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Coat of arms of Leszno

Alternate names: Leszno [Pol], Lissa [Ger], Leshno. 51°51' N, 16°35' E, Lissa/Leszno was the major town (Kreisstadt) in the W Prussian province of Posen. 1900 Jewish population: 1,206. Yizkor: Geschichte Der Juden in Lissa (, 1904). Lissa (between 1800 and 1918 [Ger] also called Polnisch Lissa or Polish Leszno) is a town in central Poland with 63,955 habitants in 2008 in the southern part of the Greater Poland Voivodeship since 1999 and previously the capital of the Leszno Voivodeship (1975-1998). travel story describing the synagogue, now a museum. The history of Jews in Leszno dates from the second half of 16th century when Leszczy? obtained permission to settle from Andrej, the former owner. They gradually dominated the economic force of the city in 1626; and Bogus?aw V Rafal Leszczy?scy gave the Jews a special privilege governing relations between the Jewish community, and municipalities and to owners of the castle. Under this privilege, the Jews were a distinct population of the district and permitted to construct the first cemetery and synagogue. Rapidly, the Jewish community became one of the largest in the Republic and distinguished in economic and cultural activities. Their trade reached Turkey, Persia, China and Russia and the most important fairs: Leipzig and Frankfurt, and Jaroslaw, and Brody. Many scholars studying with the Leszno rabbis held rabbinates in Italy, England, the Netherlands, Germany and France. The yeshiva brought hundreds of students from the Poland, Prussia, Czech lands, and Moravia. In the 18th century, this community had over Wielkopolskie communities in Kalisz, Poznan and Krotoszyn. From 1714 to 1764, the local kaha? represented Wielkopolska at the Jewish Sejm of Four Lands - Waad Arba Arcot - the highest Jewish authority in Poland. The collapse of the Polish State in the late 18th century and the change in administration resulted in an imbalance to the foundations of the life of Jews in Leszno. Diverse political and economic issues and continuing immigration in the 19th century diminished the size and significance of the municipality. In the early 20th century, its only several hundred people were the smallest population in its almost two hundred history. The last Leszno Jews alive in the Holocaust were deported to the ghetto in Grodzisk Mazowiecki, and then to Warsaw, dying in the gas chambers of Treblinka. Today, all that remains of Jewish Leszno is a synagogue, a few buildings, and the Jewish cemetery. The synagogue in the central section of the Jewish street, Narutowicza 31, is considered the largest and probably oldest in Wielkopolska region. The first synagogue was established about 1626, a wooden building or half-timbered that caught fire many times and was destroyed in the great fires that devastated Leszno. Today, the synagogue is an impressive 18th century Baroque façade from 1905, designed by Wroclaw architects, Richard and Paul Ehrlich, in the style and the spirit of the Vienna Secession. The internal layout of the monumental and modern synagogue included the women's gallery and all walls except the east occupied by a large arcade joining the body of the tower. A higher bimah with an altar for the Torah and organ gallery despite the Orthodox nature of the town, he arranged a thoroughly modern synagogue. The prayer hall had a bima, the aron ha-kodesh from inner amphitheater and a pulpit to women equipped with good central heating, ventilation and beautifully decorated with plant and Art Nouveau elements and a Mogen David. In addition, German was used in sermons as in the progressive synagogues meaning that Leszno's synagogue and Orthodox environment had no equal until its use stopped in 1939. After WWII, for many years served as the "stop bath". In 1956 part of the tower dropped its helmet, then lost the inside ferroconcrete on two floors. In 1991, after entry in the register of historic buildings in 1992, the synagogue taken over by the Regional Museum in Leszno, intended for permanent collections and storage for display. Finally, it was put into service in 2006 as an art gallery. For many years, unresolved issues surrounded the synagogue Leszczy?skiej, a building considered the oldest preserved synagogue in the Wielkopolska region. The importance of the temple is not only related to its age, but also to the fact that the synagogue was home to the most important Jewish community in Wielkopolska in the 18th and first half of the 19th century when Leszno became the center of Jewish communities in Great Poland, primacy for the municipality of Poznan both in terms of financial and organizational issues. When the old Jewish synagogue burned in the 19th century, new buildings replaced it. Leszno synagogue survived due to its good technical construction. Renovated in 1905, the temple survived WWII and another fifty years of neglect, awaiting listing onthe register of historic buildings in 1991 to revive it. In 1993, renovation of the building to adapt it to the museum for two millions gold for repair work was approved. In 1999, the renovation was delayed by a claim of ownership from the Jewish Community in Wroclaw based of 1997 legislation about return of former Jewish property to the rightful owners. Finally, Sejmik Wielkopolska decided compensate to the Wroclaw Jewish community that then turned over the building to the city. Sejmik Wielkopolska granted funds on November 28, 2004 to refurbish of the synagogue by the end of June 2005, for development of new documentation, obtaining necessary licenses, and carrying out the renovation within the time limit. Delayed, In 2006, the budget of the Region approved was 550 000 PLN for continuation of work and purchase of the building. Afterward came initial installations to modernize and transform the synagogue building, showing shows the Wielkopolska government's appreciation for the importance of Leszczynska museum facility. While administratively part of the Regional Museum in Leszno, the synagogue will enable better display of collections and serves as a tourist attraction to Wielkopolska since the synagogue in Leszno is only one of three similar facilities in the country - Tykocinie, Leczna and Krakow. The preserved building structure will include virtually every Leszna cultural event for the entire region. The facade of the synagogue has become undoubtedly the most representative building of Old Leszczy?skiej. Other buildings that once served important functions for the local Jewish community such as the house of prayer, the Universal Building Schools for the Jewish al. Z. Krasinski, and the mortuary house at Al. Jana Paw?a II make an interesting historical tourist trail. synagogue. school and synagogue. rabbinate [May 2009]

