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[Page 30]

Chronology of Events in the History of the Jews of Piotrkow

1102-1138 Piotrkow, one of the oldest cities in Poland, as tradition has it, was established by Count Piotr Dunin during the reign of King Boleslaw Krzywousty.
1217 The city is mentioned for the first time in official documents.
1233 Prince Boleslaw of Sieradz grants the privilege of fishing in the Narew River to the "Cisternian" Church.
1347 King Kazimierz the Great summons a gathering of the nobility in Piotrkow for the purpose of creating laws which would pertain to all of Greater Poland.
1404 King Jagiello gives the residents of the city the right to produce and sell strong drinks and forbids the importation of such products.
1435-1628 Fourteen synods of the Catholic Church take place in Piotrkow.
1438 Piotrkow becomes the center for gatherings of the nobility.
1446 Important sessions of the Polish Parliaments take place in the city until 1867,when they are transferred to Warsaw.
1474 The Cobblers' Guild is certified, followed by the Furriers', Hatters', Tanners', Smiths' and Locksmiths' Guilds (1478), Weavers' Guild (1532), Tailors' Guild (1597), as well as Barber/Surgeons' Guild (1700). The barber/surgeons were required to hang a plate outside their doors as a sign of their specialty.
1487 The status of the Merchants' Guild, which attempts to remove those who are strangers to the city, is certified. Pursuant to this privilege, granted by King Kazimierz Jagiellonczyk, only Gentile merchants may enjoy the right to trade within the city.
1544 A fire breaks out in the city and destroys it. King Zygmunt exempts the inhabitants of the city from all payments of taxes for a period of ten years.
1562 The Parliaments of Piotrkow generally discriminate against the Jews. The laws and constitution, approved during the years 1496, 1532, 1562, etc., forbid Jews to lend money to Christians against insurance, the purchase of land, entry into the customs house, leasing of salt mines, and for inns. "Dressing up" as lords with golden belts and swords is outlawed. Simultaneously, Jews are required to wear yellow hats, yellow patches and other clothing which differentiate them from the Christian population.
1569 Edicts are again renewed forbidding Jews to live or trade in Piotrkow (according to the privilege of May 20, 1569, King Zygmunt August permits the Jews to trade in the city, but only at fairs). Jews are forced to settle outside the city on territories belonging to counts and under their protection. They must travel from there to the city for fairs and meetings of the tribunal; for this privilege they must pay the Christian Merchants' Union 30 Ducats.
1578 King Stefan Batory chooses Piotrkow as the location for the highest court (Trybunal) of Poland and Mazowsze. The city, therefore, receives the name of "Piotrkow–Trybunalski."
1585 In order to improve the economic state of Piotrkow, King Zygmunt III permits the holding of two fairs a year in the city.
1590 A blood libel is devised, stating that, in the village of Uszczyn, not far from Piotrkow, Jews killed a Christian child and used its blood for religious purposes. Many Jews perish as a result of it. Because of this, and because of the conflicts between the Jewish and Gentile inhabitants of the city, the Jews are driven from their dwellings surrounding the city and forbidden to return. Their difficult situation, however, forces them to return to their domiciles and even to settle in the city itself.
1604 According to the status for doctors and barber/surgeons, as decreed by King Zygmunt III, it is forbidden for Jews to engage in healing the sick.
1611 A flaxers' union is established, which forbids non-members to work the flax in any form, or to sell linen.
1620 In an official survey, it is noted that the city is bisected by the Yiddishe Gas at the Wolborz Gate.
1656 The Swedes occupy the city, but after a two-month-long siege, they are expelled by Count Jan Konietzpolski.
1657 The Swedes, under the leadership of King Karol Gustave, recapture the city, but, for the second time, they arc captured by Jan Konietzpolski, who takes as prisoners the entire Swedish Army together with its chief commander. Almost all of the 50 businessmen who live in Piotrkow are murdered by Stefan Czarniecki's soldiers because of the claim by the mayor, his assistants and the Christian inhabitants of the city that the Jews aided the Swedes in the capture of the city. The Bet Hakneset is destroyed.
1663 An "auto-da-f?" takes place in Piotrkow. The Jews in Poland are shocked by the trial of the martyr Matatyahu Calahora of Krakow that has taken place in the Trybunal of Piotrkow. Calahora was accused of insulting Jesus and Mary and sentenced to a cruel death, which is carried out in public in Piotrkow.
1670 Adjacent to the city, a wooden hunters' palace, called "Bugai," is built.
1675 Another destructive trial takes place in the Piotrkow Trybunal. The Jews of Prashke (located in the Wielun region) are accused of having tortured a Christian child in the forest, rolling it along in a barrel filled with nails and then hiding the body in the bushes. The sentence is severe: the accused shall be quartered with an axe and the rest of the Jews shall be driven from the town of Prashke.
1679 King Jan Sobieski favors the Piotrkower Jews with a special privilege, which legalizes their living in the city. Prior to this, they had lived there with the permission of the "starosta" Osolinski. The privilege permits the slaughter of animals and also deals with various articles in the production of meat. The Jews are also permitted to have their own barber/surgeon and build a "mikva." The "starosta" is responsible for protecting the Bet Hakneset from attackers, to imprison and punish them. In times of danger he must remove all the Jews and their belongings beyond the gates of the city.
1684 King Jan Sobieski reconfirms the privilege granted by King Zygmunt August, which gave the Christian Butchers' Guild the right to confiscate animals which are killed outside the slaughterhouse. A legal process begins which lasts a hundred years and remains, in the end, undecided. Meanwhile, the Jews organize a separate slaughterhouse in the deserted "Juridica" castle. From Piotrkow magistratorial inventory, there are, in 1694, six butcher shops and the slaughterhouse at the castle's canal.
1689 A new Bet Hakneset, a wooden structure, is constructed in Piotrkow.
1699 A Smelters' Guild is founded. The priest Linetzki visits the city and relates that the old "koscial" is surrounded by a Jewish street, apparently referring to the Franciscan Church, later turned into military barracks by the Russians.
