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A View into Zgierz and the Life of its Jews
from the Community Annals of the Years 1915-1930

by Y. A. Malchieli

It is possible to look upon the community of Zgierz during the fifteen-year period spanning from 1915 to 1930 through the lens of the Annals of the Communal Council. By briefly studying the 416 protocols listed there, we learn that the Communal Council was deeply integrated into the life of the community, and its influence upon the communal institutions and activities was great.

As is known, matters of ritual slaughter (shechita), schools, prayers, bathhouses, cemeteries, the various assistance and support organizations serving the needy, religious affairs and other matters were in the hands of the Communal Council. As well, it served as the official representative body of the Jewish community to the various governments and other causes. The Communal Council oversaw a staff of workers and a variety of institutions and funds. To support its activities, it imposed taxes upon the community, and its manner was for the most part straightforward and fixed.

Four committees fulfilling various tasks worked constantly at the side of the Communal Council. These committees included the finance committee, which took care of the allocations, collection and expenditures; the educational committee; the support committee; and the general committee, which oversaw matters of shechita, the mikva (ritual bath), eruv (Sabbath boundary [1]), etc.

With the development of the town, we see the first protocol dated August 1, 1915, written in German. [2]. This protocol relates that, at a meeting of the Communal Council under the directorship of the rabbi of the town, the financial and education committees were selected, consisting of the following people:

For the financial committee: T. Lipschitz, N. Ader, L. Posnersohn, Y. Strykowski, B. Cohn, A. Y. Berger, Y. Schwartz, M. Eiger, M. Y. Margolies. [3]

The signatories of the protocol include two additional names as chairmen of the meeting: M. Naftali, and Sh. Ring.

 The next meeting took place about three weeks later, on August 24, 1914. We see a different list of delegates this time: T. Lipschitz as chairman, Eiger, Ring, Naftali, L. Sirkes, A. Y. Berger, Margolies, Ader, and Strykowski.

The protocol only mentions that a decision was made to prepare a budget and collect taxes for 1915. At the next meeting, about two months later on October 30, 1915, a prepared budget, including revenue and expenditures, was already presented to the forum.

The budget documents an income of 4,259 marks, which is to be collected from 254 taxpayers, leaving a surplus of 319 marks after a list of twelve expenditures that total 3,940 marks.

The detailed expenditures include: salary and rent for the rabbi -- 800 marks; for the judge – 510 marks; for the cantor – 200 marks; for the two shamashes (sextons), one for the synagogue and one for the Beis Midrash – 50 marks each; watchmen for the synagogues – 75 marks; heating and lighting for the synagogues – 100 marks; staff for three months (October – December 1915) – 75 marks; office supplies – 30 marks; repairs for the synagogues – 300 marks; a new fence for the cemetery – 650 marks; maintenance of the Talmud Torah school – 900 marks; heating and lighting for the Talmud Torah – 20 marks.

The surplus of 319 marks will be given for the benefit of the poor who require support.

The beginning was quite modest.

In the following meetings, which took place on March 3, 4, and 5, 1916, a representative committee of ten people were chosen by fifty taxpayers. This committee was composed of: M. Kaltzowski, M. Klowinski, G. D. Zwykielski, Sh. Boaz, Y. M. Bialostocki, Sh. Zelmanowicz, Sh. Wronski, M. Prinz, H. Gelkopf, and H. Luftman. The first task of these people was to prepare a methodology for tax collection, as well as a budgetary committee for the Communal Council.

The meetings of the council were headed by the chairman Naftali and Michaelson as the secretary and recorder.

In accordance with a request of the mayor, the Communal Council met on July 17, 1916 to prepare a budget for 1916. This budget was not very different from the previous year's budget. It was based on an estimated revenue of 4,492 marks. The expenditures included: the rabbi – 1,020 marks; Judge Elberg – 510 marks, Cantor Berish Gad – 200 marks; the Shamash Feldon – 50 marks; the Shamash Moshe Gelbard – 50 marks; Zelnik the watchman – 100 marks; the allocation for the Talmud Torah – 600 marks; rent – 16 marks; security – 39.65; lighting and heat – 300 marks; repairs – 300 marks; tax arrears from the previous year – 500 marks. The total was 3829.65 marks.

In September, the elected taxpayers' committee crystallized. After a period of preparation, meetings, and taking advice on various methodologies, the order of electing the delegates was set at one delegate per twenty taxpayers. The delegates who became part of the Communal Council in this manner included: Sh. Sirkes, L. Parizer, D. Sirkes, Sh. Boaz, Sh. Sribnik, N. Mendelsohn, G. D. Zwykielski, L. Posnersohn, Sh. Wronski, M. H. Eiger, A. Y. Berger, N. Trotsky, W. Reichert.

From those elected at the meeting of September 20, 1916, four committees were chosen: for taxes, education, assistance, and miscellaneous (shechita, mikva, eruv, etc.). The names Naftali, L. Sirkes, and Ring continue to appear constantly in following meetings, where Eliezer Sirkes served as the chairman.

Belt Tightening and the Struggle for Existence

February 24, 1917
The continuing war and occupation shook up the economic situation in the city. The number of poor increased, and income diminished. On the other hand, inflation was growing. In order to strengthen the communal institutions, the income would have to at least double. The situation of collection of taxes was particularly bad. Therefore, they decided to raise the fees for shechita. For cattle – from 3 marks to 10; for calves, chickens and ducks – from 1 mark to 3. The price rose by a factor of three. The budget for communal expenditures was set at 8,169 marks, divided up among the different branches according to the set allocation. This amount was double the amount of the previous year.

From that time on, a long and painful struggle took place between the Communal Council and its staff of workers, rabbis, and shochtim (ritual slaughterers). The cost of living rose, and everyone found themselves in a perplexing, desperate situation. They were fighting with each other, whether for their own personal livelihood or for providing for the needs of the community.

The provision of matzos and other festival needs to the poor is a story unto itself. Similarly, there was always the pressure of the various needs of the sick who were in need of healing, brides who did not have money for their wedding, and people who lost their livelihood.

For example, we see that that there was a certain well-known young woman who requested support for the learning of a trade. She was answered. Another person received 2,000 marks for the purchase of eyeglasses. So and so receive support for mute son in an appropriate institution. There is almost no protocol that does not mention a request for support for various reasons, for marriage, healing, travel to a healing institution, or simply for livelihood. As well, support was given in various amounts, to all who made aliya to the Land. There were many people who made aliya during the fifteen-year period. There were also requests by various Admorim (Hassidic leaders) and various institutions in town and external to the town. Some were answered positively, and others were shown the empty coffers of the community.

