Jewish Cemetery, Chęciny
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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One of the oldest survived Jewish cemeteries in the voivodeship with the only (apart from Sandomierz) preserved gravestones originating from the 17th century as well as examples of sarcophagus-shaped gravestones, double gravestones and gravestones decorated with a convex inscription, which are rare in the voivodeship.

History

The first records related to Jews in Chęciny come from inspection documents of 1564-65. In a Catholic house, there lived then four owners and two Jewish tenants. One year later, the town received a privilege forbidding the Jews from building a synagogue or employing Christian servants. Chęciny did not have the privilege de non tolerandis Judaeis, but in 1581, the town received a letter from Stefan Batory, limiting the number of Jewish homes to two. In 1583, dwellers of Chęciny demanded that the excessive number of Jews be removed from the town. As a result of a pledge to the king, Jews were allowed to leave in Chęciny, but only by virtue of residential tradition. In 1597, Sigismund III Vasa granted economic privileges to Jews. The right to build a synagogue they received back in 1638 from Vladislav IV. In the 1st half of the 17th century, there was an organised Jewish commune here with a rabbi, teacher, and hazzan, keeping a cemetery, which can be evidenced by the fact that in 1660, Jews gave testimony to the royal inspector that they had a privilege for "Kirhof"  In 1668, starost of Chęciny Stefan Bidziński permitted Jews to freely trade and purchase real property. In the same year, they were ensured right to restore the cemetery. The privilege was approved in 1677 by John III, confirmed in 1720 by Augustus II the Strong, and in 1765 by Stanisław August Poniatowski. By decree of the Permanent Council of 1777, all settlement limitations against Jews in Chęciny were withdrawn, which was conducive to settlement development, to a significant extent because of a small distance from Kielce, were Jews were usually not allowed to settle. For the same reason, until the mid-19th century the cemetery was also used by Jews from Kielce. In 1928, it was fenced, featured a stone gate laid with wood shingles and a pre-burial house. The cemetery was closed in 1964. In 2007, cleaning works were carried out on it.

Description

The Jewish cemetery is located in the south-eastern part of the town, away from dense urban development, on the north-eastern slope of Zamkowa Góra, between a forest and a farm field. It occupies a plot of irregular shape, and area of 2.81 ha. Borders of the cemetery are partially discernible thanks to the preserved earth embanking. Around two hundred gravestones are located here. Originally, they were oriented and arranged in rows. Matzevot with priestly symbols are grouped in one place. A couple of the oldest stelae come from the 17th century, and part of them might be prepared by stonecutter Hersh bin Shifra, but the most numerous are those of the late 19th and early 20th century. Matzevot are usually rectangular, with straight, triangular, or arched top section. Moreover, one gravestone shaped as sarcophagus and one double gravestone have survived. Stelae are decorated with architectural elements and symbolic relief works with lavish ornamental motifs of plants, animals and items used for religious purposes. Some of them bear traces of painting. Until mid-17th century, matzevot with concave inscriptions were predominant, but in the early modern period, at least until the 2nd half of the 18th century, the convex technique started to prevail, including a bar between verses. The first matzevah made with the use of the convex technique comes from 1684, and the first one with the bar between verses dates back to 1707. Since mid-19th century, concave inscriptions have returned.

The historic building is accessible to visitors.

Compiled by Nina Glińska, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland Kielce, 23.12.2014.

Bibliography

  • Karta ewidencyjna cmentarza, Cmentarz żydowski /kierkut/, compiled by Penkalla Adam, Chęciny 1987, Archiwum Wojewódzkiego Urzędu Konserwatorskiego w Kielcach.
  • Burchard P., Pamiątki i zabytki kultury żydowskiej w Polsce, Warszawa 1990, pp. 136.
  • Paulewicz M., Osadnictwo żydowskie w Chęcinach, „Biuletyn Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego”, 1975, no 2, pp. 25-36.
  • Penkalla A., Żydowskie ślady w województwie kieleckim i radomskim, Radom 1992, pp. 15, 17-19, 29-32.
  • Sabat T., Zub J., Konserwacja zabytkowych cmentarzy [in:] Cedro J., Prace konserwatorskie w woj. świętokrzyskim w latach 2001-2012, Kielce 2014, pp. 184.
  • Sabor A., Sztetl. Śladami żydowskich miasteczek. Działoszyce-Pińczów-Chmielnik-Szydłów-Chęciny. Przewodnik., Kraków 2005, pp. 152-175.
  • Stępkowski L., Przemiany ludnościowe w Chęcinach w XVII i XVIII wieku, [in:] Guldon Z. (ed.) VII wieków Chęcin. Materiały z sesji naukowej 24 V 1975 r., Kielce 1976, pp. 103-114.
  • Trzciński A., Hebrajskie inskrypcje na materiale kamiennym w Polsce w XIII-XX wieku, Lublin 2007, pp. 19, 146-147, 167.
  • Urbański K., Gminy żydowskie małe w województwie kieleckim w okresie międzywojennym, Kielce 2006, pp. 160-168.

General information

  • Type: Jewish cemetery
  • Chronology: 1. poł. XVII w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Radkowska , Chęciny
  • Location: Voivodeship świętokrzyskie, district kielecki, commune Chęciny - miasto
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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