1st Zabna Congregation

Story Summary:

The First Zabna Congregation (Erste Zabner Congregation Bnei Shulem David) was founded in New York by immigrants from Żabno, Poland. The society was founded in 1922, and dissolved in 1999. When Jews first settled in the town of Żabno, they were given a number of privileges, such as permission to open/run their businesses, engage in local trade, and have their own place of worship. This allowed them to develop themselves as a community and flourish. Throughout the 18th and 19th century, the Jewish population of Żabno was contingent upon Poland's economy. The 20th century marks the steady decline of Żabno's Jewish population as a result of extreme poverty and devastation from both World Wars. As a result, many Jews left the town, either traveling overseas or settling in nearby areas like Denmark and Saxony.


 1st Zabna Congregation



The First Zabna Congregation (Erste Zabner Congregation Bnei Shulem David) was founded in New York by immigrants from Żabno, Poland. The society was founded in 1922, and its intentions were to provide its members with a place of worship and cemetery property. The society was dissolved in 1999. The congregation uses Mount Hebron cemetery as well as Mount Lebanon cemetery. The history of Żabno dates back to the 13th century, however, it was not until the 17th century that Jews began to reside there. Their growth and success in the town was facilitated by a number of privileges granted to them, such as ability to trade, to open businesses, to build their own synagogue, and to designate burial space for its community members. Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, the Jewish population of Żabno fluctuated, but usually constituted about half of the town's total population. During the 19th century, the town faced many hardships such as floods, the cholera epidemic, and a fire, however this did not deter them.

During the early 20th century, however, mass emigrations began to take place across Poland. This was due to problems with the economy that resulted in many facing poverty. According to surveys from the Tarnow Diocese Consistry, about 80 inhabitants left the town seasonally. Many are reported to have gone either overseas, or to neighboring areas such as Denmark or Saxony. These numbers were exacerbated by the outbreak of WWI. By 1921, more than half of Żabno’s Jewish community had left the town. During the interwar period (1918-1939), the remaining Jewish community remained stable through maintaining their businesses and connections in the local trade. A Merchants’ Association was established in the town, which signifies the growing interest of many in the trade business. Unions and guilds for Jewish craftsmen were also formed as part of a new movement within Poland.

However, the stability of the Jewish community of Żabno lessened when the Germans invaded Poland in 1939 and WWII began. The Germans immediately took control of all sectors of society, gradually taking away the rights of the Jews in the community. The Germans dissolved the unions and guilds that had been established, and destroyed the community’s synagogue. About 700 Jews, from Żabno and from neighboring towns, were forced into a ghetto that was extremely overcrowded and unsanitary. These living conditions alone resulted in many deaths. Instances are also known of Germans either killing groups of Jews in the ghetto, or deporting them to the Belzec concentration camp. By September of 1942, there was no record of any Jews remaining in the town. It is understood that about 40 people managed to hide and escape from the Germans, but their fate is unknown.








Blog by Olivia Scanlon

Related Stories: