The History of the Dąbrowa Górnicza Jewish Community before the Holocaust
The Dąbrowa Górnicza Jewish Community in the Interwar Years
In 1921, some 4,300 Jews lived in Dąbrowa Górnicza – a little over ten percent of the population – joined by another 800 Jews in the decade that followed. The Jewish community committee helped fund aid institutions, an organization to care for the sick and a charitable loaning facility.
Dąbrowa Górnicza was now a significant industrial town, but with the exception of blacksmiths there were practically no Jewish laborers. Most of the Jewish residents worked in light industry and trade, mainly in the textile, clothing and food industries. A number of Jews owned factories, which hired a few Jewish laborers.
During the 1920s, four Jewish (private or party)-owned banks were established in the town. Some 300 Jews were members of the town's trade association, most of whom had accounts in the town's banks and took loans from them.
The largest Zionist party in the town at the beginning of the 1920s was Mizrachi, with Poalei Zion SZ, the General Zionists, the ultra-orthodox Agudath Israel and the socialist Yiddishe Bund alongside. Most of the town's Jews voted for the Mizrachi and Socialist parties in the elections for the Zionist Congress, with some ten percent voting for the Revisionists. In 1918, a national conference of Mizrachi was held in the town, and some two years later the first Jewish school was opened – named "Mizrachi" – which taught both general and Jewish studies in Hebrew and Polish. In 1930, the school joined the Mizrachi religious-Zionist education network, Yavneh.
In 1925, members of the "Tarbut" [Hebrew for "culture"] society established a library called "Ezra", with hundreds of books in Hebrew and Yiddish. There they held evening Hebrew-language courses, as well as classes on the history of the Jewish people for adults. The "Yosef Haglili" fund that operated in the town collected funds to support the activities of the Zionist groups. The Hashomer Hatzair branch, established in the 1920s, was the largest Zionist youth movement in the town in the 1930s, despite the fact that some of its activists left to join the Poalei Zion Left party and the Bund. Also established at that time were a branch of the Gordonia movement; a Hachsharah (pioneer training) kibbutz of the Hechalutz movement named "Borochov," of which dozens of members worked in factories in the town; a Hashomer Hadati branch influenced by the Mizrachi Youth movement; and divisions for hired workers of the Hechalutz movement, of which a small number immigrated to Eretz Israel.
In the 1928 municipal elections, the general Zionists and the Zionist-Socialist movements received over fifty percent of the Jewish vote, and Agudath Israel about one-quarter. In the community's institutions were representatives of the various Zionist streams, Agudath Israel, Hassidei Krimilov (the largest Hassidic group in Dąbrowa Górnicza) and craftsmen.
In 1933, the rabbi of the town, Rabbi Alter Moshe-Aharon Levi (who had served in the position for over twenty years) passed away. Due to differences of opinion over his successor, none was chosen. Only in August 1939, a few days before the German invasion, was Rabbi Baruch Epstein – Rabbi Levi's son-in-law – appointed to the position.
In 1925, a blood libel against a Jewish merchant circulated in the town, but it was refuted. In the years leading up to WWII, antisemitic incitement was flamed by the Endeks – the right-wing Polish party – and there were a number of attacks on Jewish merchants in the town. In the 1939 municipal elections, many of the town's Jews voted for the Socialist Polish party, in order to diminish the power of the right-wing and antisemitic parties.