Translation of Sedziszow chapter from
Pinkas Hakehillot Polin
Translation of Sedziszow chapter from
Published by Yad Vashem
Published in Jerusalem
Published in Jerusalem
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This is a translation from: Pinkas Hakehillot Polin: Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities, Poland,
Volume III, pages 280-282, published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem
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(District of Ropczyce, Region of Krakow)
The place was mentioned in 1326 as the seat of the church of the rural community. In 1483, Sędziszów was granted the status of a private city under the ownership of the nobility, along with the right to conduct market days. In the middle of the 17th century, the Swedes and later the Hungarians brought destruction to the city. In 1760, Sędziszów received the rights to conduct fairs twice a year. Through this, the number of merchants and tradesman grew at that time. In the 18th century, a Carmelite monastery was built there.
Sędziszów was connected to the railway line in 1856. There was a large sugar factory there until 1882. It was one of the largest in Western Galicia. After that time, it moved to Przeworsk. A large enterprise for warehousing and working of lumber existed between the two world wars. During that period, a significant portion of the residents were occupied in agriculture. On account of its proximity to Ropczyce and Dębica on one side, and Rzeszów on the other side, the development of Sędziszów was always held back.
We do not know if there were restrictions on the Jewish residents of Sędziszów until the 17th century. In any case, a few Jewish families apparently lived in Sędziszów at the time of the war with the Swedes in the middle of that century, and their number grew toward the end of the century. At first, the Jewish community of Sędziszów was subordinate to one of the communities in the region of Tzvizmir (Sandomierz). It later became an independent community. The community of Sędziszów oversaw 206 Jewish residents of the surrounding villages. There was a house of worship and other communal institutions, and even a special building for the community in which all of its institutions were headquartered. A significant number of houses, even in the market square, were owned by Jews. The 50 guilder house tax that the Jews of Sędziszów paid in 1781 testifies to this. The Austrian authorities obligated the community of Sędziszów to support the settling of four Jewish families of Sędziszów in the villages. Indeed, by 1794, four Jewish families moved to the villages.
The economic situation of the Jewish settlement of Sędziszów was depressed during the first decades of the 19th century,. There was not even a set salary for the rabbi of the city. In 1830, it was said that the rabbi of Sędziszów earned his livelihood from small donations and vows. The growth of the community from the 1860s to the 1890s was connected to the development of Sędziszów itself, such as its connection to the
railway line and the establishment of the sugar factory. As has been said, the transfer of the factory to Przeworsk retarded the development of the city, which once again became a small center of commerce for the agricultural hinterland. Thus, the sources of livelihood for the Jewish businessmen and tradesmen were also reduced. During the 1880s, a number of Jewish families left their city and immigrated overseas.
From the end of the 17th century, well-known rabbis served the community of Sędziszów. The first of those known to us was Rabbi Shmuel Shmelke HaLevi Horowitz, who served in Sędziszów during the 1660s. From there he moved to Tarnów, where he died in 1696. Rabbi Shmuel the son of Rabbi Mordechai HaLevi Galanti, a native of Sędziszów, the author of Bnuyot Beramah (Built on Heights) and Netivot Olam (Pathways of the World) first served in Sieciechów (from around 1782). He moved to his native city of Sędziszów in 1797, and died in 1807.
Rabbi Yechezkel the son of Rabbi Yitzchak Chaim Blumenfeld served in Sędziszów in 1810. From there he moved to Rzeszów, where he died in 1856. Rabbi Avraham the son of Rabbi Yaakov Horowitz, a grandson of Rabbi Naftali of Ropczyce, occupied the rabbinical seat of Sędziszów for many years. After the passing of Rabbi Avraham in 1905, his son Rabbi Tovia inherited his seat. He then moved to serve in Krakow, where he died in 1923.
At the end of the 19th century, the first sparks of Haskalah started in Sędziszów. In 1894, several of the Maskilim and Beis Midrash youths of the city set up Chevrat Zion. A Zionist organization was set up there in 1912, which was affiliated with the Zionist council of Western Galicia. A Jew, Nota Lyon, served as mayor of the city in 1904.
