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History of Jews in Zgierz until 1862 (cont.)

The Economic Situation of the Jews of Zgierz in the Year 1822 and the Ongoing Struggle for the Rights to Settle in the City

In the year 1822, the Jews of Zgierz were already playing important roles in the local economy. In the list of Jewish families, which is preserved in the Zgierz archives, the number of Jews in various professions is listed:

1 shochet (ritual slaughterer), 2 tenant innkeepers (one of them was Mendel Pachtasz), 4 butchers, 5 restaurateurs (two of them were also involved in business, the third was Rafael Dobrzynska), 4 shopkeepers, 1 merchant, 1 glassmaker who was called Moshe Glezer [1] , 7 day workers, 1 shoemaker, 1 judge, 1 miner, 1 attendant, 1 barber and 1 director.

The same document also gives the net worth of the wealthy Jews of Zgierz: Hirsch Walstok, with a family of 7 people, a butcher by trade, born in Zgierz in 1770, was worth 3,000 Polish Zloty. Joskowa Weinstein, a woman shopkeeper, arrived in Zgierz in 1797 with the permission from the Leczyca regional authorities, was worth 2,300 Polish Zloty. Moshe Werfel (Wirfel?) is also mentioned. He was a day worker, born in 1790. He came to Zgierz with a permit from the burmistrz of Kutna.

17 other persons, earning their livelihoods from various professions, were mentioned in the list of Jewish families. It is difficult to estimate the number of people in the families mentioned. Only with regard to Hirsch Walstok is it mentioned that he had a 7-member family. However, it is indeed certain that the 17 people mentioned in the document did have 17 families. According to the custom of the time, only the head of the family worked. The Polish authorities, who wished to restrict the Jews into a ghetto by establishing a Jewish quarter, conducted a campaign against those Jews.

With respect to the restriction of the rights of residence of Jews, which was instituted by the royal regime of Poland with the approval of the Czarist regime who in fact ruled over the land of the Vistula – the small town of Zgierz plays an important historical role. On March 30, 1841 in Zgierz, the anti-Semitic agreement was signed between the Commissar Witowski who was the representative of the Mazowian Wojewodztwo committee, and the German textile manufacturers who came to settle in Zgierz, regarding the founding of an industrial textile center. The anti-Semitic points in the agreement are as follows:

Point 38: No Jew shall have the right to live or to own property in the new colony. Point 39: In the future, no Jew in the city of Zgierz shall be allowed to begin to earn his living from a saloon, or to do business with strong drink. Only those Jews who are already earning their livelihood in that manner shall be permitted to continue to do so. No new permits (concessions) will be given to Jews.

Those anti-Semitic points in the “Zgierz agreement”, as it was always called by the German entrepreneurs who began to build the Lodz manufacturing center in the third decade of the 1800s, had no application in Zgierz. This was simply due to the fact that the newly arrived German manufacturers did not succeed in setting up an industrial center in Zgierz, as is known from the aforementioned report of Rembelinski. Nevertheless, the Polish authorities did not have to legally rely on the “Zgierz agreement” in order to restrict the rights of residence to Jews. The regime in Warsaw already had their own ordinances, upon which they could rely to create a Jewish quarter.

The first document that deals with a Jewish quarter in Zgierz, is titled “Methods and means of establishing a Jewish quarter”, and is dated January 18, 1823. That document, signed by Commissar Zawodski, mentions that on May 7, 1822, in the official “Dzenik Wojewodski” number 337 the decree was issued “to arrange living accommodations for the Jews in the city in regions that I (i.e. Zawodski) designate”. In his document, Zawodski laments that only the burmistrz of Dombia (at that time an insignificant settlement) has “vigorously taken the appropriate steps” to set up a Jewish quarter. The commissar threatens a fine of 10 Zloty if steps are not taken within 14 days to set up a Jewish quarter.

The Mazowian Wojewodztwo commissar busied himself with the question of creating Jewish quarters in the newly arisen Polish settlements as well in the already existing cities. The royal commissar R. Rembelinski had a more liberal attitude about the issue of Jewish residency rights in the cities. He felt that Jews, as a well-to-do element, would contribute to the development of Polish cities. Rembelinski brought his point of view to print in his directive regarding the development of the city of Zgierz, sent to the city council on February 2, 1823. Rembelinski recommends that the “Old Believers” (Jews) build houses on the Blotene [2] Street that runs into the projected Lodzer Street. The houses must only be built according to plans that are approved by the Wojewodztwo committee.

