Jews started to settle in Lelów in the 16th century. Their existence in the town was documented for the first time in 1547. In 1564, six Jewish families resided in Lelów. According to the 1598 visitation records of Bishop Jerzy Radziwiłł, Lelów was inhabited by over a dozen Jewish families.

At the turn of the 17th century, Jews played a significant role in the economic development of Lelów and nearby areas. They worked primarily in trade and crafts. In the first half of the 18th century, a Jewish community was established in Lelów. In 1718, the local Jews paid a tax of 741 zlotys and in 1733–1737 – 1,050 zlotys. In 1787, 231 Jews lived in the town.

In the second half of the 18th century, Tzaddik Dawid Biederman (1746–1814), a disciple of Elimelekh of Leżajsk, lived in the town. Biedermann’s court became a significant Hasidic centre. He was the progenitor of the local dynasty of Hasidic tzaddikim. In the 18th century, the Lelów kehilla had jurisdiction over the Jewish community of Kromołów.

In 1808, the town was inhabited by 269 Jews (29% of the overall population). Their numbers grew quickly and by 1827, there were already 339 Jews living in the town (39% of the population), whereas in 1857 – 480 Jews (53% of the population).

In the years 1823–1862, the Jewish population of Lelów was forcibly moved into a Jewish quarter.

In 1897, the Jewish community grew to 720 members, constituting 60% of the overall population of Lelów. At the beginning of the 20th century, a Jewish glassworks was established in the town, which also boasted several tanneries.

In 1918, Lelów remained within the borders of the newly established Second Republic of Poland. In 1921, the town was inhabited by 638 Jews, constituting 52% of the overall population.

After the outbreak of World War II in September 1939, the Germans demolished the local synagogue. In September 1942, all Jews from Lelów (ca. 700 people) were deported to the death camp in Treblinka.

Nowadays, the descendants of Tzaddik Biedermann live in Bnei Brak, Israel.

Bibliography

  • Galas M., Skrzypczak M., Żydzi lelowscy. Obecność i ślady, Kraków 2006.
  • Skrzypczyk M. Wieczorek A., “W drogę! Wyprawa edukacyjno–badawcza śladami Dawida Bidermana po chasydzkich drogach,” [in:] Żydzi na Górnym Śląsku i w Zagłębiu Dąbrowskim. Historia. Kultura. Zagadnienia konserwatorskie, eds. D. Rozmus, S. Witkowski, Kraków 2011, pp. 139–166.
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