Jewish striving for social emancipation coincided with the Polish national movement against the foreign rule in the second half of the nineteenth century. Polish and Jewish societies encountered a chance to establish more friendly relations.
Jewish population was by law differentiated from the major society. Religion determined social and legal framework. The Polish Kingdom restated the legislation concerning the Jews adopted in the times of Warsaw Duchy. Eleventh article had it that only Christians were granted political and civic rights. The barrier was solidified by the ban on mixed marriages (Dz. Pr. Kr. Pol., t. XVIII, p. 46). The two groups were discriminated by religion, culture, language, and custom. Instead of a homogeneous urban middle class, there were Jewish and Christian city dwellers.
Formally, Warsaw Duchy administration made little progress with the Jewish question. Equal rights were proclaimed in the 1807 Constitution and civil law, yet the September 1808 decree deprived Jews of the right to vote and run for parliamentary elections, while the next, of October 1808, suspended their political and civil rights for a decade, subject to their assimilation in the field of culture and custom, although not religion.
Still, as early as then, arguments for equal rights were being brought up, particularly by the upper class of Jewish entrepreneurs, who were then making fortunes on, for instance, providing supplies for the army. In Napoleon’s times the significance of middle class grew considerably, as it was the mainstay of the regime.
Thus, Jewish emancipation issue was coming up, all the more so, as with the newly acquired wealth successful Jewish businessmen tended to detach themselves somewhat from the Orthodox. The class of Jewish intelligentsia was emerging. Emancipation ideas, European culture (chiefly Polish, in this case, which flourished in the Warsaw Duchy and early Polish Kingdom periods) and life style were becoming more popular. Polish education system and administration promoted assimilation process.
Assuming Polish cultural identity provided for Jews an opportunity to loosen the straitjacket of the strict Orthodox religious observance. Slowly, the wall separating them from Poles began to crumble. The upper middle classes and intelligentsia in particular got closer and struck more social ties. After the fall of the 1830 November uprising Polish gentry men, whose estates were often confiscated by the Russian tsarist regime, in retaliation for their participation in the uprising, were forced to migrate to cities. Hence, the previously minor group of urban intelligentsia expanded rapidly. Their perspective was broader than that of established city dwellers, and they were more aware of the importance of persuading Jews to join the Polish independence movement. The gentry traditionally reached a better understanding with Jews, as the relations of the two social groups were untainted by economic competition. The oppression that both groups suffered at the hands of the tsarist regime also made the improvement of these relations easier. Joint efforts, anti-Russian attitudes and patriotic manifestations were growing in numbers and the fact did not escape the Russian authorities, whose policy was to set Poles and Jews at variance.
The nineteenth century Jewish assimilationists included a major figure of Daniel Neufeld, educator, editor, publicist and author, a long time inhabitant of Częstochowa. He advocated assimilation of Jews to the Polish culture without relinquishing their religious identity, with some modifications of religious ritual, such as introducing synagogal services in Polish.
Daniel Neufeld was born in 1814 in Praszka (Wieluń powiat). The town had a population of 638 (1808 census), with a medium Jewish percentage of 21,5, namely 137 Jews, whose number grew with the newcomers from Prussia.[i]Neufeld started his education traditionally, at the local cheder, and finished it with two years spent at the departmental school in Wieluń, from which he graduated in 1829.[ii] Since the school was run by the Piarists, Neufeld’s parents must have been open-minded about the coexistence with the Polish society, while the Wieluń Catholics, the Piarists in particular -tolerant towards the Jewish minority. Satisfactory school experience, both in terms of his results as a student and of friendly relations with his Polish schoolmates, encouraged Neufeld’s assimilatory persuasion.
The future editor of Jutrzenka remembered the cordial sympathy shown to him at the Piarist school by the faculty and by his Polish colleagues, to whom he “swore an everlasting friendship”. The Piarists respected the rules of Judaism and Jewish students were never forced to write on Shabbats nor any Jewish holidays. It was Father Milanowski who imprinted himself most in Neufeld’s memory as a strict teacher with a tender heart. Father Milanowski knew how to spare Neufeld’s feelings by preventing any anti-Jewish pranks that schoolboys could have played on him. His tolerance classes, as we would say today, included a simple poem Zyd i sierota, [Jew and Orphan], with a highly humane and interreligious message: “That God, our olyH Father in Heaven / Adored by the dissenter alike / Impartially does He weigh their deeds / And looks into their hearts”.
Unprejudiced teachers praised Neufeld generously. He got an excellent final report upon graduation: “With his diligence, capability, and moral conduct, and also his earnest desire to commit himself to what is good and honest, the aforesaid youth holds great promise for the future.”[iii]
Due to the poor financial standing of his family and probably also to the confusion in the wake of the 1830 uprising Neufeld could not pursue his school career beyond secondary level. Yet he continued to expand his learning by self-study.
Having completed his education Daniel Neufeld took to teaching. In 1838 he set up an elementary school in Praszka. After two years he settled in Częstochowa to run a private boarding school for Jewish boys not far from the base of Jasna Gora hill. The school’s mission and curriculum were aimed at bringing up young Jews to Polish culture without abandoning their faith.
In Częstochowa Neufeld was also active in the Jewish community, whose membership in the 1860s amounted to as much as 37,2 per cent of the entire population (3,360 to 9,022 people respectively).[iv] Neufeld reminisced about inopportune location of the Jewish cemetery in Częstochowa: “Jewish community in Częstochowa was allowed to set up a cemetery outside town, half a mile out, at a distant and inconspicuous site, off the beaten track, approachable only by bumpy, sandy paths so uncomfortable and dangerous, especially in bad weather or snow storms, that the funeral carriage many a times toppled or the horses fell of exhaustion.”[v]
In the mid-1860s Neufeld moved to Warsaw to join the editorial team of Samuel Orgelbrand’s Encyklopedia powszechna as the author of Judaic and Jewish-related entries. His employment with Orgelbrand lasted to 1868.