As we can presume from Rembelinski's directives, the priest of Zgierz was against allowing Jews to build houses on the designated area, since he, the priest, had his fields there. Therefore, the representative of the Wojewodztwo committee recommended that the priest sign a perpetual agreement, mediated by the Wojewodztwo committee, which would be approved by the royal commissioner of religion and enlightenment. Rembelinski rejected this recommendation with the following statement:

“ In order to encourage the Old Believers, they should be allowed to build around the Lodzer Highway and to build upon the street with the same name, the civic committee should follow the designated plans and build a bridge. The Old Believers can build along the highway, until the bridge, by the Bzura River.” Signed by the Royal Representative R. Rembelinski.

Rembelinski's instructions to permit the Jews of Zgierz to acquire land and build houses on a designated area of the city was in fact the beginning of the creation of the Jewish quarter. That is how Adjunkt Zawodski, the commissar of the Leczyca area, interpreted the instructions. In his message to the burmistrz of Zgierz on March 24, 1823, Zawodski reviewed the instructions of Rembelinski to encourage the Jews to build houses on Lodzer Street near the banks of the Bzura River. Zawodski wanted to have the assurance that the Jews who wished to settle there would indeed build buildings, and therefore he requested that the “Starozakonny” (Old Believers) place a deposit into the civic bank and present a declaration which include a building plan, that must be approved by the regional committee. In the declaration, the Jews were also to state their intended occupation in Zgierz. They were permitted to deal with wool, textile merchandise, and minerals.

When the Jews found out about the possibility of settling in Zgierz, they quickly began, in accordance with Zawodski's instructions, to present declarations with building plans. In one such declaration, “signed” with circles since they did not know how to write, Nachum Michael Feldman and Rachel Weinstein assert in their declaration that they intend to follow all of the instructions. He guarantees his assurance with his moveable possessions, as well as those of his mother Rachel, who lives in Zgierz. He requests in his application that he be designated a place on the designated street, so that he can quickly begin to build.

The aforementioned royal representative Rembelinski further took the trouble to insure that Jews would cause no disturbances in their efforts to settle in Zgierz in the area that he designated. Rembelinski issued a decree on January 7, 1824, that the burmistrz of Zgierz should immediately provide the wood and appropriate tolls that are necessary to build a brick house on the Szeradzer –Lodzer Road.

At the same time as Jews began to build houses on the designated street in Zgierz, the Polish authorities in Warsaw made further endeavors to enclose the Jews in ghettos in the cities and towns. A correspondence took place between Zgierz and Warsaw regarding this issue.

The royal commissioner for internal and police affairs, at a meeting in Warsaw on June 28, 1824, issued a declaration that “the project in Zgierz to set up a quarter for the Jews in Zgierz differs from the report, and differs from the situation plan in the city. Regarding the plans to set up a Jewish quarter, this should include the Szeradzer Street as well as a street that is projected in the plan and does not as yet have a name. The document that discusses this subject is signed by the priest Stasicz, as well as Karski, the acting minister and representatives of the royal ministers and general secretary.

In the ongoing negotiations toward ultimately setting up a Jewish quarter, the regional commissar Zawodski came forward with complaints against the burmistrz of Zgierz as to why he had not made sure that the Lodzer Street, which was designated for the Jewish quarter, be demarcated by posts. Zawodski threatened the burmistrz with a punishment if he does not demarcate the boundary of the Jewish quarter with 120 posts.

In the end, after long negotiations between various Wojewodztwo commissars, the Polish regime in Warsaw and the Czarist regime in Petersburg (Leningrad), issued a supreme decree regarding instituting a Jewish quarter in Zgierz. As it turned out, this small town in the Leczyca region had the privilege of being the first [3] to confine the Jewish population. Following the pattern of the Zgierz decree, which was instigated by the commissar of the Leczyca region, within the next few years decrees were issued to establish Jewish quarters in thirty cities in Poland, including Lodz, which had a population of 342 Jews in 1825, comprising 24% of the general population.

The original decree to Zgierz, regarding the Jewish quarter in the town, issued on December 21, 1824, begins with the following words:

“In the name of His Highness Alexander I, Czar of all of Russia and King of Poland –

The royal duke Namiestnik and the royal council, who wish to designate separate living quarters for Jews in the city of Zgierz in the Mazowian Wojewodztwo as well as in other cities in royal Poland – already have their assurances based on article 9 of the directives issued by His Highness dated April 25 th and May 7 th of the year that is about to conclude, regarding the suggestion of the royal committee for internal affairs and police. We have made the following decision: Jews are permitted to live in Zgierz, and to acquire empty places and houses – on one side of Szeradzer Street, which lies in the south, and on both sides of Lodzer Street. Beginning on July 1, 1825, Jews of Zgierz will not be permitted to live in any other places in the city, with the exception of the designated quarter.”

