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CRACOW (Pol. Kraków ; Heb. קראקא, קרקא, קראקוב), city in S. Poland (within the historic region *Lesser Poland (Malopolska); in Western *Galicia under Austria). Cracow was the residence of the leading Polish princes during the 12th century, and later became the capital of Poland (until 1609). It was for many centuries the home of one of the most important European Jewish communities. It acquired the status of a city on the German model in 1257, and its situation on the Vistula river and the commercial route to Prague attracted an influx of immigrants from Germany, with whom the first Jews arrived. In 1335 King *Casimir the Great founded the rival city of Kazimierz near the southern extremity of Cracow (enclosed by a wall in 1422) and Jews settled there soon after its establishment. By the beginning of the 14th century (see below) they had an organized community, headed until the close of the century by an elected (or appointed) Episcopus Judaeorum; the first mentioned as such, in 1369, was a prominent financier, Samuel (Smoyl). A "Jewish Street" (Platea Judaeorum; now St. Anna street) in Cracow is mentioned in 1304. A synagogue, bath house, mikveh, and cemetery are first recorded in the 1350s; and a "Gate of the Jews" (Valvae Judaeorum) is mentioned in a deed of sale of 1366 as one of the gates of the city. From 1312, there is evidence that Jews acquired houses and building plots not only in their own quarter but also in neighboring parts of the city. The economic success and consolidation of the Jews in the city awakened among the townspeople an active hatred, already traditional among the burghers of German origin who were unused to Jewish commercial competition; the ownership of real estate by Jews was resented. The first protest against Jewish activities was submitted in 1369. In 1392 the municipal council requested that Jews should be allowed to sell their houses only to Christians.

15th Century

The struggle with the citizenry intensified during the 15th century (during 1408–70, 18 Jewish houses were sold to Christians), especially during the reign of Ladislas ii Jagello (see also Zbigniew *Oleśnicki, Jan *Dlugosz). The assignment in 1400 of a building in a "Jewish street" to the university not only added to the overcrowding of the Jewish quarter, but for generations was a constant source of friction and danger to the Jews who were frequently attacked by students. A banker (kampsor), who was forced to provide loans to the students on interest not exceeding 25%, had to be appointed from among the Jews. In addition, the students extorted special payments from the Jews known as kozubalec. Mob outbreaks against the community and *blood libels also occurred (1407, 1423). In the 15th century Cracow Jews developed commercial ties with Breslau, Danzig, Lwow (Lvov, Lemberg), and Constantinople. The visit of the Franciscan preacher Johanes (Jan) *Capistrano to Cracow in 1454 led to severe anti-Jewish riots in which many Jews were killed and extensive damage was caused to property. In 1464 there were renewed disturbances. The heavy fines and financial sureties imposed by King Casimir iv Jagiello on the municipal council did not diminish the antagonism toward the Jews. In 1469 the community leaders had to sign an agreement to evacuate the street on which the university was located and to transfer their buildings to the university in exchange for a plot of land near the synagogue in Spiglarska Street (now St. Stefan Square). When a fire broke out in the city in 1477, the Jewish community was attacked. In 1485, its leaders – Moses *Fishel, Jacob b. Alexander, and Mordecai b. Jacob – were compelled to accept the dictates of the municipal council and signed "of their own free will and without coercion" an agreement to the effect that Jews would not compete in most branches of commerce and would only trade in pledges whose term of redemption had lapsed; this business was to be carried on only in their own houses, with the exception of Tuesdays, Thursdays, and market days, when they would be permitted to display the pledges publicly. Poor Jews and Jewesses were permitted to sell shawls, hats, and collars of their own manufacture. The Cracow Jews did not intend to abandon commerce, and a continuous struggle developed between the community and the burghers, in which both sides turned to the royal court for intervention. A fire which spread from a street inhabited by Jews to the Christian quarters in June 1494 led to riots against which the Jews took up arms in self-defense. The king ordered the arrest of the communal leaders, who were later set free largely through the intercession of the courtier and celebrated humanist Filippo Buonaccorsi (Callimaco Esperiente). The townspeople continued to insist on the expulsion of the Jews from the city. In 1495, the king expelled the Jews from the capital and they moved into adjacent Kazimierz.

Amalgamation with Kazimierz

The Cracow community amalgamated with that of Kazimierz, and, as customary after local expulsions, continued to visit Cracow from "their town" of Kazimierz and maintained a regular and often flourishing commerce there. For over four centuries, until the grant of emancipation in 1868, the Jews of Kazimierz continued the struggle, generally achieving some success, for rights to trade and work in Cracow. The Kazimierz community was already well established when it merged with that of Cracow. At the end of the 14th century construction was begun of a magnificent synagogue in Gothic style, completed about 1407, known as the Alte Schul. It is the oldest medieval synagogue still preserved in Poland. In the 1480s a Jewish bathhouse, a Jewish marketplace (Circulus Judaeorum), and a cemetery are mentioned in Kazimierz, all situated on the Breite Gass ("Broad Street"). From the 15th century on, the community was led by four elected "elders," who in 1454 were already empowered to judge lawsuits between Jews. On Feb. 27, 1494, the "elders" (seniores) Mark Simeon of Sącz, Joseph Kopelman, Moses Fishel, and Ulryk Samuel signed an agreement with the Christian butchers' guild (ratified by the judex Judaeorum Jan Goraj) which limited the number of Jewish butchers to four; they were forbidden to employ any assistants, either Jewish or Christian, or to sell meat to Christians, except wholesale.

