It is not known when the first Jews arrived in Siedliszcze, however there were. 25 Jews living there in 1765. Rabbis used to come from Łęczna until the first independent kehilla was created.

The town had its own independent kehilla from 1867. In 1888 Siedliszcze had 889 inhabitants, 650 (73%) of whom were of Jewish origin[1.1]. The Jews were mostly tradesmen and craftsmen.

Siedliszcze had 2,752 inhabitants in 1914. This number dropped significantly because of World War I. In 1917 Siedliszcze had a population of 945, including 782 Jews who made up 82% of the total population of the town.

Jews from Siedliszcze were subject to the authority of the kehilla in Rejowiec after World War I. This was because buildings (synagogues, mikvas, slaughterhouses) owned by the kehilla had been damaged. The kehilla in Siedliszcze ceased to be independent as it lacked the financial resources to maintain its institutions[1.2]. In 1921 Siedliszcze had 832 inhabitants and 80% (666) of the total population were Jews[1.3].

Jews from Siedliszcze made efforts to create a new kehilla at the beginning of the 1920s. A new board of the kehilla in Siedliszcze was elected on the16th of December 1922. The board included: Symcha Bok (chairman), Symcha Białowicz (deputy), Josek Karp (treasurer), Moszek Kierszenbaum (deputy treasurer), Feliks Łańcucki (secretary). Members were: Szloma Zylberman, Josek Gierszman, Jankiel Flomenbaum, Srul Mec. The kehilla’s offices were situated in Bencjan Katz’s house. Motel Puterman, Pinkwas Gierc and Symcha Bok were chosen by the board to persuade the administrative authorities to establish a kehilla in Siedliszcze. Whilst the Polish President Stanisław Wojciechowski was on a visit to Chełm, Jews from Siedliszcze handed him a petition asking for help to rebuild the synagogue which had been destroyed[1.4].

The town authorities gave their consent for a building to be erected for J. Tomille in 1925. This decision met with much criticism from the Jewish community. As a consequence, the mayor of Chełm asked the authorities of Siedliszcze for protection for the people working on the construction of the building.

Lejba Metc, a 72-year old Jew, was killed when the police from Siedliszcze intervened. This event had wide repercussions in the region. Hartglas, a Jewish member of parliament, on M. Puterman’s request, put the case before the Home Secretary. Many articles about the events in Siedliszcze appeared in different newspapers at that time. An article entitled “A Jewish Revolution in Siedliszcze” appeared in “Zwierciadło” (The Mirror). Another newspaper, “Głos Lubelski” (“Voice of Lublin”), published an article entitled “Jews Afraid of Christian Competition Assault the Police”.

The kehilla in Siedliszcze became independent again in 1927. Jews rebuilt the synagogue and mikvah which had been destroyed, for the most part, by themselves. The kehilla in Siedliszcze was an amalgamation of the following settlements: Cyców (which previously belonged to the Jewish Community in Łęczna), Liszno, Kanie and Wólka Kańska. The kehilla acquired a legal personality in accordance with the law in 1929.

Chaim Ruzana became rabbi at that time. Stul Hersz Różaner succeeded him from 1931 to 1943. Rabin Różaner received a salary of 1,800 zloty[1.5]. Rabbis sometimes were replaced at weddings by Moszko Szyja Horn, Iwek Grinwald and Zajnwel Rozenbaum[1.6].

One of the Jewish members of the Economic Commission of Siedliszcze in 1928 was Abram Fingelgul and deputy members of the Commission were, Symcha Białowicz and Moszek Grynszpan . Symcha Bok was a member of the Commission in 1932.

The Magistrates court in Siedliszcze was closed down in 1931. Consequently, the town authorities created a commission whose task was to re-establish the court in Siedliszcze. The commission members were Poles and several Jews including Moszek Puterman, Hersz Lebensztein, Szymcha Bok and Moszko Grinszpan[1.7].

The municipality of Siedliszcze had the following mills: a water mill in Brzeziny (owned by Srul Rojzen), a water mill in Janowice (owned by Abram Zajdenwerg) and a water mill in Dorohucza (owned by Abram Michalik).

Before the outbreak of World War II Jews owned: a motor-driven mill (Herszk Hochman), motor-driven oil factory (Elister Szmul) and oil factory (Mordka Holszenbaum)[1.8] and also a bakery owned by Nuta[1.9]. Siedliszcze had 1,591 inhabitants in 1937.

During World War II the Germans created a Jewish ghetto in Siedliszcze on the 1st of June 1940. The Nazis rounded up approximately 2,000 Jews into the ghetto not only from Siedliszcze but also from Krakow and Czechoslovakia. The first deportation from the ghetto took place on the 18th of May 1942 when 630 Jews from Siedliszcze were sent to the concentration camp in Sobibór. The ghetto was finally closed down in October 1942 and, the Jewish community in Siedliszcze ceased to exist[1.10].

Additional information:

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[1.1] Mieszkańcy w XIX w., Siedliszcze kehilla official website, http://www.siedliszcze.pl/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=47, [as of the 12th of February 2009].

[1.2] R. Kuwałek, Żydowskie gminy wyznaniowe w powiecie chełmskim w latach 1918-1939 [in:] Rocznik chełmski, v. 1, Chełm 1995, p. 218.

[1.3] I. Czmuda, Gmina Siedliszcze..., p. 192.

[1.4] R. Kuwałek, Żydowskie gminy wyznaniowe..., p. 239.

[1.5] R. Kuwałek, Żydowskie gminy wyznaniowe..., p. 237.

[1.6] I. Czmuda, Gmina Siedliszcze..., p. 198.

[1.7] I. Czmuda, Gmina Siedliszcze..., p. 212.

[1.8] I. Czmuda, Gmina Siedliszcze..., p. 227.

[1.9] S. Braniewski, Wrzesień 1939 roku w Siedliszczu, p. 10.

[1.10] Siedliszcze, Żydowski Instytut Historyczny (Jewish Historical Institute), http://www.jewishinstitute.org.pl/pl/gminy/miasto/552.html, [as of the 12th of February 2009].

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