|Hrubieszow and its Neighboring Villages|
The History of the Jews of Hrubieszow
|Hrubieszow on the map of the Council of the Four Lands (circled)|
by Dr. N. M. Gelber
Translated by Yael Chaver
Until 1400, Hrubieszow, also known as Rubieszów, was a village in the Chelm region. Political reasons that forced Władysław Jagiello, the king of Poland, to wage economic war against the towns of Raysn led him to grant the village town status. An official document of September 29, 1400, declares that Hrubieszow is a town, and a citizen of Chelm, Bartlomej, was appointed commune administrator (wójt). He received a mill with special privileges, and the incomes of the butcher shop, the bakeries, the shoemakers, the fishers, and the bathhouse. The city was granted the Magdeburg Law, then the only basis for city status, in order to facilitate its development. The town was not under the jurisdiction of the Starosta, the castellan, or the Woiwode, and had the right to pass civil and criminal judgement on its residents. The appointed priest received a house, a brewery, two orchards, fields, the income from the tavern, and the right to chop wood in the surrounding forests.
At first Hrubieszow was in the administrative area of the principality of Belz. Immediately after the official declaration, the palace was built in the town. The town developed quickly, thanks to the King's help. In 1411, King Jagiello, Prince Witold, and the representative of King Zygmunt, met in Hrubieszow. The town enjoyed a brief period of peace and quiet. In 1433, during Poland's war with the Lithuanian prince Švitrigaila, the heavy battles near the town caused considerable damage. In 1450, King Kazimierz Jagiellończyk confirmed the town's status, and ordered all the merchants and cartdrivers who transported goods from Raysn to Radom, Poznan, Breslau, and other cities, to travel through Hrubieszow and pay a customs fee that was earmarked for the king's mother. In 1459, the king received a loan of 500 złoty from Jan Koropatwa, and in return mortgaged Hrubieszow and its satellite villages. Koropatwa was to receive the income until the mortgage would be fully paid off. Between 1473 and 1490, after the great conflagration in Chelm, Hrubieszow became the seat of the archbishop of Chelm. In 14981500, the town was invaded by Tatars, who caused such destruction that the Starosta Jakub Buczaczki asked King Olbrecht to exempt the city from taxes for ten years.
Shortly after the city was rebuilt, Tatars attacked it again (1502, 1506, 1523, and 1526). However, the second half of the 16th century was peaceful. The city was fortified with embankments and strong gates, and new houses were added. The city also developed economically, and provided the Starosta as much as 4,092 złoty in 1551. In 1576, King Stefan Batory gave the town to Andrzej Tęczyński as a gift, after he had done much to develop the town. In 1588, King Zygmunt III gave the position of Starosta to Stanisław Żółkiewski for life. Żółkiewski signed an agreement with the town in 1592, giving him the nearby lake in return for releasing the residents from the obligation to transport wood from the forests to the palace, and from bridge repair work. This agreement granted the residents fishing rights. It was confirmed by King Zygmunt III in Warsaw, on May 23, 1593.
During this period, artisan crafts developed. The craftsmen became organized. In 1605, the king confirmed the regulations of the furriers' guild.
In 1615, the regulations of the tailors' and bakers' guild were confirmed; in 1616 those of the shoemakers' guild; in 1617 those of the blacksmiths, ironworkers, carpenters, arms dealers, roofers, and jewelers. Żółkiewski approved the regulations of the weavers. The large number of crafts indicates the economic development of the town. The report by surveyors includes 12 bakers, and 26 shoemakers. The town revenues increased to 1,111 złoty and 10 groszy, and the Starosta's income rose to 11,318 złoty.
Life until 1648 was placid. In that year, the town suffered greatly from the invasion by Khmelnitskyi's gangs, who destroyed the city and its palace. During the 17th century, the town was harmed by the war of the confederations. Though the kings confirmed, and even expanded, the privileges of the town, its economic situation did not improve. The survey of 1765 enumerates 375 houses. The Starosta's income was 60,045 złoty. In the first Partition of Poland, Hrubieszow and the entire Zamość district were transferred to Austria. The first reports of the Austrian administration stated that Hrubieszow did not have the appearance of a town. The officials were surprised to note that the mayor and members of the municipal council were illiterate. It was difficult to find anyone in the town who could take up a municipal position.
Hrubieszow was part of the Zamość district. The first district head (Kreishaupt) was the Pole Bojakowski. Shortly afterwards, Kohlmanower was appointed to head the ZamośćBrody district. He was a gifted administrator, but hated the Poles and strove to Germanize the district. After the death of the last Polish Starosta, Salezy Potocki, the Austrian government received the town with all its satellite villages, and exchanged it with Count Zetner in return for his estate and its salt mines. A list prepared for the transfer of estates on March 7, 1788, obligates Hrubieszow to pay the following: 1) Złoty tax, which the residents paid for transporting grain to the palace 457 złoty. 2) Tax for the road near the cemetery, en route to Gródek 58 złoty and 20 groszy. 3) Fish tax from Jews 33 złoty. 4) Payment from Jews for milk 216 złoty. 5) Payment for fish 58 złoty. 6) Rent for shops from the Christian butchers 100 złoty. 7) From bakers and shoemakers 6 złoty. 8) Exempting Jews from złoty 135 złoty. 9) Payment from Jewish breweries 12 złoty. 10) Payment by Jews for nails 136 złoty. 11) Payment for the fence 40 złoty. All these taxes continued to be paid until 1856, and were cancelled only after new laws were passed governing cities in Congress Poland. The 1788 list mentions the palace with its 12 rooms, official sixroom apartments, a bakery, food warehouses, stables, wagon warehouses and a stable, a slaughterhouse, a grain mill and a sawmill. Annual income amounted to 20,010 złoty and 20 groszy.
The estate exchanges between the imperial treasury and Count Zetner took place on November 7, 1799, and were approved by imperial decree on February 16, 1802. Count Zetner was entered in the property rolls as the sole owner of Hrubieszow on May 20, 1803. Even before the final confirmation, Zetner sold, by private contract of March 30, 1803 (signed in Lwów), to Count Alexander Sapieha and his wife Anna (neé Zamoyski) the town of Hrubieszow together with its villages: Pobrezhany, Cachnicon, Brodzica, Dziekanów, Jarosławiec, Buszhinia and part of Potnowiec, for 700,000 złoty. Stanisław Staszic signed for Sapieha, as the attorneyinfact for that family. Shortly afterward it emerged that Sapieha was only the front man for the purchase. In actual fact, the town was bought by Staszic, who was unable to purchase estates in Austria in his own name because he was not a member of the nobility.
A document of February 20, 1805 states that Sapieha transferred all his rights to Staszic, who paid Sapieha's wife 700,000 złoty on March 28, 1807. In return, he received an unlimited power of attorney. After Hrubieszow passed to the control of the Duchy of Warsaw, it and its estates were registered to Staszic on August 19, 1811. The town suffered from major fires in 18011803, which destroyed it. The situation began to improve in 1806. Many of the streets were reconstructed.
Stanisław Wawrzyniec Staszic (1755 1826) played a major role in the town's development. He was a burgher, and a contemporary of the Enlighteners. During the last period of Poland's independence, especially the time of the Great Sejm (17881792) and Koscziuszko's revolt, he was active for the benefit of towndwellers and peasants, and was especially concerned with a solution to the agrarian problem. He wanted to carry out his plans for reforms in Hrubieszow, and eliminate private landownership by limiting the size of property to 100 teams of two (morg). He stipulated in the Hrubieszow regulations that the land would function as a socialcooperative fund, and be divided into equal segments for cultivation. The owners, who were private producers, were prohibited from freely buying or selling plots, but could exchange agricultural produce. In this way, Staszic wanted to prevent the concentration of land and increased wealth by owners. On the other hand, he wanted to remove land from commercial circulation and slow the development of rural capitalism. With this in mind, he set up an Agricultural Society in Hrubieszow, to which he granted all the estates as municipal property. He believed that this would increase efficiency in agricultural and crafts, and would educate the populace to mutual aid in times of disaster. The agreement and contract were approved by Czar Alexander I in 1822, in his capacity as King of Poland. The land was divided among the association members and people who wanted to cultivate it. Each of them received only 80 teams of land. The income accumulated in a reserve fund for granting loans to improve agriculture and crafts in the town. In 1818, Staszic demanded that the commissioner grant special rights to transport goods from Odessa to the Bug river. Thirtyeight houses were built, thanks to a loan of 43,646 rubles (at 5.5% interest for 20 years) from the Agricultural Society. The Christians constructed 13 houses with a loan of 12,198 rubles, and the Jews built 25 houses with a loan of 21,030 rubles. In 1827 the town comprised 634 houses and 3,992 residents; in 1849 there were 6,258 residents. In 1862 there were 600 houses, 57 of which were surrounded by walls, and 6,181 residents. In 1879 there were 522 houses and 8,208 residents; Christians owned only eight shops. The Agricultural Society provided financial support to the elementary schools.
The town fell on hard times during the Polish uprising of 1863. At the outset of the insurrection, a rebel unit, led by the physician Dr. Necai (a Russian Orthodox man of Ruthenian origin, from Dubyanka) took over the town on the night of January 22, 1863. They expropriated the weapons of the invalids, as well as the district funds. National Government Commissar Kokjiel (a Warsaw university student) worked with Dr. Necai. The military commander was Oswald Radzjajovski, a former officer in the Polish army in 1831.
