Jewish Livelihoods at That Time
The life of the Częstochowa Jewish community, at that time, transpired without any specific obstacles. The tsarist government, as usual, issued decrees and created diverse difficulties. But our brethren, the children of Israel, always found ways to weaken those decrees and to ensure their economic existence. Amongst them, there were also some Jews who opened businesses for the sale of petroleum although, to do so, required a special permit. They found lobbyists for the cause both in Piotrków and spreading up to Warsaw, where the central government agencies were located. But they did what was required and they received the necessary permits.
Prizyv [Ru. Призыв; Draft] Troubles
Especially great, at the time, were the troubles encountered by young Jewish men who did not present themselves for the “prizyv” (above all between 1896 and1898). Jews had no excessive yearning to serve “Phonya” [nickname for a Russian; from the name Aphonasy, which was very popular in the 19th century] and become torn from their families for some years.
The Russian government fined the families, of those required to enlist and who did not present themselves, 300 rubles. This was a large enough sum at the time, such that many of them were not able to pay at all.
A List of Jews Fined
Among those wanted and fined (in 1898) we find the name: Altman, Bornsztajn, Amsterdamer, Hauptman, Korpel, Solnicki, Goldberg, Najman, Częstochowski, Lewkowicz, Besser, Frenkel, Grynsztajn, Likiernik, Pasternak, Furman, Zimnowoda, Kalinus, Kolin, Buchman, Ratner (the first from Grabówka and the second from Dźbów), Braun, Rykman, Bochenek, Mursztajn, Milsztajn, Frajman, Rozencwajg, Najman (from Bukowno) and others.
Whether the aforementioned eventually presented themselves to the prizyv or whether they paid the fine imposed upon them, we cannot know from these documents. But one thing is known ‐ that many of them presented “poverty certificates” and did not pay the fine.
One, a certain Sztykgold, protested in writing and argued ‐ What does this mean? Why should I pay for my brother? Should I have to guard him and answer for his not presenting himself to the prizyv?
Life continued as it had been.
The First Founders of the synagogue
In 1787, five Jews named Markus, Genig, Grandsztajn, Kohn and Berman requested permission to build a synagogue in Rajcher’s house for 300 worshippers from 65 families. They justified their petition stating that, on the High Holidays, there was a lack of places in their other houses of prayer. There is no mention, in the available documents, of when and if their request was agreed to.
A List of Community Members in 1836
In the archives, which are left from the olden times, we have found the following list of Częstochowa worshippers from 1836.
We think this list should be published in our “Memorial Book”! It is very much possible that, among the surviving remnant of Częstochowa Jews, there are grandchildren and great‐grandchildren of these worshippers.
It is a list of the men who, in 1836, had places (pews) in the synagogue and we present it without any changes :
Sztronberger [perhaps Strumberger] Gecel (Czeladnik), Michter Lipman, Gecel, Połęczynger Lewek, Turomicz Jakob, Kaminski Abraham (from Rędziny), Mruwka Izaak, Gek Wolf (from Rubanka), Broniatowski Mendel, Krakower Bajrech, Groman Hersz, Miętkiewicz Abraham, Martonicz Oskar (Iser), Śpiewak Chune, Szwagier, Szlosberger, Berman (Weber), Winer, Wolf, Sefer Szymon (from Rędziny), Czyszewski Lewek, Obtoń Mojsze, Wajsblum Henech, Ajzen Leizer, Biegun Lewek, Hamburger Joachim, Czomstyn Lewek etc.
This was formulated in 1842 by the dozores Breszel, Cyna Winer [and] Zajdman (it is also signed by the secretary Bursztynski).
The auction to sell the pews was shared by J. Zilbersztejn, A. M. Liberman, Józef Altman, Józef‐Leib Jungerman, Rifst, Tunder [and] S. Kolchoy. The minimum bid for the auction was 250 rubles. They received 310 rubles and 25 kopeks.
One Jechiel Goldberg sued because he had been moved to a different pew.
