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Jewish settlements in Poland began during the period of the Piast dynasty and increased in the 14th-16th centuries. At first, Jews settled in larger towns, in search of better living conditions. The first Jews arrived in Tarnów in the mid-15th century. The proof of this is the mention of Kafel, a Jew, which can be found in the court files of Lviv from 1445.

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Jewish settlements in Poland began during the period of the Piast dynasty and increased in the 14th-16th centuries. At first, Jews settled in larger towns, in search of better living conditions. The first Jews arrived in Tarnów in the mid-15th century. The proof of this is the mention of Kafel, a Jew, which can be found in the court files of Lviv from 1445.
Jews in Poland constituted a free, numerous population, concentrated in the cities. Nevertheless, they were separated from the class of townspeople and subjected to separate legislation. This was the reason for the creation of barriers that isolated this community from the rest of the population; this isolation was enhanced by both linguistic and cultural differences. For this reason, the life of the Jews from the beginning of their arrival had been regulated by the privileges that led to the further development of this group. The Tarnów Jews received their first privileges from the city’s owner, Prince Konstanty Wasyl Ostrogski, in 1581. This document has not been preserved to the present day. The privilege provided Jews with an exclusion from municipal law and guaranteed them the safety of the synagogue and cemetery; it was confirmed by later owners of the city, hence our knowledge of excerpts of this document.
In 1676, Count Stanisław Koniecpolski announced a new privilege for the Jews, based on old dispensations granted by the previous owners of the city of Tarnów. This privilege excluded Jews from the city’s jurisdiction, surrendering them to the castle court and recommended that the Jews use all their freedoms on an equal footing with the townspeople, so that they could freely trade their goods and pay taxes to the owners of the city. This is a manuscript in Polish, written on parchment, with the wax seal of the knighthood of the frontier placed in a protective metal box.

Elaborated by District Museum in Tarnów, © all rights reserved

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Manuscript “The privilege of Stanisław Koniecpolski for Jews from Tarnów” with a seal

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