starosta who appeared as prosecutor (instigator), continue the debate and boycott the appeal which was not worthy of being submitted. On behalf of the Jews, Nachman ben Izak protested with the assertion that the Magdeburg Law excluded all committees, and that that Law applied also to the Jews in accordance with Sigismund–August I's regulation of 1538, and that all the privileges accorded to the Jews of Lwów and approved, starting with Casimir the Great and ending with Henryk Walezy in 1574, were valid. Regarding the matter itself, the Jews were prohibited from negotiating with the Jesuits due to the precedence right of the municipality to purchase plots. The municipality's representative stood his ground and rebuked the deputy–Starosta for appearing in the role of prosecutor, on his own account, while the King's letter had not assigned any member to the role.

The commissaries were astounded. Inside the hall angry voices on both sides were heard, while outside, a crowd incited by the cathedral's clergy, demonstrated against the Jesuits. In that confusion the commissaries adjourned the meeting, claiming that they were prevented from carrying out their duty.

Nevertheless, the Jesuits persevered. At the same time their representatives, commissaries and supporters from among the committee members convened, and it was agreed to transfer to the Jesuits the plots and houses belonging to the Jews, with no commitment to compensate their costs from the town's treasury. The legal aspect and coming to an agreement with the Jews, was assigned to the Jesuits.

After the meeting the commissaries invited the eight Jewish owners of plots and houses, and it was imposed on them to prove, within three days, how – despite the kings' prohibitions – they had become owners of plots and houses that had been acquired against the law, and that no permission for their sale had existed.

On the 13th October 1603 the town council convened, attended by the commissaries, Jesuits and the Jewish owners of plots and houses. The councillor Andrzej Dąbrowski stressed in his speech that the council welcomed the idea of establishing a Jesuit collegium at Lwów, and that it would do everything to carry it out, but precluding causing any damage to the town itself.

The Jews did not respond to the commissaries' demands, and declared that they recognized solely the town council, from whom they had acquired the plots, and that they had no intention of entering into negotiation with the Jesuits. And were their rights violated, they would submit claims against the town and against the Jesuits.

Serbska Street

When the town's advisors saw the steadfastness of the Jews, they began to favour them. The commissaries wished to bring the matter to an end, and ruled that the Quarter with the eight houses which belonged to the Jews together with the synagogue of Izak ben Nachman, be made available to the Jesuits. There and then the Jews appealed to the King. On the 15th October, two days after the commissaries' ruling, Nachman ben Izak in the name of the Jewish community, entered into the documents presented to the Grod [castle] (law–court), the issue of disagreement, and clarified the legal position of the Jews of Lwów: The Jews resided at Lwów in accordance with the Magdeburg Law and were subject to it in matters of real estate. They were themselves subject to the Voivode, they bore their share in all the town's burdens and were thus also entitled to have rights. To recover the ownership of purchased plots (evictio), was a right granted solely to the town itself, and therefore it was the sole authority with which they could negotiate. In a memorandum they entered in brief all the privileges of the Jews of Lwów up to 1603.[5]

[Pages 61-62]

The Jews began to prepare their claim even to the royal law–court. For that purpose they tried to obtain from the town's archive the privileges and the purchase contracts for the properties, but the proconsul refused to produce them, and that despite the protestation of the town's notary who was ready to extract them from the documents.

The Jews presented their claim without any documents. The court session was held at Kraków in November 1603. The town representatives, who were at Kraków at the time, did not attend, and the session was set for the 15th December 1603. But again they did not attend and the final date was set for the 15th January 1604.

In the meanwhile the town and the Jews sought support in recommendations. The town was interested to thwart the Jesuits' admittance. With its influence, Zamojski and Zolkiewski attempted at the Sejm to oppose the construction of a collegium for the Jesuits.

On the 15th January 1604 the court session took place, led by the King. The Jews proved that they had bought the plots and declared that they demanded new places of residence and compensation in the sum of 100,000 Marks. The town delegates found themselves in difficulty as they claimed that the need for protection and fortifications forced them to sell the plots which had stood empty for a long time, and since there was no other purchaser they had to sell them to the Jews. Finally they showed the King the privilege by Casimir the Great who had granted all the town's citizens the Magdeburg Law, as well as the sale and purchase contracts and the statement of accounts which they had received from the Jewish purchasers.

When he saw this, the King realized that a great injustice had been done to the Jews, and he annulled the committee's decision. In order to settle the matter the King appointed new commissaries and instructed them to provide him with oral statements, at Kraków. Besides the two earlier commissaries, the Archbishop of Przemyśl and vice–chancellor Maciej Pstrokonski, the Voivode of Reissen Stanislaw Golski, and Jan Lahodowski were also appointed. On the 3rd February 1604, the committee arrived at Lwów, its members surveyed the plots and houses, followed by a secret meeting. Two members of the committee, Golski and Lahodowski, declared that the plots were crowded and unsuited for erecting a collegium, but three opposed them.