At the end of the 19th century, Hrubieszow had two metal factories, one candle and soap factory, one oil factory, a printing press, three mills on the Huczwa river, ten artisans' guilds (mostly dating to medieval times): smiths, carpenters, tinsmiths, metalworkers, weavers, shoemakers, butchers, and tailors. Hrubieszow was the center for 10 towns and 50 villages. In 1860, there were 22,048 residents in the towns, and 80,325 in the villages, for a total of 102,373. Of these, 39,174 were Catholics; 50,975 were GrecoUniates; 19 were Russian Orthodox; 31 were Protestants; 12,174 were Jews. 69,895 residents were peasants.
7, 503 were craftsmen and manufacturers; 5,400 were merchants; 19,672 had other occupations. There were 14 breweries and 57 hardliquor producers in the province. Towns in Hrubieszow province (excluding Hrubieszow itself) had the following populations: in 1827 5,247, with 1,180 Jews; in 1859 6,287, with 2,729 Jews; in 1921 8,217, with 4,100 Jews. In 1921, there were 3,424 Jews in 380 villages.
The Jewish Population from its Inception to the Austrian Conquest
The first information about Jews in Hrubieszow dates to 1440. Prior to 1445, a Jew named Eliyahu of Hrubieszow left for Kiev via Lutsk, where he purchased furs and horses. Another Jew of Hrubieszow, Izecko (Yitzchok) Sokolovich, mortgaged all his properties as well as 10 slaves to the Raysn woiwode, Pyotr Odrwaz, as security for his debt amounting to 140 grzybny. At that time there was slavetrading (due to the conditions in eastern Raysn) in which Jews participated. Apparently, one of them was Yitzchak of Hrubieszow. He also leased customs posts. In 1447, he leased customs in Sambor and salt mines in Jasjanica. The Jews of Hrubieszow were active in trade with the East, and leased customs posts.
In the 1450s, Mikhael of Hrubieszow and his son Yehuda were among the provisioners of the royal court. In 1456 they received a safeconduct letter (glejt) from King Kazimierz Jagiellonczyk, which enabled them to travel throughout the kingdom without having to pay tariffs for their wares. In addition to various goods, they also ran a wine business overseas (vina per mare), apparently from Crimea. He could not be judged in any court, but only by the king himself.
The customsleasers of Hrubieszow included (besides the previously mentioned Yitzchak) Yosko of Hrubieszow and his brother, Shach Shachnavitz, who in 14841487 leased the customs in Hrubieszow, Lublin, and Belz; in 14931497 in Hrubieszow and Lublin; and in 1498 in Lubaczów. In 1500, Yosko's son, Ya'acov, leased the customs in Hrubieszow. Yosko himself leased the following customs in 1503 and 15051508: Lublin, Chelm, Lwów, Hrubieszow; and later in the districts of Podolia, Lwów, Halycz, Sanok, Przemysl, and Belz. He was actually one of the most important leasers of the time. In 14841487 Yosko transferred 1,146 grzybny and 319 florins to the royal treasury, as part of leasing fees for Lublin, Hrubieszow, and Belz. In 1493, leasing fees for Lublin were 320 grzybny. In 1504 500 grzybny for the customs posts in the Lwów and Belz provinces. In 1505, he paid King Alexander as leasing fees for Lwów and Belz 769 grzybny. In 1508 he paid Mikolay Lanckoronski 650 florins as leasing fees for the Lwów customs. In 15021506 Yosko paid King Alexander almost 168 grzybny, and added several dozen feet of fabric.
Jews from Hrubieszow were active in commerce with Wallachia and Turkey. They sold cattle and oxen, in return for colonial and Oriental goods (carpets, etc.). This type of commerce, involving as it did distant travels, had dangers as well; robbers often attacked merchant caravans on the roads and in the forests. For example, we know from the Responsa of Rabbi Meir (the son of Rabbi Gedalya) of Lublin (15581616), Mavhir Einei Hachamim, based on evidence given in Constanza, that Yehuda (the son of Moshe), a resident of Hrubieszow, was killed by highway robbers. The first of the two witnesses who saw him dead stated that the robber drew a sword to the head of Yehuda (Moshe's son) until he fell dead. The second witness stated that the robbers beat Yehuda, who jumped off the cart and fled.
When he came back afterwards, he found the deceased lying prone intact, and thought he was still alive; but when he raised the head he realized that he was dead.
At this period, Hrubieszow was already home to a Jewish community. In 1443, the king asked for the opinion of the Krakow community leaders (seniorowiedoktorzy) concerning the inheritance of some Jews of Hrubieszow. Interestingly, the wellknown Polish historian of the time, Jan Długos (14151480) notes in his History of Poland: Hrubieszow was the hidingplace of Jakub Uchman after the murder of the 28monthold child Simon of Trent (Simon Tridentinus). The other Jew involved in this affair, Rabbi Jakub, hid in Lublin. According to Długos, the bishops and priests pressured King Kazimierz to deny the murderers refuge in his countries. This detail is mentioned only by Długos, and is hard to take seriously. No other source mentions the flight of the Jewish suspects to Poland. The contemporaneous apostate Johannes Pfefferkorn wrote in his strongly antiSemitic book Handspiegel (1510) that a Catholic priest who converted to Judaism fled his country and hid in Hrubieszow.
Municipal documents (Akta grodzkie) of the 16th century from Belz and Krasnystaw contain the names of dozens of Jewish residents of Hrubieszow. However, the exact number of Jews who lived there is unknown, as is the nature of the official privileges that allowed them to live there and run businesses. There is more detailed information in the periodic survey (Lustracja) of 1564, which states that it is difficult to determine the number of butchers whose rental taxes were leased by Jews, amounting to 36 stones of milk at 3 groszy each; altogether, 108 groszy. In 1555, four houses were owned by Jews, totalling 13 people; shortly before 1564 they bought a fifth house. The special tax (szos królewski) paid by them was 18 groszy for each house, altogether 90 groszy. Taking into account that 6 8 people lived in each house, there was a total of 40 Jews in the town in 1564. Beginning in that year, Jews leased the butchers' tax payments.
The first known charter was given to the Jews by King Stefan Batory on 12 December 1578, at the recommendation of the woiwode Andrzej Tenchinsky of Tarnow, the starosta of Hrubieszow. This charter gave the Jews the right to build a synagogue, and houses for the Rabbi and the cantor who were exempt from all municipal taxes. The Jews were permitted to practice all commercial and crafts enterprises, slaughter according to their rules, sell meat, build houses in the market square and live in them, open shops and breweries, and sell all manner of food and drink. The charter equalizes all their rights to those of the Christian residents, and imposes all the obligations of all residents. In return for the right to slaughter, the Jews were obliged to hand over to the palace 15 stones of milk annually. However, every time the townspeople were obliged to transport oak trees, iron, or other goods to the palace, they also had to hand over two barrels of nails, valued at 9 groszy. On that occasion the king (acting on the recommendation of Tenchinsky and all the town's residents) allowed the Jew Avraham to hold the right to distill spirits (propinacyjne) throughout his lifetime, in return for the obligation to pay 60 Polish marks annually for the city's upkeep, and to supply a good cannon every year for the city's fortification. The Jewish butchers handed over 15 stones of milk, at a value of 1 gold coin and 10 groszy for each stone. Their total payment was 20 złoty.
At that time, the Jewish occupations were mostly brandy distilleries and leasing land and estates. Notable among the leasers were Moshe Shabtayevitch and Avraham Meirovitch. In 1581, they partnered in leasing the estates at Bialopole and Bosno from the archbishop Leonty of Chelm for four years on the previous terms, promising to file the new contract in the Land Court (Sad Ziemski). On December 13, 1582 Leonty announced that the leasers had paid him 500 złoty. Eventually a dispute broke out between them, based on Leonty's complaint that the Jewish leasers were forcing the peasants to work too hard, contrary to their promise in the contract. Because of this default, the archbishop demanded payment of a fine of 1,000 złoty, as specified in the contract. He also brought a lawsuit against them in the Court of First Instance. The accused claimed that the court had no authority to judge them, as the contract had been filed with the Real Estate Court. After the Archbishop proved that the contract had been renewed before a Court of First Instance, he received a favorable ruling. The leasers appealed to the Tribunal in Lublin, which rejected the appeal on the claim that lawsuits pertaining to leases could not be appealed. In addition to this lawsuit, the Archbishop sued them for removing 600 oak and birch trees from the estate's forests, transporting them out of Hrubieszow, and using them for their profit. This was a breach of a commitment in the lease, and he demanded to be paid a fine of 1,000 złoty. The leasers, on the other hand, filed a claim against Archbishop Leonty: contrary to the terms of the contract, he was allowing the peasants to work for the starosta Pawel Ochanski in various seasons. The outcome of this lawsuit is not known.
