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Jewish cemetery - Zabytek.pl

Brok, Marii Konopnickiej

woj. mazowieckie, pow. ostrowski, gm. Brok-miasto

The town of Brok which was granted municipal rights in 1501, remained in the hands of the Płock bishops until the end of the 18th century.

Jews began to settle in Brok only after the third partition of Poland and resulting takeover of the church property by the Prussian invader. 

The first Jewish settlers were newcomers from Płock. In 1808, the Jewish community in the town numbered over 120 people. In the 1840s, a wooden synagogue and mikveh were built in Brok, at the corner of Pułtuska and Strażacka streets. The first rabbi of the community was Abraham Yehuda Lejb Kozak of Wyszogród, belonging to a group of Chassidim from Kock. There were three beth midrashim in the town. In June 1855, the authorities of the Płock Governorate applied to the Government Commission for Internal and Spiritual Affairs for an agreement to establish a synagogue district in Brok. There were almost 700 inhabitants of the Judaic faith in the town, and more than 50 lived in neighbouring villages. The Commission agreed to the creation of a new synagogue district, excluding Brok from the jurisdiction of the Ostrów Mazowiecka district. 

In the mid-1860s, the number of Jews who were leaders in Brok's economic life, especially trade and crafts, increased to 900, which at that time constituted 45% of the total population. In the 19th century, local bakers were highly regarded makers of matzo, which they also delivered to Warsaw and Łódź. The development of Brok as a resort created good conditions for economic development of local Jews. They ran kosher restaurants for vacationers, and they were also engaged in trade and crafts, and rented orchards. There were religious associations in the town: Linas ha-Cedek (care for the poor and ill), Hachnasat Orchim (care for orphans), Kupat Gemilut Hasadim (granting interest-free loans). At the turn of the 19th and 20th century, a large part of the Jewish community emigrated, mostly to North America.

In 1921, about 870 Jews still lived in Brok, but their share in the total population dropped to 33% (this process continued throughout the entire period of the Second Polish Republic). In the interwar period, the Zionist movement was gaining influence in the town - there was a branch of Mizrachi; youth movements: left-wing Hashomer Hatzair, Zionist-religious Hashomer Hadati, revisionist Betar. In 1938, the Hakhshara centre was established (agricultural training preparing for departure to Palestine). A small group of youth belonged to the Bund. Most of Jewish children attended cheders, girls learned at the Beis Yaakov school. In the interwar period, many Jews attended Polish public schools.

Germans entered the town on September 8, 1939, and its mostly wooden buildings (including the synagogue) were burnt. In the autumn of 1939, especially after German - Soviet occupation border had been marked out, nearly a third of Jewish residents fled to the territories taken over by the Soviet Union, where most of them were murdered after these areas were occupied by Germans. In 1942, Germans deported the remaining Jews to the nearby death camp in Treblinka. It is estimated that only about 30 Jews of Brok survived the war. Most of them left soon after, mainly to Palestine.

In 1852, Jews received from the Płock Governorate authorities a plot for the cemetery near today's Konopnicka and Sienkiewicza streets, next to the Catholic cemetery. The cemetery remained unused since World War II and was formally closed in 1964. At that time, the devastated cemetery remained unattended, without a fence which was finally reconstructed in 1990s. The windstorm in July 2011 caused further destruction.

Currently, the Jewish cemetery in Brok covers an area of about 0.5 ha. It is fenced with a grid, with entrances from the east and west. As a result of destruction and devastation from the times of German occupation and the post-war period, only several dozens tombstones, mostly made of unhewn granite stones with inscriptions in Hebrew, have survived in the cemetery to this day. The linear arrangement of graves is practically unreadable, but one can distinguish the division into male and female quarters characteristic of Jewish cemeteries. At the entrance from the side of Konopnicka Street, a high sandstone matzeva draws one’s attention. It is decorated with a three-armed candlestick, with the remains of a polychrome, commemorating a woman named Chana, who died in 1931. Just next to it is another sandstone tombstone, whose current shape suggests that the slab was used as a grindstone and probably brought back to the cemetery after many years. In the central part of the cemetery, a contemporary whitewashed tombstone is placed on the grave of Abraham Judah Lejb Kozak who died in 1895. He was a tzadik, the chief judge in the rabbinical court and the author of responses, that is religious commentaries.

Owner of copyrights to the description: POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews

Category: Jewish cemetery

Protection: Register of monuments, Monuments records

Inspire id: PL.1.9.ZIPOZ.NID_N_14_CM.17357, PL.1.9.ZIPOZ.NID_E_14_CM.2185