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Mateusz Butrymowicz

(1745 – 1814)

Mateusz Butrymowicz was a Polish noble, officer and politician, proponent of a liberal plan to ameliorate the status of the Jews. His interests in landed property in Belorussia convinced Butrymowicz that it was necessary to solve the problem of the status of the large Jewish population there. In 1789 he reprinted a tract, published in 1782 under the title "The Jews, or on the Urgent Necessity for Reform of the Jews in the Lands of the Polish Crown, by an Anonymous Citizen," entitling it "A Way of Transforming the Jews into Useful Citizens of the Country" and adding his own comments. He opposed limiting Jewish rights and advocated assimilation by liberal methods. While against state interference with the principles of Judaism, he suggested introducing certain changes in the Jewish way of life and limiting the number of Jewish holidays. Butrymowicz considered the notions that Jews should be granted the same rights as were accorded to burghers, and that Jewish communal authority should be limited to religious matters. He did not consider the question of Jewish military service relevant. As a deputy to the Sejm (diet) of 1788–92, he worked for the passage of reform legislation on these principles. He elaborated his ideas in a speech made in the Sejm on Jan. 31, 1789, suggesting that changes be introduced into the occupational hierarchy of the Jewish population by excluding Jews from innkeeping and directing them to agriculture, crafts, and commerce. On Dec. 4, 1789, he submitted his suggestions in a memorandum entitled "Jewish Reform" to King Stanislas Poniatowski. In May 1790 Butrymowicz was appointed to the Commission for Jewish Reform, becoming its most active member. At the same time he and two other deputies, Jacek Jezierski and Tomasz Wawrzecki, denounced in the Sejm the anti-Jewish riot that had taken place in Warsaw.


W. Smoleńki, Stan i sprawa Żydó polskich w 18. w. (1876), 52–95; Gelber, in: Miesięcznik Żydowski, 2 (1931), 429–40; Dubnow, Hist Russ, index; Dubnow, Weltgesch, 8 (1928), 42, 316–28; Waniczkóna, in: Polski słownik biograficzny, 3 (1937), 153–4; Ringelblum, in: I. Schiper (ed.), Żydzi w Polsce odrodzonej, 1 (1932), 69–71; R. Mahler, Divrei Yemei Yisrael, 1 pt. 2 (1954), 315–22. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: A. Cygielman, Al Haẓa'otav shel Ẓir ha-Seym ha-Gadol; M. Butrymowicz, Le-Tikkun Yehudim be-Polin ve-Lita u-Teguvah Rabbah shel K"K Khelma, Bein Yisrael le-Ummot (1988), 87–100.

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.