Besides being signed besides by the Częstochowa city‐president, H. Czapkin, the document is signed by:
Abraham Czapkin, J. Tornberg, M. Salmenowicz, Z. Presno, J. Pelc, C. Mientkewicz, J. Kaufman, Jankel Kaufman, Abraham Kozak, Jankel Rajuo(?), A. Krumf(?), P. Zajdman, Ch. Grinfeld, J. Glazson, A. Grabiner, J. Windman, M. Birngas, Majer Baum, Kac, Mojsze Kila, A. Berfeld (Belfer?), Abraham Goldsztajn, H. Helman, J. Herc, Ickowicz, K. Szczupak, J. Elman, A.L. Geler, K. Geler, A. Niwiele, Gotweiner, D. Zelikowicz, W. Kopnicki, N. Naman, T. Wajsenbarter, Jarost, M. Fajgenbaum, M. Iser, J. L. Szajn [or perhaps letter “shin”], A. Warszawer, L. Karmy [?], G. Welgram, L. Kasz, D. Kopinster, Z. Szwiderski, D. Brokman, B. Glinsman, D. Moszkowski, J. Majers, Aron Alter, M. Brokman, K. Katz, Ch. Ronecki, Koniecpolski, J. Herc, D. Jerkowicz, Held, Kalmes, Rzepkowicz, Fern, M. Kaminichok, Aron Goldsztajn, K. Lewenkop, M. Taler, Morytz Epsztajn, Ch. Zielonka, H. Zielonka, I. M. Lajntop, N. Kajzer, J. Szajnfeld, Ch. Podembic, R. Wislicki, G. Wajnglas, Elyohu Nazean, Ch. G. Manutowski, Jakob Goldman, L. Lederman, Tajnfus, Firenflecht, S. Tenenbaum, H. Zeligman, Ezra Kliser, Mendel Abramowicz, Henryk Zamski, T. Teper, Perec Lipa, Mintzer, Szlojme Weler, Mendel Rewolia, Dovid Greszel, J. Częstochowski, Diamant, Lersztal, Ritnicki, Zorger, Lerner, D. Sztajn, L. Landau, N. Nunberg, M. Patasewicz, S. Lisek, T. Refuk, E. Birman, Perwet Alter, Michał Pron, J. Sztoch, M. Iaskin [or Joskin], Zelik Lichter, Izrael Marinow, Althelf, M. Spiewak, Alter Kornbusz, Aron Troyakowski, G. Jafowicz, A. Lewkowicz, Słomka, Slodyn, Ch. Szaniczeszia [?], Józef Behm, Fajsberg, A. J. Gold, Wolf Szpigielman, H. Sztajnic, M. Częstochowski, Alter Grinbaum, S. Weler, J. Szwarcbaum, Ch. Szadchen, Izydor Richter, Wolf Szajkewicz, M. Ludowiec, H. Birman, S. Winower, M. Henig, Dovid Pencer, J. Glaziled [?], N. Szajkewicz, M. Rozenzaft, J. Bursztyn, H. Grinbaum, D. Biber, L. Helkon, M. Ruzewicz, D. Hersz, C. [Tz.] Pataszewski, R. Fajntal, M. Frenkel, L. Blumental, Alexander Drejer, Oderberg, Wolf Szaja, H. Zalc, H. Helfer, Szmul Wierzbicki, S. Matysiak, Markus Goldsztajn, M. Malinek, A. Ganzwa, G. Brygel, Jakob Bochenenek [perhaps should be Bochenek], Jankel Dawidowicz, N. Frajerman, J. Rafalowicz, Chaim Wajsman, Szmul Tanc, Mendel Alter, R. H. Truskolaski, Jakob Gotejner, B. Betker, M. Plawner, Izaak Szor, Menachem Szajn, Ely Fojersfus, Berman, Landau, J. Częstochowski, Kokel, Dzalowe, Szmul Ezriel, Joske Kolin, A. Trajbaum, P. Trajbaum, M. Jaśkowicer, L. Kolc, M. Sz. Kolin, Dovid Kon, D. Baderm, Jakob Klajn, Grylak, Mojsze Reszwicz, Szymon Pinsker, Z. Efriticz, M. Izraelow, Tremski, Enzes, D. Landau, D. Rauch, M. Efron, J. L. Kloc, M. Ragacz, M. Isewek, Hocherman, Jakob Bencinberg, Józef Wajsman, Józef Lew, M. Rifsztajn, M. Hamburger, Izydor Szwarc, Aba Riftajn, A. Jungerman, M. Kolecki, Bałaban, Patomek, Abraham Najfeld, A. Gelner, M. Tenenbaum, C. [Tz.] Frank, Z. Lwow, M. Abrahams, Hercl Rozenblat, T. Haberman, M. Prozere, Z. Joselewicz, Jakob Altman, N. Bersuchtork (?), Icek Goldman, B. Milersztajn.
(A Historical Chapter)
In one of the copies of the “Częstochower Zeitung” [“Częstochowa Newspaper”] that has reached us (the publication date is missing), we have found these details, which we publish here verbatim, due to the important details it contains.
In 1834, Częstochowa, a young community, had only one synagogue and a small study‐hall in which prayers were held in the winter, because the synagogue’s interior was too cold. Over the course of time, the population grew and the community felt the need for a large study‐hall.
At the initiative of community leader, Leibel Kohn, on the 1st of Adar 5594 [Feb. 10th 1834], a meeting was held at the home of a community representative at the time, Mr. Gerszon Landau, at which it was decided to build a large study‐hall with a women’s section.
To implement the plan, the following committee was chosen: Gerszon Segal Landau (“little” Gerszon), Izaak Leib Bermanski, Juda Leib Tenenbaum, Eisik‐Szymon Ginsberg and Majer Majzel.