Neufeld was drawn to the milieu of Warsaw assimilationists, whom he recognized as kindred souls: true to their Judaism while promoting cultural and political affinity with Poles. He established and maintained close contacts with the leaders of assimilation movement, representatives of the upper class in the Jewish society, such as: Henryk Toeplitz, entrepreneur and leaseholder of treasury revenue, patron of art and culture, Mikolaj Epstein, entrepreneur, son of Herman Epstein, the banker, Maksymilian Fajans, entrepreneur and lithographer, Aleksander Lesser, painter, Markus Jastrow, the illustrious preacher of the reform synagogue at Daniłowiczowska, or Izydor Brünner.[vi] Daniel Neufeld’s circle included graduates of the Warsaw School of Rabbis, whose program and orientation contributed considerably to the emergence of the assimilated Jewish intelligentsia.
His political views brought Daniel Neufeld close to the group of milliners, in particular to Mathias Rosen, a liberal social leader, banker, merchant, and board member of Warsaw Jewish community. Rosen favored assimilation combined with restructuring of Jewish society. Neufeld joined Rosen, whose nomination as a temporary member of the State Council from July 1862 was reported in Jutrzenka[vii], in his approval of the June 1862 decree on emancipation of Jews and generally tended to lean towards Aleksander Wielopolski, hoping for further progress in the emancipation process. Neither Rosen’s, nor Neufeld’s leaning towards Wielopolski lasted. From December 1862 Mathias Rosen was abroad and formally resigned his post at the State Council on April 16, 1863, as Jutrzenka did not fail to inform its readers in the official notices columns.[viii] At the time Rosen was in touch with the Polish revolutionary committee (Rzad Narodowy), on whose behalf he sought the political support of French Jewry.[ix]
It was Warsaw assimilated intelligentsia who came up with the idea of a journal propagating Jewish assimilation, emancipation, and productivization. The mission of the journal-to-be was to advance Polish-Jewish relations. Religious tolerance with mutual respect between Catholics, Protestants and Jews was also an issue. The initiators hoped for the sense of belonging to Polishness to constitute the bond between people of various religions, with the Pole of Mosaic faith as their model figure.
The journal founders persuaded Rabbi Beer Meisels, the leader of Jewish supporters of Polish patriotic movement, an ardent upholder of Polish-Jewish cooperation, to endorse their idea. Rabbi Meisels issued a special appeal encouraging Jews to subscribe to Jutrzenka.[x] The title of the journal [Dawn] was chosen to symbolize a new era in the Jewish life in Polish lands.
Daniel Neufeld was its editor-in-chief. At the time he lived in Warsaw at Elektoralna, in Berson’s house.[xi] Jutrzenka, a weekly for Polish Israelites, as its subtitle claimed, was published from July 5, 1861 to October 23, 1863. The Russian regime put an end to the journal, because its message interfered with the tsarist policy of alienating Jews against the Poles. Daniel Neufeld, as the editor of Jutrzenka, was exiled to Chelabinsk (in Siberia) for two years.
Upon return from the exile, Neufeld did not resume his journalistic writing, and focused instead on religious literary activity, pursuing his ideological agenda of promoting the Pole of Mosaic faith as the new model figure for Polish Jews. Such was the idea of his publications in Polish: Modlitewnik dla Zydow-Polakow (A Prayer-Book for Polish Jews, 1865), Modlitwy dla dzieci zydowskich (Prayers for Jewish Children, 1865). His other works included Hagada szel Pesach, czyli wspomnienia o wyjściu Izraelitow z Egiptu (Haggadah shel Pesach, year unknown), Modly starozytnych Izraelitow (Prayers of Ancient Israelites, 1865), Gnomologia ojcow synagogi (Maxims of the Synagogue Fathers, 1865).
His earlier major accomplishment was the translation of the Five Books of Moses into Polish (Piecioksiag Mojzesza, 1863), with his own commentaries. Getting it printed proved an onerous task. Neufeld planned to get it published in volumes, one by one, and the subscription was launched on December 31, 1861. Its the first publisher, A. Marson, gave up the job on January 13, 1863, when under the pressure of turbulent times he moved his printing house from Warsaw to Suwałki.[xii] Neufeld was thus forced to assume the role of his own publisher and with the help of volunteers organized a network of subscribers to Piecioksiag. The subscription action was publicized by Jutrzenka. The sale of a volume provided funds to publish the next one. Neufeld urged the volunteers to send him the money collected from the subscribers: “Dear Persons, who had generously volunteered to distribute in the provinces the second volume of Pięćioksiąg, in Polish translation, are kindly requested to send the funds collected to the Jutrzenka office, as they are needed to pay for the publication of the third volume.”[xiii] The volumes were also on sale at the Jutrzenka office.[xiv] Despite all his efforts, Neufeld did not manage to complete the edition.
In his late years Daniel Neufeld settled in Piotrków, where he held the honorary post of the director of the Jewish hospital. He died in Warsaw on October 15, 1874.
Two of Daniel Neufeld’s nieces carried on with journalistic and editorial work. Melania Laganowska and Bronislawa Neufeldówna were daughters of Karol Neufeld, a merchant, and Cecylia Neumark. Bronislawa Neufeld (1857-1931) in particular contributed most illustriously to the Polish culture as a journalist of many periodicals and multilingual translator of numerous works of European literature into Polish.
Assimilationist thought with its implications for social and religious practice was precisely reflected in Jutrzenka contents. There Neufeld stated his views on the need of reforms in the Jewish social, educational, and institutional life. Structural transformation of Jewish society was to bring it closer to the sociological structure of Polish society, making the assimilation process easier for Jews. Thus Neufeld endorsed the productivization of Jewish population, including moving Jews to farming and agriculture. His assimilationist motions went as far as changing Jewish names to make them sound more Polish.
The transformation of Jewish schooling was a major issue in Neufeld’s agenda. He wanted it to forsake its strictly religious character, adopt Polish as the language of instruction, introduce secular subjects, including language classes in German and Hebrew. Cheders were the object of his severe criticism. Religious education was acceptable as a transitory solution provided it was taught in Polish with some secular elements. Neufeld spoke of two Częstochowa schools, N.A.Rozen’s in particular, as model institutions of this kind.[xv] Neufeld submitted his own project of education reform to the State Committee of Religions and Public Education.
His Jutrzenka editorials, urging the need to make Jewish communities (kahals) more democratic and Polonized, appeared also in print as pamphlets: Wielki Sanhedryn paryski z roku 1806 przez Napoleona I zwołany; przyczynek historyczny do rozjaśnienia kwestii żydowskiej (1861), Urządzenie konsystorza żydowskiego w Polsce (1862).