The Hrubieszow community was organized like all the other Jewish communities of Poland. Its population did not grow much: in 1555 it numbered 13, and in 1564 40. The community grew more rapidly only after the charter issued in 1578 by King Stefan Batory, which gave the Jews considerable rights and better economic capabilities. At the end of the 17th century, the Jewish merchants and leasers were augmented by artisans, though they were not allowed to join all guilds. A charter given by King Jan Sobieski to the furriers' guild in 1682 allowed Schismatics and Lutherans into the guild, but not infidels, i.e., Jews. This was the rule in the other guilds. In addition to general taxes, which affected Jews as well, the Jews of Hrubieszow had to pay a special tax (Huszca), which released them from transporting wood from the Huszca forest to the palace. In 1646, when the armies of King Władysław IV assembled in Hrubieszow for war against Turkey, the three companies of the Royal Guard (600 men) cost 3,000 złoty. The Jews were charged 19.5 złoty per soldier, and the nonJews 17.5 złoty.
The events of 1648, when the Khmelnitski massacres occurred, led to the complete ruin of the Jews. Khmelnitski and his Cossacks besieged the town of Zamość, but the defenders there held fast and the attackers could not take the town. They then invaded all the communities nearby. According to Natan Hannover, They caused many deaths in the communities of TomaszówLubelski, Szczebrzeszyn, Turobin, Hrubiszow (Hrubieszow), and the neighboring towns. Several thousands and tens of thousands of Jews were killed. Shmuel Feivish, son of Natan Feitel of Vienna writes in his Tit HaYeven: The Cossacks came to the community of Hrubishov (Hrubieszow) and slaughtered hundreds of householders, almost all of them were killed. At this time, the Rabbi was Chayim (Chayke), son of Shmuel (Shvartsir) Halevy Hurvitz. His father was the brotherinlaw of Yehoshua of Krakow, author of Meginei Shlomo and the Pnei Yehoshua Responsa. Chayim had two brothers: Aryeh Leib Bosker and Rabbi Yehoshua Moshe Aharon Halevy Hurvitz. Rabbi Chayim was the student of Rabbi Ya'akov, head of the rabbinical court of Lublin. He served as Rabbi in Hrubieszow until 1664, when he was appointed Rabbi in Grodno; he served there until his death in 1674.
Once the Polish government regained control, the Hrubieszow refugees returned, rebuilt the community, restored their homes and institutions, and at the end of the
17th century even established a Yeshiva headed by Rabbi Yitzchak the son of Yehuda Charif. Before too long, the community had regained its former economic and organizational status. Hrubieszow was part of the Chelm province. In the 16th century, the provinces of Lublin, Chelm, and Belz, were united as a single organizational unit, overseen (from 1522 on) by the first official rabbi of three provinces, Rabbi Yehuda Aharon, head of the rabbinical court of Chelm. King Zygmunt I appointed him tax collector from the Jews of these provinces in 1520.
At the end of the 16th century, when the number of Jewish communities in the province increased and the city of Zamość was founded, the Jewish communities were made entails within the BelzChelm province, and formed a single land within the Council of Four Lands. The official chief rabbi was Eliyahu, Rabbi of the Chelm community (son of Yehuda Aharon). This Council existed until the 18th century. At the end of the 17th century disputes broke out between the Zamoyski entail and the other communities. The large communities of Belz and Chelm claimed that they had been mistreated by the Zamość community. After several court trials, there was a virtually complete rupture at the meeting of the Council of Four Lands on December 24, 1713.
The Jews of Zamość left the ChelmBelz province, and established an independent province of the Zamość entail; its state rabbi was appointed jointly with the province of Belz. However, the disputes did not end with the separation. The joint debts had to be divided, and jurisdiction had to be set over several communities within the province. On July 23, 1721, Hersh Nachumovich of Hrubieszow and a delegate from Chelm signed a joint agreement with the delegates of the Zamość entail. At the meeting at Łaszczów (1730) the communities of Biłgoraj, Frankopol, Krasnobród, Ulinov and Rozwadów were added to the Zamoyski entail. The ChelmBelz province had a major role in public life. In 1739, the province's delegate, Heshl of Chelm, was elected elder of the Council of the Four Lands. In the mid18th century, most of the communities in the BelzChelm province belonged to the BelzChelm committee, as did those of Toporów (Lwów province) and Sieniawa (Przemyśl province).
In preparation for the poll tax distribution, the communities' enumerators were documented alternately in Chelm and in Hrubieszow. Thus, in 1724 they were documented in Chelm, and in 1735 in Hrubieszow. In 1721, the leaders of the BelzChelm committee presented a protest in the town court; the representative of the Hrubieszow community was one of the signers. In 1729 and 1735 a representative of Hrubieszow signed next to the Chelm representative in the list for polltax distribution. In 1736 the signer for Hrubieszow was Merko Rubinshteyn.
The leaders of the Land Committee received an annual salary of 200 Polish złoty, to cover their expenses, and the rabbis received 300400 złoty. The committee scribe, trusted by the House of Israel, received an annual salary of 140 Polish złoty. In the 17th and 18th centuries the Committee met alternately in Tyszowce (in the 17th century and in 1751), Krasnystaw (1713), Uchan (1724) and Laszcow (1730). During the unification, Hrubieszow along with Belz, Chelm, and Lubomil was one of the main communities in the Land Committee, and was represented by the community's leaders and rabbis.
From time to time, the leaders and rabbis of Hrubieszow were sent to the meetings of the Council of the Four Lands, as representatives of the province. The meeting in Jarosław (1676) was attended by Rabbi Meshullam Feivush, son of Rabbi Menachem Gintzburg Ashkenazi, who signed the haskamah of 1676 for publication of a Yiddish translation of the Bible by Yoseph Etiash of Amsterdam. The haskamah included a prohibition on its publication in Poland. The meeting of 1712 was attended by Shmu'el ben Mordechai Margalit, Rabbi of Hrubieszow; he approved the book Brit Shalom by Rabbi Pinchas, head of the rabbinical court of Włodawa. The 1717 meeting of the Council, which dealt mainly with the dispute between the rabbi of Przemyśl, Yekhizkiya Yehoshua Feivel, son of Yonah Te'omim (author of Kikayon deYona) and the leaders of the Przemyśl community, included
Zvi Hirsh Kremnitzer of Hrubieszow. He, along with Shmu'el Shmelke Margalit (then head of the rabbinical court of Chelm), signed writs of excommunication of the leaders of the Four Lands against the leaders of Przemyśl, according to which the rabbi needed to live in Przemyśl, and be protected from harm by anyone. At that same meeting, Rabbi Shmu'el Shmelke Margalit signed the resolution separating Leżajsk from Przemyśl Province in all pertaining to poll tax. The Hrubieszow representative, Rabbi Zvi Hirsh Kremnitzer, participated for the last time in the 1730 session of the Council of the Four Lands, where he signed together with the rabbis and community leaders a document granting special powers to Rabbi Yehuda Leib, son of Rabbi Ya'akov Kapel, of Lwów, who was the community scribe in Krakow.
Hrubieszow Goes into Debt
The difficulties of the Hrubieszow community after the pogroms of 16481649 and the war with Russia and Sweden necessitated taking out loans. As the community could not even pay the interest on the loans, it was forced into litigation. In addition to taxes and various payments, the community was obliged to pay the local priest annual payments (based on a contract signed in 1678) as follows: on the Feast Day of Saint John the Baptist 20 złoty; on Christmas and Easter 2 pounds of pepper, 1 pound of ginger, 1 pound of cumin, 2 pounds of saffron; 2 pounds of nails, I pound of aromatic flowers, and a 3pound head of sugar. Over time, the financial burden became so great that the community's leaders were sued.
In one case, King Augustus II ordered (October 6, 1703) the community leaders Nisan Berkovitch, Yosef Nachmanovitch, Avraham Shmuelevitch, Avraham Eisikovitch, Leyb Hershkovitch, Beinish Meirovitch, Aharon Leibovitch and the entire community of Hrubieszow, to appear before the tribunal in Lublin when the nonpayment of the loan of 3,000 złoty from Judge Franosz Ciaszkowsky and secured by all the properties of community members, would come before the court, as noted in a document signed at the property of the borrower. The profits of 100 złoty, amassed over three years, were not paid on April 4, 1693; and the loan was not repaid. The lender therefore filed suit and demanded return of the debt with interest, as well as compensation for the damages caused him by nonpayment.
Another lawsuit, which began in the municipal court of Chelm in 1705 and was later transferred to the tribunal in Lublin, was filed in 1705 by Master of the Hunt M. Liniawski of Kiev, was for 4,000 Polish złoty, as well as annual profits of 300 złoty. The respondents were the community and its leaders, Hirsh Pietrushka, Avraham Feivishzon, and Emanuel Shimsholovitz. This affair lasted for five years, until a compromise was reached on July 27, 1710. It stipulated that community leaders Hirsh Pietrushka, Barak Manis, Yudko Oshiovitz, Ya'akov Feivshovitz, and Leyzer Oshiovitz undertake, in the name of all the Jews of Hrubieszow, to repay the debt of 4,000 złoty, for a total amount (together with the interest) of 6,930 złoty.
The Jews of Hrubieszow suffered under the burden of taxes and various payments. They paid poll taxes in the following amounts:
1725 2,260 złoty; the entire ChelmBelz province paid 17,936 złoty.
