Chapter One – This is the History
By T.M. Rabinowicz
A. The Oldest Times
The city of Radomsk is one of
the oldest settlements
in Poland; its name comes from the river Radomka, which flows in the region.
At the beginning,
the city was called Radomsko, later Radomsk, and in the 19 SIZE="-1">th
Russians gave it the name Noworadomsk. With the re-establishment of Poland
after the First World War, she returned to her old name: Radomsko.
Radomsko was already known as a
settlement in the 11>th
centuries. Poland was then a typical feudal
country, divided into feudal princely states: Radomsko belonged to the Sieradz
principality. The feudal castle in Sieradz [at that time] ruled over the
settlement: Warta, Lask, Radomsko, and the neighboring settlements: Kowalowice,
Brzeznica, Wazniki, etc. The first official document about the city comes from
1243 and in it is mentioned Konrad I, Prince of Krakow and Lentshitz? [and]
the new Radomsko settlement, in relation to the privileges given to the
However an extremely important
document originated in the year 1266 and was authored by the Sieradz Duke,
Leshik the Black. In [this] document all the privileges were [listed]
which were given to the Radomsker inhabitants
This document gives us picture of the life in the Polish settlements in the
13th century. The suburbs around the settlement were covered with thick forests
and the inhabitants [obtained their sustenance] through fishing and hunting.
They [cleared] the forest and it was gradually transformed into agricultural
areas for the princely court. As a result, artisans were found [there]:
shoemakers, blacksmiths, etc., who were obliged to provide their work to the
prince. Internal trade was not developed. Money had meager use as a medium of
exchange and [goods were the means of exchange].
According to the [above]
mentioned document from the year 1266, the [prince] received the right of
sovereignty over the Radomsk community, for a payment of 20
) which went through [the right of] inheritance to his children. The residents
were freed from having to pay taxes -- during the course of 3 years -- in
relation to agricultural areas, and during the course of 12 years in relation
to forest areas. After [this] said term, it was necessary to pay the princely
[treasury] four pieces of silver for every field (30 acres, nearly 150
). The inhabitants were obliged to pay taxes to the city management. The
municipal artisans -- butchers, shoemakers, bakers and the mill owner by the
Radomka River-were freed from paying. The city residents enjoyed the right to
hunt animals in the surrounding forests.
Special coins, [which] were
minted by the duke, served as [the coinage] which the residents were obliged to
The lord also had the right of
judgment, punishment and carrying out death sentences with the sword.
The designated privileges were
given in Melushin in the presence of the military, the finance minister and his
treasurer [and] also of the vice-secretary and his representatives. The
document [which] was written on parchment was found during [this] century in
the Radomsk City Archives. Its writers have remained anonymous.
With the consolidation of the
Polish kingdom in the 14th, the land was divided into
(provinces). Radomsk and the [towns in its] vicinity were included in the
Province of Sieradz and that is how it remained until the 18th
century. The city of Radomsk itself was transformed into a 'princely city'
with special privileges in the area of self-government [and] legal and economic
[matters]. In 1466 the privileges of the city of Radomsk were [ratified] by
Kazimierz Jagiel Lonczyk and in 1511 by King Zigmund the First.
In the 17thand 18thcenturies, Radomsk also suffered from the [same] general decline of the Polish
State. At the end of the 18th century (1780) King Stanislaw August established a special commission assigned
to elevate the status of the Polish State. This commission visited Radomsk (in
1785) and on the basis of a special map created the boundaries of the city and
of the suburb Bugai. The previous year's Siem had also established a commission
for State Affairs which visited Radomsk and resulted in the decision that
(counties or districts) in the Sieradz
with the cities Sieradz, Piotrokow, Sadek and Radomsko.
After the Partition of Poland
(1793) Radomsk found itself under Prussian rule. The occupied area was divided
into "departments" and Radomsk belonged to the Kaliszer Department.
This division existed until the year 1806, when the Prussians left Poland and
even later [as the "Warsaw Duchy."]
With the return of the Russians
in 1816, [the] new administrative division, the [Kingdom] of Poland, organized
a Russian police [force] in the city and gradually brought in various changes
with a view towards Russifying the former Polish realm. In 1837 Poland was
[divided into] provinces or
[At] first Radomsk [was part of] the Kalisher
, in 1845 [it was transferred to] the Warsaw
, and in 1867 [it became part of the] Piotrkow
. The city proper had strong growth and it was transformed into a District city
with a new name: Nowo-Radomsko. This situation lasted until the year 1914 --
namely until the First World War. In that year Radomsko was taken by the
Austrian [forces]. In 1915 the
occupation authorities divided the territory into sections, and Piotrokow and
Radomsk were subject to the Lublin Governor-General. In 1918 the Polish
Republic was established. Radomsko was again transformed into a district-city
of the Lodz Military
In 1939, there was the outbreak
of another world war and Radomsko was under Nazi occupation [for the duration
of the war], until the hour of the Nazi defeat by the Allied nations in 1945.
During the course of a
generation in Radomsko a small [Jewish] settlement [developed] and at the
beginning of the 19th century (1808) [the city] had a [total] population of
1108 people. In [the 19th century,] there was strong development in the city.
By 1827, the number of inhabitants had increased to 1792 people (including 369
Jews), in 1858: 3605 inhabitants (1554 Jews), in 1897 the population had
already reached 11, 761 (including 5054 Jews -- 43%) and in 1921 the population
had reached 18,732 (7,774 Jews -- 41.5%). Before the Second World War the
general population was counted as 25,000 people, [with about] 10,000 Jews.
The Economic Life
Radomsko, which from the start
of the Middle Ages was surrounded by forests, developed during the course of
the century into a commercial and trade center for the surrounding rural
locale. In the 19th century strong growth increased the importance of Radomsko
so that it became a district-city (1867) and especially when the railroad line
was built between Warsaw-Krakow-Vienna. The city found itself between the
Piotrkow train station on one side and the Czestochowa station on the other
side. Schools, hospitals, a Circuit Court and district offices were opened,
which served [all the villages in the vicinity]. In the city, trade and
industry also developed. Two bent furniture factories and a wool factory were
built, which employed 961 workers. Radomsk furniture was exported from Odessa
to the Caucasus and Asia Minor. The wool was sold in Bialystok. In addition,
Radomsko was a center of grain marketing in the vicinity. The grain was
exported to Prussia. In the city were found hotels and about 110 businesses.
