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Introduction

When tragic stories about the destruction of European Jewry and the murder of our brothers in Poland arrived in Eretz Israel, even before the end of the Second World War, as well as organizing help and rescue actions on behalf of the survivors, the idea was born of eternalising the memory of our dearest ones – the tragically murdered victims and their communities. This holy task was undertaken by the landsmanshaft groups in Eretz Israel.

Those exiled from Pabianice also decided to publish a memorial book that would tell the history of the Jewish community of Pabianice – its life and suffering, struggle and striving – from the first days after the foundation of the city in the late 1800s until its tragic destruction during the years 1939 to 1945.

The publication committee of the Pabianice Memorial Book called out to all of us from Pabianice who are now living all over the world, as follows: “A group of landslayt from Pabianice took the initiative and will soon publish a Pabianice Memorial Book, which will serve as a tombstone on the grave of a great Jewish community in Poland which was cut down together with hundreds of other Jewish communities. This will be a memorial for us and for our children until the last generation. This book will gather historical and literary materials, as well as documents and photographs that are relevant to the town in which we were born and grew up.”

* * *

The job of putting together a memorial book of the Jewish community of Pabianice was not easy. The book had to include more or less three eras:

  1. The earliest years of the Jewish community of Pabianice;
  2. Jewish life during the 20th century until the destruction of Polish Jewry; and
  3. The years 1939–1945.

We attempted to find material about Jewish Pabianice in Israeli public libraries. Unfortunately the well–known Jewish encyclopaedias and history books almost entirely ignore the subject of Pabianice, its Jewish life and activities. The Jewish community of Pabianice, with its tragically short history of almost 150 years – no shorter than that of the Jewish community of the neighbouring city Lodz – did not even merit having a modest historical paper written about it.

It is worth noting that the historian of Pabianice, Maximillian Baruch, the converted son of Reb Baruch Majer Baruch (one of the founders of the Jewish textile industry in our town), published dozens of worthy studies about Pabianice. The most important among them are:

The French Aristocratic Colony on Old Pabianice Estates;
The German Colonies In the Pabianice District;
Law Courts in the Pabianice Estates during the 16th Century; Pabianice, Rzgow and the Surrounding Villages;

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The Intended Russification of the Pabianice District; and
King Jagiello's Visit to Pabianice.

One would think that quite a bit of the history of Pabianice would be dealt with in these books. Yet there is not even one note in them about the “Jewish colonization” in Pabianice and the surrounding area, about Jewish ability and energy, about the role of Jews in the development of the large local textile industry that enriched the country with new economic value and with cultural and social institutions. Only a convert – and a convert with evil intentions – would be capable of such a lack of appreciation and of so little historical objectivity about the important roles played by Jews in the development of Pabianice.

One of the last issues of the Yiddish language “Pabianice Newspaper”, published towards the end of 1938, promised its readers that it would soon publish the history of Jews in Pabianice, but we never got to see even the beginning of this work by a new generation of Jewish historians. This issue was the last issue of the “Pabianice Newspaper” to be found in our Israeli archive. Later in this book a photo of this issue can be seen.

* * *

For the first part of this book we used various Jewish historical studies that are relevant to Lodz and the surrounding area, such as:

A.Tenenbojm's “The History of Lodz and the Jews of Lodz
A. Wolf Jasni's “History of the Jewish Labour Movement in Lodz
Ph. Friedman's “The Jewish Ghetto in Lodz
“The Chronicle of the Jewish Community of Lodz
“The Participation of Lodz Jews in the Polish Uprising of 1863”
Ashkol A.Z.'s “The Lodz Jewish Community”
“A City and Mother in Israel”
Gliksman F.Z.'s “Ir Lasek Uchachmia”
Lodz Tarf”u” [1926]
And the only Polish language brochure about Pabianice:
K. Staszewski's “ilustrowany przewodnik po Pabjanicach”. Lasku i powiecie laskim. Pabianice 1929.