The ordinance continues:

“In order to persuade the Old Believers that the regime does not want them to curtail the other residents of the place, so that the brothers of that people will have the same level of participation [4] , I permit two families of the Old Believers to live in any street of Zgierz as an exception, with the following condition: that they must possess 20,000 Polish Zloty, without debts and without having made loans; they must be bankers or those who conduct a steady and open business; they must know how to read and write Polish, French or at least German; they must send their children after the 7 th year to a public school; and they must bear no unusual marks, that is to say those clothes that distinguish Jews from all other citizens.

Aside from the aforementioned two Jewish families, other Jews can live on any street in Zgierz if they establish needed factories, purchase empty plots in order to build houses – as well as scholars, doctors, artists and large scale merchants. They must know how to read and right foreign languages, they must send their children to school, and they must not wear Jewish garb.”

The further articles in this ordinance – 4, 5, 6 and 7 – deal with administrative instructions, as well as insuring that this directive is observed and fulfilled, so that Jews should not transgress it. It specified the police fines that are to be imposed for breaking the ordinance regarding the Jewish quarter. Article 8 states that Jews who purchased or leased wooden houses in the market area prior to the publication of the directive may live in them for five years. During the course of these five years, Jews were not permitted to rent to Jewish tenants in those houses. Therefore, they could only rent or lease to Christians. After the five years, the Jews must dispose of their houses by selling them to Christians. An exception was made for Jews who were willing to tear down their wooden houses and erect brick houses in their place.

The 9 th article states: Jewish owners of brick houses on the streets outside the quarter are permitted to remain living there. All Jews who take advantage of the above mentioned “privileges” must be able to read and write foreign languages, as has been already mentioned.

The last line of the directive is as follows:

This was authorized in Warsaw, at a meeting of the administrative council on December 21, 1824.

Minister of Internal and Police Affairs – Zajonczek, Representative of the Royal Secretary – Mostowski.

As can be seen, the decree regarding the setting up of a Jewish quarter was directed primarily toward the lower classes. For Jews with capital, the town of Zgierz as well as other cities in Poland were open and free for settlement. Polish cities, large and small, which were beginning to develop at the time, and were in need of capital, as well as of business and industrial class, who, via the creation of factories, would employ the growing population. For that reason, there was goodwill toward the Old Believers who had capital and the means to build houses, factories, and business enterprises.

Jews who immigrated to Zgierz, or to the region in general, where a textile manufacturing center was developing, had only one goal: to set up their lives on the basis of work and business. Regardless of all the restrictions and inimical decrees originating from the Polish bourgeois class, the clergy and the Czarist authorities, Jews settled where they found it necessary. Relying on the directive regarding a Jewish quarter, the civic authorities in Zgierz began a program to clear the Jews off of the streets upon which they were not permitted to live.

The decree regarding the creation of a Jewish quarter was signed on December 21, 1824. One month later, on January 27 th , 1825, R. Rembelinski, the representative of the Mazowian committee, gave instructions to the county committee to publish the decree regarding the Jewish quarter of Zgierz in “Dzenik Wojewodzki”, so that the residents should know that “according to article 2 of the decree, the Old Believers must move to the Jewish quarter by June 1, 1826.” The county committee was obligated, twice a year, in April and in September, to “personally implement controls in the city” so as to insure that the ordinances of the regime regarding the Jewish living quarter are being fulfilled. Any Old Believer who does not follow the ordinances is to be evicted from his home.

Rembelinski also requested that the Zgierz municipality compose ledgers regarding these issues. The ledgers must include the following information: where the Jewish families who live outside the quarter live; on which streets they have houses; whether the houses are of brick or wood; whether they are owned or rented; whether the lease is for a set time or permanent; what types of livelihood do those families have; and whether they house foreign people in their living quarters “as is the custom of the Old Believers”.

Relying on these instructions, the municipal authorities of Zgierz took up the battle against the Jews who did not want to move into the ghetto. The Jews of Zgierz were faced with a stubborn, repressive, reactionary anti-Semitic council, who wished to confine them into a ghetto consisting of one and a half muddy streets at the edge of the town. Jews were not willing to leave their houses in the town. The Zgierz municipal authorities had to impose punishments in order to compel the Jews to enter the ghetto.

