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Virtual Jewish World: Zambrow, Poland

ZAMBROW (Rus. Zambrov), town in Bialystok province, N.E. Poland. The few Jews who lived in Zambrow in the early 18th century were not organized into a community being under the jurisdiction of that of *Tykocin (Tiktin). A ḥevra kaddisha was established in Zambrow in 1741, but the Jews buried their dead in the cemetery of the neighboring community of Yablonka. In 1765, 12 Jews living in Zambrow and another 462 in the surrounding villages paid the poll tax. In 1808 the Jews of Zambrow numbered 80 (13% of the total population), and in 1837, 320 (31%). A Jewish cemetery was consecrated in the town in 1828, and in 1830 an organized community with a synagogue, mikveh, and permanent religious officials were established. At first the members of the Jewish community engaged in the timber and grain trade, and kept inns. From the middle of the 19th century Jewish occupations included raising horses, cultivation of orchards, crafts, and petty trade. In 1857 the community numbered 1,022 (63% of the population). In 1890 the local cemetery was enlarged. A kasher kitchen was opened for the hundreds of Jewish soldiers attached to the battalions stationed there. About 400 Jewish houses were destroyed in a great fire in 1895. In 1905–06 Jewish youths and workers, organized within the *Bund , the *Zionist Socialist Workers ' Party ("SS") and the *Po'alei Zion , staged a number of strikes in the textile factory and the sawmills. R. Lipa Ḥayyim held rabbinical office in the town from the 1850s until his death in 1882. He was succeeded by his son-in-law, R. Dov Menahem Regensberg, who held the position for several decades.

In 1921 there were 3,216 Jews (52%) living in Zambrow. Between the two world wars, branches of all the Jewish parties were active in the town. An elementary Yiddish school named after Ber Borochov was established in 1919. It was followed by a Hebrew school and a Zionist kindergarten in 1921. R. Shlomo *Goren , Israeli rabbi, was born in this town.

[Arthur Cygielman]

Holocaust Period

Under Soviet administration (1939–41) great changes were introduced affecting Jewish life. All activities of a political or Zionist nature were suppressed, and private enterprise was terminated. Jewish refugees arrived from Ostrow Mazowieck and were offered assistance by the Jewish community. A great number of these refugees were exiled to the Soviet interior. In the spring of 1941 the young Jews were drafted into the Soviet army. After the war between Germany and the U.S.S.R. broke out (June 22, 1941), the town fell to the Germans. A Judenrat was set up on German orders, headed by Gerszom Srebrowicz. It tried to alleviate the suffering of the community, but when it did not comply with all the German demands it was disbanded and a new Judenrat was set up, headed by a man who did not belong to the local community. The first Aktion was carried out on Aug. 19, 1941, in which about 1,500 persons were murdered in the region of Szumowo. During a second Aktion on Sept. 4, 1941, 1,000 persons were put to death in the locality of Rutki-Kosaki. At the end of December 1941 about 2,000 Jews were forced into a ghetto and subjected to starvation. Typhus epidemics broke out, and the hospital set up to aid the population worked ceaselessly. People began fleeing to the forests in an attempt to join the partisans. The severe conditions of the forest, as well as the antisemitic attitude of the partisans, forced many Jews to return to the ghetto. Nevertheless, some Jews were able to join partisan units which operated in the area of the Pniewa forest. Many of them were killed by members of the Polish underground Armia Krajowa. In November 1942 about 20,000 Jews from Zambrow and the vicinity were rounded up and interned in a former army camp. On Jan. 12, 1943, their transport to Auschwitz began in batches of 2,000 a night. Two hundred elderly and sick were poisoned and disposed of locally. After the war, only a few survivors from Zambrow and the vicinity remained. Others returned from the Soviet Union. Most of the survivors left again for Bialystok and Lodz, and later left Poland. Societies of emigrants from Zambrow were established in the U.S., Argentina, and Israel. A memorial book, Sefer Zambrov, in Hebrew and Yiddish with English summary, was published in 1963.

[Aharon Weiss]


W.A.P. Bialystok, ZOB, 12:1–38 (= CAHJP, ḤM 7546–53); R. Mahler, Yidn in Amolikn Poyln in Likht fun Tsifern (1958), index; B. Wasiutyński, Ludność żdowska w Polsce w wiekach XIX i XX (1930), 36; Ha-Meliẓ, 123 (June 4, 1887); Ha-Ẓefirah, 167 (1895); 36 (1897).

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