King Kazimierz the Great decreed the founding of Pilzno in 1354. The first
arrival of the Jews in Pilzno is thought to have been in 1560. There is a
lack of records up to 1560. Records of 1564 mention three Jewish farm-owners,
and two Jewish tenant farmers.
Official records of 1576 indicate that three Jews lived in Pilzno. King
Stefan Batory in 1577 ordered the Jews evicted from Pilzno and forbade them
to settle in the town or vicinity. In practice, however, this ban was inconsistently observed.
The Pilzno city council issued a decree in 1635 prohibiting Jews from
selling in the town's market. In 1814 the head priest of Pilzno in his report
to the Bishop mentioned that there are no Jews in Pilzno. The Jews lived,
however, in neighboring villages and came to the market. "Altogether there
are nine Jewish families in the parish," he wrote. Jews had an Inn near the
parish church in 1760 but none of them had the rights of citizens.
In 1772 Poland was divided among the three neighboring powers: Russia,
Austria, and Germany. The section of Poland that was given to Austria, which
included Pilzno and its environs, was known from then on as Galicia. In 1787
a decree was issued that the Jews of Galicia were required to take on German
family names, starting in January 1789.
The Austrian government created a local council in Pilzno in 1830 and admitted
Jews to the town.
The first Jew who received the right/approval of the city to live in Pilzno
was Aron Ader, a barber/surgeon, from Dembitz, in 1830. After him more Jews
moved to Pilzno.
In 1880, according to the census, Pilzno had 2128 residents, of whom 551
were Jews. In 1900 the Census in Pilzno showed 2138 residents and 707 Jews.
The early Pilzno Jews belonged to the synagogue in Tarnow. In 1873 the
Jews of Pilzno organized a separate religious community with Aron Seelenfreunden
as their leader, and members Jacob Ader and Mendel Kornhauser. From a Pilzno
citizen they bought a wooden house which they transformed into a synagogue
and next to it they built ritual baths. They also purchased some land for
a cemetery. They built a brick and stone wall around the cemetery and at
its entry there was a wooden structure for the preparing of bodies for burial.
Before the establishment of the cemetery Jews buried their dead in Dembitz.
For more history of the Jews of Pilzno, click here.