OSTROLEKA (Pol. Ostrolęka; also Ostrolenka), town in Warsaw province, Poland. A permanent Jewish settlement in Ostroleka is not recorded before the 19th century, although Jews are mentioned in connection with the town in a document of 1622. An ordinance of 1826 prescribed certain areas for Jewish residence, only those with special privileges being permitted to live outside. The restriction was removed in 1862. The community, which numbered approximately 560 in 1827 (16.3% of the total population), increased to 1,129 (36.8%) in 1856; 4,832 (37.2%) in 1897; and 6,219 (53.5%) in 1909; decreasing to 3,352 (36.6%) in 1921. The 708 members of the loan society (founded in 1909) of the Ostroleka community in 1924 comprised 359 artisans, 259 small traders, 11 agriculturalists, and 79 members of other professions.

[Nathan Michael Gelber]

Holocaust Period

Ostroleka was occupied by the Germans in September 1939. Jews were physically attacked and Jewish property confiscated. On Simḥat Torah all Jews were ordered to cross into the Soviet sector within three days. During the expulsion many were killed and their property stolen. The Jews of Ostroleka were scattered throughout the Soviet sector and found temporary asylum in Bialystok, Slonim, Lomza, and other cities. Administrative restrictions were placed upon them, and in 1940 many families were deported to the Soviet interior. Those who remained in the Soviet-occupied sector of Poland fell into the hands of the Germans after the outbreak of the German-Soviet war (June 22, 1941) and suffered the same persecutions as the local Jews – forced labor, starvation, disease, and finally extermination. Jews from Ostroleka were active in the resistance movements in the Vilna and Baranovichi ghettoes. Some also joined the partisans and fought in the Puszcza Naliboki and the surrounding area.

[Aharon Weiss]


Sefer Kehillat Ostrolenka (Heb. and Yid., 1963).

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.