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Jakubowicz, Yehudis Halevi

(1749–1829), German–Polish banker and merchant. Born to a wealthy family in Frankfurt an-der-Oder, Yehudis ha-Levi Jakubowicz had an excellent education. At age 30, she became the third wife of Shmul Zbytkower, a successful army provisioner and merchant in Warsaw. She was an active partner in her husband’s business and, based on her contacts, helped expand its scope. After his death in 1801, she led the company alone, continuing to provide supplies to the Prussian, French, and Russian armies. She achieved a leading position among the purveyors to the court of the Duchy of Warsaw, second only to Berek Shmuel Sonnenberg (Bergson), her stepson and competitor. Her company also acted as a purveyor to the Prussian court. Having received unrestricted rights of residence, trade, and manufacturing from the Prussian king in 1798, Jakubowicz saw this privilege recognized by the Kingdom of Poland in 1815, granting her the right to acquire real estate. Moreover, the privilege was heritable by all her descendants.

Members of the aristocracy as well as various state dignitaries were connected to the company through credit and business transactions. Jakubowicz also had familial and business ties to other families, including the Breslau-born Warsaw banker Leopold Antoni Fränkel (1773–1833), a convert to Christianity and the first head of the Warsaw stock exchange. Through her husband’s family, she was also related to members of the gentile elite and to both wings of the Jewish community—the Hasidic and the reform-minded. The children of Shmul’s first marriage remained Jews; those of the second apostasized.

From the records that survive, there is little indication of Jakubowicz’s own religious inclinations. She did donate income from the cemetery controlled by her husband on the outskirts of Praga to the local burial society in 1810 on the proviso that she be allowed to choose burial sites for herself as well as her descendants. She also kept the deed to the property. Her bequests tended to favor the Christian side of the family, but her will dictated that prayers for her soul be offered in the synagogue by three men for a full year.

Jakubowicz regularly attended the French theater in the palace of Prince Józef Poniatowski, hosted a salon, and, according to unconfirmed reports, participated in the literary gatherings (obiady czwartkowe; “Thursday lunches”) at the court of King Stanisław August Poniatowski. The inventory of Jakubowicz’s estate totaled 2.5 million zlotys.

Suggested Reading

Artur Eisenbach and Jan Kosim, “Akt masy spadkowej Judyty Jakubowiczowej,” Biuletyn Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego 38 (1961): 88–143; Emanuel Ringelblum and Shmu’el Zbitkover, “‘Askan tsiburi-kalkali be-Polin bi-yeme ḥalukatah,” Tsiyon 3 (1938): 3–4, 246–266, 337–355; Jacob Shatzky, Geshikhte fun yidn in Varshe, vol. 1 (New York, 1947), pp. 141–144, 219–222.



Translated from German by Deborah Cohen