Little is known about Jewish learning in Cracow-Kazimierz until the end of the 15th century (although the scholar Yom Tov Lipmann *Muelhausen had reputedly stayed there earlier in that century), when Jacob Pollak settled in Kazimierz and founded the first yeshivah from which talmudic learning spread throughout Poland. Several physicians lived there, including Moses of Przemysl, mentioned in 1465, who was also one of the community elders; Isachko, who practiced in Kazimierz after the expulsion from Cracow; Bocian, founder of the distinguished *Popper family; and Isaac of Spain (d. 1510) who served as court physician.

16th Century

At the beginning of the 16th century many Jews from Bohemia-Moravia settled in Kazimierz, but their desire to retain their separate cohesion and style of life was opposed by the Polish Jews, led by the *Fishel family. In the overcrowded conditions of the Jewish town tension between the two groups led to bitter conflict. After the resignation of Jacob Pollak from the Cracow-Kazimierz rabbinate the Polish congregation elected Asher Lemel, a friend of the Fishel family, while the Bohemian Jews elected another rabbi. In 1509 the king imposed financial sureties on both parties to compel them to maintain the peace. In 1519 he recognized the two congregations as autonomous communities, each electing its own rabbi, two elders, and a mediator to collaborate in the administration of the Jewish town. After the deaths of the two rival rabbis, this duality disappeared and the rabbinate was transferred to Moses Fishel of the Polish section. In addition to those from Bohemia-Moravia a large number of immigrants arrived in Kazimierz in the 16th century from Germany, Italy, Spain, and Portugal. These included wealthy men and physicians, some of whom acquired special personal privileges from the king of Poland exempting them from their financial obligations as members of the Jewish community. It was only in 1563, after numerous appeals from the communal leaders, that the king undertook to cease this practice.

Intensification of the overcrowding resulted in 1553 in official agreement to a small extension of the Jewish town and permission for the erection of a second synagogue. In 1564 a privilege was granted preventing non-Jews from acquiring residential or business premises in the Jewish town. By the 1570s, the Jewish population of Kazimierz numbered 2,060, and further extension of the Jewish quarter became urgent. In 1583 an agreement between the community and the municipality of Kazimierz on the expansion of the Jewish area was ratified by the king. The Jews undertook to erect the Bochnia Gate in the city walls and to liquidate the arrears in tax payments to the municipal treasury.

17th Century

In 1608 the king ratified an agreement with the municipality on the sale of an additional number of building sites and houses to Jews in return for an annual payment of 250 zlotys by the community to the municipality. The attempt of the community to retain control over the new acquisitions of real estate failed because of opposition from both Jews and Christians, and Jews were permitted to acquire real estate individually. By 1635, 67 houses, mainly occupied by wealthy persons (Isaac *Jekeles, Wolf *Popper, among others), had been erected in the section recently joined to the Jewish town. Throughout this period, the fierce struggle for Jewish commercial rights continued, in particular when Jewish traders had "invaded" the Christian sectors. In 1609 the community reached an agreement which in practice enabled the Jews to trade freely in Kazimierz and nearby Stradom, to rent shops and warehouses in the Christian city, and to engage in the fur and tailoring crafts for supply of their own requirements. They were prohibited from innkeeping and trade in fodder. Jewish economic activity within the limits of Cracow proper was dependent on bribery and the search for patrons among government and church circles or within the municipal council. While Christian property owners of Cracow were interested in Jewish trade in the town because they could lease warehouses and shops to Jews at exorbitant prices, the small tradesmen and craftsmen regarded the Jews as dangerous rivals. In 1576 the king had recognized the Jewish trade existing in the town through granting his protection to the practice. The struggle continued with varying success for both sides. The campaign against Jewish trade in Cracow was expressed in the polemic literature of the period in an anti-Jewish pamphlet by Sebastian *Miczyński. However, despite the influence of this tract and anti-Jewish outbreaks, Jewish trade in Cracow developed further in the 17th century, and was recognized de facto by royal decisions.

The 16th and first half of the 17th century was also a period of considerable cultural achievement in the Cracow-Kazimierz community. By 1644 the community had seven main synagogues, among them the Alte Schul and the Rema Synagogue (called after Moses *Isserles), erected in part by private persons and in one case with contributions from the goldsmiths' guild. From the second half of the 16th century a number of yeshivot were founded in Kazimierz whose fame made Cracow a most important center of Jewish learning. Among principals of the yeshivot during the second half of the 16th century were Moses Isserles, Mordecai b. Jacob of Cieplice, Joseph b. Gershon Katz, Nathan Nata Shapiro, Joshua b. Joseph Katz, Isaac b. David ha-Kohen Shapira, *Meir Gedaliah of Lublin, and Joel *Sirkes. About the middle of the 17th century Yom Tov Lippman *Heller was rabbi there. In 1666 the Shabbatean movement deeply stirred Cracow Jewry. The reformation movement among the Cracow burghers gave rise to charges of Judaizing, both true and unfounded, against its own radical wing. An earlier martyr of such accusations was Catherine *Weigel. The religious ferment and strife among the Christians made a strong impression on the Cracow Jews.

