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Translator name :Agnieszka Floriańczyk

In the early 16th century doctor Jakub from Sochaczew settled in Płock. The Płock kehilla was incorporated into the Regional Council of Wielkopolska in the 16th century. In 1519, an Abraham from Płock joined the elders of the Council, and more precisely the assessors, and represented interests of the Płock kehilla. The Polish-Swedish War of 1655-60 left the whole Jewish district ruined and when it was over, the Jews were granted a privilege allowing them to rebuild it. The King permitted to “reconstruct the School, Cemetery and all the burnt houses”. What is more, they were allowed to buy food, deal with trade, slaughter and sell cattle, as well as rebuild devastated butcher’s shops and stalls. The privilege given by king Michał Korybut Wiśniowiecki in 1671 additionally facilitated management of the empty municipal parcels in the Jewish district. On 20 March 1676, king Jan III Sobieski confirmed the privileges already given to the Jews from Płock. In the 18th century, until the partition of Poland, the situation of Jews did not change much and they still inhabited their own district. The hitherto privileges were confirmed by king August II (9 January 1723), August III (13 December 1760), and Stanisław August Poniatowski (30 November 1770). Trade and craft still remained the basic source of income for the community members. Apart of that, they rented a distillery, inns in Płock and Winiary village and mills in Płock and Chełpowo village.

In 1789, the Jewish tailors established their own guild and in 1792 so did the furriers. 113 Jewish craftsmen, mostly tailors, worked there in 1802[3.1]. The end of the 18th and the 19th centuries marked a new phase in social, cultural and economic life of the Jews from Płock. Many of them highly contributed to the industrial development of the town.

In 1870, Mojżesz Sarna built an agricultural machines factory which was later managed by his son, Izydor Sarna, who in 1884 constructed the first iron foundry in Płock. Marian Margules established another factory of agricultural tools and machines in 1884 and after his death the enterprise was run by his sons: Czesław, Feliks and Izaak. The infrastructure of the Jewish community developed rapidly in the 19th century. In 1886, a new impressive building topped with a dome was erected on the site of the old huge synagogue and next to the bet ha-midrash at Synagogalna Street which was created in the 17th century. The new construction was situated between Synagogalna and Tylna Streets, near Bielska Street. In 1810, Mordechaj Dancygier funded the Small Synagogue which was located at Szeroka Street (today – Kwiatka Street). In 1845, a new Jewish cemetery was established. In 1872, on 7 Misjonarska Street, the Izaak Fogel Hospital was put to use. Its initiator was rabbi Arziel Arje Rakowski. It consisted of surgical, maternity, pulmonary, internal and neurological wards and its activity was financed by the Jewish community. For many years, the president of the hospital board was R. Płonskier.

The events that occurred during World War I, especially after seizing Płock by the Germans in 1915, were a mobilizing incentive for the Jewish population of the town who set up the Citizens’ Committee. Members who represented the Jewish community were Izydor Sarna and Mosze Altenberg. The already initiated changes were continued throughout the period after Poland regained independence (1918-1939), yet, they were preceded by an disastrous incident which significantly impacted upon the Polish-Jewish relationships. In 1920, during the Polish-Bolshevik War, the local tzadik Chaim Szapiro was falsely accused of co-operation with the Bolsheviks. The court-martial sentenced him to death by shooting[3.2].

All major Jewish political parties had their branches in Płock during the interwar period: Mizrachi (existed from 1917 and was headed by Icchak Aszkenazy), Poale Zion Left (member Becalel Okolica), Poale Zion Right (members: Fiszel Fliderblum, Szlomo Greenszpan, David Gold), Cejrej Cijon, Agudas Isroel (members: Lajb Kilbert, Lajb Geliebter), Bund (Herman Kruk, Izrael Gerszon Bursztyn, Pinchas Szwarc), General Zionist Organization and Zionist Revisionists (New Zionist Organization). Various cultural, educational, sports or professional organizations were connected with them.

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[3.1] M. Żuławnik, Żydzi płoccy w XVI i XVII wieku, „Notatki Płockie” (2002), no. 2/191, pp. 3-6; M. Horn, „Chronologia i zasięg terytorialny żydowskich cechów rzemieślniczych w dawnej Polsce (1613-1795)”, [in:] Żydzi w dawnej Rzeczypospolitej, Wrocław-Warszawa-Kraków (1991), pp. 211-212.

[3.2] W. Koński, „Sprawa żydowska” podczas obrony Płocka 1920 r., Płocki Rocznik Historyczno-Archiwalny, (1995) v. 1, pp. 79-96.

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