1728 3,000 złoty; the province paid 20,733 złoty.
1758 872 złoty.
In addition to poll tax, they were paying tax on plot ownership, special taxes when a king was crowned, special levies to cover national debts, war expenses etc., Indirect taxes included customs, bridge crossings, alcoholic drinks, and szuka tax. In 1775, the following taxes were paid: revenue stamps for business books, documents, books, annual gifts to the local priest and Starosta, as well as community taxes.
In 1765, husczca taxes amounted to 135 złoty; distillery taxes 12 złoty; nail and milk taxes 432 złoty; legun 282 złoty; fish tax (Rybackie) 100 złoty; fence tax from Jews and Christians 40 złoty.
There was a serious crisis in the Hrubieszow community in 1736. According to evidence from city council members Albert Zadecki and Yonah Bohrovitz, a fire on April 17, 1736, consumed
the small synagogue, the bathhouse, and 27 Jewishowned houses.
Rabbis of Hrubieszow
During this period, the following rabbis served in Hrubieszow: Meshulam Feivish, son of Menachem Gintzburg Ashkenazi. As noted above, he participated in the meeting of the Council of Four Lands in Yaroslavl (1676) and approved the publication of a Yiddish translation of the Hebrew Bible. He was followed by Rabbi Ya'akov who was, through his mother, a grandson of the author of Eitan HaEzrachi and the son of Zvi Hirsh (born in Poznań in 1646). Rabbi Menachem Mendel writes in his book Tzintzenet Menachem (Berlin, 1719), that his father sent him to study with Rabbi Ya'akov, later head of the rabbinical court in Hrubieszow. Rabbi Avraham Abeli, son of Binyamin Zak (zera kedoshim), the greatgrandson of the famous rabbi of Lwów proper), Rabbi Avraham Zak. Before being appointed rabbi in Hrubieszow, he headed a yeshiva in Ludmir, and, together with the head of the local rabbinical court Yisra'el (son of Shmuel) of Tarnopol, approved the publication of the book Lev Aryeh concerning the Pentateuch (Wilmersdorf, 1674). Rabbi Yitzchak Ben Yehuda, also known as Rabbi Yitzchak Charif, brotherinlaw of the renowned preacher of the time, Yosef (son of Moshe the arbitrator) of Przemyśl. While Rabbi in Hrubieszow, he approved publication of Chilukey deRabanan (Amsterdam, 1694). His daughter, Beyle, was married to Lemil (son of Rabbi Meir Kobler), a leader of the Brody community. Rabbi Shmuel Shmulke (son of Mordechai Margaliot), participated in a meeting of the Council of the Four Lands in 1713, and approved the publication of Berit Shalom (Sermons, FrankfurtamMain, 1718). In 1728, in Chelm, he approved the publication of Beit Lechem Yehuda, noting that his sphere extended through Kovel and the province(Zhovkva, 1733), and in 1730 approved the publication of Zera Barak Shalisho, sermons by Berachya (son of Rabbi Elyakim Getz), FrankfurtonOder, 1730). He died in 1735. Rabbi Aryeh Leib (son of Rabbi Meir Kantchig), grandson of Rabbi Ya'akov, head of the rabbinical court of Skali, and greatgreatgrandson of Rabbi Mendl Kloyzner of Krakow, who emigrated to EretzYisra'el and was appointed head of the rabbinical court in Jerusalem, born in 1698 in Kańczuga, and renowned for his talents and piety. He ate no meat on weekdays, and immersed himself in cold water daily. According to Rabbi Yehoshua (author of Pnei Yehoshua), he was better versed in Talmud and its annotations than any of his contemporaries. At a young age, he was appointed head of the rabbinical court in Kańczuga, and later as rabbi in Hrubieszow. In 1728, he settled in Złoczów as a private person, and was an educator. He refused the post of rabbi in Dubno after the death of Rabbi Yehoshua Heshil, preferring to stay in Złoczów and serve as an educator until his death, in 1786. After his death, his innovative commentaries on the Talmud were published as Ateret Zekenim (Lwów, 1871).
Rabbi Yoel (son of David Katznelboigen) was the soninlaw of Rabbi Khayim HaKohen Rapoport, head of the rabbinical court of Lwów. As a young man, he was rabbi in Yarutsov, and in 1750 approved publication of Mishneh Lechem by Rabbi Yechiel (son of Rabbi Petachya of Yavorov) (Zhovkva, 1751) and of Ohel Moshe, sermons of Rabbi Ya'akov Moshe Katz (Zhovkva, 1755). He was still rabbi in Yarutsov in 1755; in 1762 he served in Szreniawa. Before his death in 1769 he was appointed rabbi in Hrubieszow. After his death, his wife Yarot married Rabbi Ze'ev Volf, who succeeded him as rabbi in Hrubieszow. In 1748, he approved publication of Kotnot Or, and in 1780 Shevet MiYisra'el by Maggid Ya'akov Yisra'el of Kremnitz. In 1786, he approved publication of MiYam Yechezkel, sermons by Yekhezkel Katzenelboigen (Poryck, 1786).
Rabbi Khayim Hochgelebter was born in 1769. His father, Rabbi Yosef, was head of the rabbinical court in Zamość, and author of Mishnat Chachamim.
In 1788 he was appointed rabbi of Ostrowiec, and later rabbi in Hrubieszow. He left the town during the siege of Zamość and moved to Grabowiec, where he was appointed rabbi. He died on 24 Adar 5569, in an epidemic. His wife, mother, and all his children died following him. His only surviving son, Moshe Ya'akov, was brought up by his uncle, Rabbi Yitzchak Hochgelernter, head of the rabbinical court in Zamość. He married the daughter of the wealthy Elyakim Getzl Rakover, a prominent member of the Krakow community. Moshe Ya'akov died in Krakow in 1840.
Status of the Town and the Community
During the 18th century, Hrubieszow was an important transportation hub on the banks of the Bug for grain and agriculturalproduce commerce, from Raysn to Danzig and Elbing by way of the Vistula and the San rivers, and Jews played a significant role in this trade. The majority of the population were storekeepers, peddlers, and handicrafters. Only a small proportion were medium and wholesale traders.
A survey in 1765 reports that Jews owned 125 of the 375 houses in the town; 15 of these were inns, and 13 were shops built into the city wall. When the Jewish community's autonomy was abolished, in 1764, the BelzChelm province owed 107,399 złoty and interest of 19,518 złoty, for a total of 126, 917 złoty. All the Jewish communities of the kingdom, including that of Hrubieszow, were held liable for this debt.
The Jewish community of Hrubieszow, along with the 51 villages attached to it, numbered 1,023 Jews; the Jewish community in Hrubieszow itself consisted of 709 people. The Chelm province, to which Hrubieszow belonged, numbered 9,787 Jews in the following towns and the villages attached to them: Chelm, Krasniczyn, Krasnobród, Kryłów, Uchan, Rejowiec, Lubomil, Turobin, Krasnystaw, Szczebreszyn, Tornigorow, and Zamość.
Starting in 1772, the Jews of Hrubieszow were under Austrian rule. Hrubieszow was part of the Zamość district, along with the communities of Zamość, Szczebreszyn, Grabowiec, Tornigorow, Tyszowce, Laszcow, Józefów, Krzeszów, and Tumtov.
The Jews of Hrubieszow had to pay all the taxes levied on the Jews of Galicia, as follows: tolerance tax (Toleranzsteuer), 4 gulden per family; employment and property tax (Geworbe und Vermögenssteuer), 4 gulden per family; marriage tax (Heirats taxe) of 3 types, according to employmentfrom 3 to 90 gulden; tax for kosher meat; and candle tax. In addition, the Jews of Hrubieszow paid (according to a survey of March 7, 1788) huszca tax 135 złoty; fish tax 33 złoty and 10 groszy; milk tax 216 złoty; nails tax 136 złoty, fence tax 40 złoty.
A census carried out by the Austrian authorities in 1788, which provides only the number of Jews in the districts, Zamość district (with 10 Jewish communities) included 2,648 Jewish families (consisting of 2,581 men, 2,573 women, 1,040 children, 953 girls over 12, 1,896 boys and 1,796 girls under 12, 545 male servants, 717 female servants, 139 poor men, 375 poor women) for a total of 12,615 (6,210 men and 6,414 women). Based on the categories of taxpayers, 1,461 families were in category 1; 316 families were in category 2; 124 families in category 3; and 747 families in the poor category.
The situation was somewhat different in 1792. The ten communities comprised 2,395 families (253 less than in 1783), with the following composition: heads of families, men 2,334 (247); women 2,343 (230); 933 children (107); 893 girls over 12 (60); 1,498 children (398); 1,463 girls under 12 (333); 310 male servants (235); 575 female servants (142); 170 poor men (+31); 312 poor women (63); total 10,831 (1784), 524 men (956); 5,586 women (828).
According to the categories of taxpayers, 1,227 families were in category 1 (234); 269 in category 2 (47); 145 in category 3 (+21); 754 in the poor category (+7).