The market, from which
[radiated] 11 brick streets, was located in the center of town. There were
approximately 4000 houses. Radomsko became the trading center for the
: Przedborz, Plawno, Wolin, Wloszczowa, Koniecpol, Pajeczno, etc.
B. The Beginning of the Jewish Community in Radomsk
The beginning of the Jewish
community in Radomsk is [hidden] in a mist. The Archive of the old city was
burned during the big fire of 1624. The documents [granting] the first
privilege[s] which were given to the city in 1266 by Leshek the Black were
[lost in] smoke at the same time. [No longer kept out] several Jews were
already living in Radomsko during the 16th and 17th century, mainly in the
neighboring village of Bugai.
After the previously mentioned
edict, the Polish residents pressed for a 'privilege,' which would ban the Jews
from settling in the city, and they achieved this. According [to] the
'privilege' received from King Wladyslaw the Fourth, the Jews were banned from
settling in Radomsko.(1643). This privilege was valid until 1862. During that
whole epoch a Jewish settlement with a
existed in Bugai. The number of Jews was small and up to the end of the 18th
century (1765) there was in the whole of the Sieradz
(province) not more than 4950 Jewish inhabitants. This number included the Jews
from the towns: Lask, Warta, Dobra, Blaski, Lutomiersk, Piotrkow, Koniecpol,
Kaminsk, Przedborz. According to the official census of 1808, there were 1808
(the number is correct) Christian inhabitants and not any Jews ([they were, in
effect, living in Bugai]). By the second official census of 1827 the city
[contained] 1792 inhabitants including 369 Jews. The Jews didn't live in the
city itself, but outside its boundaries. Because of the ban against living in
Radomsk, they called the city "
" (unkosher place). A similar situation [occurred in] a lot of [other]
Polish cities. The Jews settled in the neighboring areas of the places that was
forbidden to them, in the surrounding landlord's estates and villages and they
came into the city only because of the business which they [had to do]. Such
settlements were founded in Rozprza near Piotrkow, Przytyk near Radom, Boblik
near Samber, etc. In addition these settlements were thorns in the eyes of the
Polish city dwellers who constantly [presented] protests to the king and the
Siem. These protests for the most part were futile, because the lords were
interested in keeping the Jewish settlement near them [because they were] a
source of income.
First, the Jewish settlement in
Radomsk belonged to the adjacent Pzredborz community and their dead were
brought for burial to the Sulmierzycer cemetery. In this era, the Jewish
population spread through the villages that had started adjacent to the larger
communities. In the Jewish history in Poland there were known to be a lot of
cases in which the Jewish settlements were able to free themselves from the
guardianship of the neighboring communities after long disagreements and
A similar situation originated
in the 18th century in Radomsko. In Bugai bit by bit a Jewish settlement grew
up with a
and their own rabbi. Striving to [build up] a separate community with its own
communal institutions, the Radomsko settlement built their own
and started to pay taxes to the Przedborz community.
The Bugai Jews weren't actually
permitted to trade in Radomsk, but the [reality of] life was stronger than the
law. The Jews had consulted with different police agents and [tried various]
remedies in order to [get around] the law and heartily traded with the
surrounding peasants. The community grew [steadily] and the whole economy
The year 1821 brought with it a
significant change in the situation of the Polish Jews. Polish society was
under the [continuing] influence of the French Revolution for almost thirty
years [which] led first to the four year Siem and later in the different
occupied realms [to] an incessant debate about the rights of the Polish
Jews. Liberal views were permitted to be heard about the need for direction in
educating the young Jewish population in Polish schools, to bring them closer
to Polish society and to assimilate them. The
proponents of the old "traditional" opinions took a stand which
desired still more to limit Jewish rights, to expel the Jews from the villages
and to block them [from] the way to new sources of [earning a] living. Although
there were various projects dealing with equal rights and the like, in general
nothing happened. Yet something did occur: the Jewish community and its elders,
unchanged in form for generations, was [disbanded]. The community was always a
thorn in the eyes of the Jewish enemies and, anyway, in the eyes of the Jewish
assimilationists and the
, which saw in them a fortress of Jewish nationalist and religious solidarity
which they strove with all [their] strength to eradicate.
In 1821 Jewish
(organized Jewish communities) were abolished in Congress Poland and in their
committees were established in which were represented the Rabbi and three
(trustees). In practice these committees had enough latitude to compensate and
fulfill the functions of the former
. They had the right to tax the Jewish population and to collect taxes with the
help of the City Council and the village judges (bailiffs). The
committee was a legal administrative body and bore the character of an
official public institution.
The first document which throws a light on the history of the Radomsk Jews in
the [1820's] is the report the '
committee' presented to the regime about its activities and this is the
contents (translated from Polish):
committee was employed in 1822 with the collection of the receipts from the
In accordance with the regulations from the Piotrkow County Manager of
1.11.1828 (November 1, 1828) and of the representative [with authority] over
the town in the same county, of 19.1.1829 (January 19, 1829) the Radomsk
municipal office carried out on 3.3.1829 a check of the accounts of the
committee for the years 1821-1825 (inclusive) and also listened to the opinions
of distinguished residents of the Jewish religion.
One result coming out of the 1822-1825 era is that the
committee did not [have any cash surplus] and in 1826 the committee showed a
surplus of five gilden.
The cited prominent residents of the Jewish religion were:
N. Brandeis, Josek (Josef) Birger, Wolf Rozenstein, Herszl Ru-Araham Epshtein,
Herszlik Grosberg, Eliahu Rozenstein, Zinfeld, Israel Gliksman, Abraham
Grosman, Aron (Ahron) Sobel, Efraim Altman, Lewek (Leib) Altman, Dawid
Gliksman, Josef Sklarczyk, Aizyk-Kopel Rapoport, Wolf Lubelski.