As I mentioned above, the first issue of Jutrzenka had a date of July 5, 1861. This was a “Jewish weekend” weekly, as it came out on Fridays. The editorial staff, headed by Daniel Neufeld, had its offices at Nowolipie 2 in Warsaw, and from July 1862 at Nowolipki 2: “which is the proper way to address letters and articles”.
Altogether the journal had 121 issues. It was printed in Polish and Hebrew type, the latter was used in case of Judaic names, as of Jewish holidays, or holy books. Jutrzenka was printed at the printing house of Gazeta Polska, except for the thirteen early 1862 issues, which were produced at Aleksander Gans’ printing house.[xvi]
Its main distributor was the bookstore of Henryk Natanson on Krakowskie Przedmieście, and from June 1863, Michal Glücksberg’s bookstore, on the same street. Jutrzenka had to pass official censorship, as any other paper in the Polish Kingdom. The censor’s assent, Antoni Funkenstein’s, of Jewish origin, in this case, was printed on the last page of each issue.
The price of a single issue of Jutrzenka, consisting of eight 27x20 cm pages, was 10 kopeks. The cost of subscription varied, depending on the address of a subscriber. In Warsaw a yearly subscription was 20 zlotys or 3 rubles, out of Warsaw but within the Polish Kingdom -24 zlotys or 3 rubles and 60 kopeks, whereas in Russia proper the price rose considerably to 5 rubles and 60 kopeks or 37 zlotys and 10 groshes.
The journal expanded and from January 1863 four extra pages were added every two weeks, affecting also the price. Quarterly subscription in Warsaw amounted to 6 zlotys and 20 groshes, and outside the city to 7 zlotys. The readers were notified of the rise in no. 49 issue of December 5, 1862.
A line in classifieds (“minute type”) cost 3 kopeks. Many Jewish tutors advertised their services, underscoring their Jewishness: “Young person of Mosaic faith, a prideful graduate of 6 Grade High School, is willing to give private lessons in various scientific subjects and languages, as well as prepare for entrance exams to High Schools.”[xvii]
There were also numerous ads put by Jews employed in trade, a popular Jewish occupation: “Trade apprentice of Mosaic faith, age 16, of good demeanor, with rudimentary knowledge of Polish, German, French and arithmetic, as well as a prized testimonial of a major trade house, in which he was employed for a period of time as a salesclerk until the demise of the head terminated the house operation, is willing to find a position at a store or trade in Warsaw or in the country.”[xviii]
Some classifieds published in Jutrzenkacame from employers, who -at the time of Polish-Jewish accord -did not specify religious orientation of a would-be employee: “Young man of good demeanor and appropriate skills can immediately get a position at the Cigars Store by Jakob Zweigbaum’s Lottery and Bills Agency No. 470, Senatorska St..”, or: “Young man with appropriate qualifications is needed as an trainee to the Lottery and Bills Agency of Alexander Giwartowski, on Miodowa street.”[xix]
Even the ads indicated the assimilationist character of the journal. As early as in the second issue (of July 12, 1861) of Jutrzenka, a significant title was advertised: Modlitewnik dla Polek wyznania mojżeszowego, (Prayer Book for Polish Women of Mosaic Faith), published by Henryk Natanson’s bookstore, cooperating closely with Jutrzenka. Another book announcement concerned Neufeld’s pamphlet Wielki Sanhedryn Paryski w roku 1806 przez Napoleona I zwołany (The Great Paris Sanhedrin of 1806 Summoned by Napoleon I) and was a vivid manifestation of the paper’s call to reform the social and legal status of Polish Jewry. Another major point of Jutrzenka policy, namely the productivization of Jewish population, found some response, as in a classified of a Jew, who was knowledgeable of agrarian work and was looking for a job at some estate of Polish gentry interested in advancing Jewish agricultural settlement.[xx]
Despite its trimness, Jutrzenkaabounded in information and commentaries. It had a detailed and multipart editorial layout, including: “Official Notices” (usually with recent laws and regulations concerning Jews, as, e.g., tsar’s abolition of the kosher tax as of January, 1, 1863); “Editorials”, mostly by Neufeld; “Studies” (scholarly, social, theological); “Rabbinical Excerpts”; “Organizations”, academic, religious, charities; “Law Studies and Legislation”; “History”; “Crafts”; “Farming”; “Industry and Trade”; “Bibliography”; “Profiles”; “Reports”; “Eulogies”; “Poetry and Novels”; “Polemics”; “Home Digest”; “Various Reflections”; “Miscellaneous”; “Charities and Fundraising”; “Announcements” (Advertisements).
The paper usually opened with a calendar reminder of forthcoming Jewish holidays or festivals, and of relating ritual rules. Major religious ceremonies held at the reformed, akin to the paper’s policy, synagogues on Nalewki and Danilowiczowska streets were announced.
Religious services with the participation of Izaak Kramsztyk and Markus Jastrow, Polish speaking, reform-oriented preachers, were highlighted, especially so as the latter was a friend of Neufeld. From the September 13, 1861 issue of Jutrzenka, we could learn that: “Tomorrow is Yom Kippur. [...] The Day of Atonement. The fast is compulsory from tonight to 5.55 pm. tomorrow. At the synagogue by Nalewki street, Mr. Kramsztyk will preach tonight at 6.30 pm. Tomorrow at the synagogue by Danilowiczowska street, Dr. Jastrow, the preacher, will deliver a sermon in Polish at 11.am. and will conduct the such prayers at 4.30 pm.”. Analogically, the twelfth issue of October 18, 1861, carried a notice concerning the Sukkoth festivities: “Tomorrow at the synagogue by Danilowiczowska, Dr. Jastrow will preach in Polish at 10.am. Mr. Kramsztyk will hold a sermon at the same hour at the synagogue by Nalewki.”
The reformed synagogues got even some of their organizational matters publicized in Jutrzenka, concerning, for instance, distribution of entrance passes: “The Board of the Synagogue by Danilowiczowska is honored to inform that Permanent Members of the Congregation will receive entrance passes for the Rosh ha-Shana (New Year) services on September 5 and 6. Those without a permanent seat at the synagogue should report to the Board Office to obtain the passes, otherwise the entrance will be denied to them.”[xxi]
Jutrzenkadid not miss any opportunity to applaud the Polish speaking Jewish clergy or assimilationists in general. In this way the editors indirectly endorsed their patriotic solidarity with Polish independence movement.