When elementary schools for Jewish children were established, according to the Edicts of Toleration for the Jews of Galicia issued by Emperor Joseph II in 1789, a Jewish school was opened in Hrubieszow. It had one teacher, who received an annual salary of 150 gulden. The documents of the Interior Ministry of the Austrian Empire do not state who the teacher was. The documents of teachers' salaries in the Zamość district list the Hrubieszow position as Vacant, i.e., no teacher had yet been appointed. On the other hand, the teacher Bernard Doktrovitz was working in Zamość, for a salary of 200 gulden, and his assistant, Fenster, had a salary of 50 gulden. The teacher in Grabowiec was Shimon Flucha (200); in Tarnogród Vaynshtayn (150); in Tyszowce Yechezkel Gitlis (150); in Krzeszów Moshe Neigreschel (200). Schools were established in the other towns (Szczebreszyn, Laszcow, Józefów, Tomaszów) and each teacher received a salary of 150 florins, but the appointments were not yet known.
In 1793 the authorities in Vienna ordered the Lwów governorate to appoint the Christian teacher in the general school as the teacher for all of Hrubieszow, and compensate him for his additional work. However, the educational authorities in the Zamość district admitted openly that the melameds were preventing the children from attending the general school. They therefore suggested removing the melameds, who had not passed official language examinations, as they constituted the main obstacle; parents who did not send their children to school would be punished.
The authorities were not favorable towards the Jews during the first years of Austrian rule. On the contrary: the announcement of the Zamość district administrator (BezirksHauptmannStarosta) Kohlmanhover demonstrates that the Austrian bureaucrats considered the Jews to be a corrupting factor: die meisten und bősesten Diebe in Lande seyen die Juden, welche aller Orten herumreisen. He suggested a number of severe regulations, such as letters of protection (Schutzbriefe), after the Prussian model. Anyone traveling without such a letter would be subject to arrest. Innkeepers who hosted Jews without letters of protection would be responsible for any theft and would have to pay for any damage. He also opposed the very existence of the communities, claiming that this autonomous body renders the Jews even more Jewish, contradicting the kingdom's goal of encouraging their assimilation into the other social groups.
The Jewish tavernleasers of Zamość district underwent a serious crisis during this period, when the Austrian authorities were seeking ways to prevent the peasants from drinking hard liquor. There were several suggestions. Public views in Poland were that the Jewish tavernleasers were inciting the peasants to drink hard liquor. The Zamoyski, Czartoryski, and Lubomirski nobles started to remove Jewish tavernleasers from their estates. The Zamoyski properties eliminated all the Jewish tavernleasers and took liquor sales into their own hands. Their example was followed by all the estate owners in the Zamość district.
Interestingly, during those years the Polish public, even outside the nobility, was discussing the productivization of Jews. For example, Jozef Sikirka and Antony Munstow, along with eight other peasants, sent the authorities the following proposal: Send the children of Jews in towns to apprentice with craftsmen, and the children of Jewish tavernkeepers in villages to peasants, to learn how to farm. Send the Jewish girls in towns and villages to honorable Christian women to learn women's occupations. Only elderly Jews in towns would be allowed to sell mead, wine, and beer, but no liquor. However, eliminating the Jewish tavernkeepers caused such losses to the estate owners that in 1783 the Zamoyski estate restored the Jewish tavernkeepers to their positions; it was followed by the other landowners of the district.
Jews were especially subject to persecution in things related to marriage. Informing by Glazmer, the scribe of the Jewish community of Tomaszow led the district office of Zamość to announce a large number of secret marriages.
An order from Vienna required severe steps to be taken, expelling those who had married in secret or lived in a state of concubinage (Konkubinat). In 1783, the authorities began to be more severe about issuing marriage permits as well as to expel Jews who were poor, unemployed, with no means of livelihood. These Jews were termed Betteljuden of Galicia.
In order to rescue the poor of all the district's communities, including those of Hrubieszow, the Zamość community announced its readiness to support all the Jews in the district. The extent to which the Zamość community was able to obtain the agreement of the local authorities and confirmation from Vienna is not clear from the archive files. In addition, economic relations between the Jews and the townspeople worsened. A dispute broke out in 1790 between the guild of Christian butchers and the Jews of Hrubieszow. The Christian butchers complained to the authorities that they were being discriminated against by the Jews, causing them much damage. The reaction of the authorities and the Jews to this complaint is not clear from the archive files. Such complaints were very common during this period of economic disputes between Jews and town dwellers.
Kaiser Joseph II broached the idea of colonizing the Austrian Empire's possessions. At his initiative, thousands of German settlers were resettled in these areas, in order to Germanize the nonGerman districts. As is wellknown, part of his initiative to carry out fundamental improvements in the lives of Galician Jews was the requirement of some Jews to switch to agriculture. This issue was debated in government circles starting in 1774. The theory of physiocracy was influential in these debates, as well as the desire to compensate the Jews who had lost their livelihood due to the prohibition on leasing taverns selling hard liquor. Jews who became farmers were promised an initial 50% reduction in tolerance tax, to be followed by the total abolition of this tax.
In 1785, in the wake of the Jewish regulations, thousands of Jewish families were left with no livelihood. Kaiser Joseph issued a decree on August 16, 1789, to start immediate agricultural resettlement of 1400 Jewish families from all over Galicia. The Zamość district was instructed to supply 78 families, including 10 families from Hrubieszow. By the end of 1793, 78 families had settled on 53 plots: 18 from Zamość town; 4 from Szczebrzeszyn; 3 from Grabowiec; 10 from Hrubieszow; 10 from Tarnogród; 6 from Tyszowce; 7 from Łaszczów; 4 from Józefów; 8 from Tomaszów. As the authorities in Vienna felt that the project was progressing too slowly, especially as most districts had completed their quotas as early as 1792, the Governorate was instructed to reprimand the Zamość district and to sternly order it to complete the plan's execution.
By the end of 1793, 78 families from the Zamość district had settled on 53 plots. They comprised 120 men, 92 women, 80 boys under 18, and 73 girls under 18. The settlers received 73 houses, 78 barns and threshinggrounds, 169 horses, 157 oxen, and 196 cows. Of these, 10 families were from Hrubieszow, who settled on five plots: 14 men, 14 women, 9 boys under 18, 10 girls under 18. They received 10 houses, 10 barns and threshinggrounds, 32 horses, 9 oxen, and 15 cows. The Jewish communities of the resettlement area were responsible for financing this resettlement. The expenses for each family were 250 gulden. Each 25, 30, 40 heads of families were obligated to cover the expenses of one needy family. The Galicia settlement project encountered serious difficulties. The fate of the settlers from Hrubieszow is unknown. It was only in 1817 that a government report included information
that the Jew Gelber, who had been settled there since the period of Austrian rule, owned only one cow.
At the end of the 18th century, settling the debts of the Jewswhich were considerablewas on the agenda. The office of the Zamość district reported that the debts had been completely paid off. However, the authorities in Vienna did not accept this explanation; they proved that the Zamość district office had paid off the debt with money forcibly extracted from nonresident Jews. The same report determined that the Jewish communities in the district subsisted thanks to the compassion of the welloff and the wealthy.
The Austrian rule ended in 1809, when the entire region was returned to the Duchy of Warsaw.
The Period of the Duchy of Warsaw and the Kingdom of Congress Poland
On July 4, 1809, the Polish army occupied the regions that had been annexed to Austria through the partitions of Poland. During this war, large portions of western Galicia were added to the Duchy of Warsaw, 7 districts in all: Zamość, Kraków, Kielce, Radom, Lublin, Bielsko, and Siedlice. Four departments were established in the annexed area: Kraków 2,488 Jewish families; Lublin (including Hrubieszow) 7,750 Jewish families; Siedlice 7,821 Jewish families; Radom 8,058 Jewish families. The Prussian laws of 1797 were now enforced in these departments, as they were throughout the Duchy of Warsaw. These laws placed many obstacles in the way of Jews wanting to purchase land. A Jew could not purchase or acquire land, but merchants were permitted to live in cities and own houses. Jews could sell their homes and properties, and pass them on to their heirs. However, Jews could not buy land in the parts of the city where they were not allowed to live. In those areas, Jews could build houses only on vacant lots in which no Christian was interested, and only if the Christians agreed. Jews were not permitted to buy land and estates from Christians, except for vacant lots on which they could build houses and establish a farm.
The Jews were obligated to pay a koshermeat tax in the new departments. This tax amounted to an annual total of 1,905,541 złoty. Thus, each family, including those in Hrubieszow, paid an average 73 złoty per year. The meat tax in the four new departments was leased for three years to Yosef Valberg of Tarnow, Raphael Shapiro of Kiyunze Wielki, and to the Rabbi of Chelm, Mendl Etinger. The Jews were heavily taxed during the Duchy period. In addition to food tax (Nahrungssteuer), and koshermeat tax, they paid 1024 thalers tolerance tax per family, based on its economic situation, and marriage tax of 25 thalersin addition to the regular taxes.
Dr. Shlomo Ya'akov Kalmanzon
Although there was a group of enlightened Jews in Warsaw, which began the struggle for equal rights and tax reduction, the Jews in the rural towns (including Hrubieszow) distanced themselves from political activism to improve their situation. They considered current conditions an unavoidable necessity, and were content, thinking that any change in laws would harm their traditionally observant lives. Thus, they gladly accepted the recruits' tax (in an order of January 21, 1812), amounting to 700,000
złoty; its payment granted them an exemption from conscription into the military. However, one Jew a native of Hrubieszow disagreed, and decided to fight for equal rights for Jews, and improved cultural, political, and economic conditions, by adapting to contemporaneous needs.