On June 13, 1825, the Zgierz municipal authorities issued a decree to the local Christian citizens who were homeowners, that they would be punished with a fine if they permit Jews to live in their houses after the deadline of July 1, 1826. The police will evict Jewish families who live in such houses outside of the quarter. The decree concludes with the following statement: “This ordinance is directed toward all of the homeowners as well as the Old Believers who are tenants”. As testimony to the authenticity of the ordinance, it is signed by the two citizens: Pawel Domanski and Jan Walentszinski, and by the following members of the municipal authorities: Gszegazewski, the burmistrz, Raszinski and Dombrowski, councilors.

The Christian homeowners who were making profits from their Jewish tenants were not willing to evict their tenants. The Zgierz municipal office demanded that the Jews abandon their homes and residences in which they were living without the appropriate official permission (concession). Such notices, signed by the officials Raszinski and Dombrowski, were issued to: Jachim (Nechemia?) Lazarowicz, Tewek Slam and Szymon Garborski. The notice demanded that the Jews sell their homes to Christians by June 1, 1826 and move to the Jewish quarter. If the Jews do not wish to follow the ordinance, they will be evicted by the police, and furthermore, they will be required to pay a fine.

Regardless of all the ordinances and notices issued by the municipal council, Jews did not hurry to give up their houses and residences in Zgierz and move to the Jewish quarter, which in the interim remained open and vacant. At the end of 1825, an ordinance from the Leczyca regional county commissar Zawodski was issued regarding the demarcation of the Jewish quarter with posts. The commissar demanded that this ordinance be carried out immediately.


The Organized Jewish Community of Zgierz

During the era of living restrictions for Jews in Zgierz, the town achieved the pinnacle of its industrial development. Zgierz became a center for the production of woolen textiles. According to the testimony of General Kasecki, the secretary of the administrative committee of royal Poland, in 1825, the following quantities of textile merchandise were exported to Russia: from Zgierz, 209 units of 10 piece cloth; from Ozorkow, 106 units of 12 piece cloth; from Aleksnder, 560 units of 4 piece cloth; from Lodz, 334 units of cloth.

According to the measures of that time, a piece of cloth was between 20-30 Polish ells (an ell is 56 centimeters).

The above mentioned accounting does not imply that Zgierz played a greater role in textile production than Lodz. That city, which later became the largest textile center in Poland, was occupied in that period with wool manufacturing and small-scale business. At that time, commerce was better developed in Zgierz. Understandably, that town attracted Jewish families, who, regardless of all of the living restrictions, settled in Zgierz, purchased and built houses. Obviously, the Jews were most comfortable in houses that were near to the places where the textile enterprises were being built. The Zgierz archives contain no statistics that show how many Jews lived in the designated, demarcated quarter on Lodzer Street and part of Szeradzer Street. However, outside of the quarter, by 1826 there were already 79 Jewish families. Including the residents of the quarter, there must have been at least 400 Jewish people in Zgierz.

According to a non-precise accounting, the professional structure of the working Jews in Zgierz at that time was as follows: 19 tailors; monczaszes (?) [5] ; 14 day workers, 2 tavern owners – one of them being Ruda Dobrzynska; 3 balbires [6] ; 5 directors; 15 merchants of wool and textiles; 1 merchant of wool, cloth and iron; 2 salt merchant; 2 hat makers; 1 shoemaker; 2 bakers, 2 glazers; 2 kreiczaszes (?) [5]; 2 tanners – Zelnik and Slama; 1 salaried tanner; 1 school overseer; 1 leather merchant; 1 hotel owner; 1 iron merchant; 1 metal sheet maker; 1 lace maker; 1 bailiff (Komornik); 1 comb maker; 1 artist; 2 shochtim (ritual slaughterers); 1 merchant of edible oils; 1 tea merchant; 1 rabbi.

Obviously, those above-mentioned individuals who had specific professions were the heads of families. As was the custom among Jews of that time, only the head of the family was employed and brought in the livelihood. That is how one can estimate the number of Jewish people who lived in Zgierz at that time was approximately 400. By 1824, the Jews already had an organized community and a “Dozor Shtibel”, which was called “Dozor Buzniczy” (religious institution) in the official Polish archival documents. From there came the Yiddish expression “Dozors” as the term for the leaders of the community. According to the documents in the Zgierz archives, the committee of Dozors was exchanged every three years. The archives do not mention why and how the exchange of office took place.