As Passover approached in 5678 (1918), the community distributed matzos, potatoes, as well as monetary stipends to 1,500 people. The value of the stipends was about 9,000 marks, and was collected by the Passover appeal. We have previously seen that the budget of the community in 1917 was about 8,000 marks. The budget for 1918 approached 21,000 marks. In an effort to balance the communal budget as much as possible, and to instill order in all areas of communal affairs, the Chevra Kadisha (Burial Society) was placed under communal supervision, and attempts were made to strengthen the supervision of shechita, where there had been many breeches. This was no simple matter, and the opposition was great, both from the shochtim and the butchers. Order was also imposed on the communal offices and the accounting ledgers, and an inventory of the communal assets was taking, including as well the Torah scrolls in the synagogues. As the salaries rose, the shechita fees rose, as did the communal tax rates. This caused strong protests from several of the taxpayers. One of the taxpayers grabbed hold of the list of expenditures of the Communal Council and tore it up in his wrath, as he uttered curses.

In order to understand the communal life with greater clarity, and to understand the various events which shed light on the image of the makeup of the community of Zgierz, it is fitting to make note of several of the events which took place and were noted in the protocols of the Communal Council. We will bring these down in chronological order.

June 30, 1918: Daniel Sirkes was chosen as the chairman of the Communal Council. The vice chair was Yissachar Schwartz, and the rabbi of the city was the honorary chairman. The members of the council were Yisrael Frugal, Yosef Miechowski, Eliezer Landau, Leibush Szarkowiak, Y. Rosenzweig, B. Cohn, Zeev Eliahu Reichert, Aharon Yosef Berger, Chaim Posnersohn, Moshe Zigler, and A. Schwartzbart.

July 7, 1918: The protocols are to be taken in Hebrew from this point.

July 15, 1918: For the committee in charge of allocation the money received from America, one person each from the Orthodox union, the Zionists, Mizrachi, Beit Haam, the artisans' club, and the orphanage, and two from the Communal Council were chosen. The rabbi was to be the chairman.

July 16, 1918: A decision was made to support a Hebrew kindergarten, on the condition that it was to be conducted in a religious spirit, and that the students would learn prayers, blessings, etc.

January 29, 1918: There were to be elections for the Jewish community, according to the election statutes of April 23, 1917.

From that time, the Communal Council was composed of four administrators (parnasim) along with the rabbi of the city. They would appoint people to perform the various roles. There were four other people chosen as back-ups. They also had the right to present an opinion, however their say was only worth half, two of them having the weight of one of the main elected officials. The administrators were as follows: Aharon Yosef Berger, Yissachar Schwartz, Daniel Sirkes, and Wolf Reichert. The replacements were Chaim Posnersohn, Moshe Zigler, Yisrael Frugal, and Eliahu Schwartzbard.

We see that the council concerning itself with the acquisition of a plot of land for the new cemetery, and the establishment of a communal committee of the various organizations in the town – “The American Committee”. The members of this committee were as follows: the representative of the Communal Council – the rabbi, Schwartz and Berger; from the Jewish faction in the Sejm – Eliezer Sirkes; from the Orthodox union – Ch. Boaz; from the Zionists – Berliner; from the Mizrachi – Michel Kuperman; from the tailors – Menashe Schwartzbard; from the Jewish orphanage – F. Greenberg; from the artisans – M. Librach; from the old age home – Ch. Segal. This council was established to oversee the soup kitchen that was established in the city for poor children. It obtained 75 pair of shoes for poor children. It gained assistance from the bakers to fix up the ovens that stopped working. It hired a teacher for Hebrew and religion for the public schools, Cytrynowski from Lodz. It provided singers for the holidays to assist the cantor. It distributed various types of support, to private individuals and institutions. After a period of difficulties, a committee for the soup kitchen was appointed, consisting of: Yisrael Moshe Rozenowicz, Avraham Morgenstern, Moshe Librach, Binyamin Sczaransky, Yisrael Preshker, Moshe Zigler, and one person from the Communal Council. The backups included Michael Zeev Reichert, Nathan Ader, and Manis Engel.

From among the various protocols which deal with day to day issues, such as the synagogue, the mikva, monuments, support, protests, boring correspondence with the institutions and the government, provisions for the soup kitchen, requests from the cantor, shochtim, etc., we find one protocol which is exceptional:

Protocol 33, November 1, 1918, from a meeting of the Communal Council on Friday, the eve of the Sabbath of Chaye Sarah [4]. A special meeting: It is a day of memorial for us today, today is exactly one year since we received notification from Minister Balfour that the Government of England promised Palestine to the Jewish people. This will be a redemption for us.

In honor of this anniversary, we, the members of the Jewish Communal Council have gathered together, and we are publicizing this day, and we have decided to celebrate this anniversary day with a public gathering in holy splendor.

We will send out invitations and invite all of the leaders of the different groups from all the different factions to come and participate in the celebration.

All members of the Communal Council will come to worship tomorrow in the synagogue.

We request that the rabbi deliver a sermon in the synagogue on the events of the day.

Signed by Secretary Michaelson, Daniel Sirkes, Aharon Yosef Berger, Yissachar Moshe Schwartz, Zeev Eliahu Reichert.

And on the other hand, we have the following protocol:

A Deep Mourning for the Jews!!

On Monday of the week of the Torah portion of Miketz 5679 [A footnote at the bottom of the page notes: December 2, 1918, appearing on a protocol surrounded by a black border, the content of which is full of mourning and grief, with the note “Yizkor” (“Let us remember”).] a special meting of all the members of the Communal Council was called, headed by the rabbi.

The order of the day was: a) a strong protest against the pogroms in Poland and Galicia, primarily in Lvov. b) support and help to the victims of the pogrom.

It was decided: a) That a memorial for the souls of our holy brethren who were killed and slaughtered in Lvov and other cities should be inscribed in the communal ledgers in order to publicize the matter to the generation. We also issue a strong protest against he perpetrators of the evil who plan and execute pogroms against Jews. b) We invite two members from each of the various factions and groups in our city, including the Jewish party, the artisans' club, the Mizrachi, the Zionist union, the tailors' union, the merchants union, Young Zion, the old age home, the “Maccabee”, the Orthodox union, the Hebrew Library, the Gideon group, to come together next Wednesday at 10:00 am in order to plan a large scale assistance effort for our brothers who were victims of the pogroms, and in order to organize how to take part in the general mourning of the Jews in Poland for the terrible pogroms that is planned for Monday of the week of Vayigash [5].

Signed by Secretary Michaelson, Daniel Sirkes, Yissachar Schwartz, Aharon Yosef Berger.

In the following protocols, we see special activities to organize the assistance committee for the victims of the pogroms; conflict between various factions, especially from the orthodox factions, regarding representation in the communal council, as if they had been pushed aside on account of the painful problems that affect the entire people; and a request from the rabbi for a significant amount of support on the occasion of the marriage of his son. The latter request was filled immediately, without being pushed off.