A minor, but noteworthy indication of the paper’s policy was an announcement advertising the sale of portraits of Beer Meisels, Markus Jastrow, and Berek Joselewicz at the bookstore of Adam Karlsbach by Przejazd street. The bookseller was aware of the assimilationist readership of Jutrzenka and the editors gladly accepted ads, which contributed to the promotion of the assimilation ideas.
The unity with the assimilation and Polish independence movements made Jutrzenka reflect the dramatic events of the time. On October 18, 1861, the boards of synagogues by Nalewki and Danilowiczowska streets declared their houses of prayer closed to manifest their solidarity with Polish Catholics, oppressed and assaulted by Russian police and army units, who, on the run after the demonstrators, violated even the sanctity of churches. The Church hierarchy closed all the churches in protest and the reformed synagogues joined the protest. Jastrow, Kramsztyk, and Meisels were arrested in reprisal. Markus Jastrow was deported to Prussia, Beer Meisels to Krakow, and Izaak Kramsztyk was imprisoned at the Bobruisk fortress.
Year later, Jutrzenka featured the tsarist administration assent to the rabbis’ return to Warsaw in the wake of temporary political liberalization of August 1862. On November 7, 1862 (no. 45) the editors announced that Markus Jastrow was leaving Mannheim and on his way to Warsaw. The delay was due to the fact that while in Germany the preacher obtained a post at the synagogue in Mannheim. The board of the Danilowiczowska synagogue was negotiating his return to Warsaw in September-October 1862.[xxii]
The 48th issue of Jutrzenka (November 28) welcomed Jastrow resuming his preacher’s duties in Warsaw to the effect that Polish was being heard again in the Jewish temple: “After a long silence, the sound of Polish speech pleased our ears also at the Danilowiczowska synagogue. On Saturday 22nd of this month, Dr. Jastrow delivered his sermon in Polish to the words “For my brethren and my companions’ sakes, I will now say, Peace be within thee [Ps 122:8-9].” The issue no.50 of December 12, 1862, informed that Izaak Kramsztyk was working on the publication of his collected sermons from the years 1852–1862.
The editors of Jutrzenka mentioned the presence of Jastrow and Kramsztyk among Jewish clergy invited to the inauguration of the Warsaw Szkola Glowna (a university) on November 25, 1862.[xxiii] The opening lecture in chemistry was held by the distinguished scholar, Jakub Natanson, an assimilation leader. The number of Jewish students was considerable, the reporters claimed.
In his editorial career Daniel Neufeld kept recalling his native region of Wieluń and Częstochowa. Issue no. 23, of December 6, 1861, brought Fabian Kohn’s article on Jewish community in Wieluń. It was part of the survey series on Jewish communities in Poland, highlighting their emancipation and assimilation practices.
The author reminded the ban on Jewish settlement that Wieluń was granted in the First Polish Commonwealth, when the only Jewish inhabitant was Chaim Majster Bagiński, while few Jewish families lived at the Bugaj estate near the town. The Prussian administration lifted the ban and the first ten Jewish families arrived in town. First, the Jews held their prayers at a room in Tratel Dawidowicz’s house by the market square. A more spacious prayer house was set up in 1799 in a building purchased by Samuel Kempner and three other members of the Jewish community from Father Paszkowski, rector of the Piarist Order in Wieluń.
In 1837 at the initiative of the synagogal board members, Joachim Kempiński, M. Tratel, Berek Dawidowicz, and, according to Neufeld, who knew the Wieluń Jewish community personally, Lejba Cohn, the works to extend the prayer house into a synagogue were launched. Beside the above mentioned leaders, the founding committee included D. Sieradzki, H. Majerowicz, B. Tratel, Salomon Kempner. The ceremony of laying the foundation stone was graced by the presence of the Wieluń Poviat president Fryderyk Golenski, who addressed those in attendance. The gathering included, as the author underscored, many non-Christian inhabitants of Wieluń. Due to difficulties with funding it took 12 years to complete the construction of the synagogue.
The most generous contributors were Majlech Moskowicz, Joachim Kempinski (the sponsor of the Holy Arc), Eleonora Kempner, Mrs. Salomon Kempner, who equipped the women’s section with an iron grating with 4 gold plated vases, Jozef Dawidowicz, who funded the dais with iron grating. Wieluń Jewish women collectively funded three chandeliers.
Before 1848 Wieluń Jews buried their deceased at a cemetery in Działoszyn. The establishment of a Jewish cemetery in Wieluń was accelerated by a cholera epidemic. The efforts of Joachim Kempner and his brother Salomon, and of Lejba Cohn resulted in the purchase of a suitable plot. The wall enclosure was set up at the cost of 4,000 zlotys by Salomon Kempner, in fulfillment of the last will of his late wife, Eleonora, the major benefactor of the local community. Fabian Kohn, the author of the article on Wieluń Jews, pointed out that the grandest tombstone of marble with gilt lettering in Hebrew and Polish was that of Eleonora and Salomon Kempner.
As regards emancipation and assimilation, Fabian Kohn reported with pride that “progressive” Wieluń Jews sent their children to public schools, to bring up “valuable members of the society.” Yet, regrettably, their number did not exceed 25 per cent of the Jewish community members. The rest “are antagonistic to any progress and rear their children without any knowledge of neither the domestic language nor anything the world requires now.” To cheer up his readers the Jutrzenka correspondent underscored the positive aspect of the “productivity” of Wieluń non-progressive Jews, who were occupied in useful crafts.
Fabian Kohn disapproved of the fact that three recently elected members of the synagogal board in Wieluń did not speak Polish. Eager to increase assimilationists’ influence, Kohn implied, by analogy to the municipal election law, that the candidates to synagogal boards should also be required to have good command of Polish.
Daniel Neufeld shared this assimilationist view, as he openly stated in a letter to a Częstochowa reader, that the command of Polish should be the essential prerequisite for each member of a Jewish community, more important than his devoutness or observance of ritual laws.[xxiv] Neufeld would not, as he said, mind the presence of a Hasid rabbi, provided the latter spoke Polish well enough, while he would object to the rule of a Judaic scholar without Polish language skills.
