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[Page 430]

Libiaz

(Libiąż, Poland)

5006' 1919'

This is a village some ten kilometers distant from Oshpitzin and belonged to the Chrzanow districts. The Jews there, however, had always kept close contact with the Jews of Oshpitzin, in family ties, business relations, and on matters of public and Kehilla concern. More than a 150 years ago, R’ Yosef Libionzher was a prominent figure. His son, R’ Leibel Scheinberg was the father-in-law of Rabbi Chaim Zvi Kupferman who served more than 40 years as the Av Besdin of Oshpitzin. R’ Yosef was called “Libionzher” because he was an owner of an estate, fields, and forests in Libiaz.

There are records of Libiaz from the end of the 13th Century. In the 15th Century there were two settlements: Libiaz Wielki (the greater) and Libiaz Maly (the smaller) next to each other, both surrounded by forests stretching many kilometers reaching as far as Oshpitzin.

The 1789 census reports 632 inhabitants and 118 buildings including a beer brewery and liquor distillery, and an inn owned by the above-mentioned R’ Yosef, but the census does not mention Jews by name.

The village, like the surrounding area, passed from one ruler to another, from the Austrian conquest to the Warsaw principality and the Krakow Republic, and when the latter disintegrated, was returned once more to Austrian rule. At the time the estate and mine belonged to the Benfeld [?] family. In the years between the two wars the ownership of the mine was transferred to a French company. Owing to the poor quality of the Libiaz coal, the production was low, only 200,000 tons a year, and only several hundred miners were employed in its production.

There were about two dozen Jewish families in Libiaz before the Shoah. Most were engaged in trade or in the crafts. There was a significant number of Jews in the top echelon of the mine administration and in industry. The bakery, the big store (in which the residents got nearly all they wanted on credit), and taverns were owned by Jews. There was a synagogue there in a picturesque wooden building surrounded by a well-tended garden, in which regular Shabbat and Festival prayers were held. All the other religious and communal requirements were obtained by the Libiaz Jews from nearby Chrzanow and from Oshpitzin, close to their hearts.

 

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