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The Jewish Community of Rava-Ruska

Polish: Rawa Ruska

Yiddish: ראווע, Rave

 

A city in western Ukraine

Until World War II (1939-1945), Rava-Ruska was part of East Galicia, Poland.

 

HISTORY

Jews settled in Rava-Ruska when the city was first established, in 1624. Between 1629 and 1648 there were 25 Jewish houses in the town.

The Jews who lived in Rava-Ruska were sometimes subject to discrimination. During the 18th the city’s Jews had their rights restricted following a series of disputes with the townspeople. When the region was annexed to Austria, after the First Partition of Poland in 1772, heavy taxes were imposed on the city’s Jews of Rava-Ruska; this special taxation was annulled only after the emancipation of 1848, which granted Jews equal civil rights.

At first, the community of Rava-Ruska was subordinate to the rabbinate of Zolkiew, but in 1790 the community became independent.

The Jews of Rava-Ruska made their living by trade, by distilling and marketing spirits, and as craftsmen, particularly furriers and milliners. By the end of the 19th century many exported local agricultural produce to other countries, or worked in local industry. One Jewish-owned factory produced artistic tableware made of stone, while another made high-quality oil. There was also a cottage industry of Jews who processed pig bristles in order to make straw baskets and brooms.

Most of Rava-Ruska’s Jews affiliated with the Chassidic movement, particularly the Belz sect. Rabbis who served the Jewish community during the 19th century included Rabbi Solomon Kluger, the Maggid of Brody; Rabbi Zechariah, a student of the Seer of Lublin; and Rabbi Levy Isaac Schor.

Rava-Ruska was home to a number of prayer houses, many of which were named after where they were physically located, such as The Synagogue on the Sands.   

Though the Chassidim dominated the Jewish community, there were also some maskilim (advocates of the Jewish Enlightenment). Maskilim from Rava-Ruska included the satirist Isaac Erter; Erter was also a physician, and saved many lives during an epidemic that broke out in 1831. Another maskil was Abraham Goldberg, who published an anti-Belz book in 1848; Goldberg was also a friend and student of the historian and philosopher Nachman Krochmal.

A number of schools were established that promoted Enlightenment ideals. A German-language Jewish school was founded in 1788 by the maskil Naphtali Herz Homberg, who founded a schools throughout Galicia. This school functioned until 1806. Another school, which ran Hebrew language classes for adults, was founded by Baron Hirsch in 1892; the school was officially recognized by the government in 1900. Later, another Hebrew school opened in 1922, in spite of opposition from the Belz Chassidim; in 1931 the school expanded to include a kindergarten. For religious Jews, the organization Agudas Yisroel ran a Beis Yaakov school for girls.  

In addition to educational institutions, Rava-Ruska’s Jews were also politically active. A local branch of the Jewish Socialist Party was founded by Jewish workers in 1908. Hatikva, Rava-Ruska’s first local Zionist organization, was founded in 1910.

During World War I (1914-1918) the city’s Jews were subject to violence and displacement brought on by the war. Additionally, in 1915 cholera and typhoid epidemics broke out in the city, and many Jewish and non-Jewish residents were killed.

In the wake of the war, Rava-Ruska became part of independent Poland. This proved to be dangerous for the city’s Jews. Polish troops who fought the Ukrainians in East Galicia levied false accusations against the Jews, resulting in several Jews being court-martialed (the charges were eventually proven to be false, and the accused were acquitted). Nonetheless, a Jewish baker from Rava-Ruska was awarded a Military Mark of Distinction by the Polish government for hiding a wounded Polish officer in his home during the fighting.

In 1880 there were 3,878 Jews living in Rava-Ruska (about 60% of the total population). By 1921 that number had grown to 5,048 (56% of the total population).

During the interwar period most of Rava-Ruska’s Jews worked as innkeepers, traders, peddlers, craftsmen, porters, and carters. The carters eventually organized under the union Yad Charutzim, while the merchants organized under the Union of Merchants and Manufacturers.

The Jews of Rava-Ruska were particularly active politically and culturally between the two World Wars. Zionism became increasingly popular during this period, and a number of Zionist organizations and youth groups were founded. Other political organizations included Agudas Yisroel, which was established in Rava-Ruska in 1928, and a branch of the Bund. The youth movements that were active in Rava-Ruska held drama circles and other cultural activities in the building of the Jewish orphanage. Meanwhile, the Bund established a large library and organized a number of study groups.

During the 1928 elections to the local council 22 Jewish, 20 Polish, and 6 Ukrainian delegates were appointed. Internal community politics also changed that year. Until 1928 the community’s own committee had been dominated by the Belz Chassidim. After the 1928 electionsthe Zionists won 7 out of 12 seats.

