The Osjaków Volunteer Fire Brigade circa 1909; combining volunteers from all sections of the community.
An early 20th century postcard photograph of the Osjaków public park.
An Agricultural and Trading
By the 19th century, most of the Jews of Osjaków owned or leased fields, meadows and houses. However, after the Russian imposed land reforms of 1864, most of the Jewish owners gradually lost their agricultural possessions, since the new legislation only permitted such possessions to the peasant class; from which Jewish people were generally excluded. The efforts to maintain ownership showed themselves in a variety of ways over several decades. A few Jews managed to maintain ownership of their houses and fields due to the intercession of one of the Christian heads of the town of Osjaków, who established that the local Jews were to be counted among the peasant class.
Osjaków on the edge of Imperial Russia
The Imperial Russian domination of the Congress Poland saw a gradual erosion of the rights of the Polish people. The direct impact on the Jewish population of Osjaków is not recorded but, as the village was within the 50 verst (33 miles) Jewish prohibition zone, the communities rights would have been restricted.These regulations, originating from a Russian law introduced in 1843 during the reign of Tzar Nicholas 1, also banned Jews from living in the area which was adjacent to the Prussian and Austrian borders. How this affected the Jewish community of Osjaków is also not recorded. However, it is generally noted that Imperial Russian officials experienced great difficulty in making this law work and that led to it being redrafted in 1858 to allow ‘indigenous’ Jews to remain but preventing Jewish immigration to the banned areas.The continued use of the synagogue and the affiliation of the local Jewish community with the local governorship, suggests that the Osjaków Jewish community continued to be present in the village and surrounding area during this time.
Osjaków’s Communal Development
At the end of the 19th century, Rabbi Eliahu Zinger occupied the rabbinical seat. He had previously served as the rabbi in Przysucha. After he left Osjaków, he served in Brzeznica. In 1909, Rabbi Yitzchak Braun (the son of Rabbi Avraham Braun) served as rabbi in Osjaków. His son-in-law, Rabbi Menachem Teiger, later inherited his seat.During the period between the two wars, various Jewish communal organizations were active in Osjaków. The Jewish community was concentrated in such bodies as the organization of Orthodox Jews and "Mizrachi", whose president was David Griner. There were various other communal groups including a benevolent fund (Gemilut Chasadim), a group to provide shelter for the homeless and medical help for the needy (Linat Tzedek), and an organization to support the poor. Additionally, there was a Jewish library in Osjaków named after Y.L. Peretz, as well as a Jewish sports organization.
Osjaków Market Square
The market square (Rynek) circa 1925. “Almost all the houses around the market were owned by the local Jewish population”.