Fabian Cohn continued to report on the satisfaction of the Wieluń Jews, the most impoverished in particular, with the abolition of the kosher tax, accountable for the high price of meat. The Wieluń correspondent of Jutrzenka expected the meat price to go down, and the health of the low social classes to improve with the increased amount of meat consumed. Cohn hoped for the grotesque quarrels between ritual slaughterers and poultry eaters to end.
The slaughterers, who were also kosher tax collectors, made charges for their services. The charge for slaughtering a young chicken was five groshes, whereas for an older one they demanded ten groshes. The customers resented the fact, that bigger chicken were often deemed elderly, regardless of the fact, that some new breeds very fast overgrew the traditional ones. As Cohn wittily remarked, with the abolition of kosher tax: “[...] we would no longer have to trouble ourselves with obtaining birth certificates for our chicken.”[xxv] Cohn added that in contrast to the Warsaw community, the Wieluń Jewish board did not intend to keep up the charges for trading kosher meat: “Our community, consisting of so varied elements, could be a model example in this respect for the Warsaw community, or rather its synagogal board, who are so reluctant to bid farewell to this fading, sordid practice of ancient times.”[xxvi]
An explanation can be needed here concerning the kosher tax. On one hand, most of it was collected by the State treasury and in legal and social sense was a discriminatory measure against Jews,[xxvii] yet Jewish communities were allowed to keep and spend the other part. Thus, the community funds were diminished with the abolition of the kosher tax and the synagogal boards tried to fill the gap by maintaining high kosher trade charges, despite the protests of outraged Jewish customers. Jutrzenka took the side of the common people.
The feud resulted in the secession of a group of Jews from the Łódź Jewish community. The secessionists elected their own slaughterer, and when the chief ŁódźRabbi refused to authorize him to the post, he got the permit from the then Częstochowa Rabbi, Izaak Rabinowicz. A Łódźcorrespondent of Jutrzenka hailed the Częstochowa rabbi stand: “Thus they have set up a separate slaughterer. Denied the license from the local Rabbi he was sent to the honorable Rabbi of Częstochowa, renowned for his tolerance and righteousness, who having examined his skills, gave him the required license.”[xxviii]
An interesting outline of the history of Częstochowa Jewish community was printed in the issues no. 6 and 8 (of August 9 and 23, 1861). It abounded in historical details, valued by the editors of Jutrzenka, but also in depictions of contemporary life illustrating the assimilation process, development of non-cheder schooling, charity and education, as well as the cooperation with Polish Christians.
Jutrzenkarecalled the beginnings of the Częstochowa Jews organizational emancipation from the Janow community. The list of major founders of Częstochowa community included Nachman Berman, Wolf and Ch. Mojżesz Landau, Lewko and Mark Kohn, Abraham Majzel, Abraham Ginsberg. They were acclaimed also for employing private tutors with Polish and German language skills, who taught their children secular subjects. The synagogue in Częstochowa was set up, according to the outline, in 1810, from the funds raised among the Jewish congregation amounting to 60,000 zlotys, whereas the rent for the building plot was 600 zlotys a year.
A major growth of the Jewish community in Częstochowa, visible from 1824, was assumed to result from the development of linen and cotton textile industry in town. The expansion lasted to the establishment of a competing textile center in Lodz, where groups of Częstochowa Jews moved. The activity of the non-profit loan fund (Bractwo Dobroczynnosci), set up by Jewish textile apprentices. The founding capital was 1,000 zlotys, while the entrance membership fee 18 zlotys.
The author of the article gave the precise number (nine) of Jews from Częstochowa, who graduated from a university from 1824: eight of them had careers as physicians, and one, as a university teacher. About a hundred of young Częstochowa Jews attended district high schools and the Warsaw Rabbinical School. The names of distinguished educators, to whom Jewish schooling in Częstochowa owed most as far as its standards went, included, beside Daniel Neufeld, Jakub Bursztyński, a teacher, preacher and secretary of the Synagogal Board, and Salomon Guttentag, a Hebrew specialist.
The assimilationist and emancipation perspective made the author deplore the fact that conservative and religious elements seemed to prevail lately in Częstochowa Jewish community, while social activity diminished. Expecting the community to succeed in near future with their 1860 project of a new elementary Jewish school for 150 children, the anonymous author hoped it would counterbalance cheders and transform social mentality.
This miniature study of Częstochowa community was supplemented with a survey of Jewish charities, and a mention of an attempt to organize a society for the promotion of science and education. There was a note on the fraternity, whose members were collecting money door-to-door every week for the neediest. Yet in the paper so committed to the cause of Jewish education, the highest praise was reserved for another fraternity, sustaining, by a joint effort, a teacher for a group of about forty orphans and destitute children, and also for a fraternity of children (ages 8 to 14), who collected funds to purchase books needed at a bet ha-midrash, whose library in few years was enlarged with 120 volumes. An 1852 charity ball was also mentioned and the activity of the cholera committee in 1855.
Having thus drawn a portrait of seemingly thriving Jewish center in Częstochowa, the correspondent of Jutrzenka seemed dissatisfied with the declining, in his opinion, social life. Still, he spoke admiringly of the social and religious activity of the Częstochowa Rabbi Izaak Rabinowicz, exalting over his sense of tolerance, Talmudic scholarship, and eloquence.
In the above mentioned pieces on the Częstochowa Jewish community the emphasis was put, as one might expect in a paper of assimilatory orientation and prepositivistic belief in the civilization progress resulting in social accord, on harmonious co-existence of Jews and Poles: “Noteworthy is in Częstochowa the sight of agreement and harmony between various classes of the population, because every time a charitable cause is involved, Christians and Israelites compete in eagerness and generosity. This agreeable disposition of Częstochowa inhabitants is a new and irrefutable proof, that the civilization only is capable of tearing down the ancient barriers separating people of various faiths.”[xxix]
Another text to this effect was a letter of a Częstochowa Jew, Wilhelm Bergman, concerning the project that the community was working out to curb the plague of beggary and at the same time aid the neediest Jews in Częstochowa. Street beggars were often strangers in town.
