The beginning of the Jewish settlement is not exactly known. The first Jews lived in Mińsk in the 17th century and were engaged in alcohol production[1.1]. In the 18th century, Jews were no longer in Mińsk, although it is probable that some people of Jewish nationality (barbers or some lessees of the inns) were still in the city and belonged to the kahal in Węgrów [1.2]. The Jewish settlement on a larger scale in Mińsk took place after 1768, after lifting the restrictions concerning the permanent residence of the Jews in Masovia.
The Jews living in the town belonged to the communion in Kałuszyn until 1822. An independent Mińsk community was established after the kahal bill was abolished and the synagogue supervisions were arranged. In 1867, the community had its own synagogue (2 Karczewska Street), a mikvah and a Jewish cemetery, situated several hundred meters away[1.3]. Everything covered the area of 1 morgen (1 morgen ≈ 0,56 ha) and 169 rods (1 rod ≈ 5,03 m). Around 1870, Jews founded the second cemetery, outside the town, in the direction of Cegłów[1.4]. The Mińsk synagogue supervision included the town and some of the towns of Mińsk county (from 1867 the New Mińsk County): Cegłów, Siennica, Latowicz, Iwowe and Jeruzal.
The following issues fell under the jurisdiction of the Jewish community: paying rabbi’s living expenses; maintenance of the synagogue, cemetery, mikvah and ritual slaughterhouses; taking care of religious upbringing of youth; providing the faithful with kosher foods; managing the property of the community and organizing charity activities.
The first rabbi in Mińsk was Israel Jankiel (last name unknown), followed by Menasze, Mosiek Nejman and Majer Selson[1.5]. At that time, Josek Grynberg deputized for the Mińsk rabbi[1.6]. In 1835, Szymsio Kligman became a rabbi and held this authority for 40 years. He contributed to the development of the community by, among many other things, building a wooden synagogue and apartments for the rabbi and a scholar – Josek Arson[1.7]. In 1874, Jechiel Michl Rabinowicz became a rabbi.
The Jews from Mińsk began to be interested in Hasidism quite quickly. In 1873, a tzadik named Jankiel built his manor in Mińsk[1.8]. His grave, situated in the old Jewish cemetery, was visited twice a year.
Jakub Perłow, called “a new Mińsk tzadik” was the most famous tzadik. He settled down in Mińsk in 1872[1.9] after leaving Zawichost. He made friends with rabbi Rabinowicz. In 1896, Perłow established a yeshivah, a Talmudic school, in Mińsk Mazowiecki. He did it thanks to the funds given by Szlomo Folman, a Hasidic Jew from Warsaw[1.10]. The school, attended by around 200 students, had a dormitory and a cafeteria. The principal of the school was Moses Mass from Siemiatycze[1.11]. After his death, his son Alter Israel Szymon was appointed to continue his work. In 1916, he moved the manor to Warsaw.
Hasidic Jews constituted a fairly large group in Mińsk Mazowiecki. They could be divided into supporters of seven tzadikim: from Góra Kalwaria, Aleksandrów, Parysów, Radzymin, Skierniewice, Piaseczno and Nowomińsk[1.12].
[1.1] T. Lalik, Mińsk Mazowiecki…, p. 99
[1.2] T. Lalik, Mińsk Mazowiecki…, p.100; J. Kuligowski, Z dziejów osadnictwa żydowskiego w Mińsku Mazowieckim [in:] W 50 rocznicę zagłady mińskich Żydów, dodatek do MIM, 1992, p. 3
[1.3] J. Kuligowski, Rejestr pomiarowy placów i ogrodów Miasta Mińska Mazowieckiego, [in:] Rocznik Mińskomazowiecki, z. 11, p. 23
[1.4] L. Kłos, Mniejszości narodowe i religijne w Mińsku Mazowieckim (do 1939 r.) [in:] 585 lat Mińska Mazowieckiego, edited by J. Kuligowski, Mińsk Mazowiecki 2006, p.18.
[1.5] A. Gontarek, Społeczność żydowska w Mińsku Mazowieckim [in:] Miniprzewodnik po cmentarzu żydowskim w Mińsku Mazowieckim, TPMM, Mińsk Mazowiecki 2008, brak numeracji.
[1.6] Archiwum Państwowe w Siedlcach, Akta Stanu Cywilnego gminy wyznania mojżeszowego w Latowiczu, sygn. 4-9. Od 1830 r. do 1835 r. zaświadczał przed urzędnikiem Stanu Cywilnego o zawarciu ślubu.
[1.7] Archiwum Państwowe w Siedlcach, Akta Stanu Cywilnego gminy wyznania mojżeszowego w Mińsku Mazowieckim, sygn. 8.
[1.8] A. Gontarek, Społeczność żydowska…
[1.9] S. Stampfer, Hasidic Yeshivot in Inter-War Poland, [in:] POLIN. Studies in Polish Jewry, v. 11, ed. A. Polonsky, London 1998, p. 8.
[1.10] B. Gładyś, Mińsk Mazowiecki z dziejów społeczności żydowskiej, Gmina Wyznaniowa Żydowska w Warszawie, Warszawa, p. 9.
[1.11] S. Stampfer, Hasidic Yeshivot…, p. 8.
[1.12] Mosze Ziserman, Życie gminy i kontrowersje rabinów [in:] Sefer Mińsk Mazowiecki, (ed.) E. Siedlecki, Jeruszalaim 1977, p.93-95.
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