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VERIFIED ARTICLE

Translator name :Natalia Kłopotek

The first mention of Jews settling in Częstochowa dates back to the beginning of the 18th century, even though at the time, the town had the de non tolerandis Judaeis privilegewhich remained in force throughout the pre-partition period and was only repealed by the reforms of the Four-Year Sejm (1778-1882). One of the first preserved documents confirming the presence of Jews in the town mentions a contract between a Jew, Mosiek, and the local Mayor and Municipal Council. The contract refers to a loan granted to the town, necessary to cover a contribution imposed on Częstochowa by Swedes in 1705. In exchange, the municipal authorities allowed Mosiek to live in Old Częstochowa for as long as it took for the loan to be repaid. In 1765, 56 Jewish families lived in the town[1.1].

It is worth mentioning that in mid-18th century, Jacob Frank (1726-1791), the famous leader of the Frankist movement, was kept in the local prison. In 1760, rabbinical court found him guilty of blasphemy and he was sentenced to prison in Częstochowa, where he was kept for thirteen years until being freed by Russian General Bibikov. Despite his imprisonment, Jacob Frank had a number of supporters in Częstochowa. 

During the reign of King Stanisław Poniatowski (1764-1794), Jews most probably lived off small trade and weaving. They remained under the jurisdiction of the kehilla in Janów – Jews who died in Częstochowa were also buried at the cemetery there. The first prayer house in the town was established in N. Berman's private apartment at Stary Rynek Square 15. It was closed in 1765 when the Old Synagogue was built (on the corner of 32 Nadrzeczna Street and Mirowska Street). 

The situation of Jews in Częstochowa began to improve after 1793, when Poland was partitioned and Częstochowa came under Prussian control. An independent Jewish community was created there in 1798 and a year later, a Jewish cemetery was established. In 1806, a Jewish school was opened in Częstochowa. In 1806, when Częstochowa became part of the Duchy of Warsaw, 496 Jews lived in the town (14.8% of the total population). The entire Częstochowa district had 1,310 Jewish inhabitants (18.8%). This indicates that one third of the local Jews lived in the town itself. In the nearby villages, Jews constituted roughly 2% of the population. 

At the beginning of the 19th century, many German craftsmen and businessmen from Silesia arrived to Częstochowa. This group also included Jews. At that time, it was easy to tell the difference between the poor Polish Jews and the rich German Jews. The wealthiest people hired foreign tutors for their children. In 1818, two foreign teachers lived in Częstochowa – Leon Gotenberg from Głogów in Silesia and Wilhelm Imier from Praszka. As a result, Częstochowa gained a large group of Jews with an assimilated views and ways of life. In 1818, a group of well-educated Jews informed the town's authorities that they were prepared to dress in a more "European" way and send their children to private schools. The richest and most assimilated Jews lived outside the city's "Jewish district." At that time, there were two Jewish elementary schools in Częstochowa, plus a Talmud-Torah with around 100 pupils, a craft school with 80 pupils, horticulture school with 30 pupils and about 50 cheders with around 4,000 pupils. Altogether, 4 945 Jewish children were students of elementary and secondary schools[1.2].

In 1827, there were 1,141 Jews in Częstochowa (18.5% of the total population). Around that time, Jews started to establish their own industrial plants, which caused many poor Jews living in nearby villages to move to the town looking for work. They did not have the right to reside in Częstochowa and were in constant fear of eviction. In 1829, ca. 100 families lived in the town illegally. A small group of Jews was also engaged in smuggling goods across the nearby border. In 1828, Dawid Gutenberg established the first Jewish manufacture workshop in Częstochowa.

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[1.1] L. Brenner, The Rise of the Jewish Settlement in Czestochowa 1700–1939, in: Czenstochov; A new Supplement to the Book “Czenstochover Yidn” [online] http://www.jewishgen.org/yizkor/Czestochowa/cze005.html [Accessed 15 April 2014]; J. Mizgalski, Żydzi Częstochowianie, (2004).

[1.2] Y. Szatzki, Jews in Czenstochowa Up to the First World War, in: R. Mahler (ed.), The Jews of Czestochowa (Częstochowa, Poland), Translation of “Tshenstokhover Yidn”, (1947) [online] http://www.jewishgen.org/yizkor/Czestochowa1/cze003.html [Accessed 15 April 2014].

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