At the general meeting that was called with representatives from all of the organizations, and was chaired by Mr. Yissachar Schwartz and officially conducted by Mr. Morgenstern, an action committee was chosen and asked to join forces with a similar women's action committee. The following people were chosen for the committee: Yissachar Schwartz, A. Y. Berger, L. Sirkes, D. Sirkes, A. Sokosowski, Y. Librach, and Ch. Segal. Later, A. Eiger and L. Posnersohn were added to it.

The committee was asked to send one of its members to the national committee in order to receive direction as to how to undertake the required activity. In accordance with a recommendation by L. Sirkes, a collection of funds was declared already on the spot, from among those gathered. 2,182 marks and 27 rubles were gathered on the spot.

The chairman turned to the gathering with warm and emotional words, and expressed his hope that this mourning would inspire a true unity among all segments of the community, and that with G-d's help, better days should come.

In accordance with the advice of the rabbi of the city, they declared that the Monday of Torah portion Vayigash should be a day of mourning and a public fast day.

December 12, 1918: Daniel Sirkes was chosen as a the delegate to the national council in Warsaw, with instructions to request equal national rights for the Jewish people in the lands of the Diaspora, as well as a safe haven in the Land of Israel for the people of Israel.

June 15, 1919: Due to the growing numbers of people making aliya to the Land, the chairman Daniel Sirkes advised the creation of a special fund to support those making aliya, and to allocate a certain percentage of the budget for that purpose.

Furthermore, due to concern about the price of wheat, the rising price of matzo, the rising of taxes, shechita fees, requests for support, other budgetary allocations, and all other problems, complaints, judgements, and threats from the communal workers against various shochtim, a new protocol appears which includes “old tunes”: happenings in the midst of the city of Zgierz.

July 14, 1919: It was decided to gather any information available about incidents against the Jews in our city, and to send it to the national council in Warsaw, on the condition that these incidents not be published in newspapers under the name of the Communal Council.

A request was also received from those burned in Chervetsov for help and support.

August 22, 1919: The member of the council Yissachar Schwartz traveled to Warsaw to meet with Morgenthau. Mr. Schwartz greeted him in the name of the Jews of Zgierz, and presented before him a report of the tribulations of the city, the economic situation, relations with the gentiles, communal concerns, etc.

In the following protocols during the latter half of 1919, we see that the tribulations increased in the city Opinions were heard in the Communal Council not to impose taxes that year due to the dimness of the economy and the tribulations in livelihood. The chairman presented the bare truth about the communal coffers: the coffers were empty, and the Communal Council was already in debt by about 10,000 mark, and if taxes were not collected, everything would have to be shut down.

In the meantime, there were problems regarding the Talmud Torah, which was in need of reorganization and an increase in allocations for its maintenance, in order to hire teachers and purchase an honorable building. In addition, communal workers, rabbis, shochtim, and shamashim all placed request for their needs, that is to say an increased in salary to offset the increased cost of living. There were also all types of requests for support that could not be overlooked. The Communal Council wept and gave, bargained and apologized, debated, but paid in the end. Of course, they raised the shechita fees, for, what choice was there, those who eat meat would pay, for what would they do, eat non-kosher meat?

However, the enemies did not let up. In Ukraine, there were further pogroms against he Jews. The Communal Council prepared a protest. The Sejm prepared to declare Sunday as a rest day, a law that would also affect the Jews. This of course required a protest, for if it would not help, it certainly would not hurt.

With all this, the Talmud Torah developed with proper teachers also for secular subject, and a full curriculum that included Hebrew, Torah, prophets, Talmud, etc. A supervisory committee for the Talmud Torah was set up by the community, with wide representation from various communal bodies. The legalization of the merchants' union in Zgierz also took place. They attempted to obtain etrogs, wheat for Passover, etc. They sent a letter of thanks and appreciation to the representative Grynbaum for his strong battle against the law of the day of rest on Sunday.

Thus, the Communal Council was occupied with both holy and secular matters, with trivial matters such as disputes and conflicts regarding the bathhouse, shechita, the sale of meat, etc., and important matters in the Jewish world. Schwartz was sent to various places to search for wheat and to receive permits for such. Intercession was made to factories so that Jews would be employed. So and so received 500 marks to help marry of his daughter for otherwise… The flour millers requested support, but the communal council was not able to fill the request… etc. etc.

And suddenly, there was another ray of light… The peace conference of San Remo:

Friday, Iyar 13, 5680 (April 30, 1920)

A Special meeting

Which was called on the occasion of the good news that reached us that the peace conference gave authorization to the rights of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel.

The chairman Mr. D. Sirkes spoke about the significance of the day and expressed the happiness of the members of the council regarding this good news.

After a discussion, it was decided:

To arrange prayers of thanks in the synagogue and the Beis Midrash, when the rabbi of the city will speak about the value and greatness of the day; to distribute an announcement among all the Jews of our town regarding this matter; to invite all members of the various organizations and schools in our city to come to the synagogue, and also to send a telegram of greeting to the central Zionist organization in Poland, and to the central Mizrachi organization in Warsaw.

Signed by all members of the committee, and a number of guests.

The Joy of the Jews and the Anger of Esau

With the rise of the spiritual status of the Jewish masses, there was a desire to express some of the joy. What better day than Lag Baomer, the holiday which symbolizes freedom and liberty for Jewish children.

It was therefore decided to arrange a lovely celebration for the school children and the youth on lag Baomer. After a lunch for the children, they would gather in the garden of the Sirkes brothers on 98 Dombrowski St., and from there set out on a parade to the Konstnantini Forest. The organizing committee included Morgenstern, Weisenfreund, Lipowicz (from the Maccabee), and two members of “Hatzofim” and “Gideon”. The Communal Council would obtain the permit for the parade.

Psiakrew Zydki!! (Damn Jews!!)

The mounted police suddenly overtook the parade as it was going out. They trampled and injured the youth and older people, calling out “Psiakrew Zydki!!”. Avraham Leib Sluma, 70 years old, was pushed down by the police and his leg as injured. Yisrael Horen was also trampled by the police, and he was injured in his arms and legs. Several of the students were injured, including Jozef Cohn who was a student of the gymnasia, Ignia Cohn and Y. Katz. The latter was revived with difficulty. Finally, several of the students and adults were imprisoned.

Of course, a harsh protest was issued…

Fishel Feldon complained that the neighboring gentiles were damaging the cemetery, breaking the monuments and the fence. The appeal of the Communal Council to Father Stefanski, asking him to influence his congregation, did not bear fruit. Therefore it was decided that the rabbi, along with Yissachar Schwartz, would attempt to deal with the matter.