Communal Organization

By the end of the 16th century the patrician class had gained an oligarchic control of the communal administration mainly due to the exclusive system of elections. A statute for the community was formulated through various enactments, known after its main corpus as "the ordinances of (5) 355" (i.e. the year 1595; cf. M. *Balaban, "Die Krakauer Judengemeinde-Ordnung von 1595 und ihre Nachtraege," in jjlg, 10 (1913), 296–360; 11 (1916), 88–114). The community was headed by four rashim ("heads"), five tovim ("boni vires" or "notables"), and 14 kahal ("community council") members, a total of 23 leaders, i.e., the number constituting a "minor Sanhedrin." The duties of actual administration and supervision were assumed in rotation; every month one of the rashim publicly took an oath to fulfill his duties as parnas ha-ḥodesh ("leader for the month") conscientiously. Defined competencies and functions were assigned to other institutions of the community leadership. The community had numerous functionaries, some honorary and some paid, most of whom worked in committees and were allocated specific tasks, such as tax assessment, supervision of charity, and public market order. The persistent oligarchic trend inherent in the 1595 ordinances is shown in their regulation of judicial procedure which reveals a hierarchical system of three law courts, whose competence was graded according to the sums involved in the case, and payment was made to the two lower ones by both sides. These arrangements differ from strict halakhic conceptions of judicial practice.

Cracow-Kazimierz was one of the principal communities in the *Councils of the Lands; it headed the province (galil) of Lesser Poland. Taxes to the state were paid through and in conjunction with the Councils of the Lands (see also *Poland-*Lithuania). Provision for the regulation of internal taxation for providing defense against local persecution, for upkeep of officials, official functions, and charity is made in the 1595 ordinances and others (see B.D. Weinryb, "Texts and Studies in the Communal History of Polish Jewry," in paajr, 19 (1950), 77–98).

In the 1630s large numbers of Jews fled from Germany to Cracow during the Thirty Years' War. In addition, many others from Ukraine and Podolia sought refuge in Cracow in 1648–49 from the *Chmielnicki massacres.

The second half of the 17th century was a troubled period for the Cracow community. It suffered during the Swedish invasion, and in 1655, when Kazimierz was captured, many Jews fled. The Poles commanded by Stefan *Czarniecki looted Jewish shops and property, causing damage estimated at 700,000 zlotys. Much harm was also done to Jewish property during the two-year Swedish occupation. With the restoration of Polish rule, a monetary contribution was imposed on the Jewish community, who were accused of collaborating with the Swedes. The Jews of Cracow first had to pay large sums to the Polish army commanders, and, in the fall of 1657, 60,000 zlotys to the king; they were also charged 300 zlotys a week toward maintenance of the fortress garrison and the municipal guard, and were fined 10,000 zlotys following an accusation that they had handed over sacred objects from the cathedral to the Swedes. The Kazimierz Jews were excluded from Cracow under various pretexts.

During this period, attacks on Jewish houses by the students and the local population became increasingly frequent, while the royal authorities were powerless to take action against them. There were a number of blood libels. In 1663 Mattathias *Calahora was martyred at the stake. In 1664, the anti-Jewish outbreaks reached a new climax and intervention by the king and the fines imposed on the municipal council proved unavailing. In 1677 about 1,000 Jews in Kazimierz died of plague and the Jewish quarter was abandoned by most of its inhabitants. The stricken community could not pay its taxes; by 1679 the arrears of the poll-tax payments amounted to 50,000 zlotys and the king had to grant the Cracow community a moratorium on its taxes and other debts. The community began to reorganize in 1680 and reopened its yeshivah, but in 1682 anti-Jewish rioting by the populace and students again broke out accompanied by murder and looting, and army units had to be called in. The king punished the rioters severely and imposed heavy fines on the university, and the Jews were granted a further moratorium on their debts to the state treasury and individuals. The Cracow citizenry renewed its demands that Jews should be prohibited from practicing trade and crafts on the basis of the 1485 agreement (see above). Jews were prevented from entering Cracow on Sundays and Christian festivals. The most outstanding of the community's rabbis in the second half of the 17th century was Aaron Samuel *Koidanover.

