LOMZA

LOMZA (Pol. Łomża; Rus. Lomzha; Yid. Lomzhe), Bialystok district. In 1556 the Jews were compelled to leave after the privilege de non tolerandis Judaeis was granted to the town, giving it the right to exclude Jews. They did not return there until after the Congress of Vienna (1815). Once their presence was authorized, the number of Jews increased, to 737 in 1826, 2,574 in 1852, 9,244 (54.8% of the total population) in 1897, and 11,088 in 1915 (including 1,500 refugees from the surrounding towns). Their numbers later declined to 9,131 (70.8%) in 1929, and 8,912 (56.7%) in 1931. During the 19th century they were integrated in the life of the country and took an active part in the Polish uprising of 1863. They played a major role in the economic life of Lomza, owned factories, and were the leading wholesalers in the grain and timber trades. Between the two world wars, Jews played an important part in the municipal administration. In the municipal elections of 1919, and again in 1926, they won half the seats. After this, however, as a result of the Polish policy of restricting Jewish influence in the town, the number of seats allocated to the Jews was limited. In 1921 there were 498 Jewish workshops in Lomza, 295 of them with salaried employees. During this period the Jews engaged in various crafts, but they were ousted from these by the antisemitic   measures introduced by the Polish government. As a result of the economic crisis and the anti-jewish boycott imposed by the antisemitic trade unions and parties, the Jews were greatly impoverished, and many left Lomza. The community administration, which maintained social and educational institutions, was unstable after World War I. Following the elections to the community administration in 1939, interparty dissensions brought its activities to a complete standstill, and the government subsequently appointed an official commissioner to take charge of its affairs. Educational institutions, such as the talmudei torah and the ḥadarim, had already been established in Lomza during the 19th century. In independent Poland, pressure was exerted on the Jews to send their children to the Polish government schools. A Jewish-Polish secondary school had already been established in 1916. The Great Yeshivah, founded in 1883 by R. Eliezer Szuliawicz, was transferred to Ereẓ Israel (Petaḥ Tikvah) in 1926, where it became known as Yeshivat Lomza. Jewish parties active in Lomza included agudat israel , the bund , and the Zionist organizations. These published regular and occasional periodicals, including the Lomzher Shtime, Lomzher Veker, and Lomzher Lebn in Yiddish and others in Polish. The Great Bet Ha-Midrash was erected during the early 1840s and the Great Synagogue in 1880. The last rabbis of Lomza were Aaron Bakst and Moses Shatzkes. (Shimshon Leib Kirshenboim) -Holocaust Period On the outbreak of World War II there were about 11,000 Jews in Lomza. In September 1939 the Red Army entered the city. With the outbreak of the German-Soviet war, the Germans occupied the town on June 24, 1941, and established a ghetto on Aug. 12, 1941. On September 17 a large-scale Aktion took place and 3,000 Jews were killed. On Nov. 2, 1942, the deportations to zambrow camp began, and between Jan. 14 and Jan. 18, 1943 the inmates of Zambrow camp were deported to auschwitz . Thousands of Jews were brought out of the city and killed in the woods of Galczyn near Lomza. After the war, the Jewish community of Lomza was not reconstituted. Organizations of former residents of Lomza are active in Israel, France, Australia, and the United States. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: Sefer Zikkaron le-Kehillat Lomza (1952).

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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