This was Dr. Shlomo Ya'akov Kalmanzon. He was born in Hrubieszow in 1722, the son of the town rabbi. He left home when young and traveled abroad, hoping to gain a secular education. He traveled through many countries: Germany, Turkey, Russia, and France. After completing his medical studies, he returned to Poland and worked as a physician in Warsaw. He had a wideranging education, general as well as Jewish, and was in contact with members of the Enlightenment in Germany, especially in Berlin and Breslau. He was a beloved physician. King Stanisław Poniatowski admired him and supported him, as did other famous Poles. In addition to his medical expertise, he was remarkable for his philosophical knowledge and familiarity with European literature. The Polish writer W. Surowiecki complimented him as a noble and excellent writer. During the years of the Great Sejm (17881794), when the Jewish problem was discussed by the plenary session and a special committee, it was no wonder when Kalmanzon, the enlightened intellectual devoted himself to activism to help Jews. He was in close touch with all political circles, and with Awa Piattoli, the adviser and political secretary to King Stanisław Poniatowski, as one of the Jewish representatives who negotiated with the king about improvements in the lives of Polish Jews. In a royal audience with the Jewish delegation, Kalmanzon together with Rabbi Hirsh (Hershek, son of Shoel) Shavlovitzrepresented the Jews of Warsaw. Kalmanzon reported that during the years of the Great Sejm, he devoted himself to turn the scattered idlers into industrious citizens. There would certainly have been results, if the destiny that governs nations had not wanted otherwise. He opposed the way of life of Polish Jews, and attacked the leadership of the Jewish communities especially the lobbyists (syndici) whom he considered interested only in enriching themselves. This fact often led to their failure; or, as a Polish journalist put it during the 1780s, the lobbyist is the most accomplished thief.
Dr. Eliyahu Akord, who in 1786 translated the 1782 article by Mateusz Butrymowic The Jews, or on the Urgent Necessity for Reform of the Jews in the Lands of the Polish Crown into German, greatly admired Kalmanzon and wrote about his medical gifts in glowing terms. Kalmanzon's medical abilities were recognized by all the Polish physicians; however, when he applied for a position he was told that he was worthy of the position, but it is useless, if you are a son of Jacob. After the death of King Poniatowski, Polish Senate President Gutkowski took an interest, as did the Freemasons; they arranged a lifetime pension for him. Kalmanzon played a special role during the Prussian occupation. In 1797, he published a twovolume work under his initials: Essai sur l'état actuel des Juifs et leur perfecti. That same year, his Polish friend Julian Cachowic translated the work into Polish, with the title Uwagi nad niniejszym stanem Żydów polskich i ich wydoskonaleniem. This article may have been written as early as during the period of the Great Sejm, which devoted many discussions to the issue of Jewish reform. Kalmanzon dedicated his book to the Prussian Minister, Count Höym, who was the Commissioner of the lands annexed to Prussia after the partition of Poland, and was charged with organizing the new regions. Kalmanzon wanted to utilize Höym's admiration for Mendelssohn, and offer him his suggestions for Jewish reform. The Polish translator published the book at his own expense, and dedicated it to the Russian Czar Paul I, thanks to the assistance of Prince Repnin. The Czar sent a letter of thanks and a golden tobacco box as a gift to Kalmanzon through the Deputy Foreign Minister, Adam Czartoryski. Thanks to his connections, the authorities turned to him for information on Jewish matters of which they were unsure. Kalmanzon's work supplies a comprehensive description of the Jews of Poland and their various factions, sharply criticizing Hasidism, whichlike Mendelssohn he considered the main factor impeding improvements in Jewish life. He believed that Hasidism was a dangerous sect that needed to be uprooted by any possible means. He also devoted much space to the Frankist sect. Most of his suggestions resemble the Jewish suggestions of the Sejm period, especially those of Mendl Lefin Satanover. Kalmanzon demanded setting the marriage age of Jewish men at 16, and women at 14. He suggested the establishment of general schools to replace the yeshivas and kheyders. Reform of community life, by diminishing the power of the rabbis and the community leaders, was especially urgent. Jews should adopt European dress and cut their beards. Some of his suggestions were included in the Jewish regulation: General Judenregiement für Süd und Nord Preussen, 1797. Kalmanzon died in Warsaw, in 1811.
Avraham Ya'akov Shtern
Opinions totally contradictory to those of Dr. Kalmanzon were held by another native of Hrubieszow: Avraham Ya'akov (son of ChanochHenich) Shtern. He was born in 1768 and was a child prodigy. His father was poor, and worked long hours as a clockmaker in order to provide his son with an education. His dedication and workmanship became famous in the town, and came to the attention of Stasicz, the main personage of the town. He invited AvrahamYa'akov to visit, began showing an interest in him, and enabled him to learn Polish, German, French, and Latin, as well as mathematics, physics, and mechanics. Stasicz's friendship also had a political rationale: while national Polish authority had returned to Galicia, Shtern supported the Polish efforts. In spite of his liberal attitudes especially towards the issue of the peasants Staszic was antiSemitic. Nevertheless, he considered it his duty to help Avraham Shtern with his scientific work.
Shtern devoted himself to the invention of a machine for calculating addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division in simple arithmetic and in fractions. The impetus toward this arose from a tragic case in Vienna, when an accountant made an adding error, and committed suicide for fear he would be suspected of embezzlement. When the books were examined after his death, the accounts were found to be in perfect order. Shtern perfected his invention in 1813, and brought it to Staszic.
Although he was religiously observant, Shtern had friendly relations with Enlightenment circles. He was a regular visitor at the home of Michael EttingerRabski, where he met the poet YitzchakEizik Kandia, the author of the drama Toldot Moshe (1729) and a translator of Schiller's poetry. Shtern wrote poetry. One poem, signed as Avraham Kochav and printed in the booklet Rina uTefilah, in honor of Czar Nikolai I's coronation as King of Poland, was translated into Polish by Jan Gliksberg. Shtern also composed mathematical riddles, wrote about chess, and translated Hannover's Yeven Metsula into Polish. His daughter was married to Zelig Slonimski. Shtern died in Warsaw in 1842 (on 23 Shevat).
Attempt to Establish Schools for Jews
The government of Congress Poland, especially the Minister of Education Stanisław Potocki, attempted to improve Jewish life by establishing schools and teaching Polish. Such attempts were also carried out in Lublin province, which included Hrubieszow. The report of the Royal Commission of Religion and Public Education of December 27, 1817, states: It is impossible at this time to convince the parents of children of the Mosaic faith to send them to schools with Catholic children. As they believe in nothing and completely lack education, they are incapable of deciding to dress their children in modern clothing, remove the skullcaps from their heads, and cut their sidelocks, although we have drawn their attention to these points. Even those who were willing to send their children to such schools declared that it was impossible, once they heard about the conditions. The Jews of Hrubieszow pay an annual tax of 400 złoty for the teacher. Now they have informed the Education Department Commissar, who visited the local schools, that they demand to be released from this tax. They will never send their children to a Catholic school, even if they are required to pay a tenfold tax. Based on this report, the Commission (Komisja wojewódzka) stated its opinion that it would be a good idea to establish a special school for Jewish children, with a Christian teacher (as a community official) or a suitably educated Jewish teacher, so that Jewish children would learn to read and write. However, a Jewish school was never established.
During these years, the Jewish community of Hrubieszow increased, so out of a total population of 5,454 in 1827, 2,924 were Jews (53.6%). There were no major changes in their economic situation. Only one small class of Jews, whose primary occupation was wholesale commerce, held significant positions in trading agricultural produce, leasing, and cattle. There was a small group of wealthy people, headed by Khayim Veller, Simcha Pinsker's fatherinlaw.
At this time, the rabbi was Rabbi Yosef (son of Mordechai) Katzenelboigen, the son of the rabbi of Neshkhiz (Nesukhoyezhe). He himself was the rabbi of Lutsk; Uscilug was his last position before coming to Hrubieszow, prior to 1818. That year, he approved publication of Maor Eynayim and Ein Ya'akov; both were published by the Hrubieszow printing press. He was a Kabbalist, considered a tsaddik by his followers, and devoted most of his time to esoteric studies. The authority of the rabbinate over the rabbinic court was therefore transferred to Rabbi David (son of Aaron) Shalit.
Rabbi Katzenelboigen was also concerned with improving the lot of the community. Aware of the suffering of the poor, the homeless, and the sick, he decided regardless of his advanced age to raise money to build a hospital. He instructed the community leaders to go with him to collect donations. Once a sufficient sum was collected (30,000 złoty), he built a sixroom building as well as an asylum for the mentally ill. He died on the 18th day of Elul 5590, in Ostroh, where he had gone for the wedding of his son Rabbi Borekh.