The Jewish cemetery in Leszno established in 1626, originally was located outside urban areas at today's ul. Jana Paw?a II number 14 and was operated by the Jewish community until 1939. The cemetery was completely devastated by the Nazis during WWII. Thousands of destroyed gravestones were used as rubble for the construction of roads. After 1945, the cemetery was neglected. In the 1970s, the cemetery retained only a small fragment of its size and two buildings: the gravedigger residence and the mortuary house from the end of the 19th century. For the last many years, it was used for electroplating. In 1992, a mortuary house was entered in the register of historic buildings and from 1993-2004 housed the Department Judaistyczny District Museum in Leszno. Then the museum held about four hundred gravestones/matzevot from Jewish cemeteries in Leszno (352), Borku Wlkp (15) and Rydzyny (2). The oldest of gravestone found is from 1700, more than thirty gravestones date from the 18th century, and the others from the 19th and 19th centuries. The Regional Museum in Leszno for many years made considerable effort to preserve historic Leszno buildings of Jewish culture to ensure the tangible heritage left by the Jewish people in Leszna. Several years ago, creation of the Judaist branch in the building of the burial house to promote learning about Jewish culture and art has been recognized by the Ministry of Culture and Arts. In 1993, the museum facility was awarded "The Most Interesting Museum Event of 1993 " for the renovated and adapted burial house museum. A torah scroll temporary exhibition was organized by the museum. In 2005, "Nasi Bracia Starsi" - "Our Elder Brothers" exhibited paintings, drawings, and graphic art from the collections of the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw. In 2004, prints and paintings of Jewish themes by Lila Fija?kowska, a graduate of the Moscow Academy of Fine Arts, exhibited. "Wielkopolscy Rabbis-- In the Circle of the Jewish tradition" examined the achievement of Jewish thought in the field of philosophical investigations as well as theological and historical elements. Photos. [May 2009]