That same day, an announcement was made by the Częstochowa rabbinical court, which was comprised of Reb Mojsze Majzel (the rabbi of Dyhernfurth) [Brzeg Dolny], Reb Nusen Oderberg and Reb Jakob Elyohu Rozen, that all Jews were to gather on Adar 7th at the study‐hall for an assembly regarding the building of a new study‐hall.
The second shames [sacristan], Lipman Pukacz, as was then the custom, went throughout the city and, with the synagogue mallet, knocked on all the doors and windows of the Jews’ homes reminding them to obey the court’s call. The assembly on the appointed evening was wonderful. All the Częstochowa Jews were gathered. The judges and also, the then‐famous scholar and opulent man (the rabbi of Ciechocin [?]), Reb Jona Landau, delivered warm sermons and all the Jews were asked to contribute as much as possible to the cause. The sermons left an active impression on those gathered. A great number of Jews enlisted as members of the study‐hall and many donations were received. In a short time, the required sum was collected and they erected the new study‐hall building.
In 5596, the new study‐hall was built and named “Ohel Nuchem” [Nachum’s Tent], in memory of our teacher the Rabbi Reb Nuchem Asz z’’l [of blessed memory].
(During their rule, the Nazis destroyed the building together with the city’s synagogue).
As is known, Częstochowa was once part of the great, Russian empire.
Upon the partition of Poland, Russia “inherited” a huge amount of territory (actually 10 governorates!), which it crowned with the impressing name “Privislinsky Krai”, meaning “the lands by the Weichsel [Wisła; Vistula river]” and, thereto, it enforced its laws and sent its governors – true‐tried “Phonyas” [derogative term for “Russian” in Yiddish slang], who controlled everything there.
The “Polaks” [Poles] scratched with an itch and were compelled to abide by all Russian decrees.
However, at the beginning of the 20th century, when a revolution broke out in Russia, the Polaks conducted strikes and demonstrations. Their socialist workers’ parties, especially, also stood up to the battle for freedom from the Tsarist yoke and Częstochowa, too, took part in the revolutionary movement.
The Russian Tsar, Nikolai II, then issued his “manifesto”, in which he announced that he gave “freedom” to the people to elect a folks’‐representative [congress] to decide the fate of the empire and work out its constitution.
But fearing the “horrendous” name “parliament”, he “crowned” the said folks’‐representative with the specific Russian name “Gosudarstvennaya duma” (Yiddish: ‐Meluche‐dume) [State Duma].
But the Russian government saw to it that such elections were carried out by which the masses had almost no foothold in the Duma.
The elections were not “direct”, but for each “class” of the population, separate “couriers” were appointed and these “couriers” were so “ingeniously” divided up, that just a few hundred noblemen or other “distinguished individuals” voted in the same amount of “vyborshchikes” [from Ru. Выборщик; elector] as a 100,000 voters from the city (thus were named the “delegates” who were elected in the towns and villages, to later vote for the 3‐4 candidates from each gubernia [governorate; province]).
The reasoning was simple ‐ the majority of the voters, Jews and workers, were in the city. Thus, they should have the minimum electoral results possible… Our Częstochowa (to whose electoral circle also belonged all the towns and villages in the entire powiat) had, in total, just 8 “vyborshchikes”!
The Polish “extremists”, who were then already great antisemites, wanted to use the undemocratic elections to seize all mandates and they presented their candidates’ lists for “vyborshchikes” everywhere, without including a single Jewish candidate ‐ even “for luck”. They did not even grant this honour to “Polaks” who did not dance to their tune of zoological antisemitism…
Polish progressive elements, therefore, decided to present a joint list [together] with the Częstochowa Jews and thus, for the elections to the first Russian Duma, Jews and progressive “Polaks” figured together.
The candidates were four Jews and four “Polaks”:
1.) Dr. Franciszek Bellon;
2.) adwokat [lawyer] Jan Glikson;
3.) Jan Grosman;
4.) Dr. Edward Kon;
5.) Dr. Józef Martuszewski;
6.) Henryk Markusfeld;
7.) Dr. Stanisław Nowak V. H.
8.) Engineer Kazimierz Reklewski.
We’ve been able to find two documents from that time:
1.) A summons to the Jews of Częstochowa powiat, dated April 17th 1906, the
end of Pesach, 5666, signed: “Jewish Burghers’ Electoral‐Committee in Częstochowa”; and
2.) an announcement from the same electoral committee which is marked as “very important!!!”. From these, we learn, among other things, “that the elections are to be held this Tuesday, [weekly section of] Tazria‐Metzora at ulica Teatralna 7, Lamparske house”.
We show here photographs of a long “oyfruf” [appeal] which was written manually, in a wonderful calligraphic script, to characterise how our elders and grandfathers “held elections 60 years ago”.
As to the matter itself, it was a struggle was for nothing. The extremists, everywhere, had a victory and won all the mandates.
It is interesting to mention that, while the Duma handled the issue of changing the electoral ordinations, their leader, the Kielce lawyer Jaroński (who had, mainly, made a living from his Jewish clients), demanded limiting the burghers’ rights of the Jewish voters…!
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