the site on which the synagogue was being built is really the same one which he ceded, along with his debt, in 1773, to the Jew Simon ben Jacob. However, in that cession it was only said that Simon was permitted to build a house on the site; a Jewish temple (Phanum Judaicum) is something other than just a house. The Jews had no right to this, according to the cession . There can be no doubt that Zaremba was acting as an instrument of the town council and the clergy, even just taking the date of his protest into consideration.The most dangerous charge of the coalition of priests and councilmen was, however, that the synagogue was not being built at the site to which the bishop had given his assent. And so the community took great steps above all to find witnesses testifying that the construction site had not been changed. In view of the passions stirred up in the name of Catholic solidarity, it was of course not easy for the community to get such evidence, but three noblemen were found who wrote and sealed testimony to this effect for the community. On August 24, 1775 three nobles, the former commissar of the Sącz starostwo, Antoni Jordan Stojowski, Alexander Rojek, and Tomasz Pasiński sealed their testimony that the synagogue was being built in the very place that the bishop of Cracow had permitted, that is, close to the Cracow gate. The second of the witnesses, Pasiński , even added that the synagogue had been moved 24 cubits closer to the Cracow gate. The Sąndzer notary Jozef Poltinski said that the synagogue was being built on the site which once belonged to the Jew Jonah and was then mortgaged to Jozef Zaremba.
The Sandzer town council anticipated the (Jewish) community and the very next morning, August 25, 1775, sent a memorandum to the chairman of the committee, district leader von Baum, signed by the mayor, the councilmen, the bailiff, and the aldermen, in the name of the entire city of Nowy Sącz. The town council used the opportunity to pour out its anger on the Jewish kehile in a series of complaints in which the matter of the synagogue took up only one sentence in one of the six points of the memorandum. The town fathers still cannot forget the times when it was forbidden for Jews to live in Sąndz, and they expound at length how the Jews, thanks to their Jewish craftiness, first obtained charters permitting them to fill empty spaces with buildings and then expand so much that they have for a long time occupied a third of all the houses in the town. By means of the same craftiness the Jews have taken all trade away from the Catholic citizens, all liquor licenses, and all means of obtaining wealth. The accusation of the burghers in Poland since the sixteenth century, that the Jews hoard foodstuffs and practical items, leaving nothing for the town, was also repeated.
For eight years the Jews have owed the town 3,520 Polish zloty in municipal taxes and paid nothing toward this debt; such is the intent, it appears, with which the moratorium was granted to the community by the Governor in 1773. In addition to all this, the town complains, the Jews get out of the burden of quartering the imperial troops, while sometimes two or even three soldiers are quartered in the house of a Catholic, the Jews support an overall total of 8, or even just 6, although they are obligated to take a third of all. The memorandum ends with pleas that the leader, with his innate graciousness, order the Jews to stop their abuse, pay the town what they owe, and bear a third of the quartering of troops. As for the synagogue, they understand that since the construction has gone so far, there is no possibility of demolishing it. They therefore propose that it become a municipal hospital or a church, dedicated to St. Florian.
The Wieliczka krayz leader Josef von Baum was one of the few enlightened krayz leaders in Galicia at that time; in his reports to the higher powers he depicted in the darkest possible colors the merciless exploitation of the peasants by the landowners and the corruption of the clergy. In line with this, he later as we shall see defended the Jews against the decree depriving them of the liquor trade in the villages. It is therefore no surprise that he took care of the petition of the Sąndz town council, which breathed blunt hatred of the Jews, on the very same day, abruptly dismissing it with these two Latin sentences written on the Latin memorandum:
If the petitioners were wronged and their charter rights abridged by the presence of Jews, they should have submitted a memorandum when the matter arose. If the petitioners again maintain that they are excessively oppressed they should apply to the Institute of Justice in Lemberg.The kehile on its part also submitted a memorandum to the committee, but the matter was put off and consequently the cessation of the synagogue's construction was once again in effect. The committee did not meet until January 25, 1776. This was in Nowy Sącz, with the krayz leader of Bochnia as president, and it held meetings every day except Sunday until February 1, 1776. On the second day of the committee's negotiations, January 26, the Sąndzer community submitted to the krayz leader Baron von Baum a most humble and obedient pro-memorandum document. They appealed to him to hear their pleas and tears and permit them to finish the construction of the synagogue.