The first communal leadership committee is mentioned in the year 1824. The following names are mentioned: Leizer Bornstein, Baruch Steinbok, and Meir Blumenthal. In the years 1828-1830, only one name was mentioned on the committee – Moshe Steinbok. In the following years (1831-1833); Jozef Weiland, Niecki, and Baruch Warwaser. 1834-1836: Elias Majdan and Chaim Liberzuker. 1840-1842: Chaim Lubraniecki, Hillel Berlinski, and Menashe Blawat. 1843-1845: Menashe Blawat, Shimon Waldberg, and Shimon Lewin. 1846-1848: Yisrael Litauer and Chaim Walko Zonnenfeld. During the aforementioned term, Shimon Waldberg left the communal committee, and Henech Librach took his place. The aforementioned dozors were also served a further term, until 1855. After them, by the year 1857, the following people stood at the helm of the Zgierz community Yerucham Berliner, Gershon Blum, and Walek Zonnenfeld.


The First Rabbi in Zgierz

The organized Jewish community of Zgierz, which began in 1824 according to official documents, shortly took the steps to engage a rabbi for the Jews of Zgierz.

In a statement to the municipal commissar who dealt with religions affairs, the dozors Baruch Steinbok and Meir Blumenthal asked to be permitted to appoint the Old Believer Rabbi Shalom Hirsch Kahn (Cohen?) as rabbi of Zgierz, in accordance with the wishes of the entire “parish”. In their statement to the authorities, the dozors praised the rabbinical candidate as a man who is exemplary in his moral conduct, and, no less significant, in his heartfelt manner of conducting prayers. Therefore, the communal leaders (“Dozor Buzniczy”) request to give approval for the appointment of Rabbi Shalom Hirsch Kahn. They enclosed 60 Polish Zloty as official payment. The statement concludes with the request to expedite the consideration of this matter. The “parish”, which usually refers to the regional leadership of the Catholic Church, here refers to the Jewish community of Zgierz, which was dealing with this matter.

The approval of Rabbi Shalom Hirsch Kahn as rabbi of the community did not come easily. The municipal authorities did not reject the recommendation of the dozors, but rather demanded confirmations and recommendations regarding the rabbi's rabbinical qualifications and personal stature. Manes Skalski and Abba Dorembus presented such recommendations. In their declarations, they asserted that Shalom Hirsch Kahn, rabbi of the synagogue of the city of Zgierz, had already served in such an office from 1823, when he fulfilled the role as rabbi in the town of Grabow, in the region of Leczyca.

Over and above the above mentioned recommendations, Rabbi Kahn appeared himself in person at the administrative office of the Zgierz burmistrz, and presented his document of rabbinical ordination, which he had obtained from the rabbi of Leczyca. The document states the following:

Shalom Hirsch Aronowicz Kahn, the popular rabbi of the city of Zgierz, is noted to be a person who is very intelligent, learned in piety, and extremely competent regarding religious ceremonies. I am familiar with his fine manner of speech, and his saturation in Talmud as well as early and latter Jewish law. In my discussions with him, I have found him to be full of wisdom and piety. All of his deeds are proper and exceptional. Therefore, I have in an honorable manner placed my hands upon him, saying: he should learn and judge, so that things should be decided in accordance with his opinion. As a further token, he (Rabbi Shalom Hirsch Kahn) possesses a token of approval from the eminent Strikower Rebbe, Moshe Aharon. Two are better than one (referring to tokens of approval), and these two testify to the stability of this upright person. These words are spoken in honor of his knowledge and piety. In Leczyca, Monday January 24, 1827. (Signed by) Chaim Itzkowicz Orbach of Lesne.

In confirmation of the authenticity, I issue my approval in Zgierz, January 27, 1827. Y. Zimski, the judicial translator.

The final document is a confirmation of a concession to Rabbi Shalom Hirsch Kahn in the office of the rabbi. The document states:

“…executed in the city of Zgierz in February, 1827.

The Old Believer Shalom Hirsch Kahn presented himself in the bureau of the burmistrz of the city of Zgierz, and as a rabbi, issued the following declaration: Seeing that I am qualified as a rabbi, as is shown by the qualifying examination given the rabbi of the Leczyca community, which I have taken; as well as by the fact that I have taken on the duties of rabbi at the local (Zgierz) house of prayer; and by the enclosed certificate from the communal leadership, I feel that I am fit to take this office – and I request from you that I be granted a concession for this office.

This declaration is signed by Shalom Hirsch Kahn.”

The signature at the end is from Gszegazewski – the representative of the secretary of the bureau of the burmistrz of the city of Zgierz.

