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The Old Shtetl Lipno

There is evidence of Jewish presence in Lipno as early as the 18th century. The beginning of the 19th century saw the rise of an organized Jewish community; it was then that a synagogue was built and the Jews were allotted land for a cemetery. A decree dated May 25, 1824, limited Jewish residence to a specific quarter of the city, but not an enclosed ghetto.


Prior to 1913, the majority of Jews made their living on minor trade and craftsmanship. A few Jews made their living fishing. The Jewish bakeries and kitchen houses were owned and staffed by Jews. During the second half of the 19th century, the Jews of Lipno erected a second synagogue, called Ha’gadol (The Great), and several shtiblach were built for various groups of chasidim. The new synagogue could accommodate several hundred worshippers. The town also supported a chevra kadisha (burial services), a hospitality charity, and a charity that provided firewood. A bikur cholim group was established in 1889, and in 1903 a gemilut chasadim charity was established.


Among the first Lipno known rabbis is Rabbi Michael Berlin, who served the town throughout the mid-19th century. In 1877 Rabbi Yehuda Leib Schwartzberg was appointed as the municipal rabbi, eventually to be replaced in 1895 by Rabbi Shlomo Wingate. Wingate, in turn, was replaced by Rabbi Shmuel HaLevy Bradt. The latter served Lipno until 1928, when he was elected rabbi of Tomaszow Mazowiecky.


Up until WWI, most Jewish children studied in cheders. About sixty Jewish children studied in the Russian public school for Jews, which only had two classes. When WWI broke out, the Lipno Jewish community dwindled, as many Lipno Jews fled to Warsaw, never to return.


In the first years following the war, the Joint assisted with the rehabilitation of the Lipno Jewish community. In 1921 a soup kitchen for kids was established with assistance from the Joint. The kitchen served hot meals to 250 Jewish children. Many Lipno Jews had difficulty finding work in the first years after the establishment of independent Poland, and were assisted by the Joint. In 1929 the Joint contributed 200 dollars to the gemilut chasadim charity, allowing them to significantly increase the size of loans that were given to the needy.


In the period after WWI, almost all Zionist organizations operating within Poland had offices in Lipno. The first Zionist organization offices were established early in the 20th century. In 1920, the Aguda Ha’Zionit (the Zionist Company) renewed its operation. In the following years, offices were established by the General Zionists, the Workers of Zion, the Mizrachi, and in 1933 the Tzahar. During that time, several Zionist youth groups set up chapters in Lipno, such as Ha’Shomer Ha’Leumi, Ha’Shomer Ha’tzair and Beitar.


During the period between the two World Wars, Lipno Jewry developed education for Jewish children. Most Jewish children continued to learn in cheders, but modern educational institutions were established as well. The Ha’Shomer Ha’Leumi youth group held evening classes in Hebrew throughout the 30′s. There was a library that housed books in Hebrew and Yiddish. During the 20′s a Maccabi sports collective was established.


In the years prior to the outbreak of WWII, the Lipno Jews suffered from continuous anti-Semitic propaganda. In 1938 the local anti-Semites set up watch outside Jewish stores to support a boycott of Jewish businesses. The income of Jewish storekeepers was damaged significantly and many had to turn to charity and public assistance.


As WWII broke out and divisions of the German army approached Lipno, many Jews fled the city and escaped to the East. The flight continued even after the Germans occupied the city. Many of Lipno’s Jews escaped to Warsaw. In November of 1939 the German army banished the remaining Jews to the major cities, particularly Warsaw. The fate of Lipno’s exiles was the same as that of all Jews in those places. Today there are no Jews left in Lipno; any remaining survivors of this once thriving Jewish community are scattered around the world. (www.zchor.org/lipno/lipno.htm)





Shmuel Ben Eliezer can be reached at jpolin2@aol.com


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More Articles from Shmuel Ben Eliezer
Arnold Fine 2008

I REMEMBER WHEN I first started working at the Jewish Press 18 years ago, Arnie who was in charge of the newsroom, took me under his wing…

The official beginning of World War II was September 1, 1939. On that day German soldiers invaded Gdansk after bombarding the city with a military warship. As part of the Polish Government’s official series of events marking seven decades since the start of World War II, Poland’s Jewish community and the Jerusalem-based “Shavei Israel” organization held a special ceremony yesterday in the Gdansk synagogue to commemorate the outbreak of the war, which paved the way for the Holocaust.

The official beginning of World War II was September 1, 1939. On that day German soldiers invaded Gdansk after bombarding the city with a military warship. As part of the Polish Government’s official series of events marking seven decades since the start of World War II, Poland’s Jewish community and the Jerusalem-based “Shavei Israel” organization held a special ceremony yesterday in the Gdansk synagogue to commemorate the outbreak of the war, which paved the way for the Holocaust.

September 1, 1939 is the date on which Germany invaded Poland, starting WWII. While it should be said that the start of the war was not the start of the Shoah, which actually began with the rise of Nazism in 1933, it was a major milestone in the annals of the Holocaust. Within the first few days of the war, Germany had conquered and/or bombed much of Poland, including the capital, Warsaw.

September 1, 1939 is the date on which Germany invaded Poland, starting WWII. While it should be said that the start of the war was not the start of the Shoah, which actually began with the rise of Nazism in 1933, it was a major milestone in the annals of the Holocaust. Within the first few days of the war, Germany had conquered and/or bombed much of Poland, including the capital, Warsaw.

In September 1939 the Germans started establishing ghettos in the occupied territory of Poland. Ghettos played an important role in the Jewish extermination policy. They were filled with Polish and Western European Jewish deportees. The ghettos differed in times of existence, size, internal organization, and living conditions. The Germans called them ” death boxes” (Todeskiste). The city of Lodz belonged to the Wartheland District and the Germans changed its name into Litzmannstadt.

In September 1939 the Germans started establishing ghettos in the occupied territory of Poland. Ghettos played an important role in the Jewish extermination policy. They were filled with Polish and Western European Jewish deportees. The ghettos differed in times of existence, size, internal organization, and living conditions. The Germans called them ” death boxes” (Todeskiste). The city of Lodz belonged to the Wartheland District and the Germans changed its name into Litzmannstadt.

Growing up in the U.S. during the second half of the 20th century, I, along with most people, know very little about the First World War. The little that I did know was about the trench warfare in France and Belgium. The Eastern Front was barely, if ever, mentioned and usually stated that it ended with the Russian Revolution and overthrowing the Czar.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/the-old-shtetl-lipno/2006/03/22/

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