In the early part of the 19th century, the rabbinical court consisted of the judges David Shalit, Aharon Yitzchak HaKohen, Natan Aryeh Doyer, Mordechai (son of David) Shalit. For a number of years, rabbinical judge David Shalit substituted for Rabbi Yosef Katzenelboigen as rabbi. In 1818, he approved Eyn Ya'akov for publication in Hrubieszow; in 1819 Levushei Srad by Rabbi David Shlomo Eibeshitz, and the Book of Job in 1823. He died on May 27, 1830. His son, Mordechai, was also a rabbinic judge. He, along with the other rabbinic judges Aharon Yitzchak HaKohen and Natan Aryeh Doyer, approved Ein Ya'akov and Kedushat Levi for publication in Hrubieszow.
Hebrew Publishing in Hrubieszow
As early as the Austrian period, Jews of Hrubieszow (Hrubieszower Juden) made efforts (17921804) to gain the privilege of starting a printing house. But the matter was delayed, and the privilege was not granted. It was only during the Principality of Warsaw period that Menachem Mendl Finkelshteyn, Moshe Tzikor, and Shaul Moshe Goldshteyn were able to establish the first printing house, which still existed in 1823. In addition to Finkelshteyn, who supplied the funds, Moshe Tzikor of Łaszczów and Goldshteyn of Hrubieszow were the expert printers. Both the latter were also partners in the Hebrew printing house in Łaszczów. Goldshteyn left the partnership in 1819, and returned to Łaszczów. In 1821, Finkelshteyn left the printing business and handed over the printing house to his partner, Tzikor. The latter took Shlomo (son of David) Lev of Łaszczów as a new partner. Eight master printers worked in the printing house. Daniel Ze'ev (son of Meir) Segal who worked at the printing press and set type, and Baruch Avraham (son of David) were from Hrubieszow. Others were as follows: one from Łaszczów (Yitzchak, son of David typesetter), one from Lwów (Chaim, son of Eliezer typesetter), two from Zhovkva (Yisra'el, son of Rafael press operator, and Menachem Mendel, son of Baruch typesetter), one from Łęczno (Pesach Yosef, son of Zvi press operator) and one (Eliezer Segal) from an unknown town. He, too, may have been from Hrubieszow. In 18161826, a total of 34 books were printed, two of them in Yiddish, and a Yiddish translation of Gedulat David uMalkhut Yisra'el by Yosef HaEfrati of Tropplowitz, and Sefer Hasidim by Rabbi Yehuda HeHasid. All the books were approved by the Hrubieszow censor.
The Jews of Hrubieszow Take a Negative Stance on the Revolt of 1830
When the revolt of 1830 broke out, the Jews of Hrubieszow opposed it, unlike the Jews of Lublin, who joined the revolt. One of the important rebels, Jan Cinski, recounts in his book Israel en Pologne:
When the French commander de Rochetin called on the residents regardless of religious affiliation to join the rebels' units, the community leaders came to him, headed by Rabbi Yosef Katzenelboigen, asking that the Jews be exempt from military service, as Judaism forbids bloodshed. They offered all their property in return for this exemption.
The National Committee in Warsaw announced, on January 23, 1831, that the communities that had committed to do so immediately supply half the number of conscripts, and that the full number be drafted from those communities who had not committed. They emphasized the fact that the draftee tax needed to be collected as soon as possible. The citizens' council in Hrubieszow informed the government in Poland that this arrangement would not benefit the state, and would benefit the Jews even less. In his response (January 22, 1831) Lelewel, the chairman of the National Committee, commented that the government had decided to exempt the Jews from military service, if they requested it. For the time being, the government did not stand to derive any practical benefit from the service of Jews. On the other hand, payment of the doubled tax would be very useful under current conditions.
Based on the recommendation of the Interior Ministry and the police, the Supreme National Council confirmed publication of the following order: In provinces where the Jews voluntarily committed to pay doubled conscription tax in return for exemption from the personal duty to serve in the Mobile Guards, they should immediately pay half the sum and hand it over to the royal treasury. Jews who do not agree to this condition should immediately be conscripted into the Mobile Guards. Naturally, the Hrubieszow community paid up.
Renewed Activity of the Jewish Community
After the collapse of the Polish rebellion and increased calm in the Kingdom of Poland, Jewish community life resumed normal activity. The first signs of enlightenment were appearing. Hrubieszow was then the home of the Hebrew writer Simcha Aryeh Leven, who was in touch with the enlighteners of Zamość, headed by Aryeh Leib Kinderfroynd as well as Simcha HaLevi Kleiner, a native of Hrubieszow. He knew, and understood, Hebrew grammar, wrote a commentary on Job, and published the book Mi Maleh on the Hebrew language.
The famous scholar Simcha Pinsker lived in Hrubieszow (and later in Tomaszów) until the 1820s. He was the father of Dr. Leo Pinsker, author of AutoEmancipation. Simcha Pinsker was the son of the renowned Galician Talmud expert, Shevach (son of Mordechai HaLevi) Almogin, who headed yeshivas for itinerant Maggids (preachers) in many communities (Ternopil, Tyśmienica, and Tarnów). He died in Tarnow in 1817. Simcha Pinsker was born in 1801; at age 17 he married Mita, the daughter of the wealthy Khayim Veller of Hrubieszow, who wanted to support his soninlaw so that he could devote himself exclusively to study. However, the offer was rejected, and Simcha Pinsker settled in nearby Tomaszów and became a merchant. After he had lost all his capital, he moved to Odessa. In Hrubieszow, Simcha Pinsker, a native of Galicia who was raised in an antiHasidic environment and proEnlightenment atmosphere, carried on activities in the spirit of the Enlightenment.
As previously mentioned, a hospital was established, which expanded to include three buildings. The first, which was stonebuilt, comprised the kitchen (on the ground floor), laundry room, infirmary, pharmacy, and office. The second structure served as the home of the physician, and the third was used as a morgue. The hospital was supported by charity, donations, and the income from the bathhouse. The first physician was Dr. Tzvi Hirsch Goldshmidt, and the hospital's budget was 900 rubles annually.
There was heightened social activism in the Jewish community in the 1840s, in the areas of welfare, religious studies, as well as book collection in the synagogues and houses of study. In 1848 (on 18 Tevet 5609) the Chavura Midrash was renewed and grew stronger as time went on. Its function was to collect gifts in the town for the poor, and for community needs. They also collected funds to buy books for the group, and held prayers in the homes of members who had died. The managers designated a group member to say Kaddish for the deceased. The society members, headed by the Maggid, would gather every year during the week of Succot. At these meetings, five members were chosen to select those who would collect donations of weekly wages for the Maggid, to pay the religious students, and donations as well as a Hanukah gift for the Maggid. The five members selected had to appoint two managers who, together with the Maggid, could add members to the society. The members had the following duties: weekly charity donations, which supported the Maggid and covered his holiday expenses at Purim and Hanukah; on Purim the managers had to lead the members in a procession accompanied by a drummer to collect Purim gifts, as was customary in all the community societies. At a circumcision ceremony or a wedding, the celebrant had to honor the members. The Maggid conducted marriage ceremonies and wrote out the Ketubah in return for whatever payment the member could afford.
The Chevra Tehillim [Psalm Reciting Society] in the large House of Study was of long standing, but its records had disappeared. It was usually composed of craftsmen, who established a separate prayer space within the synagogue's vestibule; this space was popularly termed the prayer vestibule of the porters and tailors. In the early morning, the sexton would call out plaintively, Arise for prayer, holy people of Israel, get up, and prepare! They later began to keep a new book of records, in Yiddish. The main responsibility of the society was to inform the manager immediately when one of the members was ill; the manager would gather the members to recite Psalms to support the ill person. If necessary, they would take turns sleeping at the bedside. Psalms are traditionally not recited before 6:00 a.m.; all the members had to come to the House of Study at that time, summer or winter. The members were to come to the large House of Study on the Shabbat of Hanukah, the Shabbat of the Shekalim Torah portion, the second day of Shavu'ot, and on the Shabbat of Repentance. Conversation was strictly prohibited during the recitation of Psalms. Membership dues were 2 groszy per month.
The Ner Kedusha [Candle of Holiness] Society was established to commemorate the martyrs of Hrubieszow during the pogroms of 16481649. Society members lit a wax candle in the synagogue at night during prayers on 20 Sivan, on the eve of Yom Kippur, and on 10 Tevet. All the members of the society raised a toast, followed by the rabbi's sermon. Another society was the Chevrat Tikkun Sefarim [Society for Book Repair], which was renewed in 1884.
According to a contemporary native of Lublin who was familiar with the life of Jews in the outlying towns, the Jews of Lublin province (including Hrubieszow) were mostly small shopkeepers and peddlers; only a few had the financial means for wholesale commerce. Many Jews were craftsmen, especially tailors, hatmakers, tinsmiths, and glaziers. According to this source, 50% of these crafts were in the hands of Jews. Jews were also turners, carpenters, fencemakers, porters, and cartdrivers; they were all dedicated, trustworthy, and honest. He emphasizes that the Jews of the outlying towns were not afraid of hard physical labor.
There were no great changes in community life. After the death of Rabbi Yosef Katznelboigen (1830), the position was held by Rabbi Yosef Eliezer (son of Avraham Ya'akov) Gelernter. The latter was selected as rabbi in Łaszczów in 1812; he served in Hrubieszow from 1830 until his death in 1864. He completed the project begun by his predecessor: construction of a hospital and a mental asylum. He worked to collect contributions in order to add the fourth building to the hospital, aided by a loan of 6000 złoty from the Staszic fund.
