The first Jews settled in Radom probably in 1568[1.1].
In 1724 King August II, at the townsmen’s request, granted the privilege de non tolerandis Judaeis; as a result Jews were forbidden to reside in the town and run business[1.2]. The ban was suspended during the Sejm session. In addition, the Jewish merchants were allowed to enter the town at that time. However, despite the ban, a few Jews stayed illegally in the town anyway and majority of them was forced to leave Radom by virtue of further decrees issued in 1743 and 1746[1.2].
According to the preserved sources it is known that in 1765 approximately 65–67 people, who professed Judaism, lived in the Radom suburbs and in 1787 – over 90. In 1798, at the request of the county’s head, Aleksander Potkański, the Jews were allowed to return to the town and to settle in the assigned quarter on a territory which was under the jurisdiction of Starocin. Despite the ban, the Jews ran businesses, which led to conflicts and arguments with Catholics in Radom. After 1814 the Jews were allowed to settle outside the so-called Jewish quarter, however only the wealthiest representatives of the Jewish community in Radom could live in the centre, i.e. mainly bankers, rich merchants, lawyers and doctors. Despite all these restrictions, in 1902 the Jews owned 41% of all real estate in the town.
In 1831 the Jewish choleric cemetery was established, which functioned from 1837 on as a communal burial cemetery. In 1820s and 1830s the first synagogue was erected, which was burnt down and demolished in 1945. In the second half of the 19th century, not only the orthodox community but also the Chasidim gained a significant position. Shtiebels operated in the town; they gathered the followers of tzadiks from Góra Kalwaria, Aleksandrów and Kozienice. The Haskalah movement also gained many followers in Radom.
In the 19th century the Jewish community of Radom experienced the time of intensified economic development. In 1838, 20 Jewish merchants traded in alcohol and perfume, there were also 14 food producers and 15 shopkeepers. The Jewish entrepreneurs made a pioneer contribution to the growth of industry in Radom. When in 1841 all bans for the Jewish economic activity were abolished, a building materials factory, run by the Beckerman family, was opened, as well as other numerous private enterprises producing, among others, candles, soap and fertilizers.
During the interwar period, the Jews who constituted about 30-32% of all citizens of the town, formed one of the biggest kahals in the central part of Poland. Next to the synagogue, which was situated at the corner of Podwalcza and Bożnicza Streets, there were also 12 other private prayer houses, run, among others, by Abram Mentlik, Zelik Goldfarb, Nusyn Rozencwajg, Szlomo Frydman, Szmul Frydman, Mordka Opatowski, Szlomo Margulis, Mojżesz Szmendra, Luber-Majlech Rokcach, Icek Leslau, Josek Tejchman and Józef Rabinowicz. In a building on 6 Obozisko Street, there were Jewish Orphans Home, Shelter for the Elderly and a small synagogue where the Jewish soldiers from the 72 Infantry Regiment could pray[1.4].
The Jewish society of Radom was assimilated only to some extent and the process of acculturation of some individuals and groups was of a rather superficial and marginal character. At the same time, the Jewish citizens of Radom contributed to development of the town. They were very active in the local government and the economic growth, as well as they took part in political, social and cultural activities and were very active in the banking area. Furthermore, they were clerical intellectuals and representatives of freelancers[1.5].
[1.1] A. Penkalla, Radom [in:] Żydzi w Polsce. Dzieje i kultura. Leksykon, ed. J. Tomaszewski, A. Żbikowski, Warszawa 2001, p. 391.
[1.2] Radom, [in:] The Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust, ed. S. Spector, G. Wigoder, vol. II, New York 2001, p. 1045.
[1.3] Radom, [in:] The Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust, ed. S. Spector, G. Wigoder, vol. II, New York 2001, p. 1045.
[1.4] Piątkowski S., Dni życia, dni śmierci. Ludność żydowska w Radomiu w latach 1918–1950, Warszawa 2006, p. 54.
[1.5] Piątkowski S., Dni życia, dni śmierci. Ludność żydowska w Radomiu w latach 1918–1950, Warszawa 2006, p. 9, 75.
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