History of the Jews in Wislica 1900-1939

History of the Jews in Wislica between 1900 and 1939

Jewish families attached considerable importance to study and from early childhood, boys would be sent to Jewish schools called cheders. The children attending the schools received basic education in religion, liturgy and history of the chosen nation. In 1909 there were seven cheders in Wiślica.

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Prior to the outbreak of World War I, the Wiślica religious community had a synagogue and three houses of prayer operating in private buildings belonging to Mordka Kac, Mendel David Lida and Israel Horovitz. The war hostilities did not bypass Wiślica. During the war there were instances of plundering and demolishing of some of the buildings, including the house of Itzak Horovitz on Złota Street. Following the war, the house was renovated and its new owner Yankiel Lewkowicz turned to the community with the request for permission to establish a House of Prayer inside, but the kehilla members decided that the two Houses of Prayer already operating in the town were enough for the Jews in Wiślica.


The information contained in the 1921 census for Pińczów County reveals that there were 1,314 Jews in Wiślica and they constituted 63% of the total population of the town.

The Jews in Wiślica were mainly traders and craftsmen. In the 1929 Address Book of Poland the following Jewish businesses are mentioned:

tinsmith - G. Szwarc; accessory stores - G. Bergfrajd, J. Goldhar, J. Klajnplac; tailor’s workshop - A. Flaum; manufactories - I. Cichy, S. Linden, Ch. Ostrowicz, L. Rozental; dairy - H. Rajgenwerc; flour shops - Ch. Hammer, M. Lancman, J. Toft, A. Zylberberg, R. Zylbersztajn; bakeries - E. Kliger, J. Kuperman, J. Meller, Z. Mendlowicz; beer-houses - G. Zylbersztajn; butcher’s – I. Meller, J. Mendlowicz, A. and S. Topił; sawmill - Ch. Hopfenberg; watchmakers – L. and T. Bekierman; groceries - A. Fajner, J. Kajner, J. Goldhar, S. Szajner, H. Szwugier, O. Trygier, A. Wajnsztok, Z. Zyngier; restaurant - Z. Zylbersztajn; grain wholesale - A. Bukiet, I. Szwugier, Y. Topf, M. Zylbersztajn; iron trade - I. Buchman, I. Federman, J. Hammer.

In the interwar period the Jews in Wiślica had one synagogue, two houses of prayer, a cheder, a mikveh, a funeral parlor, a gravedigger’s house, a cemetery, and a plot for a new necropolis. In 1932 the synagogue underwent a thorough renovation.

With the death of rabbi Israel Horovitz in 1923, a new rabbi had to be elected and it proved to be no easy task because the kehilla offered very low salaries. After a year of searching for a replacement, Chaim Shulim Schwartz was elected. Some of the Jewish residents had some reservations about him, but the Ministry of Religious Affairs supported his candidacy.


After the 1924 elections, the Board included Icek Schwarcgier, Alter Bukiet, Yankiel Topf, Ajzyk Flaum, Chaim Shlomo Schwartz, Daniel Rozentraub, Majloch Papier and David Lipschitz.

 Most of the money the kehilla made came from the ritual slaughterhouse. In 1923 the charges for slaughter were as follows: ox, cow, 7,000 marks, calf, 3,500 marks, goat, sheep, 1,000 marks, goose, 700 marks, duck, hen, 450 marks, chicken, 300 marks, pigeon, 60 marks.[2.5] After the currency was changed for zloty, the charges were like this: ox, cow, 5 zlotys, calf, 2,50 zlotys, goat, sheep, 2 zlotys, goose, 50 grosz, goat, 20 grosz, chicken, pigeon, 15 grosz.

According to the preserved letter from the Ministry of Religious Affairs, the Ministry ordered to raise rabbi Ch. Sh. Schwartz’s salary from 2,400 to 3,600 zlotys. Shochet Jankiel Dawidowicz was supposed to get 3,360 zlotys, Nusyn Herszkowicz 2,700 zlotys. The amounts for making ovens kosher (125 zlotys), for weddings (100 zlotys), and for circumcision (50 zlotys), were to be excluded from the budget, as they were supposed to be given to the rabbi. At the same time, the slaughterhouse collector A. Bukiet was to be removed from the Board, especially since the Ministry stated that the price of slaughter (10,544.60) was to be lowered. The Ministry of Religious Affairs also believed that the taxation of contributions was minimal. Money was needed, because both the rabbi and the shochets kept addressing the authorities, asking for a raise. 