At that period, the Zgierz community specified the payment for kosher meat. The income from the special Jewish tax was overseen by Jakob Jedlicki. His position was mentioned in a statement to the authorities on August 12, 1825, asking for permission for himself to build a house outside of the quarter.


The Persistent Struggle of the Jews for the Right to Live in all of the Streets of Zgierz

In accordance with the ordinance of the duke, the representative of the king on the royal council, dated December 21, 1824, which defined the Jewish quarter in Zgierz, the Jews who lived outside of the specified streets – Lodzer Street and a part of Szeradzer – were required to sell their homes by July 1, 1826, or to forfeit their dwellings. They were to move into the specified streets, which were neither paved nor lined with sidewalks.

The Jews of Zgierz did not hurry to fulfil the instructions of the directive, and they remained in their dwellings and houses. The municipal authorities, assisted by the police, were to proceed to forcefully evict the Jews from their dwellings or homes. That is to say, they were simply going to toss out into the street 79 Jewish families that lived in Zgierz outside the designated quarter. When the evictions notices were delivered in June 1826, the forlorn Jewish families approached the Zgierz community for assistance (as is mentioned in the archival documents). Berek Grynberg “the junior official of the religious organization” (“Najnizszy sluga Dozor Buzniczy”) came to their defense. According to the ordinance that he signed that is found in the archival documents, it is not clear what role Berek Grynberg played in Zgierz communal life of that time. The aforementioned list of dozors does not mention his name. Apparently, he was the communal intercessor, who presented Jewish matters before the Polish authorities.

On June 25, 1826, Berek Grynberg issued a plea from the communal leadership (Dozor Buzniczy) to the “all powerful Wojewodztwo commissar, delegated to the Leczyca region”, that he temporarily extend the deadline of moving the 79 families to the designated quarter. In the request, the communal authorities of Zgierz as well as the representative of the 79 Jewish families ask for a delay in the evictions, since the eminent regional commissar for internal and police affairs had agreed, based on a prior request from the communal leadership, to delay the settling in the quarter of the 79 families for another year. The agreement would have to be approved by the Wojewodztwo commissar. No confirmation from for Wojewodztwo commissar was forthcoming. The Zgierz burmistrz kept to the original deadline of eviction of the 79 Jewish families.

“In the name of the poor 79 families, the communal leadership begs the important regional commissar to delay the evictions, until a decision arrives from Wojewodztwo commissar. I await the results of my modest request, and a merciful reply.

With the deepest respect for the all-powerful regional commissar – the junior servant of the religious committee – Berek Grynberg.”

On the margin of the request, a copy of which is held in the Zgierz archives, the following is written: “Relying on the enclosed decision of the royal committee on June 15, the regional committee suspended the movement of Old Believers into the new quarter”. This was concerning the cessation of activity that was recommended by the burmistrz. This entire matter is to be written up in a report.

Leczyca, June 25, 1826. Signed – Krolewski.

In his report to the commissar of the Leczyca region that was sent on June 26, 1825, the Zgierz burmistrz lashes out very sharply against Berek Grynberg, whose request to push off the eviction of the 79 Jewish families reached the highest authorities. He accused him of telling lies for which he should be punished.

The burmistrz accused Berek Grynberg of falsifying the title of religious overseer “Dozor Buzniczy”) and employing a fabricated authorization from the Zgierz community, which deserves “an appropriate punishment”.

The burmistrz states in his report that the members of the religious committee (communal leaders): Leizer Bornstein, Binyamin Steinbach and Meir Blumenthal, the “Old Believers”, did not oppose the authorities and speedily moved into the Jewish quarter. “Bornstein already has his own house there, and Blumenthal and Steinbach have dwellings”.

The burmistrz informed the higher authorities that from among the 79 families, there are some who are objecting, and the objectors do not wish to move into the quarter, and “there are others who have been hindered from living there, even though they already have places there. They wish to move only into those new houses which can be obtained from the newly arrived textile manufacturers.”

In that report of the Zgierz burmistrz to the higher authorities, he reflects upon the persistent struggle of the Zgierz Jews in a non-organized fashion during the first 20 years of the 1800s against being forced into a ghetto. As is usual in such struggles against the authorities, the more energetic and determined people pushed themselves into the foreground, and led the struggle, while the weaker ones made peace with the anti-Semitic decision of the authorities and moved into the ghetto.