[They] asserted that in the years 1822-1824 there hadn't been any distinct
expenses and income in support of the
, the rabbi and the
As permitted by statute, the salaries of the rabbi, the
and the other leaders of the
committee were paid from the receipts from the
cashbox and from the religious activities of the
The community leaders did not pay any special duties (taxes).
The treasurer of the
committee in 1829 was Hersz Besser. The committee distributed [to] the poor two
of the Synagogue Committee Treasury in Radomsk
Piotrkow Poviat (County)-for the Year 1827
1. The Fixed
Accounting which the School Committee had in the year 1821 the subsequent
receipts from collections and donations:
1. From donations in the school twice weekly
2. From estrog and lulav
3. From worshipers on Yom Kippur
4. From the
2. From Leaseholders
3. [Miscellaneous] Income
1. Payments for Kosher meat from Gabriel Goldberg
2. Payments for 13 seats in the
from Nahaman Brand
3. Payments for seats near the Holy Ark
1. From wax which is leftover from the Yom Kippur candles
2. From weddings
4. From wheat money ('contributions for providing the poor with Passover cakes)
5. From obligations (pledges) from all community members
2. Personal salaries (pensions)
1. For Rabbi Johanan Kligerman
2. The Treasurer Krulikewitsh
3. The Cantor Wolf Lubelski
Wolf Zeidman ("reader of the Torah in the Synagogue")
6. The Hospital Overseer Herszel Spitelnik
3. [In addition] Maintaining the Synagogue
1. For 100 pounds candles
2. For the
3. Straw on the ground, Yom Kippur in the Synagogue
4. Writing materials for the Committee and Treasurer
5. For the
1. Charges for the Synagogue site.
15 gr[oshen] 4 [gilden]
2. For cleaning the chimneys, (preparations) (?) and fire extinguisher
--according to the certification of Bugai village baliff (on the place
the Synagogue is located).
5. Support for the Poor [people]
1.Three sacks of flour on Passover ("Passover flour"*)
* "flour distributed to the poor on for Passover"
2. Support for the local poor [people and those who are] strangers
6. Other expenses
Signed by the Treasurer Krulikewitsh and the members from the Radomsk Synagogue
Mair Brandes/Abraham Beser/Shmul Zilbershatz
From this document and from the
statistical data, we can paint a picture of Jewish life in Radomsk at the start
of the 19th century. The settlement totaled approximately 400 Jews. They had a
Synagogue committee, which carried on all [the] functions of a community.
Official[ly it] was asked to collect special taxes [which were] advantageous to
the community, ... different taxes. The community consistently had a teacher,
a pious man named Reb. Johanan Kligerman and of the other ecclesiastical
offices [there] was a cantor, a
(reader of the Torah), a
(ritual slaughter), a treasurer of the committee and a secretary. All were
The Jews lived on the borders
of the suburb Bugai, which was [separated] from the city of Radomsk by a
special entrance with a gate. At the gate a Jewish guard [stood watch].
Charitable activity was also
carried on. There was a distribution of flour for the poor, collections of
(alms for providing the poor with their Passover needs for Passover, [money to
provide support] for the local [poor] and [for] poor strangers, and [for] the
Jewish hospital and the separate hospital overseer (
), (perhaps, here was meant the
), and medical help in the form of a "
" (hospital for the poor) and the like.
C. The Jewish Population in the 19th Century (1830-1900)
In 1832 a new influence began in the life of the Radomsk Jews. The number of
Jews living in the city constantly grew. The community decided to hire a rabbi
and a president of the Tribunal and chose Rabbi Shloma Hacohen from Wloszczowa
whom they were obligated to pay a stable salary, 15 Polish gilden, rent a
special apartment for him and so forth. The document that the Radomsk community
sent to the Rabbi describes the outpouring of joy that they were worthy
in the end of becoming an important Jewish cultural center.
From the beginning Rabbi Shloma
did not want to take upon himself the yoke of the Rabbinate. His rebbes and
Hasidim and separate[ly] Rabbi Dov Ber from Radoszyce, advised him to accept
the Rabbinate, assuring him that in honor of his sacred activities he would
soon no longer suffer from the trouble or worry of raising children. Rabbi
Shloma decided to travel to Radomsk and stay there several weeks, in order to
meet the residents, and only then first decide if he would [accept] the
The flowery answer of the Radomsk community to Rabbi Sholma's letter describes
the following characteristic conditions of the Rabbinate in the community in
a. The said respected man, the
above-mentioned honorable respected rabbi, would sit on the Rabbinate chair of
the holy community of Radomsk and of the district for the next given term in
order to teach the people of G-d's army G-d's way in judging between blood and
blood and between Jewish law and Jewish law.
b. Preaching publicly [during the] year for
[in addition to preaching during] the 'fearful days' (New Years Day, the Day
of Atonement, and the days between them) and the blowing of the
every year in order to turn away more [people] from sin.
g. Coming every
for 'the reading of the Law' up to the end of the
prayer (the additional service for Sabbaths and festivals) beside [during]
the three principal holidays (Passover,
d. He was not permitted to
travel away from us to any other community during the High Holy Days and during
the three principal holidays [of Passover,
Shavous or Sukkos
], but would
with us in the
for the High Holy Days within the [community].
For his holy work, the above-mentioned rabbi would receive every week 15 Polish
gilden, which was paid to him from the day when he arrived, in that fortunate
hour to take the rabbinical chair. His salary was paid to him on a quarterly
[In addition] the residents of our town were obliged to rent for him a pretty
apartment in accordance with his honor and to pay for it from the communal
[From] all of the income from
the rabbinate, namely [the fees from betrothals, weddings, etc.]
from our town and from the vicinity, the rabbi would take three fourths and
the Keheilah officials would receive the [remaining] fourth.