Interestingly enough, a letter of February 17, 1928 written by the county governor in which he demanded that “…the families of the deceased should settle, within 14 days, all the arrears for funerals and memorials.” Pursuant to that letter, the gravedigger could not burry or build monuments before the money was paid. Contributions had to be collected more effectively and the lessee of the parcel in Goresławice, I. Baum, was to be made to settle the payment. Moreover, it was stipulated that the Board would not pay regular salaries to the kehilla officers.


Five hundred and twenty-six heads of cattle, 763 calves, 42 goats and sheep, 3,723 geese, 8,642 hens, 3,530 chicken and 1,368 pigeons were slaughtered in the kehilla in 1928. The slaughtered geese were sent mainly to Silesia and from there to Germany.

 There was one organization in Wiślica which was created to serve the people; it was registered on December 6, 1928 at the number LBP 8622 as the “Linas Hacedek” Society for the Assistance to Poor and Sick Jews (Towarzystwo ubogim, chorym Żydom).

In 1929 the management Board of the kehilla included Ch. Sh. Schwartz, as the president, Yosek Topf, Majloch Papier, Ajzyk Flam, David Rozentraub, as members.

Aiming at increasing the kehilla’s income, J. Topf proposed to collect charges for lending a canopy for weddings and cleaning the knives used for circumcision (2 to 10 zlotys). To save money, the rabbi and shochet’s salaries were decreased by 560 zlotys, and 300 zlotys respectively. The county office governor ordered a new tub to be bought for the mikveh, and to install new tile on the roofs of the synagogue and cheder. Because the Board also owed some money to the Health Service, it was forced to impose a new contribution.

The income was to be generated through slaughter (12,328.70 zlotys) and contributions (2,000 zlotys). The main expenditures were on: salaries of rabbi (4,800 zlotys per year), shochet N. Herszkowicz (2,700 zlotys), secretary Gecel Bursztyn (1,320 zlotys), financial support for widows, Finkla Horowicz (780 zlotys), Alta Grinbal (1,400 zlotys). 1,594 zlotys was to be appropriated for treatment, 500 zlotys for cemetery fencing, 3,100 zlotys for the renovation of the kehilla buildings. When the budget was fixed, the rabbi made a complaint with the province governor that the salary of 367 zlotys a month was very “meager” and was only enough to ensure a modest living. He explained that he had eight people to support and had to provide education for his children. 


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In 1931 the community had 1,468 members, and contributions had to be paid by 214 families who had to pay collectively 2,000 zlotys. The contributions were from two to 75 zlotys; 58 poor families were exempted from paying the contributions.

In 1932, out of a total number of 1,500, 223 families were supposed to pay 1,745 zlotys. Cattle slaughter was supposed to bring in 4,425 zlotys, poultry slaughter 9,040 zlotys, sitting places in the synagogue was charged at 2,500 zlotys, Pentateuch readings, 50 zlotys, burial charges and tombstones, 30 zlotys each; plus overdue contributions amounting to 2,000 zlotys. Overall, the budget income was to total 15,167 zlotys. The expenditures included salaries of Rabbi H. Schwartz, 4,800 zlotys, of shochet N. Herszkowicz, 2,700 zlotys, of secretary A. Bernstein, 1,320 zlotys. Moreover, pensions were paid out for F. Horovitz, 780 zlotys, and for A. Grinbal, 1,440 zlotys. Five hundred zlotys were spent for the fencing of the cemetery.[2.16]


The budget was signed by the Board which consisted of president Wolf Borensztajn and members Itzak Szwugier, Chaim Hopfenberg, Szaja Rozenwagger, Wolf Bochenek, David Levi, Josek Flam. Apart from Sz. Rozenwagger, who was an Orthodox Jew, the rest were Zionists. The rabbi explained that such political make-up made it impossible for him to receive the kind of salary he wanted. 

In 1933 Wiślica county office recorded presence of 1,548 Jews. Slaughter was to bring 12,097 zlotys, contributions 3,000 zlotys, other sources 2,970.20 zlotys, which amounted to 18,067.20 zlotys; 4,500 zlotys a year were appropriated for rabbi’s salary, 5,330 zlotys for officer’s salaries, 883 zlotys for other expenses, 4,880 zlotys for investments, 50 zlotys for subsidies, 200 zlotys for charity, 2,224.20 zlotys for other expenditures.

In 1937 the non-partisans and Mizrahim were most influential in the Board (37.5% each); the Orthodox Jews constituted 25%. There were 1,577 Jews here and 180 families were chosen to pay contributions; movable property was estimated at 11,000 zlotys, and immovable property at 72,000 zlotys; the debt was 398 zlotys.