The settlement of Jews in Opatów was connected to a bigger wave of migration of the Jewish population to Poland in the 16th century. Its characteristic feature was the transfer of Jews from large centres to smaller ones and from royal cities to noble cities. Because of this tendency, it is possible to notice that Opatów was the first noble city in the province of Sandomierz where Jews settled down. The oldest register of Jewish housings from 1507 does not mention Opatów. However, in 1518 Jews were probably already living in this city. In 1538 four Jewish families were stationed there. We can also notice that the Jewish presence in Opatów before 1514 was not likely because Opatów was the ‘income’ for the bishops of Lubusz Province. What’s more, the settlement of Jews on church properties appeared later on. Accordingly, the orthodox Jews settled down when the owner of abbey’s properties was Krzysztof Szydłowiecki (1514-1532), the Chancellor of the Crown. It was the time of Opatów’s flourishing, which encouraged people to settle down in the city.
Władysław Fudalewski, who was a priest and the author of the monograph of Opatów indicates that the first mention about Jews in the church register book is dated to 1612. In 1634 the city was divided into two parts – Jewish and Christian. The Jewish part was later known as “Jewish Street”.
Jan Tarnowski, who was an owner of Opatów back then, established the first privilege for Opatów Jews in 1545. At the turn of the 16th and 17th centuries the Jewish Community Co-operative was formed in Opatów. This was most likely the time when the brick synagogue was built there. In the 18th century alongside there existed a wooden synagogue and kloyz. The first Rabbi of Opatów was Izaak ben Eljakim Heilprin, who came to this function before 1590. In the 18th century there were three Rabbis in Opatów at the same time. Aside from kahal Rabbi in the brick synagogue and the rabbi in kloyz, the Brotherhood of Eternal Light had its own Rabbi.
The municipality of Opatów also consisted of the numerous groups of “przykahałki”. At the first half of the 17th century the “przykahałki” groups in Sandomiesz, Tarnów, Kolbuszowa, Śmielów, Ostrowiec, Ożarów, Baranów, Klimontów, Iwaniska, Mielec, Dzików, Sokołów, Rudnik were subordinated to the city council. However in the second half of the 18th century the Jewish municipality of Opatów consisted of 6 cities: Opatów, Ćmielów, Denków, Koprzywnica, Nowa Słupia and Łagów, and also 87 villages from the County of Sandomierz: Beszyce, Bodzechów, Bogusławice, Brzezie, Brzustów, Bukowiany, Buskowice, Chmielów, Chrzanowice, Czerników, Czerwona Góra, Dworowice, Gierczyce, Glinka, Gojców, Gołębiów, Gozdzielin, Grocholice Małe, Grocholice Wielkie, Grójec, Jaglin (Jagnin), Jałowęsy, Jasków, Jeżów, Jurkowice (Jurków), Kaliszany, Karwów (Karbów, Kargów), Kornacice, Kraszków, Krzczonowice, Kurów, Leszków (Leszczków, Lesków), Lipnik, Lipowa, Lisów, Łapigóz (Strupice), Łężyce, Łukawka, Malice, Małoszyce, Międzygórz, Milowice (Milejowice), Niemienice, Nieskórzów (Nekrzuska), Nikisiałka Księża, Nowy Staw, Obręczna, Okalina, Piliszów (Pielaszów), Piotrów, Piórków, Pipała, Piwków, Podgrodzie, Podole, Paprocice, Przepaść, Przeuszyn, Rosochy, Rudy, Ruszkowiec, Ruszków, Sadowie, Słaboszowice, Sosnówka, Sośniczany, Stara Słupia, Szachów (Stachów), Tarnobłot, Trębanów, Truskolasy, Tudorów, Wąworków, Wesołówka, Wilka, Włostów, Wojnowice, Wola Grójecka, Wola Łagowska, Worowice, Wólka Bodzechowska, Wszechświęte, Zakrzówka, Zochcin, Zwola Sniadkowska (Zwola), Żerniki (Żyrowniki), Żółczyce (Żółcice). In 1765 2034 Jews inhabited the whole Jewish Community Co-operative- only in Opatów there were 1675 Jews. During this period Opatów belonged to the largest and the most populated municipalities in the Republic of noble. In terms of population it was on the first place in the County of Sandomierz, the fifth place in Małopolska Province and the 15th-18th place in the pre-partition Poland.
During the Old Polish period the Jewish Community Co-operative played a big role as a center of Jewish autonomy. Opatów was the location of one of six districts of Jewish lands of Sandomierz and Kraków. In 1754 this district, apart from the Jewish Community Co-operative, consisted of 13 other communities: baranowska, dzikowska, iwaniska, klimontowska, kolbuszowska, mielecka, ostrowiecka, ożarowska, rudnicka, rzuchowska, sandomierska, sokołowska i tarłowska. That is why Jewish Community Co-operative had right to depute his representative to the regional assembly. In 1753 however, the regional assembly took place in Opatów.
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