The Jewish cemetery in Leszno, Poland was visited on 24 July 1997. The former caretaker's house is now part of a regional museum system devoted to the history of the area's former Jewish population. The grounds were well kept. An effort is underway to expand the museum, to develop at lE a portion of the cemetery as a memorial garden. Several gravestones have been located and pieces of a number of others have been collected. Leszno was the birthplace in 1740 of Haym Salomon who immigrated to New York in 1772. He subsequently joined the Sons of Liberty and played a vital part in the success of the Revolutionary War working closely with Robert Morris, the Minister of Finance, in raising funds for the war effort. A commemorative stamp was issued in Salomon's memory in 1975. A statute of Haym Salomon with George Washington and Robert Morris has been placed in Herald Square, Wacker Drive in Chicago. During our visit to the museum, two very cooperative attendants were present but the curator was not working. They arranged for us to meet him in the nearby town of Wschowa where he lived. He led us to another Jewish cemetery in an isolated rural area close to a nearby village. (This latter restored cemetery was in relatively good shape except for vegetation.) The curator of the Leszno museum is Dariusz Czwojdrak, who prepared the 29 Oct 1991 survey of the Leszno cemetery that appears next. Mr. Czwojdrak asked for help in locating descendants of those interred in this cemetery to obtain permission to use the land as art of the museum. In the meantime, the museum is looking for additional articles for its collection. Articles concerning Haym Salomon are also lacking. The museum address for Mr.Czwojdrak is: Dariusz Czwojdrak, Muzeum Okregowe, Dzial Judaistyczny, ul. Estkowskiego 2, 64-100 Leszno, Poland. Prepared and names sent by Scott Clark, Professor of Environmental Health, University of Cincinnati, PO Box 670056, Cincinnati, Ohio 45267-0056, tel: (513)-558-1749, fax: (513)-558-2722, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

LESZNO:     US Commission No. POCE000320

Alternate name: Lissa in German. Leszno is in Leszno woj at 51º51 16º35, 69 km from Poznan and 96 km from Wroclaw. Cemetery location: ul. E. Estkowskiego. Present town population is 25,000-100,000 with no Jews.

  • Town: Prezydent Edward Szzucki, ul. Studzienna 4/4, 64-100 Leszno, tel. 20-45-66. Urzad Miejski w Lesznie, ul. Karasia 15, 64-100 Leszno, tel. 20-36-36, fax. 20-28-20.
  • Regional: Ewa Piesiewicz, Panstwowa Sluzba Ochrony Zabytkow w Leszyie, ul. Mickiewicza 5, tel. 20-63-83.

The earliest known Jewish community was 16th century. 1921 Jewish population was 299 (1.8%).  Elia Margolies, Rabbi Abraham Lissa, Rabbi Jacob Lissa, Rabbi Akiba Eiger, Rafal Kosch, Dr. Leo Baeck, Hirsch Kalischer, and Ludwik Kalisch lived here. The Conservative and Progressive/Reform Jewish cemetery was established in 17th century with last burial 1939. Buried here are Rabbi Izaak ben R. Schalom, Rabbi Izaak ben R. Mose Gerson, and Dawid Tewle. Wschowa in 1759 (19 km away), Swieciechowa (6 km away), and Zaborowo (2 km away) used this cemetery. The isolated urban flat land has no sign or marker. Reached by turning directly off a public road, access is open to all with no wall or gate. The size of the cemetery was 2.7 ha but no longer existed. Residential buildings now occupy its land. Stones that were moved are in the district museum in Leszno (4 pieces). About 30 pieces are incorporated into roads. Tombstones date from 18th-19th century. The sandstone flat shaped stones, finely smoothed and inscribed stones, or flat stones with carved relief decoration have Hebrew and German inscriptions. No known mass graves. The municipality owns the cemetery property used for residential buildings and storage. Properties adjacent are recreational and residential. The cemetery boundaries are smaller than in 1939 due to housing development. Private visitors rarely visit. The cemetery was vandalized during WWII. There is no maintenance or care. A pre-burial house, a gravedigger's house, and residential buildings are within the limits of the cemetery. Security, erosion, and incompatible nearby and planned development are moderate threats.

Dariusz Czwojdrak, ul. Lipowa 22a/4, 67-400 Wschowa visited site and completed survey 29 Oct 1991. No interviews.

Last Updated on Friday, 12 June 2009 01:12
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