The proposed solution was a tax, which would be self-imposed by more fortunate members of the community and calculated to equal the sum given by them monthly to beggars. The resulting fund could, under the control of the rabbi and the synagogal board, supply assistance to the local poor and, occasionally, for the visiting beggars, on provision that they quit door-to-door begging in town.[xxx]
The project seemed reasonable and effective enough to be approved by Daniel Neufeld, who moreover saw it as a prelude to the establishment of inter-religious charity organization: “We recommend the project of the Częstochowa community to all Jewish communities, as the only measure to uproot begging, because with disappearance of itinerant beggars alone can we proceed to alleviate local misery, to join general welfare institutions for all religions wherever they exist and establish new ones by a joint effort with Christians at places with none whatsoever.”[xxxi]
In a supplement to the issue no. 44 of October 31, 1862, another note on the Częstochowa Jewish community was printed. Its tone was again assimilatory and “progressive”. The correspondent in Częstochowa reported the establishment of a five grade district school and exalted over 47 Jewish students enrolled in it. The tendency to send children to state schools owed much of its rising popularity with Jewish parents to the fact that such enrollment was a requirement when applying for a permit to settle outside the Jewish quarter.[xxxii]
The school inauguration was celebrated by a special service at the Częstochowa synagogue on October 21, 1862, attended not only by Jews, but also by the management of the new school, its faculty, Christian students with their parents. Izaak Rabinowicz’s sermon added to the splendor of the occasion. The preacher accentuated the valors of education of neighborly love in the life of young people. Rabinowicz encouraged students of various religions to live together in peace. The Częstochowa writer for Jutrzenka congratulated Rabinowicz on his address, which moved many listeners, and the local Jewish community on its “progressive”, assimilationist attitude: “The inhabitants of our town of Mosaic faith have for a long time shown their noble aspirations to give their children education fit to the spirit of our time and the needs of our country, and they have not stayed behind inhabitants of other religions on this occasion either.”
The news of Rabinowicz taking part in the school inauguration was not the last mention of the Częstochowa rabbi in Jutrzenka. The October 2, 1863 issue held an enthusiastic review on Izaak Rabinowicz’s publication Nidwoth Pi. The book was a moralistic and “progressive” religious study in Hebrew with Biblical and Talmudic references, most probably related to the author’s homiletic activity. The review included biographic data on Izaak Rabinowicz occasionally preaching in Warsaw synagogues.
The Częstochowa reviewer, using the name of N. Majmon, extolled the book: „This work is a rare phenomenon in our times; it is characterized by so pure and dignified Hebrew style, as well as by unrivaled casuistry combined with erudition, whereas its morality in particular, which is the main goal of this work, is so persuasive and appealing as to elevate each reader.”[xxxiii]
The reviewer admired in particular Rabinowicz’s talent for bringing out modern, “progressive” values in Jewish traditional religious literature. “What makes for the special worth of this study in our times is the author’s perfectly successful adjustment of Talmudic proverbs to the conditions of present time; hence our progressive co-believers will find ample evidence that dead letter, if handled by a conscientious scholar, can be a source of enlightenment and progress whereas a clumsy hand can turn it into a harmful superstition.”[xxxiv]
Daniel Neufeld’s Jutrzenka provided information on other illustrious preachers invited to Częstochowa in the past, including the famous synagogal orator Enoch Luria[xxxv], as if to prove high intellectual aspirations of the local Jewish community.
The editors of Jutrzenka, eager to promote their assimilation and emancipation message, must have appreciated another Częstochowa piece of news published in an 1862 November issue of the paper. The Christian members of the town council approved the abolition of the restricted Jewish quarter, forestalling the abolition decree of the Polish Kingdom government. Editors reminded readers of a joint 1859 petition that Christian and Jewish inhabitants of Częstochowa addressed to the central administration to extend the area of Jewish settlement as far as NMP Alley, including the New Market Square. A few Jewish families had in fact already lived there, despite the ban.
Jutrzenkaheld this instance of tolerance as an example for Polish towns: “Thus Christian dwellers of Częstochowa can be in every respect a model for any town.”[xxxvi] Editors commented the fact in a characteristically idealized manner, as if ignorant of the economic reasons behind the resolution of traditionally industrious Częstochowa councilors. They were fully aware that the prices of real property in town would go up, fuelled by Jewish buyers.
The optimistic aura of prospective tolerance, pervading Jutrzenka, had been introduced by an earlier (of June 1862) account from Częstochowa by the above mentioned reader, M. Majmon. He reported that at a meeting on June 3, 1862, the town council approved the application of a local Jew for a permission to purchase a house in a Christian area.[xxxvii] The editorial comment was very flattering for Częstochowa society: “The fact is all the more noteworthy, as Częstochowa is attracting Catholic pilgrims from the most distant provinces and many a philosophers would suspect it of religious prejudice. This proves our point that the Catholic countries, having once entered upon the road of tolerance, do not recoil from minor consequences of the bread matter.”
Another demonstration of Polish-Jewish harmony in Częstochowa was a piece on the generous relief donations from Christians to the fire victims, who were prevailingly Jewish. The relief committee, whose members raised about 14,000. zlotys, included priests and rabbis, working together in agreement.[xxxviii] The massive fire ravaged Częstochowa on November 4, 1862.[xxxix] According to Jutrzenka, it were the families of modest Jewish craftsmen and shopkeepers who suffered most. Many of their sons had quite recently started their education in a newly opened school, whose inauguration had also been recounted in Jutrzenka. The first to contribute to the relief fund with a major donation of several thousand zlotys, was Bernard Kohn, a town councilor and the mill owner.
Jutrzenkaprinted the results of the 1862 local government elections in the Polish Kingdom, with a commentary on Jewish participation, whose increase the editors appreciated. They saw it as a good omen of a tendency to cooperate, emerging among Poles of various religions. The election results from Częstochowa[xl] showed Bernard Kohn as one of eight municipal councilors, whereas eight deputy councilors included four Jews: Bernard Mejzel, Izaak Ginsberg, Izaak Feigenblat, Jakub Sejdenman. A seat in Wieluń Poviat council, consisting of 18 people, was won by Jozef Kempner, the list of deputies included Majer Mamelok from Praszka.
