A cursory history of the kehila
1563 The first itinerant Jewish traders begin to settle in the small Polish fishing village that had in recent years obtained town status, named Pyła. Jews lived among fishermen, bee-keepers, potters, traders and tradesmen who were eking out a living on both banks of the river Gwda.
1605 King Johan Zygmunt III presents the town of Pyła and the surrounding
lands as dowry to his young second wife, Konstancja.
1626 A devastating fire destroys Pyła. The very young Queen Konstancja decrees to rebuild the town and initiates several far-reaching changes to the town, affecting most of all the lives of the Jews who are forced to live from thereon in a ghetto on the outskirts of Pyła. Further harsh new laws are visited upon the Jews.
1641 The earliest accounts of an organized kehillah in Pyła. Rabbi Meir ben Eljakim Goetz becomes the first known spiritual head of the community.
1655 Begin of The Deluge, the Chmielnicki uprising that devastates vast areas of central and eastern Poland; Pyła’s burgeoning kehillah feels threatened.
1681 Rabbi Menachem Nachum ben Israel Sak is elected to head the rabbinate, a position he holds for fourteen years.
1710 The kehillah becomes more impoverished while the plague wreaks havoc in Pyła, for the second time since 1654. Many burghers flee to other towns as fires ruin parts of Pyła once again.
1718 Despite the great poverty among all the burghers of Pyła the kehillah seeks out a new spiritual leader, Rabbi Naphtali Herz ben Benjamin Seeb Wolff, also known as Herz Pila; his position only lasts for six years.
1758 After a period of thirty-four years, the kehillah feels strong enough once again to choose a new rabbi, Meir ben Mordechaj Sak. Poland begins to slide into apathy and moral decline as hordes of Cossacks descend once more on the Ukraine, a dreadful reminder of events a century earlier.
1772 The alliance of Prussia, Austria and Russia divides Poland. Pyła becomes the renamed Prussian town of Schneidemühl in the newly formed Netzedistrikt under the rule of the enlightened despot, King Friedrich II of Prussia.
(The above has been excerpted from the recently published book
History of the Jewish Community of Schneidemühl: 1641 to the Holocaust)
*A continuation of this time-line appears on p. 295 of the above book.
More comprehensive details on this part of the history of the community can be found on p. 85.