02.04.2022 | Redaktor

05. Keepers of Jewish community registers

Jewish communities used to maintain their own registers of births, marriages, and deaths, and the registrars who fulfilled that function were held in high esteem.. In Galicia (in the Austrian partition), following the 1868 law, the authorities had to appoint a special person to keep Jewish community registers. Such a person was to meet a number of requirements: have Austrian citizenship; belong to the administrative commune, which was the seat of the register district; have no other profession; pass an exam on the regulations concerning keeping community registers and the use of recognized languages (these detailed requirements were specified in the 1875 ordinance; in Galicia, keepers of Jewish community registers were to demonstrate knowledge of German, Polish and Yiddish). The candidate received a stamp with an inscription describing his function (Keeper of community registers in…), which was an official confirmation of his status.

Stamp of the keeper of Jewish community registers in Brzesko from the beginning of the 20th century. As Brzesko was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the inscriptions on the stamp are in two languages, Polish and German.
Stamp of the keeper of Jewish community registers in Brzesko from the interwar period. After the establishment of independent Poland, Polish became the only official language; the inscriptions on the stamp are only in Polish.

We know the names of several keepers of Jewish community registers in Brzesko. Juda Salomon (1829-1879) was the registrar until August 1879. After his death, this function was taken over by Jakob Blonder, and in December 1879 Abusz Federgrun (1843-1918) became the keeper of community registers. The son of Abusz Federgrun, Natan Nute Federgrun (1861-1931), was the registrar first in Wojnicz, and from 1918 until his death in 1931 in Brzesko. J. Furst became the next keeper of Brzesko Jewish community registers (1931-1938); he was followed by Ch. Wincelberg (1939 – 1942). The last entry in Brzesko Jewish community registers was made in November 1942 when Germans left several dozen Jews in the town so that to clean the area after the liquidation of the ghetto.

Signature of Abusz Federgrun in Brzesko Jewish community registers, 1915.
Signature of Natan Federgrun in Brzesko Jewish community registers, 1918

The Jewish community registers of Brzesko have survived for the years 1863-1942. They are the main source of knowledge about a population who constituted as much as two-thirds of the people in the town before World War II. From these records we learn not just the names of these people and the dates of their births, marriages, and deaths, but also their occupations, family relationships, and where they lived.

Matzevas (tombstones) of two registrars of the Jewish community can be found in the Brzesko Jewish cemetery, those of Abush Federgrun and his son Natan. Abush Federgrun, son of deceased spouses Iser and Sara Federgrun from Gosprzydowa, died in Brzesko on January 26, 1918 at the age of 75. Natan Federgrun, son of Abush and Tauba, died on May 5, 1931 of pneumonia; he was 70 years old.

Death record of Natan Federgrun, “registrar of the Brzesko Jewish community”

Photos from Brzesko Jewish community registers come from szukajwarchiwach.gov.pl website.

Matzeva of Natan Federgrun

Mrs. Jolanta Kruszniewska provided the translation of the inscription on the matzeva of Natan Federgrun:

Here lies
Natan Nata [Nute] Federgrin
Son of Abraham Abish
His soul departed on Lag Ba’omer 5691
A sincere man
May his soul be bound up in the bond of eternal life.

© Anna Brzyska, 2022