On the eve of World War II Rava-Ruska’s Jewish population was 6,200 (approximately 50% of the total).

 

THE HOLOCAUST 

After the outbreak of World War II, many refugees from the German-occupied parts of Poland came to Rava-Ruska on their way to the Romanian border, and were helped by the Jewish community. However, Rava-Ruska itself was occupied by the Germans on September 10, 1939.

With the German occupation came a number of discriminatory measures enacted against the city’s Jews. They were ordered to wear distinguishing marks, their movement in public was restricted, and they were drafted for forced labor. German troops broke into synagogues and desecrated the Torah scrolls.

Relief came on September 24, 1939; following the pre-war agreement between Germany and the Soviet Union, the region that included Rava-Ruska was given to the Soviet Union. Rava-Ruska was occupied by the Red Army shortly thereafter. Following the Soviet policies of nationalization, private Jewish businesses were confiscated. Religious and cultural institutions were closed down. In March of 1940 a number of wealthy Jewish families were arrested and sent into exiled in the Russian interior. Still, the Jews of Rava-Ruska were safer under the Soviets than they were under Nazi Germany.

Rava-Ruska was once again occupied by the Germans on June 28, 1941, days after Germany attacked the Soviet Union (June 22, 1941). At the beginning of July 1941 about 100 Jews were rounded up by the Ukrainian militia that worked with the Germans. The group was taken to the nearby wood of Wolwokice, where they were shot to death.

In July of 1941 the Germans ordered the Jewish community to establish a Judenrat in order to carry out German orders. Joseph Mandel, a member of the Judenrat and a prominent figure in the community, was arrested for resisting the German demands and was never heard from again.

The Judenrat took on the responsibility to supply medical and financial aid to the needy, and setting up a soup kitchen and a hospital. In August 1941 the Judenrat was ordered to provide the Germans with a large sum of money from the Jewish community.

Larger quotas of men for forced labor began to be demanded in the winter of 1942. During this period Rava-Ruska’s Jews were ordered to hand over all their fur clothing. The cold, hunger, and disease led to many deaths.

On March 20, 1942 German military police units, with the help of the Ukrainian militia, took Jews off the streets and from their homes. By the end of the day approximately 1,500 Jews had been deported to the extermination camp Belzec. Many were also killed during the aktion, whether in the city itself or in the nearby woods. The next day the Germans demolished the old Jewish cemetery, and ordered the Jews to use the broken tombstones to pave a road.

In the spring of 1942 all of the Jews were concentrated in a single quarter. As a result of the overcrowding, an epidemic of typhoid broke out.

On July 29, 1942 another aktion took place, this one lasting a few days. About 800 Jews were brought from Nemirov; they were deported to Belzec together with 1,200 Jews from Rava-Ruska. Jews who were found hiding were killed on the spot, as were the approximately 30 Jews who resisted boarding the cattle cars. About 60 of the deportees managed to jump off of the moving train and to return to the town, injured and exhausted. Many others were killed while attempting to jump from the train.

Through the summer of 1942 hundreds of trains to Belzec passed through Rava-Ruska. Approximately 500 Jews who managed to jump from the trains reached Rava-Ruska, where they were aided by the Judenrat and the Jewish community.

In September of 1942 a few hundred Jews were deported from the neighboring villages to Rava-Ruska. The ghetto was sealed off that December 1942.

On December 7, 1942 the Germans gathered the old and sick people from the ghetto, and deported them to Belzec. Many were killed or died on the way. The liquidation of the ghetto began on December 9. The German police and the Ukrainian militia transported most of the remaining Jews on lorries to a nearby wood, where they shot them. The bodies were buried in two pits prepared in advance. Approximately 300 Jews were left in the ghetto. 60 were responsible for collecting the remaining Jewish property, while the rest were taken to a nearby labor camp. A labor camp was set up also in the town itself, where the remaining Jews of Rava-Ruska and the surrounding area were gathered. In June 1943 the Germans murdered most of the camp’s inmates; a few survived by hiding in the homes of Christian acquaintances, or in bunkers in the woods.  

Rava-Ruska was liberated by the Red Army on July 20, 1944.

 

POSTWAR

Rava-Ruska’s Jewish community was not renewed after the war.

 

Place Type:
City
ID Number:
197048
Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People
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Related items:

RAWSKI, RAVSKI

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name is a toponymic (derived from a geographic name of a town, city, region or country). Surnames that are based on place names do not always testify to direct origin from that place, but may indicate an indirect relation between the name-bearer or his ancestors and the place, such as birthplace, temporary residence, trade, or family-relatives.