The delegates of the community and of the municipality were invited to the committee, and the municipality was charged with suggesting a space where it could settle the evacuated Jews. The Jews were charged with stating what location they would have wanted, in case they had to vacate their houses. The following day the committee met with the delegates of the Jesuits, members of the town council and the delegates of the community. Straight away one of the committee members turned to the Jews with the warning that they should not resist the King's decision, and demanded their response.

Nachman ben Izak declared that under no circumstances would they relinquish their places. Nevertheless, they would be willing to contribute a few thousand Gulden, were the King to demand it. They were unwilling to negotiate with the committee, as it had no authority.

The town's delegate declared that he was unable to offer an area for the Jews and that it would need to be taken from the Christians. Secondly, the town was unable to repurchase the plots, as it had no funds and it saw no urgent reason for their purchase.[6]

The committee interrupted its deliberations since both sides refused to sign the property–transfer certificates. Consequently, the committee decided to propose to the King a decision that would blame both sides, and that would punish them. The matter was postponed with no settlement. The Jews could not concede and the Jesuits insisted and did not want to concede, even though they were advised to do so.[7]

On the 29th November 1604, the deliberation took place at the tribunal at Kraków. The town was represented by Mikolaj Witkowski, and the Jews by Przeworski.

The parties proved that the purchases were made legally. In respect of the synagogue, it was accepted that the action was illegal since the King's license had made no provision for it. The Jews responded to that objection with the information that the synagogue was not a public one, but rather a private, family prayer house.

In spite of it, on the 3rd January 1603 the tribunal arrived at the verdict that the town had to repurchase the plots from the Jews and compensate them for their investments in those. Regarding the synagogue, the plot would remain in the ownership of the Jews, but the building would have to be demolished or handed over to the King.

The town and the Jews appealed against the verdict, to the King in person. In the meantime, the Jesuits collected testimonies from Christians, who were familiar with the Jewish Quarter, that the synagogue was public and not private. On the other hand, they also tried to influence the King with the help of their supporters. At the end of 1605 the appeal was heard at Kraków. The town was represented by the advisor Stanislaw Anserinus; the Jews – by Nachman ben Izak, Moysa Doktorowicz of Lublin, and the lawyer Laurencyusz Zarebski.

Against the claims of the delegates representing the town, and the Jews, the prosecutor Stanislaw Witkowski showed that the purchase contracts between the Jews and the municipality were totally illegal. Subsequently, the tribunal reached the verdict that the synagogue be confiscated and handed over to the Jesuits. With regard to the plots and houses, their owners had to be compensated, and the purchase prices and the investment expenses had to be reimbursed.

Nevertheless, the verdict was not validated as long as

[Pages 63-64]

it had not been confirmed by the King. The Jews took steps to defer it, while the Jesuits did everything to hasten it, and they succeeded. On the 8th January 1606, they obtained an order in which the King recommended to the town council, to address the repurchase of the plots and houses without delay.

The Jews still wanted to appeal to the crown–court (“trybunal koronny”) at the Sejm which was supposed to convene at Warsaw, that frightened the Jesuits since they knew that most of the nobles opposed them.

In February 1606, the legal representatives of the community Nachman ben Izak, Aron ben Rubin and the lobbyist Mendel went to Warsaw. However, only a small number of the nobles assembled there, so that the Jews could do little. For their part, the Jesuits pressed the town to implement the verdict. The municipality rejected, but eventually demanded from them“handout–certificates” and received the certificates.

On the 28th February 1606, they came to receive the synagogue. Mardochaj ben Izak, the brother of Nachman, stood at the entrance to his house when the Jesuits, the representatives of the municipality and clerks arrived. He let them into the synagogue and gave the Jesuits everything with no objection, in the spirit of the King's ruling.

Meanwhile a crowd of Christians arrived, jubilant of their victory over the Jews.

After the synagogue was handed over to the Jesuits, they and their escorts left the building. But the entrance to, and exit from it was solely via the corridor in Mardochaj's apartment, and here he blocked their passage and declared that the priests and worshippers would depend wholly on his permission to enter the“new church”. Therefore, he proposed that the Jesuits sell him the building and build themselves their church elsewhere. When the Jesuits rejected his proposal, Mardochaj informed them that it was only on that occasion that he had let them pass; in the future he would not let anyone pass through his corridor, since that was not included in the King's ruling. There and then the Jesuits protested against his remark. Mardochaj let them out, then he locked the gate and took away the key.

The following day, the friar Gajowski arrived and found that the door to the corridor which had always stood open, was shut.

