Jewish Lukow

 A Jewish street
 A Jewish street
 A synagogue (destroyed during the war)
 A group of hasids debating by the sinagogue
 A Jew writing the Tora

Jewish settlement in Lukow started in the 15th century. Rabbi Meir ben Gedaliah Lubin (1558-1616) mentioned the synagogue in this town which was destroyed by fire. Joel Sirkes served as rabbi of the community at the end of the 16th and the beginning of the 17th century. 

At the time of the Polish-Ukrainian war (1648) the Jewish community was obligated to supply arms and ammunition for the noble men of Łuków county who defended the region. The inhabitants of every wooden house had to provide one pound of gun powder and two pounds of lead and every brick-house – three pounds of gun powder and six pounds of lead. The Ukrainian, Polish and Lithuanian armies which marched through the town and stayed in it many times had completely destroyed it. The Jewish community suffered heavy material losses then and a new synagogue was burned down.

During the Polish-Swedish war Lukow was completely destroyed by the army of the king Charles Gustav of Sweden and his ally Rakoczi, the prince of Transylvania (1657). The enemy army carried out the massacre of Jews then. About one thousand persons died.

In 1659 the Jews of Łuków were granted a royal privilege which confirmed their former rights to live in the town, to acquire land and houses, to engage in commerce and crafts andto produce vodka; they were also authorized to erect a synagogue and maintain a cemetery. 

In 1727 a poll tax of 120 złotys was imposed on the community. With the progress of economic activities in the town during the second half of the 18th century the Jewish population in Lukow considerably increased. According to the census of 1765, there were 543 Jews (137 families) there. During the 1780s the rabbis of the community were Samson Zelig ben Jacob and Joseph ha-Levi, the author of Teshu’ot Hen (Dubno, 1797).

The Jewish population numbered 2023 (c. 60% of the total population) in 1827, 2114 (c. 68%) in 1857, and 4799 (c. 55%) in 1897.

In the 19th century many of the Jews were Hasidis and followers of the zaddikis of Kock, Aleksandrów, Radzyń and Góra Kalwaria. The prominent zaddiki Hershele Morgenszternlived in Lukow in the years 1906-1920.  

In the middle of the 19th century the new cemetery in Warszawska street was open. After World War 2 the monument commemorated the Jews of Łuków killed during the occupation was built on that place.

In the end of the 19th century there were built two new synagogues in Lukow. One of them has remained till now, in Staropijarska street. After World War 2 it was rebuilt for offices. No architectural details and interior decorations were preserved in this building.

The Jewish population increased to 6145 (49% of the total) by 1921; there were then 348 Jewish workshops in Łuków. Ten of the 24 members of the municipal council were Jews.

Between the two world wars the Jews of Łuków struggled against anti-Semitism and an anti-Jewish economic boycott was organized. In the town and its neighbourhood there were pogroms in 1920, too. In August, when the Polish Army was fighting against Bolsheviks, Polish soldiers shot near Lukow without any judgement 12 Jews who were coming back from Miedzyrzec to the town; they had been told to dig graves for themselves before they died. In the same way 3 Jews were murdered in Jagodne. In Dziewule one Jew was sent to shooting by a local lineman. In Lukow the pogrom lasted for two days. Officers did not intervene, allowing soldiers to do assaults. At that time, on 17th August, the head commander Jozef Piłsudski came to the town. The delegation of Jews, which attempted to intervene, was not admitted to Piłsudski.