At the outbreak of the First World War, the Russian army conquered Sędziszów already at the end of August. The Russians retreated from the city after a brief occupation, but they reconquered it at the end of September, and remained until May 1915. Hardened by the troubles that they experienced during the first occupation, almost all of the Jews of Sędziszów left the city as the Russians approached for the second time. Only 12 people remained, who did not succeed in escaping. Ten of them were murdered by the Cossacks. The houses of the Jews were burnt down or destroyed, and all their contents were pillaged. A girl and a woman died after being raped in one of the villages near Sędziszów. Many of the refugees did not return to their city after it was liberated from the Russian occupation in 1915. In November 1918 the riffraff of the city and the surrounding villagers perpetrated pogroms against the Jews of Sędziszów. The Jews were beaten and their meager property was pillaged. Several of the members of the Polish militia, even soldiers, participated in the pogrom. In May 1919, the riffraff gathered once again with the aim of conducting a pogrom against the Jews. The Jews closed themselves into their houses and locked their shores until the wrath passed.
The economic situation of the Jews of Sędziszów during that era was particularly depressed. Inflation and high prices were at their peak. It was impossible to obtain food provisions, and many of the Jews of Sędziszów were literally starving for bread. That year, the city council did not even provide the local Jews their food rations. It is no wonder that during the new era, the era of life under renewed Polish rule, the Jewish community of Sędziszów was almost 40% less than it was prior to the war, and was economically impoverished.
In contrast to the depressed economic situation, the Jewish community of Sędziszów excelled in social, communal and cultural activities during the inter-war period. Chapters of the General Zionists, Mizrachi, Young Mizrachi, and Revisionist Zionists were established in the city. From among the local Zionist organizations, it is fitting to point out the chapter of Hashomer Hatzair (established in 1919), the chapter of Hebrew Youth which was later The Akiva Hebrew Youth, as well as Beitar.
In the elections to the Zionist Congress of 1931, 177 voters voted as follows: 51 for the General Zionists, 73 for the Revisionist Zionist Coalition, 31 for the Working Land of Israel Bloc, and 221 for Mizrachi. Until 1932, the leadership of the communal council was in the hands of the traditionalists (those close to Rabbi Mendel Horowitz, who inherited his position in 1923 from his father Rabbi Tovia, as well as the Hassidim). That year, three Zionists were elected out of the eight members of the council.
Several people from among the Jewish youth of Sędziszów belonged to the
illegal Communist Party or the Communist Youth. In 1935, five residents of Sędziszów, all Jews, were brought to trial for the crime of belonging to the Communist Party. Three of them were sentenced to 3-5 years of imprisonment.
Through the efforts of the Zionists, a Tarbut Hebrew School was set up in 1919. This school had six classes, and was taught by 6 teachers. It was supported by money from the JOINT, which also helped that year in the setting up of a Talmud Torah with five classes and five teachers. In 1932, The Tarbut organization attempted to set up a communal hall, and even obtained a plot of land for that purpose. The Hagibor sports hall was set up in 1932 through the efforts of the Zionists.
We have no details about the lives of the Sędziszów during the first era of Nazi occupation until the summer of 1942. The only thing that is known is that a chapter of the J.S.S. operated there apparently from the end of 1941, and a communal kitchen from March 1942. At the beginning of 1942, 50 Jewish men of Sędziszów were sent to the Pustkow Camp. A ghetto was set up in June or the beginning of July 1942, into which the Jews of the villages of the region and perhaps also from the nearby towns were also concentrated. The Jews of Sędziszów were deported to Ropczyce on July 23. The ghetto with its 1,900 people was liquidated at the end of July 1942. Approximately 400 elderly people, handicapped people, and children were murdered after a selection in Sędziszów. The rest of the people were sent by train to the Belzec Death Camp.
Bibliography:Yad Vashem Archives: M-1/Q 378 (Ropczyce), 016/620, 016/793, 016/1722, 021/16, 021/19.
AMT'Y: HM/7101, HM/7102
ATz'M: Z-1/222-29, Z-3/820, Z-4/226-24, Z-4/234-13
AJDC Archives: Countries Poland, Cult. Rel. 344a; Reconstruction 399.
Hamitzpeh November 11, 1904, September 22, 1914, September 22, 1915, Tel Chai (Warsaw) September 5-6, 1930.
Hanoar styczeń 1932, Nasza Walka July 14, 1935, Nowy Dziennik May 12, 1919, November 19, 1919, February 12, 1927, March 17, 1927, March 23, 1929, September 13, 1930, Mach 19, 1931, January 18, 1932, April 4, 1932, August 4, 1932, October 7, 1932, March 25, 1933, May 25, 1935, January 5, 1936, October 7, 1936.
Tygodnik Żydowski February 11, 1938.
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