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The history of the Jews in the town of Wąchock is extremely complicated. This stems from the fact that the Jews of Wąchock belonged to various kehillot, as they were unable to establish their own kehilla and then to maintain it. The first Jews settled in the town in the 1780s. In 1787, there were two Jews living in Wąchock.

At the time of the Partitions, Wąchock was under Austrian rule. As the town was Cistercian property, there were quotas introduced and confiscations carried out. The victims of the new regulations were Marianna and Adam Michalski, a Jewish married couple, whose plant and a metallurgical furnace which they leased in Marcinkowo, with the consent of Abbot Józef Szaniawski, a canon of Krakow and the bishop of Chełmno, were confiscated[1.1].

The Jews living in Wąchock first belonged to the kehilla of Szydłowiec, and then – the kehilla of Iłża. It was only in 1860 that an attempt was made to establish the kehilla of Wąchock. There were plans to legalize the already existing house of prayer. It was a small wooden building. Unfortunately, the plans came to nothing, as the Jews did not manage to obtain permits. Moreover, at the initiative of the mayor of Wąchock, the house of prayer was closed down. The Jews were only allowed to open it on some Jewish festivals.

In 1908, another attempt to establish the kehilla was made. The Jewish community had its own rabbi, and the house of prayer was functioning again. They also had their own cemetery since 1911. It was only on August 12, 1911 that the kehilla was formally established in Wąchock. It was separated from the synagogue district of Iłża. Being probably quite poor, the Jews of Wąchock found it hard to support their own kehilla.

Therefore, in the years 1926-1929, the Jews applied to the administrative authorities for their community to be incorporated into the Wierzbnik (Starachowice) kehilla[1.2]. Apparently, the Jews of Wąchock did not want to be part of the poor kehilla of Iłża, which faced financial difficulties at that time. The kehilla of Wierzbnik, in turn, was considered to be the richest in the whole area.

That must have been the reason why the Jews of Wąchock undertook to get separated from the Iłża kehilla while at the same time attempting to join the Wierzbnik synagogue district. Being poor, they did not intend to maintain their own kehilla in Wachock. A breakthrough year in this respect was 1929, when they were included in the budget of Iłża for the last time, and 1930, when they were first entered in the list of fees in the Wierzbnik Jewish community.

Two other settlements that separated from the Iłża kehilla along with Wąchock, were the village of Wielka Wieś and the town of Skarżysko-Kamienna[1.3].

In the interwar period, the Jews living in Wąchock owned a square where a brick synagogue was located, a brick mikvah, a cemetery and a ritual slaughter house, the income of which was 4600 zlotys in 1925, a 5500 – in 1928[1.4]. In 1930, Józef Rzeźnik, a member of the community, was appointed to administer the ritual slaughter in Wąchock.

 

Table 1. Income from the slaughter of animals in Wąchock in 1927:
Animals Number of animals slaughtered Price per head (zlotys) Total
Cows 148 6 888
Calves, sheep, goats 320 2,50 800
Geese 500 0,60 300
Hens and ducks 436 0,30 130
Chickens 56 0,15 8,40
Total: 2127.20 zlotys

Source: APK [National Archives of Kielce], UWK I [Urząd Wojewódzki Kielecki I], classification number 1624, card 139.

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[1.1] K. Winiarczyk, Kalendarium Wąchockie, „Informator Samorządowy Miasta i gminy Wąchock”, 1996, no. 20, p. 3.

[1.2] Penkalla A., Żydowskie ślady w województwie kieleckim i radomskim, Radom 1992, p. 97.

[1.3] Archiwum Państwowe w Kielcach [National Archives of Kielce] (henceforth: APK), Urząd Wojewódzki Kielecki I [Kielce Voivodeship Office I] (henceforth: UWK I), classification number 1671, cards 110-114; classification number 1520.

[1.4] APK, UWK I, classification number 1685, card 4, classification number 1709, card 17, classification number 1624, cards 112, 117.

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