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Jewish Families of Leszno (formerly Lissa)

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  • Phillip Berwin (1850 - 1933)
    Recorded in the 1870 Federal Census of New Orleans. Working as a clerk in a store. Father was a shoe dealer. He was age 20, born in Prussia, probable Lissa. No mother listed. Father age 53. Two serva...
  • Anna Berwin (1851 - d.)
    Listed in the 1870 Federal Census of New Orleans. Working as a house keeper in the family home. Age 19. Born in Prussia. Had two older brothers and three younger siblings. Two servants were also listed...
  • Emil Berwin (c.1830 - d.)
    Emil and his wife Adelheid sailed from Hamburg on the ship Oder on October 1, 1860. They were both recorded as being from Lissa. They were headed to the United States.
  • Adelheid Berwin (1835 - d.)
    Adelheid and her husband Emil arrived in the US aboard the ship Oder from Hamburg. They left on October 1, 1860 for New York. She and her husband were born in Lissa.
  • Israel Berwin (c.1790 - d.)
    Solomon Berwin, Wolf Berwin and Israel Berwin were listed as Schneider's or Tailors in Lissa in the 1834 compilation of Citizens of Posen written by Luft. Not many Jews were permitted to be citizens so...

Lissa is a well known birthplace of many Jewish leaders. According to Yad Vashem some 519 persons who were born in Lissa were murdered by the Nazis in the Holocaust. Most were residing in larger towns and cities at the time of WW2, particularly Berlin.

Lissa was a center of Jewish studies. Present day Lissa can be investigated on the web , There is a museum in the town that holds some important Jewish community artifacts and records. A link to this museum is

Additional data on the cemetery history in Lissa can be found here:

There is a Yizkor Book for Lissa, as yet untranslated from German. Listed on JewishGen Yizkor Book project database.

Lissa was known for weaving, cloth making, sewing, clothing manufacturers and tailors to the rich landowners and nobility. Among many others the Berwin family was known for fine tailoring for wealthy patrons.

From Jewish Gen Cemetery project database:

LESZNO: USComm. no. POCE000320

Leszno (known as Lissa in German) is in Leszno. Cemetery location: ul. E. Estkowskiego. The town is located at 16.35 longitude, 51.51 latitude, and is 69 km from Poznan and 96 km from Wroclaw. Present town population is 25,000-100,000; no Jews. Town officials: Prezydent Edward Szzucki, ul. Studzienna 4/4, 64-100 Leszno, tel. 20-45-66. Urzad Miejski w Lesznie, ul. Karasia 15, 64-100 Leszno, tel. 20-36-36, fax. 20-28-20. Regional interests: Ewa Piesiewicz, Panstwowa Sluzba Ochrony Zabytkow w Leszyie, ul. Mickiewicza 5, tel. 20-63-83. The earliest known Jewish community in town was 16th century. Jewish population in 1921 was 299 (1.8%). Noteworthy individuals who lived in this Jewish community: Elia Margolies, Rabbi Abraham Lissa, Rabbi Jacob Lissa, Rabbi Akiba Eiger, Rafal Kosch, Dr. Leo Baeck, Hirsch Kalischer, Ludwik Kalisch. The Jewish cemetery was established in 17th century; last burial 1939. Noteworthy Jews buried in cemetery: Rabbi Izaak ben R. Schalom, Rabbi Izaak ben R. Mose Gerson, and Dawid Tewle. Conservative and Progressive/Reform Jews used this cemetery. Communities that used this cemetery: Wschowa in 1759 (19 km away), Swieciechowa (6 km away), and Zaborowo (2 km away). Cemetery location: urban, on flat land, isolated. No sign or marker. It is reached by turning directly off a public road and is open to all; no wall or gate. The size of the cemetery was 2.7 ha but does not exist now. It is occupied with residential buildings. Stones that were moved are in the district museum in Leszno (4 pieces). about 30 pieces are incorporated into roads. The oldest known gravestone in the cemetery is 18th century. Tombstones are dated 18th-19th century. They are made of sandstone that are flat shaped stones, finely smoothed and inscribed stones, and flat stones with carved relief decoration. Inscriptions on tombstones are in Hebrew and German. No known mass graves. The cemetery property is owned by the municipality. It is now used for residential buildings and storage. Properties adjacent to the cemetery are recreational and residential. The cemetery boundaries are smaller than in 1939 due to housing development. The cemetery is rarely visited by private visitors. The cemetery was vandalized during WWII. There has been no maintenance or care. There is a pre-burial house, a gravedigger's house, and residential buildings within the limits of the cemetery. Security, erosion, and incompatible nearby and planned development are moderate threats. The site was visited and the survey was completed 29 Oct 1991 by Dariusz Czwojdrak, ul. Lipowa 22a/4, 67-400 Wschowa. No interviews.

Vital data on births, deaths and marriages is forthcoming as the Jewish Records Indexing project centered on the town of Leszno proceeds. Some data is already available here:

A great deal of information on the Jewish history of Lissa can be found on the Virtual Shtetl site at:,history/?action=view  

Data is also available on microfilms made by the LDS record program. These are available from the local Mormon church library system.