1720 The "Chevra Kadisha" (burial society) is founded with a section for Bikur Cholim (infirmary). (See 1805.)
1726 Rabbi Meir B"ar Elyakum Getz becomes the first Rav. He is simultaneously a Rav in Lask. King August II issues a decree according to which it is forbidden for Jews to come to Piotrkow during the Christian holidays, or to sell their wares there. For violating this decree the punishment is whipping and confiscation of goods.
1731 A huge fire breaks out in the city, causing a tremendous amount of damage. The city becomes extremely impoverished. Anti-Semites use the anger of the populace to incite the students against the Jews.
1740 Angry students attack the Jews, who hide in the Bet Kneset. The students discover them and beat them mercilessly, also demolishing the shul.
1744 Attacks on the Jewish Quarter are thwarted. One of the Jewish defenders, the heroic martyr, Ephraim Fishy falls in the clash with the pogromists. He is buried in the old cemetery. On his monument is inscribed, "Killed on the 25th of Ab, 1744."
1749 The Bakers' Guild is certified by King August III.
1758 According to a sentence handed down by the "Assessorial" Court in Warsaw, Jews must leave Piotrkow within three months.
1759 An agreement, signed by the Piotrkow "starosta" Malachovski and the representative of the Jewish Kehila, grants the Jews permission to remain in Podzamtche and in Wielka Wies for the annual tariff of 4,500 Zlotys.
1764 As shown in a census survey of Jews in Poland, there reside in Piotrkow 715 Jews over the age of one year; these consist of 381 men and 334 women.
1765 The Piotrkow Bet Hamidrash is founded by Rabbi Hirsh Piotrkower. Near the Bet Hamidrash, a scale is set up and the income therefrom is assigned to support the Bet Hamidrash.
1769 Conflicts arise between the Christian slaughterers, meat dealers and butcher shop owners. The Gentiles argue that, according to the guild privilege given them, for which they pay taxes to the government, the city and the church, they have a monopoly over the slaughter and sale of meat.
1770 Pogroms are perpetrated on the Piotrkower Jews by the students of the Jesuit School. The Jews defend themselves and there are victims on both sides.
1786 An earthquake and fire destroy many houses in the city. The Jewish Quarter suffers great losses.
1787 For the second time, the "Assessorial" Court forbids Jews to live in the "Christian" city of Piotrkow, or to conduct trade and crafts. They may only live and trade in the suburb, "Wielka Wies."
1791 The Piotrkower Shul, considered to one of the most beautiful in Congressional Poland in the 18th Century, is built with the financial help of Moyshe Katzin, wholesale merchant and provider to the military.
  The Piotrkow Deputy receives a directive from his constituents to have a law passed in the Warsaw Parliament restricting Jews from settling outside a particular "quarter."
1792 The two Jewish doctors in the city are accused of helping peasants avoid military service. One of the two, Laybl Doktor, is sentenced to receive 100 lashes.
1793 During the second division of Poland, Prussia, per the agreement of January 23, 1793, receives a large portion called South Prussia. The city of Piotrkow is included in this occupied area.
1794 The teacher, Chaim, son of Tsvi Deutch-Goldstein, settles in Piotrkow. On the death of "Brit Avraham," he composes a poem of lamentation. He also translates the book "Rinaldo Rinaldina" from Polish to Hebrew and rewrites it as a drama (Warsaw, 1949). He and the teacher Shmelke Rappoport, with his wife, Hinda, constitute the avante garde of education in the city. Because of their influence, the children of the more affluent strata of the Jewish population begin to study German and arithmetic. The religious circles oppose this activity, but it is supported by the Prussian authorities, which are interested in promoting the German language among the populace.
  After the intervention by the Piotrkower Jews, the Prussian occupational forces decree that an oil painting depicting the scene of the alleged ritual murder that a Jewish mob, led by the Rabbi, was said to have perpetrated on a Christian child, now located on the outer wall of the Bernardin Church, be removed. After attempts by Christian believers, they permitted to hang the painting in a "corner" of the church; finally it returns to the outer wall. Not until 1825 do the Jews finally succeed in convincing Warsaw to order the removal of the inciteful painting, which is ultimately transferred to Warsaw.
  Piotrkower Jews establish a cemetery on the spot where, in 1657, a Jewish woman who was killed by the soldiers of General Czarniecki during the Swedish war was buried.
1795 The marriage limitations are abolished. Jews enjoy religious freedom and pay fees for marriage permits and taxes equal to those of the Christian population.
1797 The Gentile butchers initiate a court action against the Jews and ask the court to forbid Jewish ritual slaughter and the sale of meat. The chamber does not disturb the Jews, who are setting up a slaughterhouse in a deserted place during the time of the procedures. During this time, Shlomo Razumovski leases the payments for slaughtering.
  Prussia publicizes a number of decrees which regulate the Jewish question. Only those who had previously lived in an area during the occupation will be entitled to settle in the new areas; professional Jews, who don't meet both requirements, must leave the area within a given period of time. Those who do have the right to remain receive a "Protectorate Letter."
  Taxes for Jews are increased and contain the following tariffs: the Tolerance Tax, in the event a Jew finds himself in a place which is not his usual address; the Protectorate Tax for the right to live in the country and to practice his vocation; payment for permission to wed; and the Military Service Tax, payable only by those who are not in the military service.
