Łask Jewish History
Early History The Jewish settlement of the town began to develop at the close of the 1500’s. For about two centuries, the owners of the town were favourably disposed toward the Jewish population and protected it from the local clergy. The fires which burnt down most of the town's houses in 1624 and 1747 caused heavy losses to the Jewish population. The ancient synagogue and cemetery were destroyed. Thanks to the right of residence granted in 1640 by Stanislaw Wierzbowski, Łask Jews were authorized to engage in crafts, to trade in grain and *livestock, and to lease and keep inns. They were, however, forbidden to acquire houses and building lots in the market square and the neighbouring streets. From the close of the 17th century, the Jews of the town paid heavy taxes toward the maintenance of the army. During the early 1790s the debts of the community increased considerably, to about 30,000 zlotys. According to the census of 1765, there were 891 Jews in Lask and a further 276 in the 54 small surrounding settlements subordinate to the community. In 1827, there were 1,270 Jews (64% of the total population). From 1827 on the new owners of Lask filed suit against the community for the payment of the debts which had accumulated by the close of the 18th century. In 1838 the Jews of the town were ordered, under threat of attachment of their property, to pay their debts with the addition of 7,697 zlotys as accrued interest. Following rapid economic development during the second quarter of the 19th century, the Jews of Pabianice and Zdunska Wola set up their own communal organizations independent of Lask. The first known rabbi of the town was Israel b. Ithamar (d. 1726) who was succeeded by R. Meir b. Eliakim Goetz of Hildesheim. Subsequent rabbis were Phinehas Zelig (d. 1770), author of Ateret Paz (1768), Moses Judah Leib Zilberberg, author of Zayit Ra'anan (2 vols., 1851–69) and Tif'eret Yerushalayim, David Dov *Meisels (d. 1876), and his son Levi Aryeh Judah (until 1932). The last rabbi of Lask was Leibel Ajzenberg, who died in the Chelmno extermination camp in 1942. From the second half of the 19th century, most of the Jews of Łask were Chasidim (belonging to the Kotsk and Warka ‘sects’). In 1897 there were 2,862 Jews in Lask (68% of the population). Jewish workers and craftsmen were influenced by the socialist movement. Zionist activities also started at the outbreak of World War I. In 1919 two of the 14 members of the municipal council were Jews. Between the two world wars, there were two Jewish libraries, a reformed Heder (founded in 1927), a Hebrew Tarbut (secular - Hebrew language) school, a Bas Yakov (girls) school, and Maccabi and Shtern sports societies. In 1921 there were 2,623 Jews in Łask. After the serious economic crisis of 1929, anti-Semitism became intensified and an economic boycott was imposed on the Jews. Rabbis, Cantors and Kehila Chief Rabbis in Chronological Order Rabbi Israel ben Ithamar (d. 1726), first known rabbi of Lask. GOETZ, Rabbi Meir ben Eliakim (1685-1732), of Hildesheim; also simultaneously the first chief rabbi of Piotrkow Trybunalski in 1726. Rabbi Phinehas (Pinchas) Zelig (d. 1770), author of Ateret Paz (1768). ZILBERBERG, Rabbi Moses Judah Leib, author of Zayit Ra'anan (1851-69) and Tif'eret Yerushalayim. MEISELS, Rabbi David Dov (d. 1876), father of Rabbi Zvi Arie Yehuda. MEISELS, Rabbi Zvi Arie Yehuda, rabbi of Lask from 1876 to 1932; author of Hiddushei Yaakov. AJZENBERG, Rabbi Leibel (Yehuda Leib), the last rabbi of Lask; assisted his father-in-law, Rabbi Meisels, until he was officially appointed the rabbi of Lask in 1932; Rabbi Ajzenberg was deported to Chelmno death camp and murdered there by the Nazis. Rabbis SAPIR ?, Rabbi Elazar, renowned rabbi of the 18th century; author of Ma'ase Roke'ach; from Lask and Plonsk; father of 1) Yitzchak EJLINBERG, who was buried in old Lodz cemetery, and 2) Sinai SAPIR, rabbi of Brzeziny, author of Minkhat Ani and Olat Khodesh. ZYSMAN, Rabbi Israel David (1824-1866), son of Avraham; buried in old Lodz cemetery.
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Compiled by Martin Davis © 2010 -15
Polish Jews circa 1760
Lask Great Synagogue on Stefana Zeromskiego Street (site now occupied by a driving school)
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Postcard of the Lask Great Synagogue (side view) circa 1910
The elaborately carved lintel of an 19th century Lask matzeva (memorial stone) of a memorial stone in the Lask Jewish cemetery. The cemetery was effectively destroyed during WWII. More details can be found at the  International Jewish Cemetery Project.
International Jewish Cemetery Project The Orthodox, Conservative, and Progressive Jewish cemetery was established in mid- 19th century with last burial in 1942. The isolated suburban 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 before WWII and now is 2.0 hectares. 20-100 gravestones, none in original location, date from 1840-20th century. The cemetery is divided into special sections for men and women. The limestone and sandstone rough stones or boulders, flat shaped stones, finely smoothed and inscribed stones, or flat stones with carved relief decoration have Hebrew and Polish inscriptions. Some have traces of paint on their surfaces. There are no known mass graves. The municipality owns the property, which was (at the time of reporting) used for animal grazing and recreation. Properties adjacent are recreational and residential. Organized Jewish group and individual tours, private visitors, and local residents occasionally visit. The cemetery was vandalized during WWII. There is no maintenance or care. There are no structures. Security and erosion are moderate threats; vegetation and incompatible nearby development are serious threats. The cemetery location is forest so vegetation is a constant problem disturbing stones (report by Adam Penkalla was compiled in 1992).
Contemporary drawing of the Lask Great Synagogue circa 1930
Lask Jewish History