(the person holding the child at circumcision) and
(prayer books for marriage ceremonies) for here and for the district were of
concern to the Rabbi. In the event when it would be the goodwill of the
residents of our city to be honored with
of holding the child for a circumcision for another, he was obliged to give
the above-mentioned rabbi three gilden.
For Succoth each year, the
community was obliged to rent rooms for him as a gift.
The inhabitants of our town were obliged to endeavor to [keep] him from
standing [with] someone whom the "
" (correct) found guilty [and] to take a solemn oath to put someone else
in his place.
The community members were
obliged to make an effort to obtain for the above-mentioned rabbi a Rabbinate
concession [granting him] permission to transfer here at the expense of the
The Rabbi's, may he live to see
happy days, wife would be permitted to [conduct business] in our town [for as
long as] she wanted to.
[As soon] as Reb Solomon was accepted as the Rabbi of all of Radomsk, he, as it
is told, [recited] the
: 'Lord hearken unto my voice; Let Thine ears be attentive to the voice of my
supplications.' (Psalm 130:2) In this
the Radomsk residents and Hasidim later saw an allusion to the rapid economic
the Radomsk Community, when from a [small number] of Jews [it became] one of
the rich and respected communities in the Jewish world. A great deal of
industry developed here and [both] the general and the Jewish population
[exploded]. Radomsk became a center of Hasidism ('Justice will spread far')
and 'a superb place which wore the gaze of tens of thousands.' The new rabbi
particularly endeavored to lift the spiritual position of the constantly
growing community. In the first
(sermon) that he gave on Rosh Hashanah after coming to Radomsk, he spoke with
'flame-fiery words' about the secret of the answer to lifting the, for the most
part, fallen people, who had already withdrawn from Judaism:
'[There are]...those who were disappointed with the answer then stated: it is
not possible to do the charity after the transgressions which I had done and
even when I should fast the fasts and do charity my whole life it is not
possible to correct that which I have badly done.... It is said in Ezekiel
30:3, "For the day is near, Even the day of the LORD is near, A day of
clouds, it shall be the time of the nations." And if the person doesn't
want to have, G-d forbid, any remedy, what is his life for? If everything that
the Holy One, blessed be He, created in His world He created because of His
divine [plan], where it is written: 'whoever is called in my name to my honor
was created, etc.' The purpose of the creation of man is only because of this,
that he should turn away from evil ways and towards a purpose. 'G-d gives to
them sustenance and returns to them their soul everyday. Every person, even the
simple folk, have four levels of the soul corresponding to the four letters of
G-d's name." And of that it is said 'Since G-d walks in the midst of
your camps" the folk are the body
and soul which [is] in peoples' body. The G-dly strength is that which awakens
a person's soul to
(repentance). This strength finds itself in every person where he wouldn't find
The place of
had influence over the leaders of the community. They strengthened themselves
in Torah and
(prayers), erected the Torah Institutions and the influence of their rabbi grew
from day to day. He reformed many institutions in the town to strengthen
Judaism. Through his initiative many associations were established, among them
the 'Psalm Society' which was founded in 1839 and from which institutions there
remained writings. The society members took upon themselves, with the approval
of the president of the tribunal our community, may he live to see happy days,
'to be among those who make sure to
every morning. We took upon ourselves rising in the early morning [each day
for] a whole week, collecting ourselves in a given spot in order to glorify and
to praise the Creator through saying the Psalms for
(Morning prayers).' A few years passed and Rabbi Shloma of Radomsk became one
of the most famous rabbis in Poland and [people came to him for help] in
general matters and in matters of
After a short time a
(assistant to the rabbi, charged with deciding questions of ritual cleanliness
and settling minor disputes) was also engaged, Reb Joel, a grandson of Reb Joel
(proprietor, boss). After which Reb Sholom became the Radomsker
(our lord, teacher and master [title of a Hasidic rabbbi]) (about 1851) and
Radomsk became a center of Torah and Hasidism. Hasidim [numbering] in the
hundreds and thousands would come to the city. Large masses of Jews would come
and [the] Days of Awe. This also had an economic significance for the city.
Hotels and guesthouses opened for [those traveling through] and for poor guests
The economic significance, of the city of Radomsk particularly, grew with the
building of the Warsaw-Vienna train line (1845) which went through the city.
The Radomsk station served the whole [surrounding area], it was located 177
[or 116.82 miles]
: a measure of distance formerly used in Russian equal to about .66 of a mile)
from Warsaw, 40
[or 26.4 miles] from Piotrkow, and 40
[or 26.4 miles] from Czenstochow. The city became a trade center for the whole
area. From every town [in the area], from the old Jewish communities:
Przedborz, Brzeznica, Rozprza, Plawno, Sulmierzyce, Kamiensk, etc., [people]
came for trade to Radomsk and a large number of residents from the
settled [here]. The statistics from Przedborz, neighboring Radomsk, proved
that the number of Jews there didn't grow, but [in fact] the number continued
to get smaller. [There was a] similar situation in the other
around Radomsk. Radomsk built itself from the ruins of the smaller
D. Economic rise (1834-1862)
A big change in the economic and political situation of the Radomsk community
occurred after the Crimean War and the liberal reforms of the Russian Czar
Aleksander II. In 1861 the Czar nominated Count Wielopolski as the overseer of
Poland. Wielopolski believed that it was necessary to better the position of
the Polish Jews whom he had seen [as] third [world]. In June 1862 the Czar
[issued] an edict which partially [granted] the Jews equal rights. The
intention was to befriend the Jews and to create a split between them and the
Poles. In the same year, Alexander II issued a decree that permitted the Jews:
With this decree dwelling rights were created in Radomsk. The Jews settled in
the city and contributed to its economic development. Through the years the
number of Jews grew. In 1858 the total population of Radomsk was 3605,
including 1554 Jews.
their own piece of land within the landowner's [in those areas] where the
peasants were freed. 2) To settle in the city and in the borough which had been
prohibited until [that time].
With the political liberation came the start of the economic boom due to the
[close proximity] of Radomsk to the Warsaw-Vienna train line. Radomsk became a
magnet for all the
in the vicinity and industrial and [marketing] enterprises came into [being].