The Letters to and from the Editor column of Jutrzenkaoften held replies to readers living in Częstochowa, Wieluń, and Praszka, indicating the popularity of both the paper and assimilationist ideas in the area. Some are guiding suggestions, as : “To Mr. M.M. of Czest.: as for a school to be established the best way is to follow regulations and apply to the proper authority, starting in Wieluń.”[xli] The reader D. S. of Praszka received the missing copies of Jutrzenka and a note on the withdrawal of his ad, due to no response: “Jutrzenka issues have been sent to the address as given. The subscription to sustain a private doctor was waiting at our office to no avail for a long time and has been recently disposed of, as nobody was interested.”[xlii]
A Wieluń reader, named Cywior, received good news, since his article was accepted to be published,[xliii] contrary to a countrywoman of Neufeld: “To Mrs. E. of K. M. in Praszka, many thanks for your beautiful work; still, we would like to hold on to our motto ‘Peace!’ Will you be so kind and send us something more optimistic.”[xliv] A Poraj reader was censured for his muddled style: „Will you please write your correspondence in a style more comprehensible to the public and make your point clear and understandable.”[xlv]
Jutrzenkapublished also longer statements concerning assimilation, emancipation, and Polish-Jewish coexistence. Some readers wrote of the opposition to the program of Jutrzenka in some local traditional Jewish communities, where the assimilationist message seemed to threaten Jewish cultural and religious identity. These letters illustrated the clashing of different views in small towns. A correspondent from Praszka described his discussion with a local opponent of Jutrzenka and of its editor, Daniel Neufeld.[xlvi]
The reader from Praszka failed to make his antagonist see the benefits of the paper’s policy of building bridges between Poles and Jews, aimed at granting the latter equal rights for the good of their native land. No reasoning could convince the other man, who cited the Bible on the commandment to hold back from close contacts with non-Jews. The Jutrzenka reader argued on religious grounds, that love for your neighbors, regardless of their religion, was a central rule of Judaism. In support of the reader’s opinion the editors reminded that the ban on contacts with idolatrous pagans in ancient Palestine could not apply to the people professing monotheistic religions.
Another subscriber of Jutrzenka, from Radomsk, started a dispute with Neufeld on his proposal of community law.[xlvii] The Radomsk reader objected to an article denying Jewish communities the right to demand from synagogal societies that they contribute to the maintenance of the main synagogue in town. Daniel Neufeld suggested that synagogal societies would sustain their synagogues and houses of prayer.
His opponent from Radomsk would prefer the upkeep of the main synagogue to be a general responsibility of a local community. Otherwise, he argued, the financial standing of synagogues would worsen drastically, including the further deterioration of their buildings, while the split in Jewish society would deepen.
Another letter writer, Mojżesz from Częstochowa, whose text indicated considerable religious learning, joined the dialogue of Judaism with Christianity pursued in Jutrzenka. He looked for the common grounds of the two religions in the Messianic message of the Isaiah and Moses Majmonides’ writings. Such interpretation of Messianism involved a vision of permanent peace on earth between all nations all over the world with Jerusalem as its spiritual capital: “At the time innocence will fill human hearts and the heavenly kingdom will be hailed on entire earth, while the diversity of nations, which was the source of so many wars and blood shedding, will disappear altogether, because all mankind will be as one family, united by one aim. The spiritual residence of this earthly kingdom will be Jerusalem, the place sacred for all peoples, from which salutary teachings will flow to everybody on earth, and where pilgrims from every nation will come.”[xlviii]
The editorial staff of Jutrzenka must have temporarily included Szymon Dankowicz[xlix], born in 1840 in Częstochowa (d.1910), a teacher of religion, preacher at reformed synagogues, assimilation advocate[l]. A manifestation of his patriotic and assimilationist beliefs was his solemn sermon delivered in Polish at the reformed Kraków synagogue on July 8, 1869, during the special mourning service on the occasion of reburial of King Kazimierz the Great. Dankowicz donated the profit from the sale of the printed version of his sermon to fund the royal casket.[li]
It may be worth mentioning by the way, that Jutrzenka often recalled King Kazimierz the Great, presented in the idealized assimilationist perspective as a model figure of a monarch whose rule was that of social and religious harmony between Jews and Poles. It was a popular historian and assimilation advocate Aleksander Kraushar, who wrote a column on the pro-Jewish activity of the king. Jutrzenka endorsed the appeal of Gazeta Polska to contribute to the renovation of the Krakow statue of the “King of Peasants and Jews.”[lii] The donators included Daniel Neufeld, Ludwik Neufeld, and Jakub Neufeld. Mathias Rosen was at the top of the list with his generous contribution of 133 zlotys and 10 groshes.[liii]
It might have been Szymon Dankowicz, who prepared a selection of rabbinical sayings and proverbs to be printed in Jutrzenka. His assimilationist passion made him seek out analogies between Jewish and Polish maxims, such as between a Jewish saying “You can strike the iron when it is hot” and Polish “Strike the iron while it is hot” [liv], or “A man is holy after death” and “Dead man always a good man”.[lv]
There were obituaries of major figures in Jewish assimilationist circles of Częstochowa and Wieluń published in Jutrzenka. Such a notice on the death at 64 of Hertz Kohn, a pioneer of assimilation movement, leader of Jewish community in Częstochowa, philanthropist, and co-founder of the modernized Jewish private school, where Polish and secular subjects were introduced into the curriculum, was printed in no.48 issue of November 28, 1862. The obituary included the following account of Mr. Kohn’s life: “He was one of those men, so rare nowadays in the aforesaid community, who was so generous, beneficial, and committed to the cause of his brethren, being an intermediary between strictly conservative past and modernity of contemporary generation. Częstochowa owes much to him; he was the first to gather a circle of his conservative-progressive friends and found a private school for the children of his co-believers, which was also to become an intermediate stage between specifically Jewish and general schools.”[lvi]
On December 5, 1862 Jutrzenka no. 49 brought the notice on the death of Majer Mamelok, who had passed away at 60, on November 22 in Praszka. Mamelok was a deputy of a Wieluń Poviat councilor: “A caring father to his children, toiling to provide them position and leave them an inexhaustible fortune, good upbringing and European education.” A notice on the death of Mrs. Anna Markusfeld, born Kempner, at the age of 43, “collectively grieved” by Wieluń Jews, was printed in no. 44 of October 31, 1862.
There was another mention of the Kempners of Wieluń Poviat in Jutrzenka. Its point was to add to the image of an assimilationist family by underscoring their connection with the world of science. Jutrzenka reported that a German Jewish scholar in botanic and physiology of plants, Nathan Pringsheim, born in Opole[lvii], was a relative of the Kempners. He was a professor at Jena and Berlin universities.