The Budget of 1920

After lengthy deliberations and bitter arguments with several dozen taxpayers, the Communal Council finally compiled the budget for the year 1920:

Shechita80,000 marks
External Aid15,000
Various 5,000
Communal Tax 328,000
Total 428,000 marks
Rabbi of the City50,000 marks
Rabbi Ichal30,000
Shochtim (30,000 each)60,000
Cantor and Trustee B. Gad30,000
Shamash F. Feldon10,000
Shamash Moshe Gelbard 5,000
Disbursements for the Synagogue and Beis Midrash 5,000
Bikur Cholim (Care of the Sick)12,000
Support for the Poor90,000
Miscellaneous (Cohn, Bennet, The office, etc.)18,000
Debts from Previous Year13,000
Education 100,000
Total 428,000 marks

The sum of the columns adds up to 428,000 marks, however, the budget was nullified due to the opposition presented in the form of a written petition signed by 93 taxpayers. The deliberations began anew, and the budget was lowered to 357,000 marks by reducing the revenue of taxes from 328,000 to 160,000, and increasing the revenue from shechita from 80,000 to 182,000.

However, this was still not the end of the story.

After a bitter struggle over each entry, and through reasoning and pressure, the elected council arrived at a different budget. There were further complaints about the new budget, from the Communal Council and also from the outside – from the community of taxpayers, who still saw their burden as too heavy.

After weeks of debates and struggles accompanied by troubling events, they arrived at a drastically reduced budget, totaling 205,000 marks, of which only 85,000 was to come from taxes. Several of the opponents protested the claims of the members of the council with exceptional bitterness and even threats of slander and imprisonment.

The council battled and struggled, issued a proclamation to the residents, and appealed to the worshippers in the synagogue. However as the storm abated, it gave in and returned to its activities of adjudication without any budgetary direction. From that time, life was from hand to mouth. It can easily be understood that the shechita fees rose drastically, since one way or another, the money had to be found.

Without doubt, education at that time suffered from great difficulties, and other activities were also affected. In the meantime, flour, matzos, Passover allocation and other collections that were made for various immediate needs occupied the attention of the Communal Council significantly. However, no matter what, it was impossible live without a budget, and therefore at the end of May 1921, they salaries and disbursements of the Communal Council were set according to the weekly need, without any connection to a set budget, for in any cases, there would be the need for constant changes almost every week, due to the severe inflation.

Among the protocols, we enter into the boiling cauldron of interpersonal relations, poverty, good deeds, meanness from some people and sacrifice from others, private and public disputes, the struggle for existence, various issues regarding deviations by delegations responsible for local needs, such as a protest against Agudas Yisrael in Vienna when it got involved with England in opposition to Zionism, and a protest and a day of mourning in memory of the victims of the incidents in Jaffa. There was no shortage of tribulations and worry. Locally, there were concerns about increases of salary, and to counteract that, increases in taxes, the rising price of shechita came around again. The secretary of the community protested and wished to resign, so they had to find another. The local shamashim (sextons) made use of the communal coffers as if it was their own money. The trustee Shalom Zelmanowicz complained about the lack of obedience. The magistrate, the police, the mayor (starostowa), the interior minister and others, all had their own request from the unfortunate members of the council.

And again: the synagogue, the mikva, an ill person who needed an operation and requested support, and he was not the only one. There were also poor mothers giving birth, orphans, foundlings, and others, and others… And the census that was requested by the government…why did it have to be specifically on the Sabbath?

There was a need to add to the allocation for the mikva, since there was no fuel or coal for heating. There was a need to order etrogim early, since without doubt the price would rise.

And what about the soup kitchen? And the children's orphanage? And the academics, they also have their requests.

The civic government requested a payment of 10,000 marks for the Jewish sick. From where would this come? From the granary or the vineyard? Reb Ichal is also requesting a raise, as are the rabbi and the shochtim. Moshe Gelbard requests damages, and a Jewish child is housed in a Christian orphanage and must be rescued. Again, there were matzos, Passover funds, seriously ill people, a renewal of the agreement with the mikva, a raise for the shochtim, and along with all this…

There was a sharp protest against Agudas Yisrael and its delegation, which traveled to Lord Notcliffe protesting against Zionism (protocol 141 from March 5, 1922).

The Satanic Dance of the Mark

The rabbi of the community received a weekly salary in 1920 of 4,000 marks and the shamash received 400; however in 1922, one year later, the rabbi's salary reached 55,000 and the shamash's salary 6,000. A half-year later, the salary of the rabbi had jumped to 150,000 marks, an done month later to a quarter of a million, and one week later than that to 325,000. Within the next month, the salary reached one half a million. Of course, the shechita fees rose proportionately: 5,000 marks for a chicken and 50,0000 for a head of cattle. As the shechita fees rose, the salary of the rabbi rose to 650,000, and two weeks later it rose to 900,000 marks per week. In November, his salary had already reached 1,214,000, and then it jumped to 1,494,000 and to 1,748,000. Cantor Konwisser received 1,000,000 marks.

The situation with Cantor Konwisser is a story unto itself.

The community requested that a new cantor be appointed to replace B. Gad. After various deliberations and pressure from a group of worshippers that became more severe and reached the point of threats, it was decided to fire Gad from his duties and pay him 3,000,000 marks as reparations. Cantor Konwisser took his place, and the worshippers in the synagogue worked on his behalf and created a special fund to support him. On account of a minor incident, complaints rose against him, and disputes arose from the Great Synagogue, which caused perplexity for the community, and the Communal Council. Since the shamash of the synagogue, Mr. Feldon, was also involved in this incident, he aroused the ire of several worshippers. When Mr. Fishel Feldon was cruelly murdered in his home along with his entire family, the government did not hesitate to accuse five worshippers of being involved in the murder, and they were imprisoned. Later, it became clear that the family was murdered by Polish criminals who hid out in the cemetery, and suspected that Feldon would inform on them. Therefore, they took their revenge upon him and his family. This internecine struggle regarding the cantor and the murder, and the communal embarrassment that ensued caused a black mark, which darkened life in the city, and had a varying effect at different times.

It is sad that during the fifteen-year period that we are studying from this important ledger, the shadows are larger than the light, and the sadness is greater than the spiritual highs. Here and there, various events came across the scene, dim rays of light regarding local or foreign notables, which brought a semblance of a smile onto the weary and darkened face of the Jewish community. These included the festivities surrounding the authorization of the mandate at the Geneva peace conference, the telegram from the Communal Council on that occasion along with the prayers of thanksgiving in the synagogues, the opening of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, the opening of a new institution or school when the representatives of the Communal Council would speak at the opening ceremonies. In March 1927, a Beis Yaakov girls' school opened. Aharon Hirsch Kompel spoke at the opening festivities. Noach Trotsky came to the jubilee celebration of the Maccabee. However these were dim rays over a constant cloud, darkness and grayness. The daily reality was – a battle for existence and a struggle for a peace of bread, which naturally caused conflicts, fear as well as personal and social tension. There were cases where the Satan held the opinion of “not by bread alone does man live”, and also became involved in pure spiritual matters, such as with the prayer leader and the cantor, regarding either salary or wishing to have control over the cantor. However, we can take comfort that only in a Jewish community can one see a spirit of mutual concern and responsibility. In critical situations, they did not worry only about local matters, but also about any call from help from afar. Great efforts were made to collect Passover funds for the poor of the city, however when a call came from the central communal organization to collect funds for the Jews of Russia who had no matzos, people would immediately add 20% to their personal donations. Jews would be asked and would give. Dr. Fishel took it upon himself to take care of the indigent sick for free, in return for a small favor – being freed from the communal tax. Miss F. was about to get married and there was a “blight” in the home. The Communal Council gave her 5,000 marks. Rabbi Cantorczik arrived from the refugees of Ukraine (August 13, 1922), and was given 25,000 marks. The Jewish community of Lutamirsk issued a call for help, and was given 25,000 marks. The wife of Yerachmiel Podlowski was in need of an operation. Who would pay for the operation? The Communal Council. They made an appeal to the authorities on behalf of Mrs. Lipschitz for a permit to open a wine store so she would be able to earn a livelihood.