  Limitations are set on the rights of Jewish Kehilas and rabbis. They may only concern themselves with religious purposes. The rabbinate may not pass judgement and the rabbi must be able to write and speak German or Polish. The rabbi and all other members of the clergy are to be chosen by the authorities. The Yiddish schools must teach the German and Polish languages. The regulations forbid the Kehilas to implement excommunication or other penalties or to adopt measures by which the Jews shall be forced to follow its demands. The rules also determine that the "shoykhet" may do his own slaughtering and sell the meat, something that has been, until now, in the hands of the Kehila. Jews may not lend money on interest, sell liquor to the peasants on credit, sell merchandise that is not for internal use, or work at peddling. The number of merchants is limited and artisans may work only in the cities. Since, in the regulations, it is suggested that Jews will not be able to earn enough from trading and craftsmanship,
  After the decrees, which frighten the Jewish inhabitants, are publicized, a conference of Jewish Kehilas takes place on the 5th day of Elul 1797; their purpose is to take a stand and to consider ways of annulling them. Participating in the conference are representatives of 31 Jewish Kehilas, among them two from Piotrkow: David Tibeles and Joseph Ben Jacob, as well as noted rabbis.
1801 The first Yiddishe "shut" in the city is established by the government.
  The government appoints Chief of Police Reinhardt as overseer of the "Jewish city." The Jewish Kehila pays 50 Florins for his position.
1804 The budget of the Piotrkower Kehila (3,235 Florins and 8 pfennings income and 3,235 Florins and 6 pfennings expenses) shows as excess of 2 pfennings.
1804 The Kehila "apparatus" consists of: 1) Rabbi Lipman Meisels, annual salary 75 Florins; 2) intercessor and translator, Shmelke Shlomo Rappoport, SO Florins; 3) two cantors, Moshe Hillel, in the shul, and Joseph Marcus, in the Bet Medrash, for a total of 120 Florins, and Jacob Isaac Flatow, the first bass, 20 Florins; 4) attendants, 40 Florins; S) the sexton of the shin, 30 Florins; 6) the helper of the shin, 30 Florins, 4 night watchmen (Shmuel Feivelovitch, Gershon Brandeis and two Gentile night watchmen), 100 Florins; 7) Sarah, the midwife, 24 Florins; 8) the Chief of Police, 50 Florins.
  The expenses of the shul amount to 358 Florins. There are two teachers, the intercessor Shmelke Shlomo Rappoport, with a salary of 120 Florins, and his wife Hinde, 70 Florins.
1805 The "Bikur Cholim" breaks away from the "Chevra Kadisha" and becomes independent, with Dr. Joachimson as its head.
1807 The constitution, which is made public after the Tilsit Agreement between Napoleon I and Czar Alexander I, proclaims liberty and tolerance for all religions without exception.1808 The 58th point of the constitution of 1807, based on which Jews enjoy the same rights as non-Jews, is annulled for the reason that there exist vast differences between the customs of Jews and non-Jews. Simultaneously, edicts which discriminate against the Jews are issued, forbidding them from purchasing land.
  At the head of the Kehila are: Chaim Segal, Leyb Berliner, Reb Josef, the son of Jacob, Reb Zachariah, Reb Nakhum, Reb Hirsh Piotrkower and Avram, the son of Mordecai.
  Jews are subjected to military service. Only the Rav is exempted.
  The Jewish settlement grows. The general number of inhabitants amounts to 3,967, among them 1817 Jews (45.8%) and 2150 Gentiles (54.2%).
1809 An additional tax is levied on kosher slaughter.
1811 The French leave the city.
  Jews between the ages of 20 and 50 are required to serve in the national guard. Only the Rav and the cantor are excused from serving. After long discussions, they exchange service for the payment of an annual fee.
  Jews are kept far from certain neighborhoods. Chaim, the son of Tsvi Hirsh Deutch-Goldstein, assumes the position of Kehila Secretariat following the demise of Tovya Newman.
1812 The leader of the Kalisher Circle, upon the directive of the Minister of the Interior, gives Jews the opportunity to trade, manufacture and produce drinks. Eight Jews receive permission to produce and sell strong drinks.
1815 After the French leave Poland, the government of the Duchy of Poland complies with the request by the "city-ices" to forbid the Jews the purchase of houses or the rental of apartments from Gentiles, as well as the manufacture or selling of drinks in bars.
  According to a judgment by the authorities, the right of Jews in Piotrkow to trade and sell drinks is annulled. A decree is issued to drive Jews from the city.
1816 Jews are permitted to engage in commerce without any limitations.
1821 Yoshke Ziskind, nicknamed "Yoshke der Kleyner" (Little Yoshke), appears before Czar Alexander the First, while he rides through Piotrkow, and begs him to cancel the kosher-meat tariff, known as "Korobke." The Piotrkow Kehila is disbanded in conjunction with an order by the national authorities. Instead of a Kehila, a "Vad Bet Hakneset" (Dozor Bozniczy) is created, which consists of three friends and which must, jointly with the Rav, work out the budget fulfilling the needs of the Kehila.
1822 The authorities decree the expulsion of the Jews from Piotrkow. Only businessmen may have this banishment postponed for two or three years. The "Chevra Kadisha" in the city is disbanded.
1823 Jews who want to engage in farming and wish to receive government and nobility land are granted permission to do so. They are promised that they will be excused from paying taxes for three to twelve years, and also that they will be given wood and other necessities to help them along.
1825 A tragic fire in the Jewish Quarter destroys all businesses and stores and forces their occupants to relocate to the center of the city ("Makom"). An anonymous Yiddish poet describes the tragedy of those Piotrkower who were consumed in the fire with these words: "How dismal is the day of the 4th of Av/When in flames went up the city of Piotrkow."
  An institution that specializes in documenting the citizenship status of the inhabitants is established in Piotrkow. The officers of the institution are Gentiles and the Jews take pains to see to it that they are not included in the records for fear of being subjected to military service.
1826 In order to influence the members of the Kehila to participate in the "Vad Bet Hakneset," they are exempted by special decree from the tariff for the Kehila.
1829 According to an order by the authorities, a representative of the village Jews is co-opted to the "Vad Bet Hakneset."
1831 A cholera epidemic breaks out in Piotrkow. There are many fatalities among the Jewish population; among them is the city Rav, Rabbi Dov Berish Aderstein. In a panic, the Jews leave the city and hide in the surrounding forests, abandoning all their worldly belongings.