It seems that relatively numerous references to the Kempners resulted from the fact that they matched the ideal family model as propagated by Jutrzenka. they fitted the image of the enlightened, quite assimilated Jews, who did not forsake their religion and were contributing generously to the Jewish community.
To sum up, a thorough study of Jutrzenka reveals numerous and interesting, if prevailingly small, pieces of information on the Jewish life in Częstochowa and its area. The paper is a valuable source of publicity materials adding to the historical portrayal of the past Polish-Jewish coexistence.
[i]D. Złotkowski, Miasta departamentu kaliskiego w okresie Księstwa Warszawskiego. (Studium gospodarcze), Częstochowa 2001, p. 57.
[ii][D. Neufeld], „Wieluń w roku 1827”, Jutrzenka, nr 13, 28 III 1862, pp. 99–101.
[iii][D. Neufeld], „Święcenie soboty (Wspomnienie z czasów szkolnych)”, Jutrzenka, nr 49, 5 XII 1862, p. 411.
[iv]Jutrzenka, nr 14, 4 IV 1862, p. 106.
[v]Jutrzenka, nr 47, 21 XI 1862, p. 398–399.
[vi]A. Eisenbach, Kwestia równouprawnienia Żydów w Królestwie Polskim, Warszawa 1972, p. 311–312.
[vii]Jutrzenka, nr 31, 1 VIII 1862, p. 252.
[viii]Jutrzenka, nr 20, 15 V 1863, p. 193.
[ix]A. Eisenbach, Emancypacja Żydów na ziemiach polskich 1785–1870 na tle europejskim, Warszawa 1988, p. 526–527.
[x]M. Fuks, Prasa żydowska w Warszawie 1823–1939, Warszawa 1979, p. 47–48.
[xi]Jutrzenka, nr 5, 2 VIII 1861, p. 40.
[xii]Jutrzenka, nr 7, 13 II 1863.
[xiii]Jutrzenka, nr 42, 16 X 1863.
[xiv]Jutrzenka, nr 16, 17 IV 1863, p. 160.
[xv][D. Neufeld] „Jeszcze o wychowaniu”, Jutrzenka, nr 26, 26 VI 1863, p. 254.
[xvi]M. Fuks, Prasa żydowska w Warszawie 1823–1939, Warszawa 1979, p. 48.
[xvii]Jutrzenka, nr 14, 4 X 1861, p. 116.
[xviii]Jutrzenka, nr 13, 25 IX 1861, p. 108.
[xix]Jutrzenka, nr 10, 7 III 1862, p. 72; nr 12, 21 III 1862, p. 96.
[xx]Jutrzenka, nr 7, 15 VIII 1861, p. 56.
[xxi]Jutrzenka, nr 8, 23 VIII 1861, p. 64.
[xxii]Jutrzenka, nr 39, 25 IX 1863, p. 393.
[xxiii]Jutrzenka, nr 49, 5 XII 1863, p. 416.
[xxiv]Jutrzenka, nr 27, 4 VII 1862, p. 220.
[xxv]Jutrzenka, nr 2, 9 I 1863, p. 20.
[xxvi]Jutrzenka, nr 2, 9 I 1863, p. 20.
[xxvii]J. Bardach, M. Senkowska–Gluck (eds), Historia państwa i prawa Polski, t. III, Od rozbiorów do uwłaszczenia, Warszawa 1981, p. 376.
[xxviii]Jutrzenka, nr 4, 23 I 1863, p. 36.
[xxix]Jutrzenka, nr 8, 23 VIII 1861, p. 61.
[xxx]Jutrzenka, nr 21, 22 XI 1861, p. 170–171.
[xxxi][D. Neufeld], „Żebractwo”, Jutrzenka, nr 30, 25 VII 1862, p. 239.
[xxxii]P. Szymański, „Do dziejów Żydów w Częstochowie w okresie konstytucyjnym Królestwa”, Biuletyn Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego 1961, nr 39, p. 27.
[xxxiii]Jutrzenka, nr 40, 2 X 1863, p. 400.
[xxxiv]Jutrzenka, nr 40, 2 X 1863, p. 400.
[xxxv]Jutrzenka, nr 46, 14 XI 1862, p. 382.
[xxxvi]Jutrzenka, nr 48, 28 XI 1862, p. 408.
[xxxvii]Jutrzenka, nr 24, 13 VI 1862, p. 192.
[xxxviii]Jutrzenka, nr 48, 28 XI 1862, p. 408.
[xxxix]Jutrzenka, nr 46, 14 XI 1862, p. 383.
[xl]„Jutrzenka’, nr 14, 4 IV 1862, p. 107–108.
[xli]Jutrzenka, nr 28, 11 VII 1862, p. 228.
[xlii]Jutrzenka, nr 47, 21 XI 1862, p. 396.
[xliii]Jutrzenka, nr 12, 18 IX 1861, p. 96.
[xliv]„Jutrzenka, nr 15, 11 X 1861, p. 124.
[xlv]Jutrzenka, nr 13, 28 III 1862, p. 104.
[xlvi]Jutrzenka, nr 29, 17 VII 1863, p. 290–291.
[xlvii]Jutrzenka, nr 6, 6 II 1863, p. 58–59.
[xlviii]Jutrzenka, nr 15, 10 IV 1863, p. 145.
[xlix]Jutrzenka, nr 7, 15 VIII 1861, p. 56.
[l]M. Bałaban, Dankowicz Szymon, [in:] Polski Słownik Biograficzny, t. IV, Kraków 1938, p. 422.
[li]Sz. Dankowicz, Kazanie miane w czasie żałobnego nabożeństwa za wiekopomnej pamięci Króla Kazimierza Wgo w dniu powtórnego pochowania zwłok Jego na Wawelu dnia 8 lipca 1869 roku w Synagodze Izraelitów Przyjaciół postępu na Podbrzeziu w Krakowie, Kraków 1869.
[lii]Jutrzenka, nr 44, 31 X 1862, p. 361.
[liii]Jutrzenka, nr 44, 31 X 1862, p. 361.
[liv]Jutrzenka, nr 19, 9 V 1862, p. 152.
[lv]Jutrzenka, nr 12, 21 III 1862, p. 96.
[lvi]Jutrzenka, nr 48, 28 XI 1862, p. 408.
[lvii]Jutrzenka, nr 34, 21 VIII 1863, p. 340.