Rawicz, Poland

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Rawitsch, Posen, Prussia.  51:37n  16:52e  Town, Poznan province., Western Poland, 36 miles NNW of Breslau (Wroclaw). Until 1939, it was a Polish frontier station near the German border. See the official website for Rawicz, Poland

The first settlement of Jews in Rawicz took place around the time the town was founded in 1639.  In 1648 complaints were lodged against Jewish merchants who were then expelled.  They returned soon thereafter, only to be expelled again in 1674.  By 1698 an organized community was in existence and in 1719 it received a Freibrief  (letter of privileges) regulating the rights and taxes of its member.  By then, the Jewish community totaled 12 families. 

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 Rawicz Town Map: 1911 - Click picture for detail


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Rawicz Arial View - Click picture for detail 

 

Rawicz Town Entrance

 

 Rawicz City Square

      A hevra kaddisha was founded in 1728 and the first rabbi, Menachem Mendel Gradenwitz, was appointed in 1755.  Its bet din was headed by learned talmudic authorities, including Rabbi Solomon b. Dov Baer (1786-93), later to be the community's rabbi.  In 1774 a bet midrash was founded.  Services were held in a private house until a synagogue was built in 1783.  The community (35 families in 1739) flourished, and after a fire in Leszno (1790) absorbed many refugees, including Rabbi Akiva Eger, who lived there for one year.  The local Jews were mainly shopkeepers, tailors, livestock merchants, and artisans.  In 1797 the community had 198 families, and by 1835 there were 401 families (a total of 1574 persons, or about 50% of the total population).  A new synagogue was built in 1889 when the community was at its economic peak and served by  a long line of scholarly rabbis, including its last one, the scholar John Cohn (1893-1920).  The Jewish population subsequently declined to 363 in 1905.  The town suffered during World War I, and under Polish rule the community was subjected to discrimination which induced many to leave for Germany; only 15 remained in 1933.  The Jewish cemetery and synagogue were both destroyed by the Nazis during World War II.  

 

 Rawicz Synagogue (built 1889)  

The original Jewish cemetery for Rawitsch was located in Sierakowo - a small village outside of town.  It is located at ul. Podgorna on a hill and dated back from the 16th century. The wealthiest of Jews were buried on the hill facing Rawitsch.  Following WW II, only the gate remained with the words of Samuel 2.7 written on it in Hebrew and German.  Sometime after 1960, the gate was destroyed.  A small heap of stones from a few tombstones still remain there (1994).  See Sierakowo for photographs of the cemetery.

 Rawicz Jewish Cemetery.  The burial house was in the front, right corner of the property

      The newer Jewish cemetery is located in Rawicz, however, there are no noticeable remains.  The informant for the Polish Survey of Jewish Cemeteries was Dariusz Czwojdrak, ul. Lipowa 22a/4 67-400 Wschowa, Poland. 

           
Rawicz Jewish gymnasium prior to the Holocaust Rawicz Jewish gymnasium as it exists today (1994)

A photograph of the gymnasium exists in the Rawicz Yizkor book.  The previous photographs are from the Yizkor book of the pre-Holocaust gymnasium and the building as it exist today (1994).

            Markus Brann, the historian, and Arthur Ruppin, the Zionist leader, were both born in Rawicz.

 

Books:  Geschichte der judischen Gemeinde Rawitsch (1915) John Cohn.

            Rawicz Grod Przyjemskich (1938) Warsaw.

            The Annals of the Community of Rawitsch (Hebrew and English, 1962).

 

Records 

Urzad Stanu Cywilnego (USC) - Civil Records Office

            Urzad Miasta I Gminy w Rawiczu, ul. J. Krasickiego 21,  63-900 Rawicz

            Birth, Marriage, and Death (BMD) less than 100 years old

            1808 - Combined Jewish and other records

            1826 - Separate Jewish records