Radomsk became the center of 'folk-driven' Hasidism, an heir of Hasidism that
was [created through the] "visionary" in Lublin, and Rabbi Meir
After. After the death of Rabbi Dov Ber of Radziechowice and after the
of Rabbi Moshe Lelow to Eretz Yisrael, Rabbi Solomon remained the only
"Hasidic teacher and master" in the whole area. His fame reached as
far as Western Galicia. Thousands of Hasidim would come to Radomsk from the
Krakow region (Auschwitz, Kishinev, Chebin etc.). The small
soon became too small for the masses of Hasidim who [traveled] here from all
corners of Poland. In 1861 the new special
was built (the Reb's
), a large building which could hold thousands of Hasidim.
The crowds were particularly big on the Sabbaths and holidays. Four thousand
Jews would usually come for Shavous from all corners of Poland and Galicia. The
number of visiting Hasidim outnumbered those living in the town. The visitors
effected the development of commerce in the town. The Radomsk Jews saw in the
economic development of the community a miracle from the
(holy man) who occupied the chair of the Rabbi and Rebbe in their town.
E. The Uprising of 1863
The attempts by Count
Wielopolski to calm the Poles were not successful. On the 22 of January 1863,
an uprising broke out against Russian rule. The National-Radomskonary
government had proclaimed in their first declaration, equal rights for all
residents of the country without discrimination [as to their] beliefs and
standing. In all jurisdictions of the country camps [arose] and the Jews
participated in them on the side of the Poles. True, the majority of the Jewish
inhabitants were not happy with the uprising. The disturbances brought losses
to the merchants and [to] industries that had begun in the 1850's and [in] the
beginning of the 1860's. However, the Enlightened and the Poles from the
common people participated in the uprising with enthusiasm. The religious Jews
and Hasidim silently thought of the uprising as a misfortune from heaven. They
found themselves, however, "between a hammer and an anvil." Closely
linked with the Poles, the Jews helped the uprising with money and in other
ways. The [fervent] activities of Reb Dov-Berish Meizels on behalf of the
Polish uprising are known. The Warsaw rabbis participated in a demonstration
against the Russian regime. In the synagogues, prayers [were said] for victory
for Poland and the Polish national hymn was sung.
In the suburbs of Radomsk, too, the uprising brought with it a lot of
misfortune for the Jews. As a result of the neglect of one side, which is an
attendant manifestation of uprisings, and the might of the regime on the other
side, [there was many cases of looting]. In general, the relations between the
Jews and [those in the uprising] were good. The Polish landlords would come to
Reb Solomon Hacohan - as it was told "to ask him for advice when
unrest would occur in the land among the Jews" and the
(verse from the Scriptures) was for him fulfilled in "All the nations of
the world will see the name of God upon you and they will fear you."
According to the Hasidic narratives, Reb Solomon Hacohan rescued a lot of Jews
from the rebel's hand. Reb Aron Markus tells, that he heard from [Reb Hacohan]
himself by the
table, a long time before the uprising, words of encouragement when he said:
"As long as you see the above mentioned hand, you shouldn't have any fear.
Later, it will happen what will happen; it should at least be with mercy."
The legend says that during the rebellion, the rebels came near to capturing
the owner of the Plawno estate, which was located next to Radomsk. The wife and
members of the household left quickly for Radomsk. They pleaded strongly with
Reb Solomon for the liberation of their father and husband from the rebels'
hands. [They begged] Hacohan to take pity on them and right the wrong, which
was Reb Solomon's usual way. [He] was angry with them, [but] finally they were
advised to give a large sum in ransom for the benefit of the rebels, in promise
that [Reb Hacohan] would return and the [rebels] would leave with this money.
The family bargained with the rebels and told him to pay a ransom in the amount
of eight thousand rubles.
The leader of the rebel detachment, a Polish landowner, who collected the
money, heard that the Rabomsker 'prophet' had told [them] to give the money to
the rebels. This pleased him and he didn't give the money to the rebel
committee, but hid it in a sealed envelope on which was written the amount and
from whom it came.
Shortly after that, General Bremzen, leading a section of Cossacks, attacked
the estate of the Radomsk landowner and when [a survey was made in the
landowner's] house, the envelope with the money which was destined for the
Polish rebellion was found. The general immediately said to bring to him the
rich Jew from Plawno. He was put in chains and accused of helping the rebels.
And later, they ran with tears in the eyes to Reb Solomon Hacohan, to ask him
for advice. Reb Solomon told them to go the Russian general and to tell him the
whole history of how the money was extorted from them after the capture of the
Jews. When the general heard [the story], the rich man's family was sent to him
through the Radomsker Tzadek. [The general] had 'not wanted to cause any
trouble.' He said to free the rich man and, even, gave him back the money. And
that is how the Tzadek's blessing was fulfilled.
F. The city to the end of the 19th century (1863-1897)
After several months of campaigns, the Czarist military dominated the situation
and suppressed the rebellion. The Polish Jewish brotherhood which was born in
the years of the rebellion [continued] and brought with it assimilationist
tendencies in Jewish society in Congress Poland. [In addition], economic
prosperity was not disrupted. The liberation of the peasants [caused] the
Polish landowners to change their way of living and turn to new professions.
They started to trade and primarily became involved in industry. Poland
started to industrialize. Lodz became a center of the textile industry and,
within a short time, the Jewish community there grew to one hundred thousand
souls. Other industrial branches developed in the Polish State. The country
became a gravitational point for the Litvaker Jews (Lithuanians) who settled by
the tens of thousands in all parts of Poland. The earlier liberation became a
[stimulus] for local production. Exports to Russia grew and this [led] to the
development of industry and [to its] growth. The above mentioned economic boom
did not [bypass] Radomsk. It is here [that] the furniture factory of the Thonet
Brothers of Vienna was established, which created nearly a thousand jobs in the
Thonet Brothers of Vienna factory and the oil cloth factory of Ruzshevitch,
etc. True, the factory workers were Polish,
but also a large number of Jewish women and girls came home to work and twist
chairs for Thonet's Factory. The majority of the Jews in the city [were
occupied] with selling and trade. The city was a trade center for the local
workers and for the peasants from the adjacent villages who would come to the
city for the weekly fairs. A thin stratum of rich Jews supplied the government
with timber, and so forth. The total inhabitants of the city grew in 1897 to
11, 767 and the number of Jews to 5,054, in other words 43% of the total
G. The community (congregation) and their representatives
In the internal life of Radomsk's Jews there weren't any noticable changes. The
city found itself substantially under the influence of Hasidism, the rabbis'
house and the houses of the pious men. Reb Solomon Hacohen died in 1866 and his
place was taken by Tzvi Meir Hacohen, as Rabbi and president of the tribunal,
and Reb Issachar Hacohen, as "teacher and master."
