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The Holy Jewish Community of Sanz (Galicia)

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( Sanz ~ Nowy Sancz ~ Zanz ~ Neu Sandec ~ Neu Sandez ~ ~ Tsants(z) ~ Sants ~ Zantz ~ Noyzantz ~ Novyj Sanc ~ Novy Sacz)

Sanz, Poland. Where did these first Jews of Sanz originate? It is well known that certain Sanzer Jews of the 17th and 18th centuries originated in Wisznic which was the largest and closest Jewish community on the road from Krakow to Sanz (Nowy Sacz).

Besides coming from Wisznic a stream of Jews also left Krakow for Sanz. This migration that started in the 17th century continued well into the 19th century.

The Sanz Hasidic Dynasty was founded by the Divrei Chaim, who was a disciple of Rabbi Naftali of Ropshitz, a disciple of Rabbi Elimelech of Lizhensk, a disciple of the Maggid of Mezritch, the leading disciple of the Baal Shem Tov, the founder of Hasidism.

The Divrei Chaim had fourteen children; his seven sons were:

  1. Rabbi Yechezkel Shraga Halberstam (1814–1898) of Shinive;
  2. Rabbi Duvid Halberstam (1821–1894) of Kshaniv;
  3. Rabbi Myer Nosson Halberstam (1827–1855), father of Rabbi Shlomo Halberstam, the first Bobover Rebbe; Rabbi Boruch Halberstam (1829–1906) of Gorlice (גארליץ Gorlitz);
  4. Rabbi Aharon Halberstam, his successor in Nowy Sącz;
  5. Rabbi Shulem Lazer Halberstam of Ratzfert (1862–1944), who was murdered by the Nazis in the Holocaust;
  6. Rabbi Yeshaye Halberstam of Czchów (טשחויווTshkhoiv) (1864–1944), who was also murdered by the Nazis;

The Divrei Chaim had seven daughters; among them a daughter Reitza who married Rabbi Mordecai Dov Twerski, the Admor of Hornsteipl.

The main Hasidic works revered by the Sanz Dynasty are "Divrei Chaim", by Rabbi Chaim Halberstam of Tsanz, and "Divrei Yechezkel" by his son, Rabbi Yechezkel Shraga Halberstam.


The village that grew into the "free royal city of Nowy Sacz" toward the 13th century is as old as the other old Slavic villages in Poland. The name Sandec or Sacz refers to the name of the owner of the area, namely the Teutonic baron Sandomir or Sandko. In the past this town has been known as Neu Sandec, Neu Sandez, Nowy Sancz, Tsants, Sants, Tsanz, Sanz, Zanz,etc

The fact that Sandz bordered the river Dunajec that was a river road to Slovakia and Hungary enabled the city to develop important commercial ties as well as a commercial basis.

In the year 1298, Nowy Sacz is mentioned for the first time in official records. The Bohemian King Wencelas II who also ruled Poland ordered the building of the city near the river Kamienica where the village Kamienica was located. The village belonged to the bishop of Krakow until this period. The name continued to be used until 1317 when it was permanently replaced by the new name of Nowy Sacz. Similar to other Galician towns, the population consisted primarily of German settlers.

With time as in other cities, Polish farmers, artisans and merchants began to settle and slowly the city underwent the process of becoming Polish. The city books were still written in German in 1501 and the priests still preached in the German language. However during the 16th century, the city became thoroughly Polish and most people forgot the origins of some of the burghers of the city.

The richness of the city kept growing. In the sixteen-century, six villages were attached to the city, including Piatkowe and Paszyn on the road to Grybow. Besides being an important commercial center, the city became an important center of domestic industry.

The rich “patricians” were extensively involved in the commerce of the city. They also had inns in the market and warehouses on the outskirts of the city. Most of the residents of the city were occupied with work. At the beginning of the 17th century, King Zygmunt the Third established the privileges of a list of 30 guilds and their obligations. Among them were a merchant guild, shopkeeper guild, and one for cutters.

The cultural life of Nowy Sacz was similar to that of other Polish cities of the same size, that is, very low. The only “intellectuals” in the city who could read besides the priests, were the city record keeper, the pharmacist, barber, teachers with a baccalaureate and several vinkl-advoktn [lawyers who took petty cases].

The First Jews in Nowy Sacz

No study has yet been conducted on the question of when the first Jews settled in the city. Until the 15th century there were few Jewish settlements in the province of Krakow in general. We have information that Jews lived in Nowy Sacz in the 15th century since in 1469 one signed a document with the name of Abraham de Sandecz, or Nowy Sacz in Krakow. He was a member of the Krakow kehile that consisted of five members. They were forced to sign an agreement whereby they donated all the Jewish buildings along the Jewish Street to the Academia of Krakow.

A second news item concerning a Jew in Nowy Sacz appeared in 1503 regarding a Jewish eye doctor named Abraham.

Since Sandz was an important commercial center and Jews as mentioned before traveled to and from Hungary in the 14th century, we must assume that some Jews found ways or powerful protectors to allow them to settle in the vicinity, but not in the city itself - perhaps in the suburbs.

Similar to other royal cities in Poland, the power of the starosta favored the Jewish situation in Sandz. The Lubomirski family had been the starostas of the city of Sandz since the 16th century. The princely family retained the position through inheritance until the 18th century.

The Jews that lived in Sandz under the protection of the mayor apparently lived on the land of the royal castle. It is likely that the number of Jews was now sizable since they had a small synagogue on the land of the castle and even had a rabbi or a moyre-hoyroe [a Jew who can act as a religious leader].