The struggle of the Jews of Zgierz for their unlimited rights of residency in the town also brought a disagreement between the Leczyca region and the burmistrz of Zgierz. This was not only a struggle regarding better or worse relations with the Jews, but also regarding the competency of the authorities. The commissar reproved the burmistrz, complaining that he intermixed his private viewpoint into the deliberations. At first, one week previously, he helped Grynberg to obtain a certificate, and now he accuses him in his report. “For such disreputable behavior, the burmistrz must be held responsible and is to be punished, by an ordinance of His Eminence the royal councilor.” The result of this situation is that the burmistrz was to act upon the ordinance of eviction of the 79 Jewish families into a defined quarter by enforcing the existing ordinance.

As a final result of these deliberations, the Mazowian Wojewodztwo commissar decided to fine the religious committee (the communal leadership), since “they illegally became involved in such matters that do not pertain to their duties, and authorized Berek Grynberg to issue a plea from all of the 'Old Believers' that live in Zgierz to extend the deadline of settling into the designated quarter.” Regarding this, the Wojewodztwo commissar told the regional commissar to fine each of the dozors with a fine of 10 Zloty. If such a situation occurs again, they will be punished more harshly.

According to the instructions of the Wojewodztwo commissar, the burmistrz was also to be fined with a fine of 25 Zloty for interjecting a private side to the deliberations “dealing a matter which belonged to the jurisdiction of the police administrative office, and also for making mention of a synagogue that did not exist.”

According the instructions of the Wojewodztwo commissar, the burmistrz was fined with 25 Zlotys [7] , and issued a warning that if such a matter were to occur again, he (the burmistrz) would be forced to resign. He was accused of various improprieties: intermixing a private side to the deliberations, dealing with a matter that belonged to the jurisdiction of the police administrative office, and making mention of a synagogue that did not exist [8] .

In the archival documents, there is no mention of the final decision of the authorities regarding whether the 79 Jewish families must settle in the Jewish quarter. However, from the fine that was imposed upon the various members of the Zgierz communal leaders for intermingling in the matter of the evictions, one can surmise that the authorities compelled the 79 families to move into the quarter.

On November 2, 1826, the burmistrz of Zgierz informed the community that they must pay of fine of 84 Zloty. If the fine is not paid by the appropriate time, the matter will be turned over to administrative authorities. As well, the intercessor Grynberg (or Grynbaum) was fined with a payment of 40 Zloty. It is not clear whether this was a portion of the total fine that the community was required to pay, or a separate monetary fine for his personal intercession on behalf of the 79 families.

Berek Grynbaum-Grynberg presented a request “to the all-powerful Wojewodztwo commissar, to overlook the sum that he, Grynberg, was required to pay as a fine, since the investigation, which is being conducted by the commissar regarding the unjust evictions, has not yet concluded.”

The following was written by the commissar on the margin of that request:

“The burmistrz is required to adjust the fine for the guilty as is commanded by the rescript of the regional commissar. However the collection of the sum cannot be enforced in this manner, and I ask that the execution of this matter be carried out immediately.”

The following is appended in a different handwriting: “The sum has already been collected”.

Zgierz, December 18, 1826. Signed by Wratnowski.

With the monetary fine, which was paid by the Zgierz community also on behalf of the intercessor Berek Grynberg, the archival documents conclude the matter of the 79 Jewish families, who were evicted from their residences by an order from the Polish authorities and settled into the Jewish quarter.


{Photo page 59: The new marketplace. On the right -- the factory of Sirkes and Eiger. In the center -- the station for the electric train to Lodz.}

The Struggle to Expand the Jewish Quarter

As soon as the authorities designated certain streets and houses for the Jewish quarter, the Jews began a struggle to expand it into the adjacent areas.

In July 1825, Mrs. Roda Rafaelowa Dobrzynska filed a request to be permitted to continue living in her house, which was on the section of Szeradzer Street that was not part of the Jewish quarter. The following answer to the request came from the Zgierz managing committee, signed by the lawyers Raszinski and Dombrowski: “The Old Believer Roda Rafaelowa Dobrzynska has permission to live in her house that is not part of the Jewish quarter, but only until the year 1832. The residents must fulfill the following condition: they are not permitted to permit any other Old Believer to live in he house. Only Mrs. Dobrzynska and her unmarried children are permitted to be dwell in the house. People who illegally move into the house will be evicted, and the residents will be fined with a monetary penalty. Mrs. Dobrzynska has the right to rent portions of her house to Christians.

