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ZELECHOW (Pol. Zelechów ), town in Warsaw province, Poland. Jewish settlement in the town dates from the 17th century. Zelechow was celebrated for the high-quality footwear produced there. The ḥasidic rabbi, *Levi Isaac of Berdichev, officiated there from 1772 to 1784. The character of the little town is graphically conveyed in the works of two Yiddish authors who were born there, I.M. *Weissenberg and the poet Y. *Lerer (see bibliography). After the establishment of the Polish republic in 1918, the economic position of Zelechow deteriorated with the loss of the Russian markets. The Jewish inhabitants of Zelechow and district numbered 1,464 in 1765, 2,317 in 1856, 4,930 in 1897 (70% of the total population), and 5,500 on the eve of World War ii.

[Yehuda Slutsky]

Holocaust Period

The German army entered Zelechow on Sept. 14, 1939, and on the next day the Nazis burned the synagogue. During 1940–41 over 2,000 Jews, mostly from the surrounding smaller places, were forced to settle in Zelechow. In the fall of 1940 an open ghetto was established there. On Sept. 30, 1942 (during Sukkot), the ghetto was liquidated and all its inmates were transferred to the *Treblinka death camp and exterminated there. Only a few hundred Jews managed to flee. Many of them organized small Jewish partisan units or joined mixed Polish-Jewish-Russian units that were active in the vicinity until the liberation in July 1944. No Jewish community was reconstituted in Zelechow after the war. Organizations of former Jewish residents are active in Israel, the United States, Brazil, and Argentina.

[Stefan Krakowski]


I.M. Weissenberg, A Shtetl (1910); Y. Lerer, Mayn Heym (1938); A.W. Yasny (ed.), Yizkor-Bukh fun der Zelechower Kehile (1953); Sefer ha-Partizanim ha-Yehudim, 2 (1958), 199–205.