The physician Dr. Tzvi Goldshmidt, a friend of Alexander Tzederboym's, published an article in HaMaggid, reporting on the hospital and describing its difficult situation. At the end of the article, he writes: It is fitting that HaMaggid, in its beneficial capacity, should convince the residents of our town and its environs (who send their sick to our hospital) to charitably donate to this hospital; their charity will stand them in good stead and will confer peace and blessings.
In the 1860s, the community resolved (though there was a lack of fixed funds) to replace the old synagogue (dating to 1578), which was in danger of collapsing in spite of numerous repairs, and build a new one.
Implementing the resolution was delayed for lack of funds. It was only thanks to the efforts of several community members that the work was expedited. The cornerstone was laid on June 10, 1863, in the presence of community members as well as representatives of the authorities and the municipality. The ceremony was led by Rabbi Gelernter. A sum of 7000 złoty was also raised. The total expense of the building was estimated at 100,000 złoty; construction was completed only in 1874. Rabbi Gelernter was followed by Rabbi Yisra'el Issar Ya'avetz, who had served as rabbi in Pieszyce. He was rabbi in Hrubieszow until the end of World War I. His successor was Rabbi Yosef Vertheim (18811946), who served in Hrubieszow until 1925, and then invited to be Rabbi in Bendery (Bessarabia).
By this time, there was in the town a group of Enlightened intellectuals, such as Dr. Goldshmidt, D. Tzimt, Yehuda Kenig, N. Zilberberg, and Y. Fridental. There were several Jewish students in the general school. Hrubieszow native Yosef Goldshmidt (Dr. Goldschmidt's son) studied law in the Szkoła Główna (University) in Warsaw. His brother, Ya'akov Goldshmidt, participated in the Jutrzenka magazine. Both were moderate, traditional intellectuals; after completing their studies they became lawyers and devoted themselves to the history of Talmudic law. Yosef Goldshmidt (18461896) and his brother Ya'akov published a Polishlanguage annual titled Warszawianka in 18721896, which he wanted to turn into a Polishlanguage journal of Jewish studies. He believed that JewishPolish assimilation was the cause of the spiritual poverty of the Jewish intellectuals of Warsaw, as it had uprooted them from their Jewish sources and hadn't rerooted them in Polish culture. He wrote specifically (1881), The Jewish assimilationists in Warsaw are a group of religious hypocrites who believe in nothing. The assimilationists in Warsaw aspired only to mixed marriages, some charitable giving to nonJews and to Jews, and were otherwise completely indifferent to Jewish spiritual affairsunlike the assimilationists of Western Europe. He worked hard to create Judaic literature in Polish. Ya'akov published two books:
The Economic Crisis
The Jews of Poland suffered a serious economic crisis in 1859, when the Warsaw Agricultural Society (headed by Count Zamoyski) established commercial houses. Such cooperative commercial houses were also established in Włocławek and in other towns, in order to concentrate all sales of commerce in agricultural produce and purchase of goods required by estate owners and peasants. This was at the expense of the Jewish merchants, who lost a significant proportion of their clientele. In 1861, these communities (including that of Hrubieszow) turned to Rabbi Berish Maizlesh, who was on friendly terms with the Poles, asking him to approach the heads of the Agricultural Society and explain the material danger that threatened the Jewish populations of the outlying towns, and demand that no more such commercial houses be established. Maizlesh, who was active by then in the Polish nationalist movement, replied that the Jews should know that the goal of the gentlemen you mention is not to profit from the goods; they actually aspire to something quite different, and that is the only reason they deal in commerce. Therefore, it would be better not to negate their aspirations or incite them to neglect this commerce, as it could cause great harm to their goals. Rabbi Maizlesh did not gauge the situation correctly. His words hint at the slogans of PolishJewish unity that were widespread on the eve of the revolt (1863), Contrary to his optimism, the estate owners did endanger the lumber business of the Jews, and themselves began to export lumber and grain to Germany and England.
As noted above, the revolt in Hrubieszow and its surroundings spread. There was one Jew among the fighting unit organized by Dr. Neczay. It is not known how many Jews from Hrubieszow joined the revolt. We only know that a gymnaziya student from Hrubieszow, Ignacy Cukier, joined the rebels in their fight against the Russian army. He was born on February 2, 1845 in Tomaszow. His father Pyotr and his mother Amalia were Polish patriots who raised their son in the same spirit. He attended gymnaziya in Hrubieszow. When the Polish revolt broke out in 1863, he joined up and fought in a unit commanded by the Russian Orthodox Ruthenian, Dr. Neczay of Dubienka. The student distinguished himself in several skirmishes in Hrubieszow on January 23, (near) Rudka Włodawa. After his unit was cut down in April 1863, he worked in the national organization in Galicia, headed by Dr. Przybylowski. He later fled to Żółkiew, where he stayed and married the daughter of Dr. Rapoport, the municipal physician. His home was a center of the Polish national movement. He was one of the founders of Sokól and was active in the Polish political parties as well as in the Jewish community, working towards Polonization. He was a member of the community council, and served as community president in 19031917. He died in Żółkiew on April 27, 1918.
After the Polish Uprising of 1863
Jewish life in Poland after the Polish uprising was characterized by two trends. On the one hand, the civilian political atmosphere tended toward liberalization. Movement between Poland and Russia was easier, contributing markedly to the economic flourishing of the Jews of Poland; residing in cities and their surroundings was also easier. On the other hand, antiSemitism began, due to the influence of reactionary ideology in Russia. Attacks by Jeleński and other antiSemitic writers exacerbated relations between Jews and Poles. There was strong controversy in the press over the Jewish question. The antiSemites presented a new factor: the Litwacy were hampering the adaptations of the Jews to Polish culture, and spreading Russification. All these contradictions led to serious consequences, which were manifested in the Warsaw pogroms of 1881. Naturally, these events also affected Jewish life in the outlying towns, including Hrubieszow.
In 1884, the antiSemites incited the peasants around Hrubieszow to expel the Jews living in the villages. The elders of these villages convinced them not to carry out these plans. In one village, the antiSemites presented their plan to the estate owner, but he advised them not to make any decisions that contradicted State religion. There were no economic changes in Hrubieszow. Most of the nonJewish population made their living from agriculture and crafts. Commerce was entirely in the hands of Jews, except for six shops owned by Christians.
Many Jews worked as peddlers and middlemen; some were craftsmen. A few who had the means began to penetrate other economic fields such as manufacturing and transport of goods. As early as 1860, Jews owned two mills. By 1881, Jews owned almost all the industrial establishments, including a brewery, a steamoperated mill, and a factory for repairing agricultural machinery and tools.
Statistics from 1921 demonstrate the development of the Jewish economy. The Jewish population numbered 5,679 out of 9,598 (59.2%). Jews owned 202 factories, 194 of which were active and 8 nonactive. These facilities sustained 389 people: 192 were owners (49.4%); 17 were family members of the owners (4.4%); 154 were employees (39.6%) including 112 men, 40 women, 2 children, and 26 were Christian workers (6.7%). The composition of the industrial facilities was as follows: stonework 1; metalwork 15; machinery 6; wood 10; animal hides 4; fabric 6; clothing and fashion 93; paper 1; food 27; chemicals 5; construction 25; graphic art 3; cleaning 6. 105 of the 202 factories employed salaried workers; 89 had no salaried employees; 8 factories were inactive.
The statistics of 19321937 about Jewish commerce in Hrubieszow are also interesting. In 1932, there were 353 shops, of which 342 were owned by Jews (96.9%) and 11 owned by Christians. In 1937 there were 372 shops, with Jews owning 333 of them (89.5%). Compared to 1932, the proportion of Jewish ownership declined, whereas the proportion of nonJews increased, from 11 in 1932 to 39 an increase of 28 shops.
This has been a survey of the history of Jews in Hrubieszow: though small, the community exhibited energy, and economic and social activity. This community made important contributions to strengthening Jewish life in all areas, and produced several noteworthy Jewish personalities who played important roles in the history of Polish Jews and left their intellectual mark.
|No. of Jews||Notes|
|1765||709||With the associated villages
135 of 375 houses Jewishowned
|1827||5,454||2,954||53.6%, 637 houses|
|1862||6,181||3,615||58.4%, 600 houses including 37 stone buildings|
|1879||8,208||4,984||60%; 552 houses|
|1921||9,598||5,679||59.2%; 820 houses.|
According to Kleczyński and Kluczycki, the total number of Jews in Chelm province was 9,787. According to the above list (and based on Taryfa pogłównego Zydów/i> Nr. 13). According to the list of Dr. Mahler, there were 10,298 Jews. The difference between these two lists is as follows: 1) In Lubomil, Kluczycki has 1,226; Mahler's list has 1,335, for a difference of 109. 2) In Szczebreszyn, Kluczycki has 444; Mahler's list has 846, for a difference of 402. Adding the two differences to Kluczycki's total yields: 109+402+9,787=10,298. Return
Original note 29: W. Surowiecki: O upadku miast w. Polsce 1807 p. 24. Return
Translated by Yael Chaver
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