SOCHACZEW (Rus. Sokhachev), city in Warszawa province, central Poland. There is evidence of a Jewish settlement in Sochaczew in 1427, when the city was under the jurisdiction of the princes of Mazovia. An organized Jewish community existed from the end of the 15th century, after the city had been annexed to the kingdom of Poland in 1476. In that era the Jews of Sochaczew engaged in moneylending and trading in cloth and spices. In the first quarter of the 16th century a Jewish physician, Felix, practiced in the city. In 1556, during the Catholic synod of Lowicz, the local authorities, and heads of the church, incited by the entourage of the papal nuncio, L. Lippomano (1500–59), accused Sochaczew Jews of *Host desecration. The three Jews condemned to death were immediately executed although it was evident that the accusation was false and despite the fact that King Sigismund II Augustus had ordered a retrial. Those responsible for the hasty execution, the governors of Rawka province and of the cities of Sochaczew and Plock, were subsequently sued by the heads of the community. By 1599 the Jews of Sochaczew owned 20 houses, a synagogue, hospital, mikveh, and cemetery, and engaged in commerce in livestock, leather, and wool, and in such crafts as tailoring and carpentry.
A *blood libel in 1619 resulted in the death at the stake of one Jew. After the Jewish quarter burned down the following year, the burghers opposed its reconstruction and the Jewish community temporarily came to an end. In 1749 King Augustus III granted permission to certain Jewish merchants and craftsmen from Warsaw to renew the settlement in Sochaczew. They established a tannery, a distillery, and tailoring and shoemaking workshops, and traded in agricultural produce. In 1765, there were 1,349 Jews who paid the poll tax in the city and surrounding villages. A new synagogue was built in 1793, which remained standing till World War II. During the *Kosciuszko rebellion (1794) the Jews of Sochaczew donated considerable sums to his cause. In 1800, 52 of the 91 craftsmen in the town were Jews. In 1808 the 1,085 Jews of Sochaczew formed 81% of its population; there were 2,322 Jews (74%) in 1827; and 2,936 (76%) in 1857. During the uprisings of 1863 several Jews fought on the side of Polish rebels in the local battles. In the latter years of the 19th century the Jews established various industrial enterprises and transport firms. In 1883 the rabbi, Abraham Bornstein of *Sochaczew, founded a ḥasidic court and later a large yeshivah. Rabbi Samuel Isaac Landau served the community from 1902 to 1912. From 3,776 (66%) in 1897 the Jewish population had grown to 4,520 (71%) by 1908. In World War I, during the battles of 1915 many Jews left the city and by 1921 their number had dwindled to 2,419 (48%). Between the world wars all the various Jewish parties were active in the city and established educational and cultural institutions. Half of the 24 members of the city council were Jews in 1925 and Moshe Szwarc (*Folkspartei) was vice mayor. During the 1930s a biweekly periodical, Sokhatshever Tsaytung, was published. At that time Rabbi A. Zisha Frydman, general secretary of *Agudat Israel, and the writer O. Varshavsky lived in the city.
On the outbreak of World War II there were about 4,000 Jews in Sochaczew. In February 1941 all the Jews were deported to the *Warsaw ghetto and shared the fate of that community. After the war the Jewish community of Sochaczew was not reconstituted.
Halpern, Pinkas, index; S.A. Bershadski (ed.), Russko-yevreyskiy arkhiv, 3 (1882), 140; idem, in: Voskhod, 14:11 (1894), 53; P. Mojecki, O żydowskich oknicieństwach, mordach y zabobonach (1598), 18; L. Lewin, Die Landessynode der grosspolnischen Judenschaft (1926), 27, 29, 45; J. Shatzky, Geshikhte fun Yidn in Varshe, 1 (1947), 133; A. Eisenbach et al. (eds.), Żydzi a powstanie styczniowe, materiały i dokumenty (1963), index; I. Schiper, Dzieje handlu żydowskiego na ziemiach polskich (1937), index; A.S. Stein and G. Weisman (eds.), Pinkes Sokhatshev (1962); Dubnow, Hist Russ, index; R. Mahler, Toledot ha-Yehudim be-Polin (1946), index.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.