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  ... Jewish Ancestors in Poland  

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Welcome to my reading room. I have put together a selection of articles written or translated by me, but also some with a link from other sources.  Happy reading!

The Origin of Jewish Names

Until the turn of 18th century Jews who lived in Poland did not have surnames at all (similar to Polish peasants). They were described by given names combined with a nickname or a function they had, like Jankiel Karczmarz (Jankiel the Innkeeper), Rudy Moszek (Moszek the Redhead), Justyna Izraelitka (Justyna the Jew) etc. With the big wave of immigration to Poland at the begin of 19th century new names appeared: Hebrew, German, Spanish. Very popular were also copies of Polish surnames created of the father’s name like Aronowicz or Herszlikowski. Besides those patrimonies there were also surnames made of the city’s or profession’s name, like Warszawski, Belchatowski or Zlotnik (goldsmith). Read more8

Grajewo Now and Then

Situated at an intersection of two important roads, from Warsaw to Vilnius (route No 61) and from Elk (in former Prussia) to Bialystok, Grajewo managed to become a vivid center of trade and communication. The central place was a square market with a dominating neo-gothic church, surrounded by solid two-storey buildings, where all wealthy families lived (among them many Jewish). Read more8

Searching Through Polish Archives

The essential help for making a family tree are vital records (birth, marriage and death records). They are stored in a Civil Record Office (Urzad Stanu Cywilnego) of the town where the person was registered or, in case of records older than 100 years, in a branch of a State Archive. The surest and fastest way to obtain them is a visit in a respective office in Poland. Especially marriage records could hold a lot of precious information: age of both persons (that could indicate their birth date), names and professions of the parents etc. Read more8


The beginning of the city was a settlement from the 13th century. Its original name was Szeylow, then Zeliow. The first historical reference is dated 1402 and can be found in a volume "Liber Beneficiorum“ by Jan Laski. Until the 18th century Zelow was a typical nobleman's village, located quite a distance from major roads and lost among the woods and poor fields. The inhabitants worked in agriculture and animal husbandry. The settlement, which at that time belonged to Mr. Jozef Swidzinski, was bought in 1802 by Czech immigrants who went there to escape religious persecution in their country. They founded a textile industry which is still functioning well even today. Read more8

From the JewishGen ShtetLinks

BELCHATÓW ShtetLinks Home Page

History of Jewish Belchatow

Jewish Population:

In 1764, only seven Jews were listed as living in Belchatow. Jews at first did not settle there due to its poor economy. The chronicles of a Franciscan monk around 1790 contains the first reference to a Jew of Belchatow ("the Jew Dawid"). In 1809 the registers of non-Christian citizens of Belchatow were established. By 1820, according to some sources, Jews, attracted by the textile industry, constituted more than 50% of the population. Read more8

From the Polish Jews Website

Photos of synagogues, Jewish cemeteries, Polish towns See more8

Short Chronology of the History of Jews in Poland

Read more8

The Lodz Ghetto - 60 Years Later

A tourist who walks through the district of Baluty and sees a lot of high concrete blocks of flats among green meadows and trees can hardly imagine that a huge ghetto once existed here and what kind of tragedy occurred here every day. Read more8


Book of the Month

The Chronicle of the Lodz Ghetto, 1941-1944

Latest addition
to site:

"Grajewo Now and Then" (more)


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