There were also warm relationships with proper communal formality and politeness, according to established tradition. On the thirtieth anniversary of the appointment of the rabbi, they gave him as a gift a fur coat worth 3,000 guilder. The communal coffers were low, so the Communal Council contributed 800 guilder, and the rest was collected from the residents. An additional 75 guilder were necessary as tailoring fees, for the gift had to be proper and a perfect fit.

When the rabbi was in need of the theraputical baths of Germany, they gave him 500 guilder (June 10, 1928).

When Cantor Yisrael Yitzchak Gad went to a summer home in Dombrowska, they gave him 150 guilder without delay. When the shochet Dov Gad married off his daughter, would he not receive 500 guilder? Without any doubt he would. Even when the secretary moved to his new home, he was given a significant gift.

Thus, in any situation and with all the tribulations, they would give money out for marriages, for the study of a trade for unemployed workers, for baking of bread for the poor, for the healing of the sick, for mourners, for the deaf and mute, for those who made aliya to the Land, for those who lost their livelihood, for any need and to anyone who stuck out a hand.

What about the institutions? Praised be G-d, there was no shortage of these. There was the Yesodei Hatorah Cheder, Beis Yaakov, the orphanage, the charitable fund, Talmud Torah, Yavneh, Keren Hayesod, Keren Kayemet (The Jewish National Fund), the Frischman library, the fund for evening classes in the Beis Midrash, the fund for Mizrachi pioneers, the fund for the settlers of Israel, the fund for poor mothers, the Agudas Yisrael girls' library, and many others.

In order to complete the picture presented by the book, we will bring down a few other facts:

In June 1922, the communal officials (rabbis, cantors, shochtim, shamashim, communal servants, etc.) received only 50% of their salary, for the shechita produced a loss, and there was no money. The salaried workers refused to accept this.

In May, a committee was appointed to maintain the Beis Midrash, and 20,000 marks were collected for this purpose. The committee consisted of Zwykielski, Ader, Goldstein, Gibralter, Siedlawski, and Kompel.

In June, a committee was established to aid the Jews of Ukraine, headed by Mr. Eiger.

In July of that year, the shochet Fishel Bunim Hollander was fired from his duties on account of his age. He received a six-week stipend as reparations, and his son-in-law Eisenstadt took his place.

About three months later, in October 1922, Fishel Bunim was fired as well from his position of cantor. He requested reparations of 200,000, but was given half that until a final decision. In the meantime, he was given 8,000 marks per week. His place was given to Cantor D. Gad.

In January 1923, the position of selling shechita cards was given to the widow Genia Weitzman. This position was originally in the hands of the widow Gad.

In May, the Communal Council decided to issue a protest against the Minister of Religion who made things difficult for the community and restricted its activities.

In September, A. Morgenstern was chosen as the representative of the community to the public school council of the Lodz region.

By the end of the year, salaries had increased to such heights that the secretary received 7,000,000 marks per week, and everyone else according to the same proportion.

In November, Naftali Moshe Rosenes was hired as a shochet to replace Shlomowicz who died. His heirs receive support of 70,000,000 marks aside from the money that was collected in a special campaign to benefit the widow, so that she would be able to move to a different place. Those who took care of this collection included Reb Shlomo Sirkes, Noach Trotsky and Aharon Yosef Berger. Shechita fees and salaries increased, and support and reparations were paid out. The committee that worked on behalf of Cantor Konwisser set up a special fund to firm up his livelihood.

In May 1924 an assistant was hired for the communal secretary, the widow Nekritz. At that time, the communal budget reached the level of milliards [6]. However at the end of the month the currency changed to Polish guilder, even though on occasion prices were still registered in the millions of marks for various needs.

In August 1924 the situation became more difficult. They presented the head of the region with a memorandum of the difficulties. The shechita fees rose by 50%. The butchers protested. A delegation of them came for a demonstration. That delegation included Avigdor Roszaloski, Avraham Grand, Avraham Dov Grand, Yitzchak Trauanowski, Shaul Trauanowski, Ziskind Trauanowski, Yisrael Grand, Zanwil Sochaczewski, A Y. Sperling, and Wolf Szmietanski.

In June 1924, a new council was elected headed by Eliezer Sirkes. The vice-chairman was Leib Goldberg, the treasurer was Noach Trotsky, and A. H. Kompel was a member.

In December 1924, a budgetary committee for the year 1925 was appointed, with participants from all the groups, as follows:

From the synagogue: Avraham Morgenstern and Moshe Reznik.
From the Beis Midrash: Shalom Zelmanowicz and Yoel Spiwak.
From the first Gur Hassidim shtibel: Yitzchak Nekritz, Yosef Hirsch Szpiro.
From the second Gur Hassidim shtibel: Leibish Rosenberg, Menachem Frohman.
From the Alexander Hassidim shtibel: Moshe Itzkowicz and Michael Kuperman.
From the Sochaczew Hassidim shtibel: Wolf Kojawski.
From the Zyradrow Hassidim shtibel: Avraham Mandel and Shlomo Cincinatus.
From the Strykow Hassidim shtibel: Yisrael Mordechai Preshker, Nathan David Katz.
From the Mizrachi prayer hall: Yitzchak Meir Halpern and Avraham Finkelstein.
From the Parizer prayer hall: Yitzchak Meir Zilberberg, Kasriel Ginzberg, Pinchas Wand, David Wand, Shmuel Bennet and David Honigstock.

At the first meeting, the members of the committee removed themselves from common effort with the Communal Council regarding to the preparation of the budget, for according to their opinion: “in these pressing times, the Communal Council cannot produce a budget of 35,000 guilder per year with us being able to state that our hands did not spill this blood” [7], as expressed by the committee member Morgenstein.