1833 Following a quarrel, the new shul committee appeals to the authorities for permission to lease the income of "Aliyot Hatorah" for the years 1834-1836. The "aliyot" will be leased by Nathan Kirschberg for 454 Zlotys. Other residents of the city recommend payments for the lease. Jacob Windheim registers a complaint which leads to a crisis in the shul committee, which resigns. Finally, Kirschberg resigns his rights and, in another litigation, Jacob Windheim leases the income, amounting to 612 Zlotys.
1834 The Piotrkower "Vad Hakol" requests that the authorities forbid foreign teachers from settling in the city because the local teachers would then have no income.
1836 The financial status of the Piotrkow Kehila improves markedly. The Kehila Tax brings 7,989 Zlotys into Piotrkow. A cantor, Lazar Perlmutter from Stawski, is engaged at a salary of 1,294 Zlotys.
1840 The Jewish Quarters Wielka Wies and Juridica are included as part of the city of Piotrkow.
  Mayor Galinski nominates a Jew for the position of treasurer of their distillery, but the national authority is not in favor of this nomination; the mayor receives the blame and is forced to remove the Jew from his position.
1845 The first Jewish agricultural colony is established in the city.
1846 Because of a misunderstanding between the "Chassidim" and "Mitnagdim" and the intrigues that it causes, the authority asks them to remove the rabbi of Piotrkow, Reb Aaron Yehuda Jacob, son of Naftali Hertz Meisels.
  There is a festive opening of the train line from Warsaw to Vienna. The city becomes an important station for shipping products. The first factories are built in the city.
1850 A Yiddish folkshul is opened by the government in Piotrkow. The shul is abolished after a short time. Only in 1858 is a permanent Yiddish shul established in the city.
1851 The first census made by the Piotrkow Kehila shows that out of 644 families, only 203 pay Kehila taxes. The others are not capable of paying even the minimum of 20 kopeks.
1854 The Piotrkow shul is desecrated and robbed by the "Katsaps" (Cossacks), who stage a pogrom in the Jewish quarter of the city.
1857 The construction of the building housing the general hospital in the city is completed. In the hospital there are 50 beds for Gentiles and 20 for Jews.
1858 Rabbi Eleazer Shalom, son of Simcha Zee Morgenstern, assumes the post of Chief Rabbi of Piotrkow. The Jewish inhabitants of Shedletz do not permit the Rav to leave their city; only with the intervention of the police are the Piotrkower messengers successful in getting him out and bringing him to Piotrkow.
  Harav Morgenstern, a moral individual, is the Shedletz Rav; he creates a "Keren Pidyon Shvuyim," which serves to buy the release of Jews who have been arrested as the result of the persecutions by the police and other authorities. He is concerned with the plight of the poor and destitute in the city and personally collects funds to help them. To convince the fish merchants in the marketplace to lower their prices, he announces a ban on the consumption of fish. Only when the merchants, who begin to lose their income, promise not to raise their prices does he annul the ban.
1859 The Jewish hospital separates itself from the general hospital and relocates to another building, which it receives from the authorities for the price of 6,500 Rubles.
  Nine Jewish families live in the Gentile Quarter of Piotrkow. According to law, only those Jews who possess the sum of 20,000 Zlotys are permitted to live there.
  The economic situation of the Jews of Piotrkow becomes more difficult after the creation of the "Economic Society," whose goal is to expel Jews from trading and other economic positions. The worsening of this situation is reflected in the amounts of the debts which remain unpaid for Kehila tariffs.
1860 The city becomes a commercial and administrative center. The number of residents increases; however, during this period, while the Russian government displays an interest in the industrialization of Poland and helps numerous cities and towns to begin industrial undertakings, in Piotrkow it hinders the establishment of larger factories, especially weaving mills. According to documents in the provincial archives, there was a large number of workers in the city who might influence the start of a revolution against the military, which was stationed in the city.
  A national census taken in the city indicates a total population of 11,159, with 4,999 Jews, 5,843 Poles, 47 Russians, and 270 Germans.
  A folkshul for Jewish children is established.
  The rabbis, judges and officers of the Kehila are forbidden to leave their dwelling places without permission from the Vad Bet Hakneset and approval by the authorities.
1861 The Russian powers lock up the Bet Hakneset after a memorial honoring five people who were killed in a Polish demonstration against the Russian rulers. The Bet Hakneset, however, is soon reopened.
  According to law, the Polish Jews have the right to participate in city and District Advisor elections.
  As a result of the "Polish-Jewish Brotherhood," a slogan of the Polish national movement, for the first time in Piotrkow the elections make David Leib Markovitch a member of the Advisory Board and Bonaventura Teplitz and Abraham Brem "shtetl" representatives. Elected to the City Council are Nathan Goldblum, Hersh Finkelstein and Jacob Rosenberg; representatives are Michal Michelson and Pincus Horowitz.
  The Jews of Piotrkow experience a difficult economic crisis.
  A Gentile officer, requesting anonymity, organizes a collection amounting to 3,000 Zlotys. The monies are deposited with a special Jewish committee that distributes it amongst the needy.
1862 Jews leave the agricultural colonies and return to commerce and trade.
1863 Russian authorities arrest three Kehila representatives-Michal Michelson, Hersh Finkelstein and Jacob Rosenberg--because they sympathized with the Polish uprising. Another Jew, Moshe Neimark, who provided the revolutionaries with 135 pairs of boots, is publicly whipped, as ordered by the Russian commander. A known participant in the uprising was the Piotrkower Jew, Fuks, whom the Russians arrest and whose wife flees to France. Several other city Jews are placed under strict surveillance.
1864 There are 12 factories in Piotrkow: 7 of leather goods, 4 of vinegar and oil, and one of ironworks.
  Reb Tovye Faybl, the son of Tsvi Hersh Belchatovski, jointly with Reb Chaim Frenkl establishes the first Hebrew print shop in Piotrkow. The machines and printing letters were received via priests in Czenstochow who had been forced by the authorities to liquidate their print shop in the Jasna Gora Church. In time, Piotrkow becomes a center for Hebrew and Yiddish printed matter, and its reputation spreads throughout the world. In addition, the print shops improve the economic situation of the Jews in Piotrkow, providing many Jewish families with an opportunity to earn a living.