They cited the documents which they had submitted to the committee in August; the charters from the two Saxon kings, Augustus II and Augustus III, and the confirmation from the last Polish king, Stanislaw Augustus Poniatowski of September 20, 1765; the permit from Bishop Soltik of Cracow of September 20, 1763; the permit from the Sandzer krayz district director von Prestowitz of 1774. The community also asked that the losses it had suffered as a result of the cessation of the construction be taken into account: four thousand Polish gildn from the first prohibition, in 1773, and a hundred fifty Rhenish gildn from the second, in 1775. The community ended its memorandum with the assertion that it relies upon the humanity and love of justice of the krayz leader.
Three days later, on January 29, 1776, the Jews of Sącz drew up a document in German giving power of attorney to our four brethren to represent the community in the matter of the synagogue before all authorities in all places and before all courts. Those so authorized were:
The power of attorney was signed by 13 persons:
Yehoshua Markowicz (ben Mordkhe) Yisroel Jakubowicz (ben Yaakov) Yaakov Simonowicz (ben Shimon) Leybl Markowicz (ben Mordkhe)
The coalition of Sącz clergy and town councilors beat the community to it this time too. On the first day of the committee session, January 25, 1776, they presented it with a three page Latin memorandum with a two page supplement, in order to rebut the community's 14 paragraph plea point by point. Repeating the same tired old claims of royal charters favoring the town, which once prohibited Jews in general to live in Sącz and acquire houses and sites there, the authors of the memorandum still contend that even after the Jews acquired such permission from the Polish kings, they were kept from living among Christians and from harming the interests of the town. Consequently Jews were also not allowed to build their synagogue so close to the houses of Christians, fully 30 paces away, which is where it is now. But as their basic argument they now too trot out the contention that the synagogue is not being built on the site permitted by the bishop of Cracow in 1763. They consider the collected evidence, which the community furnished in August of 1775, to be invalid, aside from which the witnesses were not sworn to the trustworthiness of their declarations. This is especially the case with Pasiński, who has been reproved for perjury. The deep cellars, which the bishop's committee discovered beneath the synagogue at the time of the site inspection in 1773, cast serious suspicion on the Jews of Sącz, who have already been punished for the murder of Christian children. As proof, a copy of the verdict in the blood accusation of 1761 is attached to the memorandum.
Ferenc Jutea Yeshaye Moyzes Hershl Abrahamowicz Leybl Anshl Leybl Izak Reuven Yakob Yeshaye Meir Aharon Nina Yakob Refoel Fayvl Binyomin Izak Yaakov Matis Yoel Izak Efraim Binyomin
If in their poisonous hatred of Jews the union of priests and town councilmen did not hold back from openly renewing the basest blood accusation, it should not surprise us that they refer to the Jewish synagogue with the deepest contempt: It is the temple of Belial, which the Jews have built to outdo the churches of the eternal God, an insult to the church; it is the hateful Dagon with his superstitious den of robbers, headquarters of the Anti-Christ's leaders. The church and town council agitators added a new argument to the synagogue controversy - the question of the moratorium: The community, which owes the town taxes and the Franciscan monastery thousands of guldens in debt, maneuvered the moratorium in such a way as to build their splendid synagogue with money due the Christian poor and widowed. Its windows, hewn out in great numbers, face the church and the town market, and all this when the Jews already have a spacious, state-approved synagogue, as well as about six shtiblekh for praying which are called kheyder, although the law forbids them to have more than one synagogue in a town.
Here too the town council did not forget its narrow corporate interests and again complained that the Jews are grabbing all the trade and all the liquor licensing in the town, and are buying up foodstuffs and other items by going outside the town walls to meet the merchants about to bring their products into the town. The pressing question, however, is the question of the synagogue.
The malicious idea of the town council of August 1775 was now modified and put forth with even more cynicism and on this hypocritical basis: In order to compensate the town for the wrongs it suffered at the hands of the Jews, and at the same time satisfy the fervor of the holy religion, the synagogue should be converted into a public building. Now since the government has no warehouse in the town, and since government owned hay and salt are stored in the stables of Catholic citizens, the synagogue should serve as a salt storage chamber.