The Jesuits submitted an appeal to the town council. Mardochaj did not attend but declared through his counsel that he did not recognize its authority. He only appeared on the third date, and declared that the Jesuits were demanding something which was not theirs. The only option left to the town council was to recognize the truth of Mardochaj's pleading.

In the intervening period the political events in Poland had undergone changes. In 1606, Mikolaj Zebrzydowski, Janusz Radziwill and Herburt, who led the rebellion, assembled at Sandomir [Sadomierz] the confederation [commonwealth] which established among the 64 complaints against the King, also that he had been surrounded by Jesuits. The changes forced the Jesuits to compromise with the Jews, since they feared that the Jews would find support from the Sejm, and would win. Archbishop Zamojski, the superior of the Jesuits Decyusz Striver, the friar Gajewski and delegates of the Jews who were at the time at Warsaw, arrived at an agreement on the 16th April 1606, without the knowledge of the town council. According to the agreement, for the houses and the plots in the Jewish area – the old synagogue and the municipal baths – the Jews of Lwów were to provide other houses, which they would need to buy and transfer to the Jesuits, in exchange. They had to buy the houses by the 15th August 1606. And the Jesuits had to obtain the consent of the town council and the King's confirmation, and to waive all claims on the houses and plots of the Jews, which were handed over to them according to the verdict of the 3rd January 1606.

Interior of the Great Synagogue on Boimów Street

When, after their return to Lwów, the delegates of the Jews started to negotiate with the municipality about the sale of the old synagogue and the bathhouse, and offered 3000 Zloty as compensation, the municipality did not agree to their sale. The interest of the municipality lay in not letting the Jesuits into the town. It also did not recognize the agreement between the Jesuits and the Jews, and rejected the purchase of the plots of the Jews.

When the Jesuits realized the difficulties, they decided to wait. Meanwhile the rebel army of Zebrzydowski which was in part directed against the Jesuits had been defeated. That moment, the Jesuits considered

[Pages 65-66]

the right time to act. They started by gaining the support of those influential within the royal court. To the King who was in need of funds to pay army wages, they lent 10,000 Zloty, and gained his support in their issues. Under the influence of his wife, Zolkiewski also recommended them to the King, and Queen Constance [Konstanza of Austria] spoke in their favour too. The King established a new committee, headed by Zolkiewski, whose purpose was to transfer the old synagogue, the bathhouse and the adjacent plots, over to the Jesuits. Actually, the action was directed against the municipality due to its recalcitrant, negative attitude.

When in the middle of January 1607 the committee arrived at Lwów, it estimated the value of the buildings at 3,000 Zloty.[8] The Jews agreed to find the sum, but the town council did not accept the committee's decision. On the contrary, it immediately submitted its objection. Despite the appeal, the committee transferred the buildings to the Jesuits, and ordered to record the matter in the register of the Grod [castle] (law–court).

Presented with a fait accompli, the municipality decided to send to Kraków a delegation to the King. The delegation was received by the King with great anger, and it returned home with no actual results.

Then an opportunity arose which compelled the municipality to make concessions. At the same time the citizens of the suburbs suggested to incorporate their houses within the other side of the town–walls, and suggested to the King to extend the town–walls. The King accepted the suggestion. The municipality objected to that since it feared that those changes might also lead to extending the privileges, to the suburbs, something which was inconvenient for the municipality.

For that reason, they decided to concede to the Jesuits if in turn they would agree to support their cause, with the King. The superior of the Jesuits agreed to the municipality's suggestion. The municipality's delegate and the Jesuits went to Kraków, and on the 11th June 1608 the tribunal headed by King Sigismund III, determined that within six weeks the municipality had to transfer the old synagogue and the bathhouse, for the sum of 3000 Zloty. The order given to the Jews on the 3rd June 1606 was repealed, and their confiscated houses including the new synagogue, were returned to them. In order to settle all the issues a committee of three commissaries was appointed, which issued its report on the 13th June 1608, stating that the Jews had to pay the municipality the sum of 3,000 Zloty for the bathhouse and the old synagogue; for the repair of the town–wall till 1611, 4,000 Zloty in three instalments; compensation for the rent of the old synagogue till 1614, 100 Zloty per year, and in 1614, 2,000 Zloty. According to the committee's decision the new synagogue was returned to the Jews solely as a private house, and its use for prayers would henceforth depend on the wishes of the King and the archbishop of Lwów.

On the 23rd June 1608, a new agreement was signed between the Jews and the Jesuits, replacing the agreement of the 10th April 1606. The Jews undertook to find the moneys for the purchase of the houses, the Jesuits agreed to return to the Jews the plots and houses which had been confiscated from them and given to the Jesuits. On 25th June 1606, the Jews received from the Jesuits the certificates for the transfer of the property, and on that very day the King's confirmation was also obtained.