The answer continues, and states that prior to the expiry of the designated term (1832), Mrs. Dobrzynska must sell her house and move into the quarter with her entire family. She can continue to live outside of the quarter if she replaces her wooden house with a brick house. She must follow the conditions that are specified in article 3 of the ordinance regarding Jewish residency rights, that is to say, she must be able to read and write a foreign language, and the children must be sent to school, etc.

The following comment was written on the request of Roda Rafaelowa Dobrzynska: “She cannot write”.

As can be seen from her second request, Roda Dobrzynska was a well-to-do proprietor of an enterprise that employed “craftsmen” and she took the trouble to expand her enterprise outside of the Jewish quarter. After the arrival of the above mentioned response from the Zgierz city council, Dobrzynska, who owned two houses outside of the quarter, undertook to construct a brick “fancy house”. Therefore, she submitted a request to be permitted to move the wooden houses, which serve as living quarters for her and the craftsmen, from Szeradzer Street to Lodzer Street.

This request, which was sent to the Wojewodztwo commissar, was responded to in writing with the agreement of Commissar Zawodski, with the condition that the newly built house must be especially beautiful.

In August 1826, Jakob Jedlicki presented a request to the representative of the Mazowian Wojewodztwo committee to be permitted to build a house on the field of the priest, which is outside of the Jewish quarter. That request, which is preserved in the Zgierz civic archives, gives a clear picture of the persistent struggle that Zgierz Jews conducted against the living restrictions during the first two decades of the 19 th century.

The “Old Believer” Jakob Jedlicki, as is evident from the aforementioned request, was one of the prominent Jews of Zgierz at that time. He was one of the eldest Jewish residents of the town, and he held the lease for the income from kosher meat. On account of his prominence, the priest of the entire region (“Prowostz”) agreed to sell one of his lots to Jedlicki, where the Jew would build a house – an act which violated the ordinance that forbade Jews from living outside of the designated quarter.

In his request to the representative of the Mazowian Wojewodztwo committee, Jedlicki wrote:

“The undersigned, a resident of 35 years duration in this city of Zgierz, has lost his entire fortune due to ill luck during the time of war, and to the marching through of the military. I hold the lease for the income from kosher meat, and I lived with my wife and children on Tilne Street, which is also called Ogrodowa. I have been evicted from my dwelling. Having lived for a given time out of doors, I have not opposed the will of the higher authorities, and I have made efforts, in a provisional manner, to obtain a dwelling. To that end, I have received permission from the local priest to build a small house on the priest's fields behind the city, with the assurance from the priest that nobody would prohibit me from living there. The house will be located behind the city, and will not be in anyone's way. I have paid several scores of ducats to purchase lumber. I have paid the craftsmen, and have arranged all matters, up to the covering of the roof. Today unexpectedly, the regional authorities and the police magistrate took down the house.

In an unfortunate state, as I am again living with my family behind the fence, I modestly come to request the kindness of the eminent, all-powerful royal councilor and representative, to permit the rebuilding of the torn down house on the priest's fields. This house does not violate any police ordinances, nor does it interfere with any public and royal ordinance. Otherwise, please suggest to me another place behind the city where I can build a house, for I am unable to build a house on the Lodzer Street, or to build a house in accordance with the plans of the regime.

With the deepest respect for Your Eminence, the all-powerful royal councilor, representative of the Mazowian Wojewodztwo committee.

The junior servant, Jakob Jedlicki

Rembelinski, the representative of the Mazowian Wojewodztwo committee, wrote the following on Jedlicki's request: places for Jews can only be on the Lodzer Street; in consideration of the priest of Zgierz, he should conform to the ordinance with respect to distributing property, and he is personally responsible for disorder. The local burmistrz should impose a fine of 10 Zloty for permitting a Jew to put up a booth. The commissar's agents and the regional authorities are ordered to take it down.


1. In Yiddish, the word for glassmaker is 'glezer', which is the same as the surname. Back

2. Literally “Muddy”. Back

3. Literally, the birthright. Back

4. I am not sure of the meaning of this phrase. Back

5. It is not clear to what this refers. The question mark is in the text itself, indicating that the original document must be unclear. All question marks that I include in this section were transcribed from the original text. Back

6. It is not clear to what this refers. Back

7. It is not clear if this is a repeat of the statement of the previous paragraph, or an additional fine. Back

8. There is a footnote in the text here, appearing on the bottom of page 58, that reads as follows: “As can be seen from this paragraph, Grynberg, by virtue of his position that was certified by the burmistrz of Zgierz, made mention of the synagogue to which he belonged, at a time prior to it being authorized by the authorities.” Back

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