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KROTOSZYN (Ger. Krotoschin), town in the province of Poznan, Poland. The Jewish community was established in the 14th century, and by virtue of an ancient privilege allowing the Jews to trade, engage in crafts, and build houses, the community prospered. The privilege was reissued in 1638 by the owners of the town, and ratified and extended in 1648 and in 1673. In the course of the wars which ravaged Poland in the 17th century, the Jews suffered severely. Polish troops headed by the hetman *Czarniecky murdered 350 Jewish families out of 400 in Krotoszyn in 1656 during the war against the Swedes. Later the Jewish community recovered and its representatives filled important functions in the *Councils of Four Lands. Especially notable were Avigdor b. Abraham Katz, who in 1671 took part in the negotiations with Cristof Bressler of Breslau concerning the debt owed him by the Polish Jews, and Leibel b. Mordecai, who was one of the representatives of Polish Jewry in 1691. Riots broke out in 1704 and Jewish property was looted. A fire in 1774 destroyed the Jewish quarter, including the 16th-century synagogue, the bet midrash, and the library. Before the fire the Jews numbered 1,384 (37.5% of the total population). In the 18th century there were wealthy Jews of the town who traded with Germany and attended the fairs in Breslau, Leipzig, and Frankfurt on the Oder. A permanent representative of Krotoszyn, Leibel b. Baruch, stayed in Breslau at the beginning of the century to manage the business of the Jewish merchants during the fairs. The community regulations were fixed in 1728 by decree of the provincial governor, Potocki. The annexation of Krotoszyn to Prussia on the 1793 partition of Poland had critical results for the town's economy: the large Polish market was lost when the other parts of Poland were annexed to Austria and Russia. However, the Jews managed to thrive until the mid-19th century. A new synagogue was built in 1846. In 1849 the Jewish population numbered 2,327 (about 30% of the total). From then on the numbers of Jews declined and in 1910 only 411 (about 3%) remained. Jews from Krotoszyn settled in other places in Germany. Jewish public life in Krotoszyn ceased completely when the town passed to independent Poland after World War I. The number of Jews diminished to 112 (less than 1%) in 1921 and 50 in 1939.

Krotoszyn was known as a center of Jewish learning and scholarship. Shabbetai *Bass, the rabbis Menahem Mendel b. Meshullam Auerbach, author of Ateret Zekenim, Moses Jekutiel Kaufmann, author of Leḥem ha-Panim, and Benjamin b. Saul Katzenelbogen were active there. In the 19th century the scholars David *Joel and Eduard *Baneth served as rabbis in Krotoszyn.


L. Lewin, in: MGWJ, 77 (1933), 464ff.; Posner, in: Aresheth 1 (1949), 260–78; D.D. Dąbrowska, in: BŻIH, 13–14 (1955). ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: H. Berger, Zur Geschichte der Juden in Krotoschin (1907).

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