Five representatives of the Sącz collegiate church signed this counter-plea, among them Wojcziech Mrozinski, who is already known to us, and three canons, as well as five representatives of the town council. It is typical of the educational level of the town administrators that two of the five, the councilman Martin Sadowski and the mayor himself, Jan Miodowicz (in previous proceedings the name is spelled Midowicz), signed with a cross because they were illiterate.
The representatives of the Premonstratensian ( Norbertine) monastery, as the principal party in the complaint over the completion of the synagogue, submitted to the committee a separate answer to the 14 points of the Jewish plea. This memorandum, in badly spelled halting German, distinguishes itself with even more legal hair-splitting and demagogic chicanery than the joint memorandum of the collegiate church and the town council. So, for example, the memorandum asks why the Jews waited so long to start building the synagogue if they already had a permit from King Sobieski, and why they had to approach the bishop for a permit if Sącz was a royal town. The coachman who took them to Vienna was their witness that in 1772 the representatives of the community went there to try to get a permit to build the synagogue and returned empty handed. As for the evidence that the synagogue is being built on the permitted site, it is all invalid; aside from this, Pasiński has publicly been declared a perjurer at the town hall, Rojek's testimony is invalid because he was not from Sącz, and Stojowski (who signed as former commissioner of the Sącz starostwo R.M.) was a previous Jewish administrator (this probably means that the Jews leased the mills and the brewery from the starostwo R.M.). In contrast to the memorandum of church and town council, the Premonstratensians do not conclude by proposing to convert the synagogue into a warehouse; they stick to their original demand that the synagogue be removed far from our monastery. The synagogue is not only lavish in its construction, but it is adorned with fifteen windows and the cries from the Jews during prayer would greatly disturb the religious, that is, whoever is praying in the monastery.
As mentioned, the committee in Sącz, with the head of the krayz as president, held its seventh and last session on February 4, 1776. It was not until nearly a year and a half later that the Governor's office of Galicia sent all the proceedings to the imperial court for a decision. Meanwhile not only could the building of the synagogue not be completed, but no one was even allowed to pray there; on September 26, 1776, the Sącz community sent a petition to Vienna, signed by Ephraim Markus, to allow prayer in the synagogue while awaiting the decision.
The answer of the Viennese court, in the name of the Empress, to the July 22, 1777 report of the Governor's office, was a court decree sent on August 22, 1777 to the Governor's office, with this final decision: It is understood that the question of which ones of the conflicting charters of the two quarreling parties are valid, is beside the point, because the basic question is whether the construction of the synagogue in Sącz was in accordance with the laws which were in effect in Galicia at that time. The ponderous bureaucratic machine of the imperial court, just as in Rabelais' satire Gargantua, needed two years and three months to acknowledge that all the work of the committee, which it had itself appointed, was superfluous, because the claims of the two parties were invalid in the light of the decisive juridical question, for which a committee engaged in hearing the parties and acquainting itself with scores of documents was not at all needed.
Regarding the juridical question, it is determined in the decree that the synagogue, which has already been constructed right up to its roof, is to be permitted, all the more so since in the meantime the Sącz community established its own congregation (community administration) and had on July 27, 1774 explicitly received a permit from the Governor's officer to complete the construction of the synagogue. The government in Vienna thus understood that it cannot compromise its own governor, who had issued the permit. On the other hand, however, the government of the fanatical Catholic empress was not completely able to close its ears to the religious arguments of the coalition of priests and councilmen regarding a hindrance to the Catholic faith due to the proximity of the synagogue to the Christian quarter. Concerning this, it is noted in the court decree that on the other hand the clergy and councilors brought up complaints against this construction which do not appear to be wholly off the mark. If then the two opposing parties had been heard right at the beginning of the synagogue's construction one would probably have been able to decide the matter differently and more appropriately, without the present situation in which a synagogue stands not very respectably between two Christian churches and among Christian houses, and not far from any of them.
This remark was not just theoretical; the government in Vienna needed it to justify its decision in such an important practical matter. If it had been explicitly determined that the Jews had acted legally in building the synagogue, the result, according to all opinions, would have had to be that the plaintiff, the Abbot of the Premonstratensian monastery,
would have borne all costs of the committee appointed for this complaint. However, not only did the government not wish to grieve the Catholic pastor; it also as a practical tactic did not wish to embitter relations between the Sącz clergy and the fanatical burghers. It was therefore decided and made part of the decree that since the Abbot Lassoto's complaint was not completely without foundation, both on the basis of the charters which were advanced and in accordance with local conditions, the abbot is not to be punished on account of his complaint and he is not to be required to cover all the committee's costs. There was an additional reason given, that it was not proven that it was the abbot who was the ring leader who incited the clergy and the town council to complain to the committee, and even if he had done so he would have acted within the competency of his office.