18th Century

The history of the community in the 18th century was marked by fluctuations in the struggle of the Cracow citizenry to close the city, trade, and crafts to the Kazimierz Jews. In general, the Jews were able to withstand this pressure, with the support of the magnates and the king, since it was in their interest to have Jews acting as suppliers and financiers in Cracow itself. Anti-Jewish restrictions imposed by the city were mainly ineffectual and reflect the penetration of Jews into an increasing number of branches of trade and crafts, such as the trade in furs and hides, wax, soap, salt, tobacco, and haberdashery. Jews also traded in silver and gold, worked as goldsmiths, and engaged in large-scale import and export business, finance, and the lease and management of estates of the gentry (see *arenda). However the economic rise of the merchant and financier circles of the community was accompanied by increasing impoverishment among the majority of Kazimierz Jewry. These factors, combined with the growth of the artisan element, sharpened social tensions within the oligarchically led community. The expenses incurred in the struggle with the Cracow citizenry for providing defense against libels and for the constantly increasing requirements of charity forced the community to take loans and it thus became indebted to wealthy Christians and the Church. In 1719 the community owed a total of approximately 600,000 zlotys, of which about 350,000 was owed to churches and monasteries and the remainder to Polish noblemen and merchants. With the decline in status of the Kazimierz community its influence among the communities of the province also began to wane, and at the beginning of the 18th century these became largely independent of the mother community. In 1761 the Senate of Poland ratified a decree enforcing the prohibitions against Jewish commerce in Cracow. An attempt made by the municipality to confiscate the contents of the Jewish shops in the city was stopped by the authorities. During the troubled period between 1768 and 1772 the Jews in Kazimierz suffered at the hands of both the Polish and Russian armies. Many members of the community were arrested. One of its leaders, Gutman Rakowski, was tortured to death by the Poles. The Kazimierz community numbered 3,500 in 1775, and owned 212 houses; their property was valued at about 1,100,000 zlotys.

After the Polish Partitions

In 1772–76 Kazimierz passed to *Austria, while Cracow remained within Poland. The Austrian authorities demanded that Jews should be permitted to cross to Cracow, but the municipality tried to prevent them. In 1776 Kazimierz was returned to Poland, but the Senate prohibited Jewish commerce in Cracow and imposed a heavy sum on the Kazimierz community. Tension within the community continued under the new rule, and factions were formed among the oligarchy (see also *Jekeles family). Most of the Jews left Cracow and transferred their affairs to Kazimierz. The 92 Jews who remained were engaged in banking or moneylending, or owned inns. They occupied 38 houses. At the end of 1776 the king ratified an agreement between the community and the Kazimierz municipality extending Jewish commercial rights there. The Cracow municipal leaders then offered certain concessions to Jewish merchants in the city to prevent the complete transfer of Jewish business to Kazimierz. By the end of the 1770s, the 350 Jewish merchants and shopkeepers established in their new center at Kazimierz included 45 bankers and moneylenders, 52 textile merchants, 17 chandlers, 18 innkeepers, and several tailors, bakers, and furriers. In 1788 an explosives factory was established by a Jew in the vicinity of Cracow, and in 1790 a tannery. Many wealthy Jews left Cracow for Warsaw and other towns during this period.

During the 1780s the influence of *Ḥasidism began to penetrate to Cracow. This first circle of supporters of the movement in the city was established by Kalman *Epstein. In 1785 a ḥerem ("ban") was imposed on the Cracow Ḥasidim. Ḥasidism gained many adherents among the poorer classes of Jews in Kazimierz. Special houses of prayer were organized by the Ḥasidim, and the Mitnaggedim imposed a second ḥerem on them in 1797.

In 1795 Cracow and its environs were annexed by Austria, and in 1799 the Austrian authorities ordered the removal of all Jewish businesses from Cracow proper. Subsequently the communal leadership and nomenclature changed under the Germanizing influence and with the spread of *Enlightenment. The Austrian government attempted to introduce the specific taxes imposed on Jews within its territories, as well as the special systems of restriction and supervision of the number of Jewish families and marriages. The authority of the five Vorstehers, as the communal leaders were henceforth termed, was restricted to the synagogue, charities, and responsibility for the collection of taxes and the conscription of the quota of army recruits demanded from the Jewish quarter of Kazimierz. From 1800 both electoral and elective rights were determined by payment of the *candle tax, a new impost which constituted a heavy burden on the poorer sector in particular. This system required the payment of tax on at least seven candles a week in order to acquire the passive vote, and on eight candles to be eligible for election. Eligibility for the office of rabbi or Vorsteher required payment on ten candles a week.

This system did not change the social structure of the communal leadership. At the elections of 1807 there were only about 40 votes. In 1801 the income of the community from both direct and indirect taxes (e.g., on milk and butter) amounted to 55,000 zlotys and balanced its expenses. In 1806 it remained with a deficit of almost 30,000 zlotys, the income from direct taxation amounting to 8,000 zlotys. The community's deficit and debts rose with its increasing needs and the mounting rate of interest, and it was forced to increase the indirect taxes imposed on basic commodities.

In 1809 Cracow was incorporated into the grand duchy of Warsaw. Although certain of the regulations and restrictions imposed by the Austrian authorities were abrogated, others were introduced in their place. On Aug. 26, 1813, flood from the river caused extensive damage to the Jewish quarter of Kazimierz.