Every three years representatives were elected to head the community. The
voting took place in the
or in the
in the presence of the government's representative, who never interfered in
the choice of the leader of the community. The election [contest] [for] the
leadership [of] the community was between the local rich men, 'respectable
men,' half-enlightened Jews, who had the right to own their own homes. This was
Herszl Bankir, Josef Hersz Shatz, Fiszel Danski, Gabryel Goldberg, Izrael
Recterman, Meir Rozenbaum, Judge Berish Fershter, etc. Their principal task was
collection of the Jewish community taxes from the community (keheilah) members.
They also represented the community before the authorities.
In addition to the official community, there were also several philanthropic
and service institutions, such as the
(the voluntary burial society), the Talmud Torah, the
(the Sabbath bath shelter for poor wanderers), etc. In general, community life
flowed [smoothly] and only from time to time do we read about it in the Hebrew
press of that period. We [might] read in
, a corresponden[t's report] about an extraordinary instance, for example,
about the big explosion of a barrel of dynamite during which eight people were
killed and five [were] wounded. A school was located in the vicinity, but with
luck the children were let out shortly before the explosion.
* "The Dawn", Hebrew periodical, published in Warsaw, with
interruptions between 1862 and 1931.
** "The Defender", name of the first Hebrew periodical in Russia,
published in Odessa in 1860; from 1866 to 1904 a daily newspaper in Petersburg.
Other correspondents in the press describe the various forms of philanthropic
activity [and] religious celebrations that made an impression in the city and
the like. From the above-mentioned correspondents we know who the active doers
were and [who were] the influential people in the city.
Here is an interesting corresponden[t's report] for 1893 which describes the
life of the Russian soldier in the Radomsk military garrison and tells about an
old Jewish soldier, who participated in a lot of campaigns.
"In the city of Noworadomsk, this day, on the hundredth anniversary of his
[birth, [there] died a military tailor from Plock who was stationed [in
Radomsk]]. His name was Kahan. From the day he entered the military--i.e. from
his twentieth yearuntil his death, he earned his living as a military
tailor. During his lifetime, the deceased participated in a lot of wars waged
by our military. While still serving in the military he arranged for the
writing of a
and thanks to him, the Jewish soldiers
in public during the Sovestipol War. The
was presented before his death to the soldiers serving in the military. The
leader of the division Turnovski commanded that the wishes of the dead [tailor]
be carried out and the
was carried with singing and dancing from the city
under a prepared [canopy]. After
the Jewish soldiers wanted to take the canopy with them to the field-camps in
which they would find themselves during the summer months.'
In the same year we find a report from B. Statler, the Radomsk contributor for
about a 'culture-fight' in the city. The
(the leader of the community) Mr. Bankir, a Jew, a powerful
(an adherent of the Jewish Enlightenment,
), once argued with a wandering
(preacher) who gave a
'The previous weekit was told in the report'one of the
who wander from town to town traveled through our city Radomsk. He started a
big commotion and uproar against the
who read devilish
with the sermon he gave in
He proclaimed to the community, that he would stand against those who do bad
[because they are responsible for all the evil found in our city. During the
course of several months several hundred children died in the city. He also
[spoke against] the
in strong, haughty language, [against] their books and readings from which our
city, one should understand, is not free. [He was moved] to say such strong
words by the fact that someone tore down from the
wall the note in which the
' (Aphorisms of the learned which are recalled in the Talmud): 'A wise
may exploit himself.' He strongly praised himself and he unleashed his whole
wrath on the Enlightened.
'A large thank you [is owed] to the leader of the community from our city. Mr.
Bankir informed himself about the
, he closed the mouth of the ass and on the holy
cried out from the synagogue reading desk, that Jews don't want such sermons
and the doors of the
were closed to this Mishrim
His name is not known, because for an unknown reason he conceals it and he
calls himself 'the Polish
.' His home city is Biala and his speech is similar to the Lithuanian speech.'
In another report it is told about the group [among] the community leaders who
do not help the leader of the
, Mr. Bankir. The reporter painted, in black excess, descriptions of the state
of the community. Here are his words:
"In our city, which counts itself among the large cities, there are not
found institutions for interest-free loans which finally were established in
the other cities where our [Jewish] brethren live. Doubly, [it must be
mentioned that there] is fourfold anger in our city [because] we also have no
such as are found in other cities. While the
keeps collapsing, the
was built five years ago and the
is [probably] dangerous for all of her visitors and no one is concerned
[enough] about [repairing] it. Two years ago the distinguished Mr. Bankir who
the afflictions of our city was elected as leader of the community. He is but
one [person] and no one comes to his aid while several have in mind their [own]
business and one swallow cannot a summer make. He screams
' (help): ten years in succession our residents have gathered every
(the days between the first two and the last two days of Pesach and Sukkot) and
Sukkot but without an order. Friday,
of the [week of the] most holy Torah portion
(the 46th), our residents gathered together according to the command of the community
leader. With those with whom they converged, they diverged, achieving nothing,
and in all community concerns was seen only grumbling without any progress.
Another report from 1894 tells about a concluding-celebration for a
the writing of which was sponsored by the musical band at the head of which
stood the founder of the Zionist Union, M. Levkovitsh.
