Rabbinical Highlights


PINKAS HAKEHILOT POLIN – Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities in Poland V.1 Lodz and its Region 1976


Initially, Zychlin’s Jewish community was a subpart of the Kutno or Gostynin religious structure.  By 1766, however, Zychlin was independent with religious governance run by key “homeowners”.  

Shlomo ben Avraham was one of the town’s first rabbis in the early 1800’s. Rabbi Efraim Fishel (of Strykov) was also prominent then, however when he died in 1824, a few of his followers named his successor as Szmuel Aba Zychlinski who became very prominent during this time. He was also known as the Alter Rebbe of Zychlin. The son of a rabbi, he developed quite a following when he moved to Zychlin in 1844.  Aba was the founder of the Zychlin Hasidic movement, a branch of Peshischa Hasidism which began to take shape in the latter half of the 1800’s when more Hassidic rabbls moved into Zychlin. Aba was known as a miracle worker. He also spent time in jail, accused of practicing practical Kabbalah. The Pinkas Hakehillot Polin chapter on Zychlin notes, “The common people flocked to him. In his area of control and influence, especially the “enlightened” cities and towns of the Prussian occupation, Rabbi Shmuel Abba fought the harbingers of progress, the people of education and reform.”  Rabbi Aba died in 1879. Zychlin’s Jewish cemetery holds a relatively recent memorial for Rabbi Szmuel Aba (see Cemetery Page)

Moshe Natanel Zychlinski  followed in his father’s ootsteps, serving as Grand Rabbi of Zychlin. He died in 1912.

For a brief period, Rabbi Iciek Majer Elechnowicz (b. Feb 7 1868 Biezun; d. Dec 26 1909 Zychlin) was chosen as the rabbi in Nov 1902. He was formally approved Jan 1903 as the Rabbi of Zychlin (1903 – 1909).* He was the son of Szulik (Solomon) Elechnowicz and Malika nee Lipszyc. Yearly salary was 400 rubles. (Source: A City Without a Rabbi Cannot Exist)

After WW I, the rabbi of Zychlin was Yechiel Yitzchak Rappaport (Mizrachi Party). Political dissatisfaction by members of the Agudat party lead to undermining of his rabbinic role and they denounced him to the Polish authorities in 1920 as a Bolshevik—leading to prison time!

In subsequent years, Aba’s grandsons and great grandsons also became Grand Rabbis of Zychlin.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zychlin_(Hasidic_dynasty)

The Zychlin Yikzor book includes portraits of two of Aba’s descendents, shown below.

Grand Rabbi Menachem Yedidah Zychlinski (1872-1940) and his brother Grand Rabbi Saadyia Hanoch Zychlinski (1875-abt 1940). They were both followed by Rabbi Shmuel Avraham,  the son of Rabbi Menachem Yedidah, who served as the head of the Hasidim until Purim 1942. He was one of the last Rabbis of Zychlin—murdered by a firing squad on the day before the liquidation of the ghetto and the deportation of all the Zychlin Jews to their death. Another Rabbi who served until perishing at the hands of the Nazis, was Avraham Mordechai Alter (b. 1872). He was a Ger Hasid and was considered a great scholar.

All were murdered in the Holocaust.  

Photo on left: Sefer Zychlin, New York Public Library Digital Collections, https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/c228c820-2328-0133-d661-58d385a7b928#/?uuid=c1d5aed0-2328-0133-6337-58d385a7b928 Photo on right: Museum of the Jewish People at Beit Hatfutsot, https://dbs.anumuseum.org.il/skn/en/c6/e177246/Photos/The_Rabbi_of_Strykow_Lodz_Province_Poland_1900

Rabbis and the Zychlin Hasidic Dynasty 


Origins and ideology

The first Rebbe of Zychlin, Rabbi Shmuel Abba, taught that one needs to not only repent but repent through the learning of Jewish holy subjects. Reb Zelig was a relative of the Sabba Kadisha of Strikov, Reb Fishel, going to visit him and taking his young son Shmuel Abba with him. Rabbi Shmuel Abba was known as the Ilui (“genius”) of Luvitch and many scholars praised his depth and understanding. When Rabbi Shmuel Abba was older he learned at the Peshischa yeshiva which was led at that time by Rabbi Simcha Bunim of Peshischa. He considered himself one of Rabbi Simcha Bunim’s disciples.

Rabbi Shmuel Abba had a small following of Hasidim and lived at his father-in-law’s house, but when he moved to Zychlin for monetary reasons he acquired a larger following. Shmuel Abba was known as a miracle worker. Shmuel Abba spent time in jail because his detractors were upset that he practiced practical Kabbalah.

Ninety-five percent of Zychliner Hasidim perished during the Holocaust, the last Rebbes dying at the hands of the Nazis.

Dynastic line

  • Grand Rabbi Shmuel Abba Zychlinski of Zichlin (1809–1879), also known as the Alter Rebbe of Zychlin
    • Grand Rabbi Moshe Natanel Zychlinski (d. 1912), son of Rabbi Shmuel Abba
      • Grand Rabbi Seadyia Hanoch Zychlinski of Zychlin-Strikov (1885-?), son of Rabbi Moshe Natanel. Murdered by the Nazi regime.
        • Rabbi Efraim Meir Gad Zychlinski, author of Lehav Eish. Murdered by the Nazi regime.
        • Grand Rabbi Moshe Natanel Zychlinski of Zychlin-Strikov-Lodz. Murdered by the Nazi regime.
      • Grand Rabbi Menachem Yedidah Zychlinski of Zychlin (1872-1940), son of Rabbi Moshe Natanel. Murdered by the Nazi regime.
        • Grand Rabbi Shmuel Avraham Abba Zychlinski of Zychlin (d. 1942), son of Rabbi Menachem Yedidah. Murdered by the Nazi regime.


SOURCE: Zapiski Kujawsko-Dobrzyńskie, vol. 25, Włocławek 2010. (translated by Blzej Nowicki in www.izbica-kujawska.com)

The cantor (chazan) was the person who conducted the service. Chazan was able to wander around towns to decorate the synagogue and the waiting community with improvised singing on Saturday Prayers—usually a well-honed musician. The known Chazans in the 1930’s was Wollkowicz (Gimpel)  and Hersz Wolf Frajlich.

For more details on the Rabbi’s dynastic line, see Pinkas Hakehillot Polin, “Zychlin https://www.jewishgen.org/yizkor/pinkas_poland/pol1_00116.html and Wikipedia, “Zychlin (Hasidic dynasty)