Cracow Republic

At the Congress of *Vienna the Cracow Republic (1815–1846) was established. The new state immediately issued regulations governing the position of the Jews there. They were permitted to reside in the Jewish part of Kazimierz and in some streets of the Christian sector. Only "cultured" Jews, entitled to civic rights, were permitted to acquire houses on the main street of the Christian sector. Outside Kazimierz only those Jews who qualified by a certain defined degree of education, who were assimilated in their dress, and who owned more than 5,000 zlotys were permitted to reside. (Only 196 out of a total of 13,000 Jewish residents qualified for this alleviation in 1848.) In addition, the community organization was abolished and replaced by a Committee for Jewish Affairs headed by a Christian chairman, a rabbi elected for three years and required to have a fluent knowledge of the Polish or German languages and to have gained a matriculation certificate, and two delegates elected by the highest category of taxpayers only. After some time, two deputy delegates were also included in the committee. The annual budget of the committee required the ratification of the republic's Senate. Collection of taxes from the Jewish inhabitants was placed under state administration. The books of the committee were kept in Polish. Among the 297 Jewish merchants and craftsmen in Kazimierz in 1811 there were 97 shopkeepers, 47 innkeepers and restaurateurs, about 20 market stallholders, 14 grain merchants, 12 textile and haberdashery merchants, 5 spice merchants, 5 hatters, 3 owners of timber depots, 3 goldsmiths, 3 barbers, 2 furriers, and one surgeon. 10,820 Jews were living in Cracow in 1833 (28% of the total population), 2,373 paid approximately 40,000 zlotys a year in taxes (income tax and business taxes), while of the 27,000 Christian inhabitants 2,296 paid approximately 25,000 zlotys a year in taxes. An elementary Jewish school was opened in 1830 and a number of commercial and vocational classes for boys and girls were added in 1837. In 1836/37, 146 boys and 239 girls were enrolled in this institution. Because of the lack of Jewish teachers, general subjects were taught by Christians. From 1832 the rabbi of Cracow, Dov Berush *Meisels, was the main influence in the community despite some opposition led by Saul Raphael Landau, who was elected rabbi by the Ḥasidim. In 1844 the Republic introduced a complicated system of its own for supervision of Jewish marriages, mainly to ensure that any additional Jewish families to the permitted number should be those with ample means; they were also to have a recognized non-Jewish education, and at least – in the case of poorer Jews – to discard their specific Jewish dress, and have reached the age of 30. In 1844 the first *Reform synagogue (Temple) was opened in Cracow. Some Jews were involved in the fighting in 1846 that preceded the liquidation of the Cracow Republic and its reversion to Austria.

Under Austria

The Austrians imposed a contribution of 55,000 guilders on the community and a tax on meat. The status of the Jews did not change basically, and their economic position became critical. The Jews of Vienna raised 6,000 guilders for distribution among 1,800 needy Jewish families in Kazimierz. During the 1848 revolution 12 Jews were elected to the municipal council of Greater Cracow, and the secretary of the community, Maurycy Krzepicki, was coopted to the municipal council. The Cracow Jews expressed their dissatisfaction with the communal system by demanding that the Jewish Committee should open its meetings to the public, and stormed the community building. They also demanded abolition of the kosher meat tax and the removal of its lessee, proposing instead taxation of poultry, which was mainly consumed by the wealthy, as well as reduction in the salaries of religious officials, abolition of all privileges of the oligarchy, and transfer of the hospital from the control of the ḥevra kaddisha to the Committee. In the 1848 elections to the parliament of Austria, Meisels was returned as deputy for Cracow. During the revolutionary ferment of 1848 the "Society for the Spiritual and Material Liberation of the Jews," an association with emancipatory and Polish-assimilationist aims, led by M. Krzepicki and A.J. Warschauer, played a prominent role. The right of Jews to own real estate in the Christian sections of Cracow-Kazimierz was again restricted in 1853. When Meisels left Cracow for Warsaw, the struggle for the Cracow rabbinate ended in the election of the ultra-Orthodox Simeon Schreiber *Sofer, who later came into sharp conflict with the Reform-assimilationist group led by Joseph Ettinger and the rabbi of the Reform synagogue, Simon Dankovich. During the early 1860s the upper circles of Cracow Jewry inclined increasingly toward Polish assimilation. Many of them actively sympathized with the Polish rising of 1863–64.

The Period of National Awakening

After the grant of emancipation in 1867/68 to the Jews of Cracow, which carried with it the unrestricted right of settlement in Cracow itself, the community institutions were abolished and a Jewish Religious Council established in which the assimilationist maskilim and intelligentsia replaced the oligarchic leadership. In 1870, Simon Samuelsohn became chairman of the council. In 1869 there were 25 Jewish students (13% of the total) studying at the law faculty of the university, 14 (7%) at the faculty of medicine, and 10 at the technical college. During the early 1870s, about 200 Jewish pupils attended secondary schools and teachers' training colleges in Cracow. The first secular Hebrew public library in Cracow was founded in 1876. The first Hebrew school in the town, headed by the av bet din Ḥayyim Aryeh Horowitz, was established by the Shoḥarei Tov ve-Tushiyyah Society in 1874. A branch of the Alliance Israélite *Universelle was established at Cracow in 1867. In 1876 a talmud torah was founded and remained open until 1881. Later a school for the teaching of crafts was established by the Baron de Hirsch *Fund, as well as a vocational school financed by Arnold Rapoport, a member of the Austrian parliament.