  After major efforts, the authorities carry out elections of the Vad Hakol in Piotrkow. However, the elections, which were postponed three times, cannot be realized because of the difficult economic situation and the clashes between the Chassidim, Mitnagdim, and Freethinkers.
  Upon returning from his trip and a visit to the Czar in Petersburg, Lord Moses Montefiore visits Poland and remains in Piotrkow until after Rosh Hashana.
1866 David Neifeld, editor of the first Jewish weekly newspaper in the Polish language, Jutrzenka," which was published in Warsaw from 1861-1863, and who laid the foundation for the Polish-Jewish friendship movement, settles in Piotrkow and opens a bookstore. His arrival strengthens the Polonizational cultural effort among the Jews of the city.
1867 Piotrkow is chosen as the capitol of Batzirk (province). National officers relocate there.
1868 Harav Baruch Tsvi Hirsh, son of Simcha Zev Rosenblum, is elected Rav in Piotrkow to replace the deceased Rav, Reb Eleazer Shalom Morgenstern. Even in 1863, while being the Radziminer Rav, Harav Rosenblum is accused of sympathizing with the Polish uprising and even in helping to collect funds from the Jewish population for the benefit of the uprising. The Rav is detained by the Russian authorities and placed in the Lublin Prison, from where he successfully escapes, together with the Polish Chief of Police, dressed as a Russian officer. Following the amnesty, the Rav leaves the house of the head of the Lublin community, Iserl Wohl, where he has been hiding, and is elected Rav of Wegrov, whence he arrives in Piotrkow. Harav Rosenblum is a friend of Governor Kochanov, who comes from the same city and has known him since childhood.
1871 According to the edicts issued by Governor Kochanov, which punish Jews for sympathizing with the Polish uprising, it is forbidden to wear traditional Jewish dress. The rabbis and all the clergy who wear such clothes are persecuted most cruelly. The Rabbinate is forced to sign a commitment according to which it assumes responsibility for preventing women from shaving their heads after marriage. Men with beards and sidecurls, as well as women wearing wigs or kerchiefs on their heads, will be detained and fined, perhaps even imprisoned.
1878 The "Pozharne Komande" (the fire brigade) of the city is certified; Jews may also participate in it.
1880 Moshe Shereshewski, the first official Zionist of Piotrkow, settles there. A highly educated "Litvak" and member of a rich and noted family, Shereshewski, immediately upon arriving, mobilizes 54 Zionists and embarks upon lively Zionist activities.
1881 The Kehila raises funds to distribute, at a modest price, flour, potatoes, wood and coal among the poor Jews of Piotrkow, who have suffered a severe winter.
1882 The second Bet Hamidrash is erected in Piotrkow by the banker, Fishl Alexandrovitch.
1884 After the demise of Harav Rosenblum z"1, Rabbi Chaim Eleazer Waks, who has devoted himself completely to the idea of "Shivat Tsion," and, even as far back as 1870, collected money for the poor in Eretz Israel, is elected Rav. In 1886, Harav Waks, together with his father-in-law, Harav Yehoshua Trunk from Kutna (known by the name of Rabbi Yehoshua Kutner), the head of the Kehila, the well-known rich man Pinchus Horowitz, and sexton of the Bet Hadin Moshe (Moshke) Wald, travel to Eretz Israel, where they establish the colony called Chitin, near Tiberias, and plant an orchard of "Etrogim." In 1877, Harav Waks publishes his "seyfer," "Nefesh Chaya" (named after his mother Chaya Toybe), the first Hebrew "seyfer" printed in Piotrkow.
1885 Piotrkow contains 732 trade and industrial businesses. Among the 600 merchants in the city, 82% are Jews.
  Sunday night (Parshat Rosh Tarma), a fire breaks out in one of the houses of Yidn Gas. Twenty poor families who have been living there are left totally without possessions. One of them, a porter, who tries to salvage his meager belongings, is burned to death. ["Hatsfirah," no. 35, 1885; related by Mr. Ben Michl; Michl would seem to be Michelson, the translator]
1888 A private Yiddish shul, with Russian as the major language and where Hebrew is taught, is established by the "Maskil" Shmuel Aba Mindl from Riga.
1893 According to the newspaper, "Tydzien Piotrkowski," the number of Gentile stores in the city increases and they are successful in competing with the Jewish trade. ["Hatsfirah," no. 126, 1891]
1894 A philanthropic organization called "Chevra Latzedakah" ("Dobroczynnosc") is founded by the lawyer Gustave Levy, who distributes aid to hundreds of poor families, both Jewish and non-Jewish.
  Reb Shlomo Belchatovski becomes the owner of the print shop which he inherited from his parents. He improves and enlarges it and it is considered among the largest Jewish print shops in Poland, as well as in other countries.
1895 Menachem Mendl Shlossberg, in partnership with his son-in-law Anatole Frumkin, constructs a large factory on the shores of the Bugai River. Jews from Piotrkow and Lodz are employed in the building of the factory and also work there.
  Pinchas Baron and two other friends establish a club named "Tomchey Aniyim Mechovdim." All three are 13 years old and students in the "cheyder." They order a rubber stamp and printed "blocks," appeal to various people to commit themselves to making monthly payments, and their request receives the hoped-for response. The monies that are raised in this way are distributed among the needy.
1897 In Piotrkow there are 36 "cheyders" under one Kehila Talmud Torah.
  Eliahu Pansky's print shop is established and, in 1899-1900, it prints an expensive copy of "Talmud Yerushalmi" with all the commentaries.
1898 Agudat Hatzionim is founded; it opens with the first lending library in the city.
1899 400 "Shekels" are sold in Piotrkow, and through the "Oyster Hahityishnot" 600 stocks are sold.
