SZCZEBRZESZYN (Rus. Shchebreshin ; Yid. Shebreshin ), town in *Lublin province, E. Poland. An organized community existed there from the first half of the 16th century. The Jews in Szczebrzeszyn traded in spices and frequently did business at the Lublin fairs. In 1583 King Stephen Báthory renewed the rights formerly granted to the Jews there to trade in the villages. In 1597 King Sigismund iii Vasa prohibited the Jews from leasing tax collections. A magnificent synagogue, built in Renaissance style, was erected at the close of the 16th century. (It was set on fire in 1939.) The Jews of the town suffered at the time of the *Chmielnicki massacres, in 1648–49. Meir b. Samuel of Szczebrzeszyn, who escaped, gave an account of these events in his Ẓok ha-Ittim (Cracow, 1650). In 1701 a session of the *Council of the Four Lands was held in Szczebrzeszyn. There were 444 Jews living in Szczebrzeszyn in 1765. After 1815, when Szczebrzeszyn was incorporated within Congress Poland, there were no restrictions on Jewish settlement in the town. The Jewish population numbered 1,083 (31% of the total) in 1827; 1,605 (38%) in 1857; 2,449 (44%) in 1897; and 2,644 (42%) in 1921.
During the 19th century Ḥasidism had considerable influence in the community. The ẓaddik of Javorov, Elimelech Hurwitz, stayed there during the 1880s. The Hebrew scholar Jacob *Reifmann lived in Szczebrzeszyn in the first half of the 19th century.
[Shimshon Leib Kirshenboim]
On the outbreak of World War ii there were about 3,200 Jews in Szczebrzeszyn. The German army entered the town on Sept. 13, 1939, but withdrew on Sept. 27, when the town was occupied by the Red Army. On Oct. 9, 1939, the Red Army withdrew according to the new German-Soviet agreement on the partition line. Several hundred Jews, mostly young people, left the town for the east together with the Soviet army. The remaining Jews were immediately subjected to persecutions by the Germans. On Aug. 12, 1940, the Germans ordered 300 Jews to register for work in a forced-labor camp. Most of them did not obey the order and fled from the town. On May 8, 1942, the German police murdered about 100 Jews. On Aug. 8, 1942, several hundred Jews were deported to the *Belzec death camp. On Oct. 21, 1942, all Jews who did not manage to escape were transferred to Belzec and perished there. Hundreds of Jews, however, succeeded in escaping into the surrounding forests, where they organized small guerrilla units. Only a few survived until the liberation of the region in July 1944. After the war the Jewish community was not reconstituted.
M. Balaban, Zabytki historyczne w Polsce (1929), 51; Sefer Hrubieszów (1962); Shebreshin Zhurnal, nos. 4–5 (1954); I. Schiper, Dzieje handlu żydowskiego na ziemiach polskich (1937), index; B. Wasiutyński, Ludność żydowska w Polsce wiekach xix i xx (1930), 33; Z. Klukowski, Dzięnnik 3 lat okupacji (1959).
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