Toward the close of the 19th century, the Jewish educational system of Cracow included ḥadarim and yeshivot (see also *Mahzike Hadas), as well as elementary and secondary schools with Polish and German as the languages of instruction. While Ḥasidic influence remained strong among the mass of Jews, with the influences of emancipation, *Haskalah, and assimilation many Jews became prominent in the Polish-German cultural and social life of Austrian Cracow, among them the professor of philology Leon Sternbach, the painter Maurycy Gottlieb, the jurist Joseph Rosenblatt, and the physicians Philip Eisenberg and Isidor Jurowich, who became director of the Jewish hospital in Cracow (see also *Aguddat Aḥim). Several Jews made fortunes in financial and industrial enterprises, notably Maurycy Datner, who became president of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the city. The Jewish population numbered 25,670 in 1900 (28% of the total), and 32,321 in 1910 (21%). (See Table: Jewish Population in Cracow 1900–2004.) A considerable number earned their livelihood in the grocery, haberdashery, leather, textiles, and clothing businesses. In addition to owning shops or stalls, many were occupied in hawking and the purchase of pig bristle and horsehair in the surrounding villages for industry. The wealthier Jewish merchants, a minority, owned wine and textile warehouses and were mainly engaged in the export of timber, feathers, and eggs. Among the artisans, most numerous were tailors, glaziers, and carpenters. There were 52 Jewish physicians in Cracow (out of the total of 248) and 47 Jewish lawyers (out of 110) in 1900.

YearJewish PopulationTotal Population%
¹ Approximation.

*Antisemitism grew in Cracow at the close of the 19th century, amid the national rivalries in the city and demands that Jews should identify themselves with the Polish or German elements. At the same time the Jewish national revival began to penetrate to Cracow. The first *Ḥibbat Zion society, Rosh Pinnah, was established during the 1880s under the leadership of Simeon Sofer and Aaron Markus. During this period, the concepts of Hebrew revival were propagated; from 1892 the Sefat Emet Society and the Ḥevrah Ivrit le-Tarbut ("Hebrew Society for Culture"), headed by Israel Krasucki, the publisher of the periodical Ha-Maggid he-Ḥadash (published in Cracow), Jacob Samuel Fox, and later by the journalist Simeon Menahem Lazar, editor of Ha-Miẓpeh, was active there. From 1897 political Zionism won supporters, amoung whom Osias *Thon and Julius Schenweter were prominent, and an academic national society, Shaḥar, was founded. In 1906, the Jewish Nationalist Group was founded in Cracow. The organ of the Po'alei Zion, Der Yidisher Arbeter, was published in Yiddish in Cracow between 1905 and 1914. In 1900 the Group of Independents fighting for civic equality and the rights of the Jewish population was established, headed by Ignaz Landau and Adolf *Gross. The Committee of the Delegates of the Zionist Organizations of Western Galicia was established in Cracow under the leadership of Joseph Margolioth in 1905. During this period Cracow became an important center of Jewish cultural activity, with the historians Ḥayyim Nathan *Dembitzer and Feivel Hirsch *Wettstein, scholars such as Shlomo Rubin, the Hebrew author David Rotblum, and the popular Yiddish poet Mordecai *Gebirtig, who became celebrated in connection with the Holocaust.

After World War i

The rise of Polish nationalism and the movements connected with the upheavals of World War i, widespread unemployment, the return of armed soldiers and deserters, and famine throughout the city and vicinity, combined to intensify antisemitism. In 1918 the community was threatened with an outbreak of pogroms. The Endeks (*Endecja) elements attempted to direct the discontent of the Polish masses against the Jews. The Jewish youth in Cracow organized *self-defense, led by Jacob Billik and Y. Alster, and were joined by Jewish soldiers who had returned from the front. The entry of the troops of the antisemitic Polish General *Haller into Cracow set off a wave of riots which were warded off by the Jewish self-defense groups, who at the end of 1918 and the beginning of 1919 had a number of clashes with the rioters.

The Jewish population of Cracow numbered 45,229 in 1921, and according to the 1931 census, 56,800 (25.9% of the total), of whom 31% were occupied in industry and crafts (compared with 30% among non-Jews), 46% in commerce and insurance (non-Jews: 11%), 7% in communications (non-Jews: 8%), 2.5% in education and culture (non-Jews: 4%), approximately 1% in domestic employment (non-Jews: approximately 8%), and 13% in other professions (non-Jews: approximately 36%). Between the two world wars Cracow became an important center of Jewish political and social life in Poland. The Polish-language Zionist daily *Nowy Dziennik, which had considerable public influence, was published there. Zionist movements were active. General Zionism, led by Osias Thon, who served for many years as rabbi of the liberal congregation, and by I. *Schwarzbart, had a strong following. The Bundist monthly Walka was published in Cracow between 1924 and 1927. In this period, as in former years, the mass of poorer Jews were concentrated in Kazimierz. Educational institutions included an elementary and a Hebrew secondary school in Cracow – during the school year 1937–38, 1,332 pupils were enrolled in these two institutions – a Hebrew ḥeder, the Taḥkemoni secondary school, a Jewish commercial school (opened in 1933), and the Orthodox women's teachers seminary for the Beit Yaakov girls schools in Poland. The president of the community between the two world wars was Raphael Landau. Antisemitism increased in Cracow from the early 1930s, especially among the Polish youth and the extremist (Fascist) Polish nationalist organizations, who made frequent attacks on Jewish shops and stalls, as well as on Jewish students at the university and technical high school.

