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Historical records indicate that Przemyśl was home to a Jewish community from as early as 1030, the earliest recorded Jewish prescense in Poland. The next record of Jews living in Przemyśl is in 1367. From the period 1402-1452 there are 305 individual records concerning Jews in the documents of the court of assessors.
By 1419, a Jewish street had been established in the town, most likely in an area specifically designated for the Jewish population. The first mention of a synagogue in Przemyśl appeared nearly one hundred years later in 1518. In 1521 there were five Jewish houses in the town, and the first record of a mikvah comes from 1538. By 1542, there were 18 Jewish families in Przemyśl, and a record indicated the prescence of a wooden synagogue in the town in 1550. King Zygmunt II August granted the local Jewish community seperate rights in 1559, allowing them to carry out business and other activities in the town. The first recorded conflict involving Jews in Przemyśl occured on March 28, 1561 when non-Jews from the town set fire to the synagogue and plundered Jewish apartments.
In 1563, 169 Jewish families lived in Przemyśl, while in 1578 their numbers had risen to about 206. In 1568, the community established a Jewish cemetary outside the town walls. Also during this period, King Stefan Batory issued regulations that standardized the relationship between the Przemyśl Kehilla and national authorities. The former location of the wooden synagogue for nearly 20 years became home to a brick synagogue built in the four-year period from 1590-1594 with the permission of Bishop Wawrzyniec Gostyński. In 1595, the Przemyśl municipality concluded a contract with the elders of the kehilla concerning the co-financing of the fortifications of the town by the Jews. In 1618, Przemyśl's Jews accused Wojciech Wojna and Łukasz Trzebnicki of an armed raid on Żydowska street and of occupying a house where the elders conducted their debates at that time. At that time, according to the pre-sejm instructions of Wisznia, there were more Jews in the town than Christians. In 1629 they owned 64 tenements and houses in the town and managed a charitable society. By some estimates, the Jewish population in the town during the 1650s was approximately 900.
In the 17th century, the Przemyśl Jewish community led the Red Russian Jewish Zemstvo organization. In 1638, King Władysław IV granted a privelage to the Przemyśl kehilia which obliged the community to “… recognize the town as the oldest; bury the dead there; perform rituals in the Przemyśl synagogue; pay taxes to the town; take apples (jabłka rajskie) from the town; ensure that each tenant pays the doctors’ or rabbis’ salaries set at 3 zlotys; make all appeals concerning the trials to this very rabbi…”.
Samuel Szmelke was the leader of the Przemyśl kehilla and recor of the community's yeshiva at the beginning of the 17th century uneil his death in 1628. His duties were then assumed by Moszko Jakubowicz Stryjski, a leaseholder of the Stryj eldership and of the salt mines near Stary Sambor and the Przemyśl duties. The kehilla's authority extended to Jews living in the districts of Dynowski, Jarosławski, Kańczucki and Pruchnicki among others. Jews in all of these areas were required to pay taxes to the kehilla and submit to the judicial authority of the local rabbi.
In 1630, Moszko Szmuklerz, a Jew from Przemyśl was accused of host desecration. After enduring trials and torutre, he was sentenced to die by being burnt at the stake. In 1646, alderman Birczy Sieńko accused Jelonek, one of Przemyśl's Jews, of the ritual murder of his daughter. When the trial failed to prove him guilty, the alderman was sentenced to death as a slanderer. Around 1692, a jew named Jehuda was accused of sacrilege and hanged after undergoing torture. There were a total of nine conflicts between the 1550's and 1750's including many roberries of Jews. The largest of these robberies occured in 1746 when students of the Jesuit College raided the Jewish district and robbed many local houses, including the home of Rabbi Moszko Szmujłowicz. They also ransacked the synagogue, destroying 22 parchment Torah scrolls. In return the Society of Jesus compensated the Jewish community with 15,000 Polish Guilder. A number of annexes to the synagogue were build in the following years to house a yeshiva, a room for studying the Torah, two prayer rooms, and a Klojz.
When the town was besieged during the Swedish invasion, Jews took part in the defence of Przemyśl. They did the same during the Tartar invasion in 1672.
In the second half of the 17th century, Jews were allowed to establish their own guilds. There is mention of a furriers’ guild in 1654 and a tailors’ guild in 1689.
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