Sokolow Podlaski

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SOKOLOW PODLASKI , town in Warszawa province, Poland. A Jewish community was first organized there at the end of the 16th century. In 1665 the owner of the town, Jan Kazimierz Krasiński (1607–1669), granted the Jews judicial powers among other rights, and accorded Jewish craftsmen the same status as that of the Christians. In the 18th century many Jews engaged in such crafts as weaving, tailoring, furriery, and tanning; they also engaged in wholesale commerce of agricultural produce and cloth. There were 163 Jews who paid the poll tax living in Sokolow in 1765. The Jewish population numbered 1,186 (37% of the total population) in 1827; 2,275 (62%) in 1857; 4,248 (59%) in 1897; 4,430 (55%) in 1921; and 5,027 in 1931.

Sokolow became noted as a center of *Ḥasidism. During the middle of the 19th century R. Elimelech was rabbi of Sokolow, and during the 20th century, the ẓaddik Isaac Zelig Morgenstern (d. 1940), a great-grandson of Menahem Mendel the ẓaddik of *Kotsk, held rabbinical office and acted as leader of the Ḥasidim.

After World War i, the economy of the town was disrupted as a result of antisemitic activities. In 1937–38 there were attacks on Jews accompanied by bloodshed.

[Shimshon Leib Kirshenboim]

Holocaust Period

At the outbreak of World War ii there were 4,000 Jews in Sokolow. The German army entered the town on Sept. 20, 1939, and immediately began terrorizing the Jewish population. On Sept. 23, 1939 (the Day of Atonement), the Germans set the local synagogue on fire. In the summer of 1941 a ghetto was established in Sokolow. The Jews there were deported to Treblinka death camp on Sept. 22, 1942. They offered considerable passive resistance, some hiding themselves, but about 500 of those found in hiding were shot on the spot. Another 700 succeeded in fleeing into the surrounding forests, but most of them were shot by German armed units who searched the forests. Groups of young Jews joined small partisan units operating in the vicinity. One group entered the Bialystok region and joined the guerrillas there.

The Jewish community was not reconstituted in Sokolow Podlaski after the war. Organizations of former residents were established in Israel, the United States, France, and Argentina.

[Stefan Krakowski]


R. Mahler, Yidn in Amolikn Poyln in Likht fun Tsifern (1958), index; B. Wasiutyński, Ludność żydowska w Polsce w wiekach xix i xx (1930), 35, 65, 182, 201; S. Bronsztejn, Ludność żydowska w Polsce w okresie międżywojennym (1943), 278; Yevreyskaya Starina, 4 (1911), 286–8; M. Gelbart (ed.), Sefer ha-Zikkaron, Sokolov Podlask (Heb. and Yid., 1962); P. Granatstein, Mayn Khoyrev Shtetl Sokolov (1946).