'The musical band was praiseworthy [and] although they were meagerly paid and
the Creator had not created them wealthy, they still donated from their
earnings, to sponsor the writing of a
for themselves and celebrated its completion the previous week. The director
of the band, Mr. Moishe Levkovitsh, endeavored that the conclusion should be
impressive. He loaded together all the respectable men from our city, among
them Mr Fershter and Mr. Recterman and the
was led into the
with much pomp and parade. There the
with the accompanying escort of the musicians sang "The One Who Gives
Salvation" and 'Psalm to David.' After that musicians prepared a big
) for the guests and with that it ended.'
And this is a report from 1895 about a philanthropic activity in the city:
'In the city of Radomsk (Piotrokow
) the esteemed rich man Reb Izrael Recterman, himself took an interest in the
need of the poor
children, who would not be able to go to study because of the lack of shoes. He
concerned himself with [supplying] shoes for the poor children and he provided
warm clothes for some of them. G-d forbid, other rich men also should speak up
and do the same, for example, and the prayers of the poor children will rest on
Thus was Jewish life recorded in the city, [proceeding] calmly and earnestly
until the Zionist movement came. The generation long affection for the ancient
homeland grew in the hearts of the Radomsk Jews with a new strength and
revealed the deep of love of Israel which had been hidden in them.
H. Community life on the threshold of the First World War (1897-1914)
The reputation of Dr.Theodore Herzl and his Zionist activities found a strong
resonance in Hasidic Radomsk, too. Among the students in the Rebbe's Beis
Midrash there were many 'lovers of Zion.' Many of them were involved in
activities in the new movement because of their parents' indifference to it and
out of [the parents'] fear, that this might cause them to have contempt for the
Torah. The Zionist propaganda had an influence and friends from different
circles joined the movement, among them
teachers such as Reb Solomon Krakowski, Azriel Pzyrowski and Reb Abraham
Minski. Reb Moishe Lewkowitsh, the conductor of the aforementioned orchestra,
especially distinguished himself with his many activities. He was the first
chairman of the Radomsk Zionist Movement. Reb Moishe was a simple Jew, but he
gave himself with love and life to Zionist activities, abandoning his private
business. He didn't tire of hourly preaching on behalf of Zionist thought and
during the whole of the movement's existence, there was sometimes in him the
'devil beast.' In addition to him, Leon Ruzshevitsh, a son of an assimilated
family which [kept itself] far from
and Jews, was also active and there grew in him a total nationalism and
he became one of the most active in the movement. Elsewhere in the other Polish
cities, the Zionists met strong opposition on the part of the Hasidim, [but]
the Radomsker court remained neutral to Zionism. About Reb R. Tzvi-Meir it is
told that he bought a share of Colonial Bank and he even yelled once at a Hasid
who had compared Zionism to the 'Bund,' as [being] two parties which cause harm
to Judaism. Rev Tzvi-Meir told him that love for
would spread over the Zionists and rescue them from all evil. Among those
having the run of his house, there were also devoted Zionists. Chazen Solomon
(Zaks), Herzl's friend was one of Reb Tzvi-Meir's most loyal friends. [Another
excellent Zionist propagandist was ] the
of the community, Reb Kopel Glidman (a son of Reb Abraham-Leib Glidman,
for the "
of Blessed memory) who with his whole heart devoted himself to the Zionist idea
and in terror brought Zionist propaganda to the municipal
In 1898 it was told in one of the official Zionist [publications] of the
Zionist movement about the establishment of the Zionist Union in the city.
'Nowo-Radomsk, the 21st
of November 1898, Thanks to the efforts of Mr. M. Lewkowitsh, A. D. Bril and
B. Statler, on
(the eight day of
) a Zionist meeting was held in the house of Mr. M. Grinberg. At the meeting
the important people among them were pointed out and the community leader Mr.
Z. Goldman, delivered two Zionist speeches. After him, our friend the[man of
opinions,] Mr. M. Lewkowitsh, whom we are indebted to for the rejuvenated start
of his institution gave a better speech about the course of the Second Zionist
Congress in Basel and everyone listening to him applauded. After him, the city
, Mr. S. Zaks, sang Zionist songs.'
At that time, also in the
a longer article [appeared] about Zionism in Radomsk:
"A Zionist association was founded in our city, that has 200 hundred
[members], which underwrote through the government committee the certification
supporting agricultural workers in the colonies of our Holy land and they also
signed their names to two hundred shares. The leaders of this association took
it upon themselves to spread the idea of
("Love of Zion") in the neighboring towns. At the head of the
association stand the respectable men: L. Ruzhewitsh, E. Feldman, M.
Lewkowitsh, L. Tentser, B. Statler, Ed. Bril;. I. Zilbershtein, Sh. Zaks and
After the first ardor came the reaction to the Zionist movement in general. The
situation of the Russian Jews
had worsened from day to day. The pogroms which had spread in Russia in the
first years of the twentieth century were loosed on Poland in the suburbs of
Radomsk. In 1902 anti-Jewish riots broke out in neighboring Czestochowa, but
they were quickly suppressed by the regime. The impatient Zionist masses looked
over the Charter from the Sultan and [there began] the start of a large
colonizing movement in
. This [colonizing] spirit also predominated in Radomsk. In the travel notes
of a journalist with the pseudonym "Yehudi" which were published in
" at the end of 1899 the Zionist movement in the city is described this
"I travel further. A journey from P. (Piotrkow) I find myself in Nowo R.
(Nowo-Radomsk). Two thousand families live there. Here lives also one of the
'Holy' and with him his Hasidim. The economic situation of the city is not a
bad one. There are found [in the city] different factories and a lot [of
residents] earn, thanks to them, their bread honorably and cleverly. Her moral
position isn't different from the other Polish towns. There are 'Zionists'
[and] in the city among the Hasidim and [the] enlightened, [there is a great
deal of] money collecting. The N.R.'s (Nowo-Radomsker) Zionists do not know
anything and they [don't] exercise any ideological influence. Like the whole of
Zionism they limit themselves only to the giving of money. It isn't any wonder
that their first rapture is over and they stand as on 'red hot coals' waiting
every day for the 'Charter' which should come. And if [it takes] too long,
their entire Zionism would disappear, if Dr. Herzl [himself] would not hurry up
and at least honorably write for them a confirmation letter assuring, on his
word of honor, that he had already made a serious first attempt to finish the
[During] a temporary decline of the Zionist movement, we read from time to time
about different Zionist money collections at meetings. This is told in a
corresponden[t's report] from 1906:
'A general meeting of the Zionist party took place here at which was given a
report from the Helzingforster Conference and a resolution was introduced to
[create] a self-imposed tax for the benefit of the Zionist organization.'