1902 The first group of the "Bund" in the city is organized. The work is performed
1904 A treasury is established to aid young men who want to get married by offering them loans to arrange their affairs. The founders are Wilhelm Zilbershteyn, Adolf Pansky, Izak Levit, Marcus Meirand and Gershon Reitberger.
1905 The workers of Piotrkow take an active part in the revolution. The workers are a vital factor in the Polish Socialist Movement.
  The first group of "Poalei Zion" and S.S. (Zionist-Socialists) is organized in Piotrkow.
1906 In conjunction with the occurrences of 1905-1906, the workers' organizations found a self-defense organization. Leading the Bundist self-defense is Yechiel Kimelman. Because of his part in expediting the assassination of a Russian Batzirk policeman named Mushinski, Kimelman is imprisoned and sentenced to death. The sentence is changed to life imprisonment in Siberia (Katorga), but the awful conditions in the Vladimir prison ruin his health and he dies in 1907.
  A Zionist conference in Piotrkow, in which the engineer Jan Kirshrot from Lodz takes part as representative of the Warsaw headquarters, decides on an election platform for the Duma. The platform must include the Piotrkow region.
1908 A conference of rabbis from the entire country takes place in Piotrkow. The goal of this conference is to reform the Jewish community life and enforce the authority of the rabbis. The conference is reprimanded by the Jewish-Russian weekly "Razoviet," which sees it as a "Reactionary Gathering."
1910 A meeting of rabbis in Piotrkow elects delegates to the national meeting, which is slated to take place in Warsaw.
1912 In "Hazamir" there arises friction between the professional and labor factions. The former preach assimilation and the latter want to introduce national Yiddish content, such as bringing Yiddish books into the youth circles and into religious homes, create choral and music circles, etc.
  Despite the ban on every political activity, the Zionist-Socialist activities are conducted in secret.
  A "Cheyder Metuken," where religious as well as secular subjects are taught, is established.
  The "Savings and Loan Treasury" is founded; its purpose is to help poor artisans and small tradesmen by granting them loans at low interest.
1914 Following the first clash in Sarajevo, the national officers leave the city in a rush and a citizen's committee is created; it includes four Jews: Marcus Braun, Yoel Zygmunt, Kaminer and Lawyer Mikolay Kon (son-in-law of Max Braun).
  Immediately after the start of World War 1, the Russians leave the city and the Germans take it over. After a short time, the Russian Army returns.
  Moshe Feinkind begins to issue a weekly newspaper, the "Piotrkower Shtime," published by Shlomo Belchatowski. Only one issue of the newspaper appears. As soon as the war breaks out, Governor Yatchevski forbids further publication of the weekly.
  Marcus Braun spends 2,500 Rubles in order to save the Jews from a pogrom which the Russian military are preparing to effect in the city. Incited Russian soldiers nevertheless pogromize the Jewish inhabitants. Twenty Jews are arrested for allegedly having commercial dealings with Germans. The Russian commandant Popov wants to shoot them, but after the intervention of Christian clergymen, he satisfies himself with exiling the Jews to Russia. When the Germans return to Piotrkow for the second time, it is the eve of Yom Kippur. They force the Jews to open their shops and the Jewish bakers to bake bread. When the Germans withdraw, they take hostages in addition to those they had taken when they first entered the city. It is only as a result of the energetic intervention on the part of the "Birger Komitet" (Citizens' Committee) that the hostages are set free. During the Russians' last retreat from the city on Friday night, they conduct a search in the shul, looking especially in the "Aron Kodesh" (Holy Ark) for a "secret telephone" to the German lines; during the search the "Sifrey Torah" are ruined.
1915 During the night of December 15-16, the Austrian Army drives the Russians from the city and occupies it. The Austrian powers deprive the Jews of their right to sell alcoholic beverages and tobacco, forbidding the publication of a newspaper in the Yiddish language. Hungarian soldiers break into the shul on Shavuot, yanking out the praying Jews, forcing them to go on foot to the outer parts of Belchatov and dig trenches there.
1916 The District Director in Piotrkow issues a decree stating that Jewish stores that sell vital articles and tobacco must remain open on Saturday and holidays.
  The "Hazamir" organization establishes the second lending library in the city.
  Owing to the severe economic hardships of the Jews during the war, inexpensive kitchens are set up, "Dobroczynosc" and a second in "Linat Hatsedek," where for three kopeks one can get a nourishing meal. For those who can't pay, lunches are free of charge.
  Fearing epidemics, groups of Jewish youngsters organize to control the sanitation primarily in the poorer areas. They also help clean the homes, change and launder bed linens, and perform disinfections.
  Hungarian-Austrian occupation forces permit the election of a city self-management committee. Of 50 councilmen, 13 Jews are elected; 2 Zionists, 1 Mizrachi, 3 religious, 1 unaffiliated, and 6 assimilationists.
1917 The only Jew to be accepted in the police force is Berl Budkowski.
  Marcus Braun, Moshe Shereshevski, and Lawyer Joseph Kon are represented in the District Council, which the authority has nominated.
  Together with the Polish population, the Piotrkower Jews take an active role in protest demonstrations to free Poland from the occupation forces, as well as to celebrate the 3rd of May and the 15th of October (Kosciusko's date of death) with national flags.
  M. Braun is elected by the city board as a deputy to the Piotrkower Parliament.
  In the Piotrkower Parliament, convened by the occupation forces, three Jewish deputies serve.
  During the last two years of the Austrian occupation, 1917-1918, the economic situation of the Jews improves because of the influx of Jews from Lodz and other cities, as well as industrial development.
  A huge step forward is taken by the Piotrkower Jews on the cultural level, and the authorities create no difficulties. Institutions such as "Hazamir," "Maccabee," "Tarbut," plus evening courses and other opportunities are created.
