Jewish everyday life in Lublin
Jewish everyday life was centered around important family events such as a birth of a child, weddings, traditional habits and ceremonies, and funerals. Work, although, was also a very significant factor, that influenced everyday life.
Functioning of the family home in Jewish tradition
Family life was strongly associated with the rituals of Judaism, set by the religious Jewish holidays. Even if not all Jews identified themselves with the religious experience of holidays, they acknowledged some Jewish traditions. Particular participants of holiday rituals were children, who during the festivals played special games.
The everyday life of the Jews of Lublin resulted from a family model they followed. The functioning of the home, social roles accepted in family life and family patterns were defined by the Jewish tradition, based on the Bible teaching.
Jews in the economic life of Lublin
Another aspect of Jews’ everyday life in Lublin, was their work. Jewish people used to shape an economic life of the city and had a significant influence on its development. They worked in trade, craft and various branches of industry.
In the times of the Kingdom of Poland Jews didn’t have full civil rights. In terms of economic activity, there were special taxes imposed on them, they only obtained certain rights to lease or purchase goods, such as urban ones. They were allowed to settle only in designated areas throughout the city. In Lublin such areas were: Podzamcze, Kalinowszczyzna, Sierakowszczyzna and Piaski.
Main source of income of the Jewish community in Lublin was trade. Among the merchants of Lublin 80% were of Jewish origin. Most of them were shopkeepers, the itinerant traders and spice merchants. They were as well trading textiles – selling products that have been measured in the ells, such as materials and ribbons. In addition, Jews used to run a lot of inns and dealt with brokerage and cash operations, such as managing an exchange office or a lottery. They led characteristic shops, because of their location in spaces with very low ceilings, called kneeler-shops.
Limits of civil rights put upon Jews referred also to the craftsmanship. Only becoming a member of a guild or being granted an administrative authorization, called a consensus, guaranteed Jewish crafts legality. To the group of those consensus-craftsmen belonged mostly Jews. The major part among them were shoemakers, glaziers, butchers and millers.
In the second half of 19th century in Lublin an industry development significantly accelerated. At that time Jews transformed their workshops into industrial enterprises, and merchants established factories. Also small food factories, candles and soap factories, breweries, distilleries and tobacco factories had Jewish proprietaries. The most important were food and metal industries.
Memories of Lublin inhabitants related to Jewish trade
Jewish quarter was filled with tiny family businesses, confectioneries, bakeries or workshops. Lubliners often mentioned Jewish shops, they used to willingly shop at Jewish merchants’ shops, attracted by their courtesy and customer care. Jewish confectionery and bakery were very complimented. Jewish traders use to lead those branches of food industry, that were related to products strictly connected to Jewish kitchen, such as: pickled apples, hot pea, makagigi or cebularz (an onion cake). Jews use to sell also “sodówki” (sodas) - a sparkling water with juice. They use to buy all kinds of old, obsolete objects and clothes to remake it and then sell it again.
Compiled by Izabela Czumak, Justyna Pańkowska
Translated by Magdalena Dziaczkowska