General information: First Jewish presence: 1812; peak Jewish population: 82 in 1907; Jewish population in 1933: 82
Summary: The Jewish community of Loewen (Polish: Lewin Brzeski) developed after an edict, issued in Prussia in 1812, granted Jews full equality; this included property rights, freedom of religion, the right to establish businesses, to attend the university and to serve in the military. The community grew slowly, mainly around the market place, and became an independent congregation in 1883. Three years before that, in 1880, the Jews of Loewen had consecrated a cemetery. Services were conducted in a rented prayer room (part of a private residence), and the community also maintained a kosher slaughterhouse. In 1901, the congregation commenced the construction of a synagogue on Dworcowa Street (present-day Kosciuszki Street); in 1907, the house of worship was inaugurated by Leo Baeck, the rabbi of Opole and, later, the leader of progressive Judaism. The synagogue building was burned down on Pogrom Night. During the war, a labor camp, in which Jews were forced to take part in the building of a highway, existed near Loewen. As of this writing, the synagogue site accommodates a factory.
Author / Sources: Ruth Martina Trucks
Located in: silesia