* * *

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The chapters about the second era – especially about the years between World War I and World War II – are mostly based on the memoirs written by those who had been inhabitants of Pabianice but now live in Israel and in other Jewish communities (mostly Argentina). They sent us interesting memoirs about this particular era, which was the boom time of the history of Jews in Pabianice. This was an era when Jewish creative energies in Lodz, Pabianice and the surrounding area burgeoned. This growth included Jewish industrial workers, Jewish factory owners, industrialists, technicians, engineers and great mercantile businesses. Connections were forged throughout greater Russia, the Caucasus, Siberia and even China. These underpinned the businesses that were created by Jews in Pabianice. It was an era in which new cultural institutions were also built, beginning with modern cheders, primary schools, secondary schools, libraries, choirs, drama groups and new social institutions such as Jewish banks, which provided credit to Jewish businessmen, tradesmen and factory owners. At this time we find a Jewish labour movement developing in Pabianice. It fought for the right to work and for better work conditions. New political groups and parties developed – especially the Zionist movement. This all brought a new spirit into Jewish Pabianice and new holy ideals.

This part of the book also includes articles and descriptions of social, cultural and political institutions. These form a gallery of interesting characters, descriptions of the small world of Pabianice with its joys and sorrows and pictures of both the intimate worlds and the external environment.

* * *

The third era is the tragic end of our Pabianice Jewish community. The bestial German destruction of Jews is told via evidence given by survivors from Pabianice. This gives a clear, sharp impression of the period of the killing, for which the words terrible and tragic are a pale and weak definition of the experiences suffered near the margin of life and death. This particular era is, however, the most important part of the book for us, because it tells of the martyrdom of our nearest and dearest. It tells of their last years on the Polish soil where Jews had lived for generations, dreamed and fought for a better future not only for themselves and their children, but also for all Jews and non–Jews.

Together with our martyrs, who died for the sanctification of God's name during the German destruction of Jewish life, we also remember our new heroes in this Memorial Book. They are the sons of Pabianice who fell in the battle for Jewish freedom in the State of Israel.

* * *

This memorial volume of the Pabianice Jewish community has been published thanks to the careful work of the editorial committee. Our comrades Engineer Dawid Dawidowicz, Michal Wolf Kochman and Gershon Rajchman undertook the sacred responsibility of bringing this Memorial Book project to fruition. During the last ten years or so, we have collected materials for this book from libraries, from historians, from writers, from poets and especially from our landslayt in Israel, and in the other countries to which fate has brought them.

Congratulations are due to the editor of this book, A. Wolf Jasni, who responsibly dedicated himself to preparing the material and put into it not only great effort, but also much heart.

We send a special thank you to all our friends in Israel, and to those from the Pabianice landsmanshaftn across America, Canada, Australia and Argentina, for their help in the publication of our Pabianice Memorial Book.

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Our Pabianice Memorial Book is an important memorial stone on the thousands of graves of our holy brothers.

The editors.

* * *

The Scroll of Pabianice

An illustrated chronicle of Jewish Pabianice

When Jewish life in Pabianice flowed with its normal pace, the young artist Dawid Dawidowicz attempted to put together a colourful miniature scroll – an illustrated chronicle of Jewish life in Pabianice. These illustrations show us:

 

pab004.jpg

The Pabianice synagogue

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pab005.jpg

The Jewish Community Building in Pabianice

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pab006.jpg

The Pabianice City Hall Castle

 

The Hebrew texts, which are written in the style of ancient scrolls, tell historical stories about the lives of Jews in this town, connected to these buildings.

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Dawid Dawidowicz also created an artistically illustrated “Hagada Shel Pesach”, which he named a “Hagada Shel Pabianice”. Examples follow.

* * *

The Pabianice Hagada

Written by Avraham Wajs (Tel Aviv)

[translation of the Hebrew text begins on page 253]

* * *

pab007.jpg

“Hagada Shel Pabianice”, illustrated by D Dawidowicz,
Shulchan Aruch” (The Set Table)

[Page 8]

pab008.jpg

Hagada Shel Pabianice
“Chad Gadya”

 

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