The first mention of Jews in Kraśnik dates back to 1530[1.1]. A year later the names of two Jews – Mojżesz and Salomon – can be found in historical sources. They maintained trade contacts with Gdańsk.
References to Jews involved in business in Kraśnik were recorded in the years 1556, 1560 and 1573. They made their living by leasing mills and ponds, as well by owning breweries and malt-houses.[1.2] It can be supposed that a house (or a room) of prayer had already existed at that time in one of the private buildings.
In 1584, Prince Aleksander Słucki abolished the de non tolerandis Judeis law in Kraśnik[1.3]. In that period, Jews were obliged to pay taxes at a rate of one ducat and one hard thaler for the whole plot and a half of red golden and a half of hard thaler for a half plot. Landless Jewish tenants, people who did not possess any real estate, were also required to pay the same as the owners of the half plot [1.4].
By the end of the 16th century, Kraśnik Jews had their own synagogue, a rabbi’s house, a cantor’s house, a hospital and a Jewish cemetery[1.5]. The number of local Jewish residents increased rapidly in the last quarter of the 16th century. Jews from nearby centres such as Zaklików, Urzędów or Modliborz began arriving in the town.
From at least 1593, a timber synagogue had operated in Kraśnik in the southern corner of the Market Place, by the town tower and close to the rabbi's house,[1.6], the cantor's house and the hospital (shelter house), which indicates that an organized Jewish community had already existed here. Apart from the main (community) mikveh, there were also private bathhouses in the town. It can be supposed that towards the end of the 16th century, today’s ul Podwalna, the first Jewish cemetery was established, though the fact that it actually existed was only confirmed by sources dating from the year 1625. [1.7] A ritual slaughterhouse had operated in the town from at least 1605.[1.8] The first reference to shochetim in Kraśnik dates from 1605.[1.9]
[1.1] Z. Wichrowski, Z kalendarium..., p. 4.
[1.2] J. i M., Piechotkowie, Oppidum Judaeorum. Żydzi w przestrzeni miejskiej dawnej Rzeczypospolitej, Warszawa 2004, p. 205.
[1.3] E. Jodłowska, Ocalić co się da, „Regionalista – czasopismo Kraśnickiego Towarzystwa Regionalnego”, Kraśnik 1994, p. 43.
[1.4] Broszura „Szlak Chasydzki. Kraśnik”, POLIN – Dziedzictwo Polskich Żydów, http://fodz.pl/download/szlak_chasydzki_krasnik_PL.pdf, [as of 10 April 2008].
[1.5] A. Trzciński, Śladami zabytków kultury żydowskiej na Lubelszczyźnie, Lublin 1990, p. 26.
[1.6] A. Trzciński, Śladami zabytków kultury żydowskiej na Lubelszczyźnie, Lublin 1990, p. 26; Z. Wichrowski, Kraśnicki Rynek, „Regionalista – czasopismo Kraśnickiego Towarzystwa Regionalnego”, Kraśnik 2000, p. 56; Kraśnik. Studium historyczno-urbanistyczne, study by R. Grabski, Lublin 1984 (typescript); J. Morgenstern, Z dziejów Żydów w Kraśniku do poł. XVII wieku, „Biuletyn ŻIH”, 1960, no. 34, p. 72.
[1.7] A. Trzciński, Śladami zabytków kultury żydowskiej na Lubelszczyźnie, Lublin 1990, s. 26.
[1.8] J. Albin, Rzemiosło i handel miasta Kraśnika w XVI i XVII wieku, in: Z dziejów powiatu kraśnickiego. Materiały z sesji naukowej, Kraśnik 1964, p. 79.
[1.9] J. Albin, Rzemiosło i handel..., s. 79.
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