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THORN:

Town of West Prussia, founded in 1233 by the Knights of the Teutonic Order. Jews were not permitted to dwell in Thorn while the knights held sway; and after the Polish government took possession of the town, in 1453, they were admitted only occasionally. Several Jews were living there about the middle of the seventeenth century; and in 1749 they were allowed to open a school. In 1766 all the Jews except six were expelled; but they seem to have returned inthe following years. In 1774 and 1779 the Jews were again driven out; returning, they were once more ordered to leave in 1793, when Prussia took possession of the town; and, though they succeeded in obtaining a respite, they were expelled in 1797. Many Jews settled gradually in the town when it became part of the duchy of Warsaw, after the Peace of Tilsit; according to the town records, they stole in during the French occupation. In 1823 the community numbered 52 families, comprising 248 individuals.

The first rabbi was Samuel Heilmann Leyser of Lissa, who seems to have settled in the town toward the end of the eighteenth century; he officiated without remuneration down to 1847. His successors were: Dr. Krakauer (1847-57); Dr. Engelbert (1857-62); Dr. Rahmer (1862-67); Dr. Oppenheim (1869-91); and Dr. I. Rosenberg, the present incumbent, who has held office since 1892. The following scholars have lived at Thorn: Ẓebi Hirsch Kalischer (d. 1875), author of "Derishat Ẓiyyon," "Emunah Ramah," and "Sefer ha-Berit 'al ha-Torah"; his son Louis Kalischer, author of "Ḳol Yehudah"; and Isaac Miesses, author of "Ẓofnat Pa'neaḥ" and other works.

The community possesses a synagogue, built in 1847; a home for the aged, organized in 1892; a religious school, a loan society, a ḥebra ḳaddisha, and a literary society. In 1903 the Jews of Thorn numbered 1,200 in a total population of 30,000. The Jewish inhabitants of the suburbs of Podgorz and Mocker, and of several neighboring villages, are members of the Thorn congregation.

Bibliography:
  • Töppen, Acten der Ständetage Preussens, Leipsic, 1878-86;
  • Wernicke, Gesch. Thorns;
  • Mittheilungen des Coppernicusvereins zu Thorn, No. viii., Thorn, 1842.
S. I. R.
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