[Arthur Cygielman]

Hebrew Printing in Cracow

Hebrew printing was first introduced in Cracow in 1534 by the brothers Samuel, Asher, and Eliakim Halicz, who had learned the craft with Gershom Kohen in Prague, whose style their productions betray. They printed the first edition of Isaac of Dueren's Sha'arei Dura – in Rashi type and with a beautifully decorated title page – in 1534, the year in which they received a license from King Sigismund i of Poland. A few other works followed, until in 1537 the three brothers converted to Christianity, which did not prevent them from continuing to print Hebrew books (a mahzor and the first two parts of the Tur), but their products were boycotted by the Jewish community. Eventually the king forced the Jewish communities of Cracow, Poznan, and Lvov to buy the Halicz's entire stock. Great success was attained by the Hebrew press set up in 1569 by Isaac b. Aaron of Prostitz (Prossnitz), who was trained in Italy and received a 50 years' license from Sigismund ii Augustus. He acquired his equipment from the Venetian printers Cavalli and Grypho and also brought with him from Italy the scholarly proofreader Samuel Boehm. In the next 60 years Isaac and his successors (sons and nephews) produced some 200 books, of which 73 were in Yiddish. The Babylonian Talmud was printed twice (1602–08; 1616–20); a fine edition of the Jerusalem Talmud in 1609; Alfasi's Halakhot together with Mordekhai in 1598; and several editions of the Shulḥan Arukh with Isserles' annotations. Among kabbalistic literature was a Zohar (1603), and some of Moses Cordovero's writings. Other works included a Pentateuch and haftarot with the classical commentaries (1587), Yalkut Shimoni (1596), and Ein Ya'akov (1587, 1614, 1619). In his title-page decoration Isaac copied the Italian style. His printer's mark was first a hart, but from 1590 fishes. For the next four decades (1630–70), prominent Hebrew printers in Cracow were Menahem Nahum Meisels, his daughter Czerna, and his son-in-law Judah Meisels, a grandson of Moses Isserles. Menahem Nahum took over Isaac b. Aaron's equipment which he enlarged and improved, but he returned to the Prague style of printing, with Judah ha-Kohen of Prague as his manager. There was no Hebrew press active in Cracow in the 18th century. Between 1802 and 1822 Naphtali Herz Shapiro and his son Aaron Solomon issued such works as the Midrash Tankhuma (1803) and Midrash Rabbah (1805). Some "modernist" literature was also printed by Shapiro's son. Karl Budweiser printed various books between 1867 and 1874, before moving on to Lemberg (Lvov). Joseph Fisher, at first in partnership with B. Weindling, printed a good deal of Haskalah literature from 1878 until 1914, including a number of Hebrew periodicals such as Ha-Tor, Ha-Zeman, and Ha-Maggid. S.N. Deitscher and son were active as Hebrew printers from 1890 to 1940 and A. Lenkowitch from 1897.

Holocaust Period

There were 56,000 Jews living in Cracow on the eve of World War ii. Persecution began soon after the German occupation (Sept. 6, 1939). On Sept. 17, 1939, Marek Bieberstein and Wilhelm Goldblatt became chairmen of the Jewish community and tried to restore community activities. The first Aktion took place on Dec. 5 and 6, 1939, when the Eighth District, inhabited mainly by Jews, was cordoned off, and searches and mass confiscations were carried out. The Germans burned down the Jewish Community Council building and several synagogues. That month the Germans appointed a *Judenrat, consisting of 24 members, including 11 of the former kehillah council and headed by Artur Rosenzweig. In April 1940, the German authorities issued an order for most of the Jews to evacuate the city within four months. Some 35,000 left, while about 15,000 Jews received special permission to remain. Another group was forced to leave in February 1941. About the same time, Cracow's two rabbis (Kornitzer and Rappaport) were murdered by the Nazis. On March 21, 1941, the ghetto was erected and close to 20,000 Jews, including 6,000 from neighboring communities, were crowded in. The physical extermination began in June 1942 when 5,000 victims were deported to the *Belzec death camp in three successive "selections." Several hundred were put to death in the ghetto itself. Among the deportees were Artur Rosenzweig and the 60-year-old poet Mordecai Gebirtig. The 70-year-old painter Abraham Neumann was shot in the street. In the next Aktion (Oct. 28, 1942) 7,000 Jews were shipped to Belzec, while the patients at the Jewish hospital, the old-age home inmates, and the 300 children at the orphanage were murdered on the spot. After new refugees arrived the ghetto population was now about 10,000, some of whom were in the work camp cordoned off from the rest of the ghetto by barbed wire. Final liquidation came in the middle of March 1943, when the inhabitants in the work camp were transferred to the nearby *Plaszow labor camp, and anyone found hiding was shot. The majority of the Jews in the other section were either killed on the spot or dispatched to *Auschwitz.


