LASK (Pol. Łask), town in Lodz province, central Poland. The Jewish settlement of the town began to develop at the close of the 16th century. For about two centuries, the owners of the town were favorably disposed toward the Jewish population and protected it from the local clergy. The fires which burnt down most of the town's houses in 1624 and 1747 caused heavylosses to the Jewish population. The ancient synagogue and cemetery were destroyed. Thanks to the right of residence granted in 1640 by Stanislaw Wierzbowski, Lask Jews were authorized to engage in crafts, to trade in grain and *livestock, and to lease and keep inns. They were, however, forbidden to acquire houses and building lots in the market square and the neighboring streets. From the close of the 17th century, the Jews of the town paid heavy taxes toward the maintenance of the army. During the early 1790s the debts of the community increased considerably, to about 30,000 zlotys. According to the census of 1765, there were 891 Jews in Lask and a further
In 1939, there were 3,864 Jews out of a total population of 6,000. After the town was occupied by the Germans, the religious Jewish community was persecuted. Synagogue officials were executed; the bet midrash was converted into a slaughterhouse for horses; Jews were forced to perform degrading acts during the High Holidays. A ghetto was established in several stages. At first a few streets were earmarked for Jewish habitation, but on Nov. 18, 1940, the Germans forced all the Jews of Lask into this area. Toward the end of 1941, the death penalty was imposed for anyone leaving the ghetto. From then on the food situation worsened considerably. The Judenrat organized a hospital, a kindergarten, and a soup kitchen. In mid-August 1942 the ghetto was liquidated. About 3,500 Jews were locked up in a church outside the city and were kept for several days under inhuman conditions; the Germans then picked out some 800 craftsmen to be sent to *Lodz ghetto, while the rest were sent to the extermination camp at *Chelmno.
P. Selig, Ir Lask va-Ḥakhameha (1926); B. Wasiutyński, Ludność żydowska w Polsce w wiekach xix i xx (1930), 28, 51, 180, 185, 188, 210; I. Krasoń, Z dziejów Łasku (1965); Z. Tsurnamal (ed.), Lask Izcor-book (Heb., Yid., some Eng., 1968); D. Dąbrowska, in: BŻIH, 13–14 (1955); J. Goldberg et al., in: PK Polin.
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.