On September 16, 1777, the Galician Governor's Office sent word to the Wieliczka krayz office that, according to the court decree, the complaint of the Premonstratensian Abbot was rejected and the Jews of Sącz were permitted to complete the building of the synagogue. The committee costs, 109 gildn 30 kreuzers, are to be billed half to the Premonstratensian Abbot and half to the Jewish community. In addition it was noted that the community was to pay a tax for building a synagogue and the krayz office is asked to propose the amount of this tax to the Governor's Office.
We do not know how high a tax the Governor's Office proposed, but we know from other sources that the tax for erecting a new synagogue was generally at that time the gigantic sum of 2000 Rhenish gildn, in addition to which 100 Rhenish gildn had to be paid every year for a newly built synagogue. The Sącz community had to pay this price for the synagogue it had succeeded in getting after so many years of bitter struggle!
The last echo of the stubborn fight of the town against the synagogue was heard as late as 1785, when the Sącz town council, among other requests to the authorities (especially over its monopoly in liquor licenses, which was abridged by the starosta Wodnicki), made the complaint that the synagogue stood on land belonging to the town. This was surely not a matter of demolishing the synagogue; the town probably hoped to derive a yearly fee from the site on which the synagogue was built. The town council received the reply that it must furnish the Finance Administration with the document proving that the site was municipally owned.
And so, after a difficult 15 year struggle with the relentless union of enemies, of priests and councilors, after ceaseless hearings over the course of many years, costing thousands in gulden and in effort, plus the costs and losses from interrupting the construction, the Sącz community finally was able to have its own masonry synagogue.
The synagogue, which survived both big fires in Sącz (1890, 1894), was, despite its modest exterior, one of the most beautiful Baroque synagogues in Galicia. Here is a professional description of the synagogue's architecture, published at the threshold of the 20th century:
The two wall columns have silvered Baroque capitals of gypsum, acting as a kind of impost, and on them are placed girts shaped like flattened semi-circles, as a base for the flat or dome-like vaults. The center vault field is supported by the free-standing columns from which, by means of pendentives, semi-circular painted cupola projects, which dominate the remaining vaults on the inside. This entire construction was poorly thought out by the architect, who lacked enough thick walls and had no buttresses. Thus the structure threatens to collapse; only the iron and wooden anchors which were inserted hold it back; these are supported by perpendicular bars on their sides which are distributed so as to correspond exactly to the walls of the synagogue. Threatening cracks are seen here and there. The wall columns differ from the main columns, those in the center, in being divided vertically in half by a frieze and a ledge, which are continued on the walls themselves and divide them too into two sections. Above this ledge on the wall are two very low semi-circular niches with simple imposts, over which there is one large window on each wall.
In the center of the synagogue, under the vaults, each of which is planted with multi-colored flowers in a geometric pattern showing the twelve constellations, is the kantors' platform, walled in with bricks and plaster. Its parapet is in the form of a flower pot, triply curved in the Baroque style. Entry is by stairways on two sides. The balustrades of the stairways are interestingly made of brick in the form of Gothic arches. The balusters are made of plastered bricks. The totality has a very original character, and the synagogue as a whole, with its architectural lines, with its bronze chandeliers and lecterns, composes a very picturesque motif.
The Polish art historian, in his detailed description of the synagogue, failed to take account of one thing: the synagogue was built so deep that one had to go down steps to enter it, because according to the decrees of the church it could not be built higher than an ordinary house, and one had to make up for the enforced loss of height with depth.
JewishGen, Inc. makes no representations regarding the accuracy of
the translation. The reader may wish to refer to the original material
JewishGen is not responsible for inaccuracies or omissions in the original work and cannot rewrite or edit the text to correct inaccuracies and/or omissions.
Our mission is to produce a translation of the original work and we cannot verify the accuracy of statements or alter facts cited.
Nowy Sacz (Poland) Yizkor Book Project JewishGen Home Page
Copyright © 1999-2022 by JewishGen, Inc.
Updated 17 Jun 2009 by LA