"Szadek" - Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities
in Poland, Volume I

51°41' / 18°59'

Translation of "Szadek" chapter from
Pinkas Hakehillot Polin

Published by Yad Vashem

Published in Jerusalem


Project Coordinator

Morris Wirth


Corinne Appleton

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This is a translation from: Pinkas Hakehillot: Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities, Poland,
Volume I, pages 262-263, published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem

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(pages 262-263)

Szadek, Poland
(District of Sieradz)


At the end of the 13th century, Szadek achieved town status. Later, it became a royal town. In the 16th century there were already several well-established crafts, and the town was counted among the main textile centers in Poland. In the 17th century Szadek was afflicted with outbreaks of plague and wars, as a result of which the town declined, and the population decreased in size.

Market and fair days were attended also by Jewish merchants. Their initiative, however, was limited by the king's privilege [privilegia], granted to the local furriers' guild in 1617. This privilege forbade all merchants from outside of Szadek, and all Jews, to buy sheepskins on festival and market days. They were allowed to buy these skins only at fairs. At the beginning of the 17th century the townspeople of Szadek objected to Jewish efforts to settle in the town, and in 1624 were granted the king's privilege prohibiting Jewish residence ["privilegia de non tolerandis Judaeis"] in Szadek. The Jews were forbidden to build houses and to acquire real estate, but were allowed to attend the market and fair days. Most of the Jews who visited the market were from nearby Łask, and on many a visit were attacked by townspeople.

At the beginning of the 17th and 18th centuries a few Jews did settle in the town in spite of the still valid law prohibiting this. In the 18th century Jews acquired real estate in Szadek; however, they were subjected to restrictions that stemmed from a continuing dispute between the town and the aristocracy. The restrictions: a Jew who buys real estate in the town is permitted to sell it either to another Jew or to the town, but in no way is he permitted to hand it over to the aristocracy.

In 1765, 8 Jewish families were settled in the town: a tailor, a furrier, a shochet [animal slaughterer] who also acted as cantor and mohel [circumciser]. In 1793, among the Jews were 2 tailors, a butcher, 6 merchants and a man who held the lease on one of the 3 public houses in the town. After the partition of Poland, the Prussian administrator, in 1802, cancelled the law forbidding Jews to settle in the town.

At first, the Jews of Szadek were part of the Łask congregation. In the third or fourth decade of the 19th century they achieved an independent congregation, and consecrated a cemetery. As was customary in a small community, at first just a shochet was employed, and eventually a dayan [judge of Jew law]. The first official rabbi was probably Rabbi Nahum Lewi. In 1844 he left the community and went up to Eretz Yisrael. In 1849 Rabbi Fiszel Meir Morgensztern, previously a member of the Jewish law court in Łask, was appointed rabbi of the community. (In 1872 he was still serving the community.) For many years, up to his death in 1929, Rabbi Avraham Morgensztern, son of the same family, filled the post of rabbi. The last rabbi to serve the Jews of Szadek was Rabbi Y.V. Rozencwajg.

During the period between the two world wars, the community was too small and too poor to set up extensive political activities. The General Zionists exerted the most influence there, and in the elections to the Jewish Congress in 1939, they received all the votes (20).

It is likely that in the first months of the Second World War the Nazis deported from the town just a few Jews who arrived destitute at nearby Zduńska Wola. The authorities there refused to let them remain, and they were forced to continue eastward, though a few did manage to stay there. Most of the Jews, about 410, remained in Szadek, and were eventually imprisoned in the ghetto that was established in May or June 1940. This tiny community was liquidated on August 14, 1942: all the Jews - 405 souls - were deported to the Chelmno extermination camp.

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