When the Communal Council ran into difficulties in preparing the budget in subsequent meetings, they decided to appoint a new committee, consisting of the following people:

From the industrialists: Yaakov Meir Kuper, Shmuel Kuper, Noach Boaz, Avigdor Kaufman, Moshe Reznik, Yisrael Jakubowicz and Pinchas Davidowicz.

From the householders: Shalom Zelmanowicz, Moshe Skosowski, Yaakov Leib Rosenzweig, Yisrael Yitzchak Finkelstein and Moshe Blanket.

From the tailors: Getzel Schwartzbard. From the shoemakers: Nachum Kaminski. From the butchers: Avraham Grand and Shaul Trauanowski. This time, the committee succeeded in arriving at an authorized budget.

However, in March 1925, the situation became more critical. Kompel and Trotsky lent money to the Communal Council to enable it to meet its most urgent expenditures. There was a desire to open a civic butcher shop under the direction of the Communal Council in order to sell meat for cheaper, since the butchers had been raising their prices more than in any other sector.

In June 1926, a popular bank was opened in Zgierz. Mr. Leib Goldberg participated in the opening celebrations as a representative of the council.

As the time approached for preparing the 1926 budget, the customary show took place again. The appointed committee could not reach agreement on various clauses. The budget that was prepared by the council itself was not authorized by the government, due to complaints that were directed at the committee itself.

This committee consisted of:

From citizens of the town: Shlomo Sirkes, Yosef Hirsch Szpiro, Mendel Warshawski, Hershel Itzkowicz, Meir Schwartz, Eliezer Posnersohn, Gedalia Yedidya Zwykielski, Yaakov Meir Kuper, Shmuel Kuper, Yissachar Schwartz, Yitzchak Brahn, Eliezer Shlomowicz, Isadore Strykowski, Noach Mendelsohn, Aharon Kaltgrad, Chaim Boaz and Yitzchak Nekritz.

From the industrialists: Avraham Morgenstern

From the merchants: Yosef Blaustein, Binyamin Krishtal, Michael Radgowski.

From the artisans: Getzel Schwartzbard, Gershon Petrowicz.

The following people participated in the 1928 budgetary committee: Nathan Ader, Moshe Aronson, Shalom Boaz, Avraham Boaz, Noach Boaz, Aharon Yosef Berger, Yaakov Meir Kuper, Shmuel Bennet, Tovia Koppel Bumes, Ezriek Zucker, Shimon Cznichowski, Pinchas Davidowicz, Shmuel Davidowicz, Moshe Eiger, Yisrael Yitzchak Finkelstein, Moshe Glowinski, Fabian Greenberg, Leibel Halpern, Yosef Meir Horen, Moshe Itzkowicz, Hersch Itzkowicz, Shabtai Itzkowicz, Mordechai Jakubowicz, Yisrael Jakubowicz, Leon Krikus, Wolf Koyawski, Shmuel Kuper, Yissachar Lerner, Wolf Lipschitz, Yitzchak Nekritz, Chaim Posnersohn, Eliezer Posnersohn, Moshe Posnersohn, Moshe Preshker, Moshe Reznik, Avraham Meir Rubinson, Yaakov Rosenstrauch, Yeshaya Henech Segal, Shlomo Sirkes, Nathan David Shabshowicz, Eliezer Shlomowicz, Avraham Shlumiel, Yosef Hirsch Szpiro, Meir Schwartz, Anshel Waldman, Wolf Wronski, Shalom Zelmanowicz, Yitzchak Meir Zilberberg, Yaakov Glazer, and Gedalya Zwykielski.

A few Interesting Details

In November 1926, a stormy debate broke out among the members of the Communal Council regarding whether or not the dedication of a new fence surrounding the synagogue is an event worthy of celebration, and whether or not the town notables should be invited to such a dedication.

In May 1928, a tender was issued for painting the fence and gate of the synagogue. Henech Schleser won the tender. Friestadt's proposal was rejected, as it was too expensive.

In July 1928, The Maccabee received a permit to erect a monument for the late Eliezer Mendelowicz, on the condition that they not go to the cemetery with a flag and white trousers.

Finally, there were the elections for the town council. In June 1927, a joint coalition of the Jewish organizations entered a party, with the objection of putting together a Jewish block that would be able to receive five mandates, which would represent 350 voters. Without joining together, they would perhaps be able to obtain three seats, with difficulty.

The participants of this party included:

From the Zionist Union: Fabian Greenberg, Yosef Katz, and L. Weinstein.
From Mizrachi: Y. M. Halperin, Avraham Finkelstein.
From the Shlomei Emunei Yisrael (Those at Peace with the Faith of Israel): Shlomo Sirkes, Ch. Y. Eisenschmidt.
From the Union: David Gahm, Shmuel Feldon, David Preshker.
From Young Mizrachi: Avraham Bornstein, Shmuel Jakubowicz.
From the Young of the Faithful of Israel: Meir Sczaransky, Avigdor Rosenblatt.
From the Merchant's Union: Michael Kuperman, Yechiel Kompel.
From the factories: Yitzchak Meir Zilberberg, A. Morgenstern.
From the artisans: A. Wald, Sh. Rotenberg, Woidaslawsky.
From the workers (Professional Union): P. Lipschitz, M. Gross.
From the butchers: Moshe Hirsch Grand, David Grand
From the Bund: Chaim Wolkowicz, Z. Skoroka.
From the tailors' guild: Sh. M. Lewkowicz, Ch. N. Srowka, Cincinatus.

The debates in this party were very vibrant. Every organization wished to take the first place in the list of candidates, or at least to be guaranteed a mandate for its representatives. Finally, a small committee was selected to set the mandates.

This was a world filled with life and energy, activity and work; a multi-faceted struggle regarding religion and behavior, desires and vision; composed of many souls from all edges of the spectrum in morality, thought and deeds. Woe to the fact that this community has passed from the world, as it was uprooted from its place by the cruel storm of the Holocaust.

{Photo page 140: The Communal Council. From right to left: L. Rosenberg, Warshawski, A. H. Kompel, Rabbi Shlomo Yehuda Leib Cohn, B. Bechler, Kihen, G. Korczej (the secretary), Weisbrott.


A View into Zgierz and the Life of its Jews
from the Community Annals of the Years 1915-1930

by Y. A. Malchieli

The Yiddish version of the above section.

