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Translation of Komarow chapter from
Pinkas Hakehillot Polin
Published by Yad Vashem
Published in Jerusalem
Morris Gradel z"l
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This is a translation from:
Jewish Communities, Poland,
Volume VII, pages 467-468, published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem
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(Tomaszow District, Lublin Province)
We have no data on the origins of Komarow (K). It appears for the first time in documents written in the first half of the 18th century as an urban settlement owned by Baron Jan Mir. K served as a centre of trade and crafts for its agricultural environs and market days were held there. Its houses were built of wood and there were frequent fires. In 1795, after the Third Partition of Poland, K came under Austrian rule; in 1807 it was part of the Grand Duchy of Warsaw; and from 1815 to the First World War it was included in the Kingdom of Congress Poland. In 1915 K was occupied by the Germans, who remained there until they retreated in 1918.
We do not know when Jews first settled in K. In the first half of the 18th century it already had a community, a synagogue, a Bet Midrash (for this and other terms, see notes at end of this translation) and a cemetery; and in middle of the 19th century also stiebelech of the Chasidim of Kock.
During this period the Jews were engaged in petty trading, crafts, and in the breeding and marketing of poultry. A small number also produced strong drinks.
From 1823 to 1862 the Russian authorities forbad further settlement of Jews in K because of its proximity to the Austrian frontier. Thereafter, however, the community began to grow. Before the First World War there were Jewish charitable institutions, such as the health services of Bikur Cholim, and a Provident Fund , which gave low-interest loans to small merchants and craftsmen.
Among the rabbis who served in K may be mentioned R. Yehuda Aharon Kluger, the father of R, Szlomo Kluger, the renowned preacher from Brody; R. Yechiel Moshe, the author of Niflaot Chadashot and Likutim Chadashim; R. Yitzhak David Szulewicz (served from 1905); R. David Engelsberg (1909); and R. Yechiel Engelsberg. Between the two world wars the rabbi of K was R. Yehoshua Alterman.
The years immediately following the creation of an independent Poland were years of insecurity and danger for the Jews of K. On August 28th, 1920, troops of the Ukrainian General Bolak-Balchovitz - allies of the Poles against the Russian invaders - entered the town. They slew 16 Jews and severely wounded 67 others; 47 women and girls were raped, and many Jews were robbed.
When order had been restored the Jews set about rebuilding their lives. As before, the majority of them were engaged in petty trade, peddling and crafts. The period saw the establishment of several organisations and institutions of economic and mutual aid. The Jewish craftsmen and merchants set up professional guilds and a Merchant Bank. The Provident Fund established before the war resumed its activities.
The community was predominantly religious, but in the 1920s and 30s there was also energetic Zionist activity. At the 1939 Zionist Congress 128 shekels were sold in K. The same period saw the opening in the town of a public library with hundreds of Yiddish and Hebrew books.
Ten days after their return to K the Germans rounded up the Jews in the market place and relieved them of all the articles of value in their possession, at the same time assaulting them. On the same day many Jews were forcibly evicted from their homes and transported on lorries to Hrubieszow, and from there taken to the labour camp at Zamosc. During October to December of that year 200 Jews were deported to K from Lodz, Wlocawek, Kolo and Sierpiec. In the spring of 1941 another 400 Jews or so arrived from Zamosc, together with some 700 deportees from Czechoslovakia.
In the summer of 1941 a ghetto was set up in K, and the Jews crammed into it, with several families in each apartment. On May 23rd, 1942, the dismantling of the ghetto began, and that very day many of its inhabitants, mainly from other localities, were sent to the extermination camp at Belzec. In October and November the Jews of the ghetto were finally annihilated - most of them shot on the spot, the others sent to Belzec. Only a handful of Jews managed to escape and save their lives.
Bet Midrash - a traditional 'house of study' dating back to Roman times.
Stiebelech - literally 'small rooms'. The small prayer-houses of the Chassidim.
Chassidism /Has(s)idism - the Jewish revivalist movement originating in eastern Europe
in the late 16th century. It maintains many of the characteristics of the time, such as its dress. Diverse sects of Chassidism hail from different towns and follow different leaders or 'rebbes'.
Bikur Cholim - literally 'Visiting the Sick', but also health service, or even hospital.
Niflaot Chadashot - New Wonders.
Likutim Chadashim - New Extracts / Selections.
Shekel - a symbolic coin, indicating a membership fee to the Zionist Organisation, with the right to vote, or delegate a vote, at its Congresses.
The above notes were compiled by the translator / editor. Some of the definitions were taken from The Timetables of Jewish History by Judah Gribetz with Edward L. Greenstein and Regina S. Stein (Simon and Schuster, 1993).
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