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Translation of Blazowa chapter from
Pinkas Hakehillot Polin
Translation of Blazowa chapter from
Published by Yad Vashem Published in Jerusalem
Judith Carol Goldsmith
Our sincere appreciation to Yad Vashem
This is a translation from: Pinkas Hakehillot:
Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities, Poland, Volume III, pages 90-92,
edited by Shmuel Spector, published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem
JewishGen, Inc. makes no representations regarding the accuracy of
the translation. The reader may wish to refer to the original material
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(District of Rzeszów, Region of Lwow)
Translated by Jerrold Landau
The beginning of the settlement of Błaźowa was in the 15th century. In 1441, it was under private ownership, and was primarily based on agriculture and home-based manufacturing of cloth and textiles.
A Jewish settlement already existed in Błaźowa in the 18th and 19th centuries. The vast majority of people were occupied in small-scale commerce, labor and peddling in the villages. The court of the well-known Admor of Błaźowa served as an additional source of livelihood at the end of the century.
At first, the community of Błaźowa was dependent on the community of Rzeszów. The name of Jewish Błaźowa was tied to the well-known dynasty of Admorim founded by Rabbi Tzvi-Elimelech Spira, the author of Dvar Latzadik, the grandson of Rabbi Tzvi Elimelech of Dynow, the author of Bnei Yissachar and student of the Chozeh of Lublin. Until 1974, Rabbi Tzvi-Elimelech served as the rabbi of Rybotycze. From there, he moved to Błaźowa. During the time he lived in Błaźowa, it became a well-known Hassidic center, to which thousands of Hassidim flocked, especially on the Jewish holidays. Later, Rabbi Tzvi Elimelech moved his court to Lubraniec (Polski), and then to Przemyśl, to Budapest (during the First World War), and then again to Rzeszów, where he died in 1924.
His grandson, Rabbi Meir the son of Yehoshua Spira, took his place and served as the Admor in Błaźowa until he perished in the Holocaust. Prior to his death, he took the manuscript of his grandfather, the Admor of Błaźowa, and gave it over to his Christian neighbor to guard until someone would ask for it. The neighbor kept his promise and guarded the package. After the war, the writings were brought to New York, where they were published. The booklet Zichron Meir by Rabbi Meir the grandson of Rabbi Tzvi Elimelech, was added to the book. Aside from the Admorim who also served as rabbis, there were other rabbis in Błaźowa who also served as heads of the rabbinical court. The following are the names of several of them: Rabbi Pinchas Rafael Mett, rabbinical judge in 1875; Rabbi Pinchas Daniel the son of Rabbi Yosef Med (Mett) who was appointed as rabbinical judge in Błaźowa in 1881 and apparently served in that position until 1894; Rabbi David who was the head of the rabbinical court in Błaźowa, and later the head of the rabbinical court of Sanz (Nowy Sącz); Rabbi Aryeh Horowitz, a rabbi in Błaźowa who perished in the Holocaust in 1943.
Zionist activity began in Błaźowa already in 1912. A committee of the Zionist organization of Western Galicia was active locally until close to the Second World War. In 1933 a chapter of Akiva was founded, which apparently existed until 1936. That year, a local chapter of Young WIZO was founded. Very close to the Second World War in 1939, Hanoar Hatzioni operated at a Hachsharah Kibbutz in the estate of Asher Silber.
In the elections for the Zionist Congress of 1931, the General Zionists received 28 votes, and the union of Revisionist Zionists received 11 votes. For the 1935 Congress, the General Zionists received 102 votes, Mizrachi 59, and Working Land of Israel Bloc 6. From 1924 to 1925, a government appointed commissar ran the communal council. Elections to the communal council took place in 1928, but the outgoing council refused to give up its power, and declared a ban on the new council.
In the city council elections that took place in May 1926, the Polish representatives abrogated their previous agreement, according to which the Jewish representatives would receive a set number of mandates from the outset. The Jews protested the results of the elections, and elections took place once again in December of that year. 21 Jewish delegates were elected out of the 48 council members, including 3 as members of the city leadership.
During the late 1920s, Błaźowa was set at load level 4 rather than load level 3. This was due no in no small part to the activities of the Jewish chairman of the local merchants' and tradesmen's organization, which worked to lessen the stress on the members of the community.