The Cracow Jews began organizing resistance activities at the end of 1940. Their initially passive resistance soon turned into two organizations for armed resistance and sabotage: Bnei Akiva, consisting of Zionist youth and headed by Laban Leibowitz, Szymon (Shimon) Draenger and Adolf (Dolek) Liebeskind, which published a clandestine weekly in Polish; and a Ha-Shomer ha-Ẓa'ir group organized by leftist leaders H. Bauminger and Benjamin Halbrajch. The Bnei Akiva group established a base for military operations at a nearby village in the vicinity of the famous salt mines of Bochnia. Soon afterward both groups merged into the countrywide Żob ("Jewish Fighting Organization"). On Dec. 22, 1942, they attacked a group of German officers at Cracow's "Cyganeria Club," killing a dozen. This attack took on great significance. Several sabotage acts followed, including the derailment of trains. The Cracow Żob maintained contact with Jewish partisan groups in the Kielce district and with the *Warsaw Ghetto Żob leaders, one of whom, Yitzhaak Cukierman, was active in the Cracow ghetto for a period. When the Cracow Żob dissolved due to the final liquidation of Cracow Jewry, some of its members continued their activity at the Plaszow labor camp.

[Danuta Dombrowska /

Stefan Krakowski]

Contemporary Period

By the end of World War ii, only a few Jews who had been in hiding were saved. Only by the end of 1945 and in 1946 did Jews return to Cracow from Russia, where they had found refuge during the war years. The Jewish quarter of Kazimierz, however, was not reestablished by the Jews after the war because 3,000 among them sought residence elsewhere in the town, fearing the outbreak of a pogrom. The last Jew left Kazimierz in 1968. The new Jewish community used four of the ancient synagogues for their religious services. The oldest synagogue, "Hoyche Schul," was transformed into a Jewish museum. The old cemetery was renewed and reformed as a result of contributions from American and Canadian Jews. After the exodus of 1967–69, 700 Jews, mainly elderly ones, remained in the city. A few hundred were still present in the 1990s and just 150 or so in 2004.. A memorial book on Cracow Jewry, Sefer Kraka Ir va-Em be-Yisrael, was published in 1959.

[Arthur Cygielman]


history: J.M. Zunz, Ir ha-Ẓedek (1874); H.D. Friedberg, Luḥot Zikkaron (1897, repr. 1969); Ḥ.N. Dembitzer, Kelilat Yofi, 2 vols. (1888–93, repr. 1960); F.H. Wettstein, Kadmoniyyot mi-Pinkasot Yeshanim… be-Krakov (1892); idem, Le-Korot ha-Yehudim be-Polin u-ve-Yiḥud bei-Krakov (1918, repr. 1968); F. Friedmann, Die galizischen Juden im Kampfe um ihre Gleichberechtigung 1848–1868 (1929); B.; M. Balaban, Historia Żydów Krakowie i na Kazimierzu, 2 vols. (1931–36); I. Schipper (ed.), Dzieje handlu żydowskiego na ziemiach polskich (1937), index, s.v.Krakow; Halpern, Pinkas, index; R. Mahler, Yidn in Amolikn Poylin in Likht fun Tsifern (1958), 38, 62–64, 104, 126, 139, 150, 152, 156, 157, 175, 180, 187, 197; tables nos. 10, 18, 28, 42, 55, 57; H.H. Ben-Sasson, Hagut ve-Hanhagah (1959), in dex; S. Bronsztejn, Ludność żydowska w Polsce w okresie międzywojennym (1963), 31, 103, 114, 125, 141, 143, 146, 151, 167, 168, 170, 207–10, 232, 277, 280, 281. printing: B. Friedberg, Ha-Defus ha-Ivri bi-Krakov (1900); idem, Ha-Defus ha-Ivri be-Polanyah (19502), 1–41; Balaban, in: Soncino-Blaetter, 3 (1929–30), 1–14, 31–34, 36–50; hb, 4 (1900), 135–6; Habermann, in: ks, 33 (1957/58); 509–20; Rivkind, in: Bibliotekbukh (Yid., 1934), 49–53. add. bibliography: "Zeh Haya Bet ha-Sefer ha-Ivri be-Krakow," in: A. Zbikowski, Zydzi Krakowscy i ich gmina w latach 1869–1919 (1994); E.Reiner (ed.), Kroke-Kazimierz-Cracow (2001). holocaust period: J. Te nenbaum, Underground (1952), index; Arim ve-Immahot be-Yisrael, 2 (1948), 346–52; Nirensztajn, in: Bleter far Geshikhte, 5 no. 1–2 (1952), 226–63; G. Davidson, Yomanah shel Yustinah (1953); G. Reitlinger, Final Solution (19682), index; Y. Peled (Margolin), Krakow ha-Yehudit 1939–1943 (1993); T. Pankiewicz, Apteka w getcie krakows kim (1947; Bet Mirkaḥat be-Getto Krakow, 1985); E. Duda, The Jews of Cracow (1998); pk.