{Translator's note: The Yiddish section extends from page 141-162. It appears to be a direct translation of the Hebrew, with certain exceptions. In the first few pages, the Yiddish brings down direct references to the protocols, whereas the Hebrew paraphrases them. I did notice a two-page section, from the middle of 143-the middle of 145 that does not seem to appear in the Hebrew, for the most part. I will translate it here. Following page 145, the two versions seem more or less exact. The Yiddish section also has photocopies of various protocols. I will make note of the captions of these protocols.}

{Photocopy page 142. A page from the book of minutes of the Zgierz community. Translator's note: This is titled protocol 96, and is apparently a portion of the budget of 1920, which is discussed in the text above.}

{Translation from middle of page 143-middle of page 145}

March 9, 1918: Chairman of the meeting – Yissachar Schwartz: Committees were set up for the provision of matzos, for encouraging people to contribute to the Passover fund, for inviting Jewish soldiers for Passover. The chief nurse of the hospital was requested to announce every death to the community. Secretary – Michaelson. The distribution to the offices of the Communal Council: the treasurer A. Y. Berger. He will record the expenditures and income with status. Messrs. Miechowski, Morgenstern and Sender Landau were requested to record the status. The secretary is required to travel to Lodz in order to obtain from the police a permit to bake matzos in the near future. Messrs. Alexander Landau, Wolf Reichert, Mordechai Shmuel Zudkowicz, Gedalyahu Yedidya Zwykielski and Yisrael Frugal were asked to help in organizing the baking of matzos.

The synagogue and the Beis Midrash will no longer receive support. They will have to fend for themselves. The Chevra Kadisha (burial society) will come under the supervision of the community. The request by the rabbi and the shochtim for a raise was turned down until such time as shechita comes under the supervision of the community.

It was requested that the entire shechita enterprise come under the supervision of the community. The rabbi and both shochtim, Fishel Bunem Hollander and Yisrael Yitzchak Gad will receive 80 marks a week. Three times a year, at Pesach, Rosh Hashanah and Sukkot, they will receive a double payment. Yisrael Yitzchak did not agree with these conditions – it is forbidden for him to practice shechita since he did not sign the agreement.

After discussions and the hearing of various opinions from the residents, it was decided that shechita should be supervised by the community, and not be overseen by the opponents of the shochtim. The price of shechita was set as follows: 20 marks for a large animal, and 7 marks for a small animal. Daniel Sirkes is responsible for actualizing the decision. The teacher Reb Michel Elberg will receive 50 marks per week, Cantor Berish Gad – 50, the widow of Reb Moshe Bennet will receive support of 15 marks, Reb Yitzchak Mendel – 5 marks and an additional 10 marks for teaching Ein Yaakov in the Beis Midrash (if he neglects to teach Ein Yaakov to the group, he will not receive the 10 marks). The shamashim Gelbard and Fishel Feldon – 16 marks, the watchman Reb Berl Zelnik – 8 marks a week. The shamashim are forbidden from charging money themselves to the householders. They will receive a double salary for the festivals.

Reb Moshe the shamash must arrive every day an hour before the beginning of the morning services (shacharit) and before the afternoon and evening services (mincha and maariv) and maintain the cleanliness. The secretary Michaelson will receive 70 marks per week.

It was decided to maintain the books and ledgers in an organized fashion. An agreement was reached with the Chevra Kadisha to register all of the Torah scrolls in the town and to put them under their supervision. Each month, the secretary is required to prepare an accounting report.

May 29, 1918: The shechita fees were raised and the rabbi's salary was increased by 1,000 marks.

July 6, 1918: The 1918 budget was presented. The rabbi – 3,040, Elberg – 1,520, Cantor Gad – 750, Shamash Feldon – 200, Gelbard – 200, the Talmud Torah – 4,000, the Talmud Torah building – 500, heating and lighting for the synagogue and the Beis Midrash – 500, insurance and property – 275, care of the sick (Bikur Cholim) – 2,565, support for the poor – 4,000, payment of the debt to the town council – 3,400. Total, 20,850 marks.

June 12, 1918: The family B. is making a scandal in the Communal Council regarding taxes. Noach B. grabbed the budget ledgers and tore them up with great anger.

June 13: A year later, B. repeated the same behavior in the community. A fine of 500 marks was imposed upon him by the onlookers (the rabbi and communal leaders). If he does not pay, he will be accused in court (he used various insults and derogatory names).

June 30: Daniel Sirkes was appointed as chairman of the Communal Council; Yissachar Schwartz – vice chairman; the rabbi of the town – the honorary Chairman.

July 5: Items were purchased for the youth of the community.

{At this point on, the Yiddish version matches up with the Hebrew – starting with the entry of July 7.}

{Photocopy page 154: The decision of the Communal Council after the pogrom in Lvov and Galicia in 1918. Translator's note: This is the mourning notice that was brought down in full in the text.}

{Photocopy page 158: A photocopy of a page from the book of protocols. Translator's note: This page includes protocol 33 and a portion of protocol 34. Protocol 33, regarding the anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, is brought down in full in the text.}

{Photocopy page 159: The first protocol of the protocol book of the Jewish community, August 1, 1915. It is in German.}


Members of the Chevra Kadisha (Burial Society),
Trustees and Workers

Reb Lipa Zelczer-Berliner, Ber Zucker (Bezshe), Chaim Mendel Herzog, Berl Zelnik, Shalom Zandberg, Gedalya-Yedidya Zwykielski, Meirl Kaloski, Eliahu Tennenbaum, Mendel Finkelstein, Berl Weisbaum, Yankel Rosenstrauch (Chanas), Mendel Warshawski, Henech Bonde, Avraham Kuperman, Anshel Waldman, Leibel Goldberg, Izak Szerodzki.

{Photocopy page 163: Protocol 43. A decision by the Communal Council regarding the establishment of a committee to assist the victims of the pogrom of Lvov, 1918.}


A Cantorial Committee that Sang and Recited

by Wolf Fisher of Tel Aviv

{Photo page 164 – The independent Cantorial Committee.}

At the beginning of the 1920s, after the long-time cantor Berish Gad left his job and became a shochet in place of his father, the old Hassid and scholar Reb Yisrael Yitzchak, the Communal Council announced that it was looking for a candidate for the cantor of the synagogue. Soon, a competition began for the job. Cantors would come to lead the services on Sabbaths, in particular on “Shabbat Mevarchim” [8], and the congregants were supposed to choose the best candidate. Finally, a special committee was chosen, consisting of distinguished congregants, as well as a few people who were familiar with singing and the cantorial arts, some of whom remembered the sweet, soft prayers of Reb Beinish Cahan (the father of the eminent poet Yaakov Cohen). After hearing a succession of cantors, the cantorial committee took council with a larger group of congregants. This strongly favored the well-known director and cantor of the Choral Synagogue of Dvinsk, H. Konwisser, who captivated the congregation with his lovely and talented prayers. In accordance with the speech of Leib Gelbard (today a cantor in Los Angeles), the cantorial committee decided to solicit the opinion of the manufacturer and Zionist activist Noach Trotsky, himself a lover of fine chazzanut.

Due to the various opinions, for the next few months, there were disputes, struggles and invective in the synagogue on the Sabbaths. Everyone had their own excited opinion for the cantorial committee. The committee could not tolerate the open taking of sides by the shamash and undertaker Fishel Feldon, who, according to them, should not given his opinion and get mixed up in these matters – neither on their side nor on the other side…

The matter would surely conclude, as did all synagogue disputes in cities and towns, with a drink (lechayim), some cake, and making peace. However, this time, a sudden tragic event took place, which neither side of the cantorial dispute wished to happen:

On one summer morning in 1925, terrible news spread through the town – the undertaker Fishel Feldon and his family, consisting of five people, were found murdered in their home.