A Talmud Torah was set up in Błaźowa in 1914. In 1923, it had 38 students and six teachers. The Talmud Torah was supported by the Ezrat Torah organization of the United States. From 1925 and onward, Hebrew courses were given by the Tarbut network, with approximately 100 students. There were two Jewish libraries in Błaźowa: one Tarbut the second one affiliated with the Kadima organization.
Open anti-Semitism afflicted the Jews of Błaźowa from 1918 until close to the Second World War. The pogroms against the Jews in November 1918 began in the nearby villages and the roads that led to the city. Several Jews were beaten and robbed. When the first news of tribulation arrived, the Jews of Błaźowa advised the heads of the city to set up a militia in which the Jews would also participate, but the suggestion was rejected. Masses of armed farmers and local riffraff including women from the villages of the area began to stream toward the city wildly, using loaded weapons. Two-hundred Jewish families were plundered and left without anything. The police stood aside and did not chase the pogrom perpetrators away. During these disturbances, there were incidents of rape and even murder.
In 1919, bands of farmers organized again in order to foment a pogrom upon the Jews, but this time, they were dispersed by the police. They sufficed themselves with perpetrating destruction in the Jewish cemetery and plundering the Jews of the area. The farmers imposed a boycott on the Jewish population, and did not sell any food provisions to the Jews. The situation reached the point where the Jews of Błaźowa began to suffer the disgrace of hunger. A decision was taken at a gathering of the farmers to refrain from working in the lands of the Jew Silber. Attacks upon the Jews were daily occurrences on the road leading from Rzeszów to Błaźowa.
The Sejm [Polish Parliament] representative of the district accused the Jewish communal leaders of fixing the price of food. He called for a boycott of the Jews, and advised not to physically beat them for they raise up a large outcry throughout the world. However, they should be forced to forgo their few rights that were promised to them in the peace agreement of 1918, for if not, they would still be upset about this.
The wave of anti-Semitism did not abate, and it returned in 1924, under the leadership of the Ruzuj Endek organization that as located in Rzeszów. Leaflets and pamphlets with strong anti-Semitic content were distributed. As the attacks grew and increased, the Jewish community in Błaźowa began to feel an increasing lack of security.
At that time, the hooligans murdered a Jewish husband and wife while searching for a treasure that they had apparently hidden. Ruzuj continued to conduct anti-Semitic publicity. From a different angle, the government imposed unbearably heavy taxes upon the local Jews, to the point that it destroyed the sources of livelihood. The government also confiscated the property of small-scale merchants.
In 1939, news spread about a Jew who was accused of attempting to kill a Christian maid who served in his house, and use her blood for the baking of matzos for Passover. The rumor even spread that for twenty cents it would be possible to see the victim at the local police station. However, the police quashed the libel.
It is known that a Judenrat was set up in Błaźowa. We have some information about the assistance activities in the community conducted by the Judenrat and the chapter of the J.S.S. during the years 1941-1942. The communal kitchen was closed at the end of May 1941 due to a lack of means. However, it later reopened and continued its existence until March 1942. At around that time, during the months of February and March 1942, the number of those requiring support in Błaźowa reached approximately 300.
In June or July 1941, more than 20 local Jews were arrested. They were transferred to a prison in Rzeszów, where Jews from nearby Kolbuszowa were also imprisoned. Their family members as well as the Judenrat members of Błaźowa concerned themselves with them, travelled to Rzeszów, and gave the prisoners food packages by bribing the prison guards. Finally, the prisoners of Błaźowa were released for a large ransom sum.
The liquidation of the Jewish community of Błaźowa began in June 1942, when the residents were deported to the Rzeszów Ghetto. It is possible that some elderly and sick people were murdered during the aktion. It also seems that the local Admor Rabbi Meir Spira was among these victims. The vast majority of the Jews of Błaźowa who had been transferred to Rzeszów were deported to the Belzec Death Camp in July 1942, along with the Jews of that city as well as other deportees from the district.
Yad Vashem Archives 021/15, 021/16, 021/19.
ATz'M Z-1/414, Z-3/178, Z-3/179,Z-3/820, Z-4/222-23, Z-4 226-24 B, Z-4/234-13
AJDC Archives: Countries Poland, Medical Report 377; Cult. Rel. 344a.
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