The tombstone on the grave of the author of “Turei Zahav”

On the 23rd July the committee arrived at Lwów and immediately took care of all details of the agreements, and entered in the documents of the Grod, a protocol of its actions. That ended the conflict between the Jews and the Jesuits which had cost them the sum of 20,600 Zloty, out of which the municipality received 9,600 and the Jesuits 11,000 Zloty, and another sum for the purchase of an additional house. The Jews paid the moneys punctually, and completed the payments on the 15th January 1613. In the spring of 1609, the new synagogue was festively opened. To mark the occasion, Rabbi Izak ben Samuel HaLevy,[9] the brother of David ben Samuel HaLevy author of“Turei Zahav” composed a special prayer song. With great joy they celebrated the return of the new synagogue. With that came to an end the difficult chapter in the history of the Jews within the town.

At that period, the development of the community saw great advancement.

[Pages 67-68]

The Great Synagogue within the Town

Apart from the synagogue, in the years 1571–1600 were constructed: a hospital, an almshouse, a yeshiva. Within the Quarter itself several houses were constructed, a road was paved from the house of Nachman ben Izak up to Ruska Street, the streets were repaired and improved. At the time, the first Hebrew printing house was established at Lwów.

After the trial with the Jesuits, peace and well–being reigned, but not for long. On the 26th May 1616, a great fire broke out which lasted two days and destroyed all the houses in the Jewish street. The condition of the casualties was so severe that the King issued a special order on the 28th December 1616, to release them from all taxes and payments for the following four years.

The community started to construct houses straight away. And on that occasion most of the rest of the houses and plots near the town–wall and within the Jewish Quarter, passed into Jewish ownership.

In 1623, another fire broke out in town, and hardly had they recovered when in 1624 the Tatars invaded Reissen, killing and robbing whole settlements on their way. At Lwów only the Jews outside the town suffered at their hands.

The heir of Sigismund, his eldest son Wladislaw IV (1632–1648) ratified the privileges, and during his reign both communities developed.

Under him, in 1639, the agreement was renewed with the municipality which made concessions in favour of Jewish trade, since it had to contribute 102,000 Gulden towards the army wages, and it required the support of the Jews. In 1645, the community suffered again from a great fire.

Three years had not yet passed before the disaster of 1648.

[Pages 347-348]

Notes – CHAPTER 3
All notes in square brackets [ ] were made by the translator.

  1. Hilary Nussbaum: Historya Zydow t. V. Warszawa 1890, p. 168. Return
  2. Dr. M. Balaban: Zydzi lwowscy p. 97, Nr. 49, p. 4–5. Return
  3. The increased hatred towards the Jews can be read in the words of the writer Zimorowicz, who terms the Jews: hirudines (leeches), greges glirium (flocks of dormice), colluvies (pollution). from: Leopolis Triplex, ed. K. Heck pp. 43, 63. Return
  4. The content of that privilege appeared also in the decision of the Sejm of Piotrków. Return
  5. “sinagogas novas unique etiam Cracovice muro extructas, destrui facere mandat, licet eium in memoriam passionis Salvatoris nostri. Judaei ab ecclesia tolerentur tamen numerrus forum auger debet menime qui iuxa sacrarium canoaum dispositionem veteres sinagogas reformare, novas autem praesertim ex muro minime construere possunt”. (Ulanowski: Materialy do historyi ustawodawstwa synodalnego w Polsce XVI wieku t. IX, pp. 67–68). Return
  6. Published in: Balaban 1. c. materyaly Nr. 49. Return
  7. One of the landowners in Lesser Poland, whose advice the Jesuits sought, told them clearly that:“Patres qui vobis suasit ut contra Judaeos causam moveretis, erat vester maximus hostis”.
    (”Fathers, whoever advised you to start a dispute with the Jews was your greatest foe”).
    (Scriptores verum polonicarum t. II, p. 70 Nr. 62) Return
  8. Balaban: Zydzi Lwowscy p.134. Return
  9. Born c.1589, at Vladimir Volhynia, was a pupil of Jozue [Joshua] Falk, known as a scholar and expert also in secular knowledge, his song was published in print with commentary.
    Dr. J. Caro: Geschichte der Juden in Lemberg. pp 152–158.
    Rabbi Izak was rabbi at Chelm Volynskyi and in 1627 he became head of the Yeshiva at Poznan. He wrote a book on grammar which was, according to SaDaL [Samuel David Luzzatto], the first Hebrew grammar, as well as Responsa on Jewish Law. Rabbi Jozue [Joshua] Falk, and Rabbi Majer of Lublin determined that his song be read out at all the communities during the morning prayer on the Sabbath after Purim. He died in 1638. Return


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