1918 In introducing the card system for food, cooperatives ("Tsarchaniut") are established; their goal is the equitable distribution of products to the cardholders. As a result, "Hazamir," "Tarbut,""Fareynnikte," "Linat Hatsedek," and the Artisan's Union form cooperatives.
  An attempt is made to establish the trade school which had existed before the start of the war at "Dobroczynnosc."
  Poland becomes independent. On November 3, the city is liberated from the occupation rulers. Along with the difficult economic situation, the Jews suffered from waves of anti-Semitic accusations.
  An organizing committee to establish a "gimnazjum" in Piotrkow is created.
  As a result of the initiative of the "Endeks" ("Narodowa Demokracja"), the Piotrkow City Council accepts a decision to expel from the city those inhabitants who have lived there since July 24, 1917, with the excuse that, because of overpopulation, food products in the city have become more expensive. The decision is aimed at the Jewish merchants and manufacturers who came from areas which the Germans had occupied, resulting in the revival of commerce and industry in Piotrkow. The Interior Minister, Jan Statsky, however, who receives the decision for approval, rejects it with the response that such decisions don't belong to the jurisdiction of the City Council. In the meantime, the district commander issues a decree which forbids settling in Piotrkow without special permission from the City Council. As a result, the City Council summons a special committee whose duty it is to examine the list of newcomers who have to be expelled. The committee consists of nine members: 5 Gentiles and 4 Jews. Because of the determined stand of two Jewish friends on the committee, only 2 Jews are expelled; they have allegedly behaved badly.
1919 At the first democratic elections for the City Council, 33 councilmen are elected; 7 are Jews (4 from the Bund, 2 from "Tseirey Tsion" and 1 unaffiliated).
1920 A difficult year for the Jews of Piotrkow. They are boycotted by the "Endeks" anti-Semites at all levels of life. In the public gimnazjum, Jewish students are separated from their Gentile friends and seated on a separate bench. The boycott is also felt on community and commercial levels. Jewish industrialists leave the Piotrkow area as a group and head for other cities where the anti-Semitism has not taken on such frightening forms as in Piotrkow.
  A trade school is founded in Piotrkow and is later taken over by the "ORT."
1921 After the uprising in Upper Silesia is quelled, a number of revolutionaries settles in Piotrkow; they terrorize the Jewish inhabitants and plunder the Jewish stores. Finally, they are expelled from the city and settle in neighboring villages.
1924 On the initiative of the Zionist organization, the weekly publication "Undzer Tsaytung" begins to appear. The paper serves the entire Jewish population. The editors are Jacob Baron and Joseph Berish Rosenblatt.
  The activities of the "Savings and Loan Treasury," "Tropn Milch," "Toz" and an orphan home are reorganized.
  The difficult tax burden of the Jewish inhabitants influences the Artisan Union to protest; they send a delegation to the main office in Warsaw.
  The Jewish gimnazjum and the Medem School open new classes. Evening courses for the study of Yiddish are organized.
  The city management permits foreign societies to erect an electricity manufacturing plant in the city and suggests they also install plumbing and sewerage.
  Harav Meir Shapira of the "Agudat Israel" leadership and ex-Parliament Deputy, is elected as the Rav of Piotrkow. In the Kehila elections which take place the same year, representatives are elected from all the Jewish groupings, as follows: "Bund," 6; "Agudah," 5; Zionists, 2; Artisans, 2; unaffiliated, 2; "Mizrachi," 2; and "Tseieye Tsion," 1.
1925 The Bund begins to issue the weekly newspaper "The Piotrkower Vecker." It appears, with interruptions, until the start of the war.
  In the second democratic elections for the City Council, 8 Jews are elected out of a total of 33 councilmen. Thanks to the bloc of Polish and Jewish Socialist councilmen, a Socialist city management is elected-P.P.S. and Bundists. The management board behaves sympathetically towards the Jews. Several even fill positions in the City Hall. Jewish unemployed receive aid and work in city institutions. Subsidies are also given to Jewish institutions such as orphan homes, Talmud Torah, "ORT" and others.
1926 In the circular which the City Council distributes to contractors who work for it, it is clearly stressed that in hiring workers, they may not differentiate on the grounds of religious or political background. Because of these circulars, approximately 30 Jews are employed in communal and investment work.
  A founding meeting takes place for "Friends of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem."
  In the month of March, Dr. Abraham Leipuner, one of the most worthy physicians in Piotrkow, passes away.
  On April 5, the hall of the "Dobroczynnosc," a general meeting of the division of the "Central Society for Emigration" takes place.
  On April 30, a founding meeting of the "Commercial Bank" (Bank Kupiecki) takes place.
  There is a bloody attack by a bunch of rowdies on young people during the Lag B'omer celebrations in the Sulejow Forest.
  The Central Jewish Orphans' Society in Poland, "LENTOS," opens a dormitory for 30 orphans, the majority of whom come from the pogromized Jewish families on the Polish-Russian border, brutalized by Malarovitch's soldiers. The dormitory is located in the "Dobroczynnosc" building. Trades are studied on the "ORT" school.
  In November, the Kehila approves a recommendation for a grant of 200 Zlotys for the "Kupat Poalei Eretz Israel." Piotrkow is the first Kehila to accept such a decision and it causes strong repercussions in the world.
  The "Artisan's Bank," after only a brief existence, is forced to close because of cash problems; it merges with the "Savings and Loan Treasury."
1927 In January, the sheet metal Workers' Guild is established. Watchmakers and goldsmiths belong to it. The eldest in the guild, David Greenspan, has the right to award trade certificates to apprentices and masters of this guild.
  Because of the outstandingly difficult winter, the Kehila is forced to distribute 500 tons of coal to the needy.
  On Saturday, March 19, the day of Pilsudski's birthday, the anti-Semitic rabble "goes on a spree" and showers Jewish homes and stores with stones, accompanied by insulting anti-Jewish names.
  The Rav of Piotrkow, Harav Shapira, who has stayed in America for the benefit of the Lublin Yeshiva, sends $500 from there for Passover assistance.