In another corresponden[t's report] it was told that at the 10
Zionist Congress 24 rubles [worth of] ancient
Beyond the Zionist activity, the community developed further and took part in
all manifestations of Jewish communal life in Poland.
In 1898-99 the building of the large Jewish synagogue in Radomsk was completed.
This was a beautiful structure which [evoked pride for] the city's Jews.
Mr. Jehiel Weintroib, a Radomsk resident (now in Tel Aviv) described the
synagogue in his memoirs as 'a
' [the Temple in Jerusalem] [because of] its splendor. In front of the
four-story structure was a tablet with the Ten Commandments in gilded letters.
The magnificent doors were furnished with windows on which were drawings of
lions. The door led to a long and wide corridor, through two other doors into
the synagogue. In the center of the synagogue stood a high reading desk. On
the ceiling hung beautiful chandeliers. Still other chandeliers hung down from
the ceiling which was painted in the form of a blue sky with stars. On one side
was a painting of night, the moon and the stars, on the other side a painting
of the sun and the zodiac. In every chandelier there were a lot of smooth glass
sparkling lights and when the lights were lit, one got the impression of
finding themselves in another world. In addition, the factory windows threw
light on the
. Around the temple [on the second floor] on three sides was the big women's
. Those who were fortunate to see Mr. Solomon Saks and to see how he sang and
the prayers with his sweet voice, which flowed from the heart, had the
impression that they heard the voice of the
and their singing of the very ancient times.'
Characteristic of the inner life of the city's Jews and their relation to power
is the solemn response to the book dedication to the Russian military in 1900:
, the Jewish community in other cities arranged a ball in honor of the military
divisions which were stationed here and which [would be going] off to the war
in the Far East. At the head of the organizations stood the distinguished
persons Mr. Tzvi Banker and Mr. D. Bugajski, who were capable of preparing
everything [properly] and suitably to the satisfaction of the official and
important guests who came to the festivities. The Russian Orthodox priest said
a prayer for the welfare of the soldiers and blessed them, that they should be
successful in their endeavors and return in peace to our land. Later, the
enlightened Rev Z. Goldman, the Kazjoner Rabbi in Brzeznica, made a speech in
the language of Israel. His enjoyable words with verses from the holy writings
made a big impression on the listeners and from the multitudes was heard
shouting of 'hurrah' in the sense of a sign, that his speech had found favor in
the eyes of the people. The important guests clapped their hands in love.
During the high ball the enlightened Rabbi gave a toast in honor of the
Emperor, 'may his glory be enhanced' [the traditional words added after the
name of a ruler in the prayer for his welfare] and of the soldiers. And he
again let be heard his smart illustrations and subjects and the guests were
satisfied when they returned] to their tents.'
In a later issue of the
appears a correction, that
'the ball, which was underwritten through the dedication of a martyrs' book to
the soldiers who are leaving for the war in the Far East, had the participation
of the respectable Christian residents of the city, whether according to their
property and whether according to their accomplishments. And only because of an
the names of the Jewish community were published in the Memorial as having
underwritten the ball.'
During the same years, emigration from Radomsk to the United States began.
Until 1898, there were only single Radomsker Jews in America. They referred to
their organization with the name: 'Nowa-Radomsker Society to Help the Sick.'
The emblem of the organization was two outspread hands in the prayer of
benediction of the Cohanim in memory of Rabbi Solomon Haconan the "
Bal Tiferes Solomon."
In 1906 after the Kishinev pogrom, the Society was strengthened and was
occupied with providing aid among their membership and especially among the
emigrants from Radomsk. When the First World War broke out the Society
began to occupy itself with sending support to their old hometown in Poland.
At the beginning of the 20th
century, the development of the Jewish Workers Movement, which took part in
the Revolution against the Czar in 1905, started [to develop] in Radomsk.
Radomsk also served as a refuge for the revolutionaries who had crossed the
nearby German border. The poet Lewik would always remember the revolutionaries
Eli Elibarde and Zakn Shreiber who had taken him and other revolutionaries in
with love and made an effort to help them to travel safely across the border.
At the start of the 1900's (1903) an attempt was also made to open a Jewish
modern school in Radomsk. Education in the city was generally strictly
traditional. All young men were educated in
. The individual enlightened Jews sent their sons and daughters to the [public]
schools, but because of the difficult which the children found in studying
together with the Christian children, they had to open a separate school. And
in an article of the Radomsker Theme:
'Until now, the Jewish children studied together with the Polish children in
the government school. But because of the difficulties in being welcomed in
this school, the Jews strove and received permission to open a Folks Primary
School. But, unfortunately, an inappropriate spot was rented for a school. The
rent was very expensive. There wasn't any money to engage another teacher,
because there were only a small number of children in the school. Perhaps
residents from other
would understand in time, that by renting a location for the school, one must
take account of the good of the children and the [school's] educational
usefulness and not of the good of either of the other
, who had fortuitously a proper dwelling.'
The leader of the community in Radomsk in past eras was:
H.B. Ferszter, died on 26.8.1898; after him the leader of the community was
H. Gerichter, an eminent philanthropist who each year in the winter would
donate wagons of
potatoes and coal for the poor.
A still newer era in the life of the Jewish population in Radomsk began with
the outbreak of the First World War, and during the course of the war, As in
the history of Polish Jewry in general, after the First World War in Radomsk,
too, this era was distinguished by its roaring business activity -- an era of a
new life and new movements.
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