The police officer came to Zgierz from Lodz with an entire staff of detectives. His aim was to find the murderer. When he heard something about Fishel Feldon becoming involved in an argument in the synagogue, he arrested the first five members of the cantorial committee. They were shackled and taken to a prison in Lodz, where they were beaten so that they would confess that the murder was their doing…

After a week of investigation and torture, and after the energetic efforts of the head of the Communal Council Reb Eliezer Sirkes who worked for their freedom, the five were freed – “for no evidence was found against them”.


The Yeshiva Yagdil Torah of Zgierz

Included among the institutions that Zgierz was blessed with in the days prior to the First World War was the Yagdil Torah yeshiva, which educated the youth from both inside and outside of Zgierz in Torah and religion. Many people streamed to it from far off places. This institution was registered officially, and it is appropriate to present a memorial to it in this book by copying a few chapters from its charter, from which we can learn about the character of the institution, its tasks and its manner of funding. {The Hebrew footnote here reads as follows: The Jewish institution Yagdil Torah of Zgierz was officially registered in the list of institutions and organizations of the Piotrkow Gubernia as number 524, with the official approval of the Piotrkow Gubernia, on July 9.}

The charter includes 37 paragraphs and covers many pages. Here, we will present only a few of them:

  1. The Jewish Yagdil Torah organization in Zgierz, Piotrkow Gubernia, for the purpose of arranging for the children of poor Jews to study for free. The sphere of activity of this institution will be in the city of Zgierz.
  2. To realize this objective, the organization will open and maintain, with official government permission, schools such as cheders which will not charge tuition, as well as yeshivas, Beis Midrashes, etc. as educational institutions, libraries, and dormitories for students and teachers. Similarly, the organization will pay for students who are studying in their private homes.
  3. While the students are studying in the institutions of this organization, they will not pay tuition, and they will benefit from the physical and spiritual protection of the organization. If there will be a need to collect some payment from the students in order to maintain the organization, the amount must be set by a general meeting of the organization.

    Note: The organization will abide by currently existing laws and regulations, as well as those that will be set in the future.

  4. Children of permanent residents of Zgierz will be the first to be eligible for admission to the institutions of the organization.
  5. The organization will concern itself with its students after the conclusion of their studies by granting them the means to continue in the development of their education.
  6. In order to realize these objectives, the organization has the right to collect donations, to distribute collection boxes with the permission of the government, and to receive gifts and grants from individuals and organizations. Details are provided in paragraph 12 of this charter. In addition, the organization has the right to acquire and dispose of property, to sign various contracts and documents, to take on loans and pay off loans, and to protect its interests in courts of law and in front of other government institutions. It can do so by granting power of attorney to its delegates regarding any matter that might come from t his charter.

    In the second chapter, where it discusses the income of the organization, we read the following paragraphs.

  7. The income of the organization consists of: membership dues, donations from individuals and institutions, interest, periodic or regular grants, funds collected from the charity boxes, and other income.
  8. The financial assets of the organization are divided into disposable cash, a contingency fund, and a perpetual fund.
  9. The contingency fund will be made up from budget surpluses and savings. The perpetual fund will be made up of grants and dividends donated to the organization, and will be insured by interest bearing shares that will be kept in financial institutions.

    In the third chapter, regarding members of the organization, there is the following paragraph.

  10. The members of the organization must be adults, of the Mosaic faith, male or female, who pay membership fees of three rubles a year.

    Note: People who have had legal proceedings or investigations initiated against them will not be accepted as members, nor will soldiers serving in a regular army.

Most of the paragraphs of the charter deal, as is customary, with the rights and obligations of the committee, the means of operation, general meetings, rights of members, means of reaching and executing decisions, as well as the means of operation of the auditing committee and the rights of its members. The signatories of the charter are registered as “founding members, residents of the city of Zgierz”. They are:

Shlomo the son of Eliezer Sirkes, Mordechai Shmuel the son of Yisrael Zudkowicz, Gedalyahu Yedidya the son of Avraham Moshe Zwykielski, Yisrael Moshe the son of Avraham Rosowicz, Nathan the son of Yechiel Elberg, Eliezer the son of Shlomo Sirkes, Yaakov Mendel the son of Yitzchak Wechsler, Yitzchak the son of Avraham Nekritz.

The charter is signed by the Gubernator and vice Gubernator in Piotrkow, July 16, 1912.

These paragraphs were translated from Russian by A. Wien. The Russian text is stored in the government archives of the city of Lodz, Poland in section 108. A microfilm of this charter can be found in the general archives of the historical society in Jerusalem.


1. According to Torah law, it is forbidden to carry objects in a public domain on the Sabbath. In some cases (the technicalities of which are too intricate to discuss here), it is possible to erect a boundary around a community, thus converting it into a 'private domain' and making it permissible for people to carry objects within the boundary on the Sabbath. Such a boundary is called an 'eruv'. Back

2. In the corresponding Yiddish section (page 141), there is a footnote here: “August 1, 1915 was the first anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War. Was it a coincidence that the Communal Council had a meeting specifically on that day?” Back

3. The text appears to be in error following this point, as it does not mention the educational committee, but rather repeats the first line of the preceding sentence 'For the educational committee:'. In the equivalent Yiddish section, page 141, the educational committee is listed with three members: Zwykielski, Strykowski, and Miechowski. Back

4. The Torah is divided into 54 portions, one of which is read each Sabbath. A Jewish year has anywhere either 50/51 or 54/55 Sabbaths, depending upon whether the year is a leap year (which occurs seven times in nineteen years, and is intercalated with an additional lunar month). In addition, if a Sabbath coincides with a major festival (and this must happen at least twice a year due to Passover and Sukkot, but can occur as much as five times in a year depending on how the calendar falls out), the regular portion is not read. Thus, there are certain portions that are doubled up to insure that the Torah reading cycle finishes at the appropriate time, on Simchat Torah. Back

5. Vayigash is the week following Miketz. Back

6. A milliard is the European term for a billion. Back

7. “Our hands did not spill this blood” is a quote from the book of Deuteronomy regarding the commandment of the 'Eglah Arufa' (the calf whose neck is broken). If a corpse is found in the open area between cities, the Sanhedrin (the main court of law) is supposed to measure the distance to the nearest city. Then the elders of the nearest city are enjoined to conduct a ceremony, which includes breaking the neck of a calf at a riverbank, washing their hands, and declaring “Our hands did not spill this blood”. Back

8. The Sabbath prior to the new moon, when a prayer for the upcoming month is said. This is often considered a time for a cantorial display. Back

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