1928 The representatives of the "Bond" in the City Council offer a resolution that this municipal body ask the culture ministry to introduce Yiddish as a major language in government schools that Jewish children attend; also, to give existing Jewish schools a subsidy and separate powers. The recommendation is refused. In contrast, a recommendation made by the P.P.S. is accepted, according to which the folk-high and trade schools of the national minorities in Poland must be given official rights and subsidies or be taken over by the government.
  The authorities approve the regulations of the "Literary Society," founded two years earlier. A theater group is active in this society; its founders are: Jacob Baron, Sh. A. Zygelman, Motel Lenchitsky, Menachem Horovitch, and others.
  On December 30, in the City Council elections, 8 Jews were voted in: Bund, 4; Poalei Zion Ts. S., 1; civil bloc, 1; Agudah, 1; and Poalei Agudat Israel, 1.
  The number of Jews in Piotrkow is 13,119 of a total population of 46,524.
1929 In June, the first national exams for students take place in Czenstochow. They are for students who have completed the "ORT" school in Piotrkow.
1930 On Monday, June 23, a large protest-demonstration against England takes place because of its abolition of immigration limitations and permission for free immigration to Eretz Israel. In addition to the Zionist parties, the Artisans and Merchants' Unions participate, as well as representatives of Jewish institutions in the city.
1931 The City Hall (City Management) stops payment of unemployment assistance and opens kitchens for the unemployed. The kitchen for the Jewish unemployed is located in the "Dobroczynnosc" house.
  A street near the Strava is named for I. L. Peretz at the recommendation of councilman I. Maltz.
  In May, Kehila elections are held. From the 14 lists, 17 Kehila councilmen (Dozens) are elected. The elections take place without the participation of the "Bund," which boycotts the Kehila as a "clerical" institution.
  The "Agalah," the vehicle of the tax office, with its cruel "sequestrators," causes terror among the poor small tradesmen and craftsmen, who are unable to pay the high taxes. Bailiffs remove everything from the Jewish homes. The Merchant's Union tries to intervene to make the Agalah cease its activity, but without success.
  The cost of the basic renovation of the shin amounts to about 30,000 Zlotys. For this purpose, Kehila Chairman Wilhelm Zilbershteyn gives a contribution.
  Harav Shapira leaves the "Kisey Rabanut" in Piotrkow and is received as the Lublin Rav, where he simultaneously leads the local "Yeshiva Chachmey Lublin." Harav Shapira has been Rav in Piotrkow for more than 6 years.
1934 City Council elections are conducted according to the new system of county elections. The Council remains in Socialist hands. Because of these new limitations, the Jewish population is not well represented. Only representatives of the "Bund," who finding themselves on the same list as the P.P.S., are elected. Mr. Jacob Berliner becomes city councillor.
1935 Harav Moshe Chaim Lau is elected as the Piotrkower Rav by the Kehila councilmen. He is a great scholar and wit, with a great deal of worldly knowledge. He is known for his oratorical ability, even in the Polish language, whenever he appears at official national solemnities. He successfully fulfills the role of religious leader of Piotrkow Jewry. During Hitler's occupation he, despite many opportunities, does not leave his congregation, but accompanies the Jews on their journey to death.
1936 In February, because of unending intrigues on the part of certain groups in the Kehila, the "Starosta" dissolves the Kehila council and appoints Mr. Leon Sereshevski as commisar over the Kehila and its institutions until the end of its term.
  Because a large number (perhaps one-third) of the Jewish population is in need of Passover assistance, the "Joint" complies with the request made by Mr. Shereshevski and allocates funds for that purpose, on condition that Messrs. Shereshevski and Broyda (Director of the "ORT" school) personally distribute the money.
  In September, new Kehila elections are held. In accordance with the decision, the Bund returns to the elections. Together with the Bundist Artisan activists, it is successful in controlling the Kehila.
  At one of the Kehila meetings, a decision is approved to protest the agencies and the decree forbidding kosher slaughter.
1938 Simultaneously with the increased terror aimed against the Jews in Germany, public anti-Semitic attacks on Jews in the city start to increase. The following incidents occur: (a) on Slowacki Street, in the middle of the day, a Jewish porter named Getzeles is mugged and beaten until he faints; (b) poison is thrown into a fish pool belonging to a Belchatover Jew named Levkovitch. The damage amounts to tens of thousands of Zlotys; (c) on Lazienna Mokra Street, hooligans try to set fire to a Jewish house, having thrown flammable material through a window; (d) a Jewish woman (Esther Weiss) who has come from Eretz Israel to visit her relatives is beaten.
  Pickets in front of the Jewish stores prevent Christian customers from entering. Even Jewish drivers and porters are driven away from their destinations, where they usually earn enough for a piece of bread.
  In the forum of the City Council the "Endeks'" councilman requests an immediate ban on kosher slaughter as being "inhumane," but the unanimous response of the P.P.S.'s and Bundist representatives cool down the incited anti-Semites. The authorities' attempts are renewed to remove the Jews' right to a Jewish hospital they have supported with great effort, loyalty and sacrifice, as well as great strength and money for many years.
1939 At a meeting of the employees (January, 1939), a protest is voiced against the "Endecja" and other Polish nationalists; they are sharply reprimanded for harmful anti-Semitic acts in view of the fateful situation in which Poland finds itself.
  On April 23, elections for the City Council take place. There are only two Jewish lists: "Bund" and small merchants (7 councilmen) and Poalei Zion Ts. S., united with the "Linke Poalei Zion" (2 councilmen).
  The club "Maccabi," which has met with noteworthy success in various branches of sports, has prepared a gala sports celebration at the city's stadium for September 3. Two days earlier, however, the war breaks out and the city is bombed. Within two days, it has been captured by the Germans, who put an instant end to all the plans and to the entire Jewish life of the city of Piotrkow.
1953 According to a Soviet encyclopedia, there are 46,000 inhabitants in Piotrkow (a scant 200 of them Jews).
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