This family name is derived from the name of a number of locations in Poland, among them Rawa Mazowiecka, a town in the Łódź Voivodeship, and Rawa Ruska, now Rava Ruska a city in Lviv Oblast in western Ukraine. Both places were home to large Jewish communities.

Places, regions and countries of origin or residence are some of the sources of Jewish family names. But, unless the family has reliable records, names based on toponymics cannot prove the exact origin of the family.

Rawski is documented as a Jewish family name with Laya Rawski, a housewife of Warsaw, Poland, who was born in Gora Kalwaria, Poland in 1906, and perished in the Holocaust.  

Market in Rawa Ruska, near Lvov,
Poland, c.1917.
Photo taken by German soldiers during W.W.I.
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Polska Akademia Nauk, Warsaw)
Family picture at the wedding of Gita Sperberg.
Rawa-Ruska, near Lvov, Galicia, Poland, 1937.
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot)

Łaszczów

A town in Tomaszów Lubelski County, Lublin Voivodeship, Poland

HISTORY

Evidence suggests that Jews were living in Łaszczów since the 15th century. Once Łaszczów was granted the status of a town in 1578, with weekly market days and an annual fair, more Jews began arriving and trading in Łaszczów. By the end of the 16th century Łaszczów was home to an organized Jewish community. A grand synagogue in the Baroque style; according to community elders the synagogue was donated by the ruler of Łaszczów in appreciation for the help he received from the town’s Jews when he could not find his son.

By the beginning of the 19th century Łaszczów’s population declined. It lost its town status, and became a small rural settlement, centered around agriculture and crafts. Most of the town’s Jewish residents worked as craftsmen, and records indicate that Łaszczów had a Jewish printing press at the beginning of the 19th century.

Among the rabbis who served the Jewish community of Łaszczów during the 18th and 19th centuries are Rabbi Ori Faivel, a student of the Baal Shem Tov (the founder of Chassidism), and Rabbi Mordecai Ziskind, the cousin and disciple of rabbi Levi Isaac of Berdichev.

During the interwar period the Jews of Łaszczów were particularly active politically and socially. The Bund became active, as did Zionism, communism, and religious political parties.

On the eve of World War II (1939-1945) there were about 1,000 Jews living in Łaszczów.

 

THE HOLOCAUST 

After the outbreak of World War II (September 1, 1939) Łaszczów was within the territory that fell under the control of the Soviet Union. Jewish refugees from the parts of Poland occupied by Germany arrived in Łaszczów and were absorbed into the community. Jews found work with the Soviet authorities, and young Jewish men were mobilized into the Red Army.

However, approximately two weeks later, the border between Germany and the Soviet Union shifted and Łaszczów and the surrounding region (the sub-district of Tomaszow-Lubelski) came under German rule. Many Jews left with the retreating Soviets; while they were deported to Siberia, and life was extremely difficult, they were nonetheless able to survive the war.

With the German occupation came anti-Jewish violence and persecution. A number of Jews were killed the first day of the occupation, and 142 were killed later, and buried in a mass grave in the Jewish cemetery. Those who survived the occupation were ultimately deported to the extermination camp Bełżec.

 

POSTWAR

Jewish life was not revived at Łaszczów after the war.

In 1987 Jacob Ehrlich, a former member of the community who immigrated to Israel, visited Łaszczów. He had lost his entire family (37 people) in the Holocaust. During his visit he found that while the synagogue building was still standing, the cemetery had been sold as agricultural land. After his return to Israel, he raised funds in order to restore the cemetery and build a monument to Holocaust victims.

Ehrlich returned to Łaszczów in the summer of 1990. With the help of the mayor, Henrika Torba, the local priest, and a number of Polish volunteers, the bones of the Jews who were killed by the Nazis were unearthed and given a proper Jewish burial. Ehrlich invited 12 Jews from Warsaw to take part in the funeral and the prayers. They were joined by hundreds of Poles, led by the priest.

At the beginning of July 1990 the Holocaust memorial was unveiled in the presence of the Polish Scouts’ Honor Guard, the mayor, and the priest Stanislaw Kowalski, who was recognized by Yad Vashem for his help. The unveiling itself was performed by two Jewish women from the original community, one of whom survived the war by being hidden by a Polish family.

 

Lubycza Królewska

Ukrainian: Любича Королівська
A town in Tomaszów Lubelski county, Lublin Voivodeship, eastern Poland.

Until World War II (1939-1945) Lubycza Królewska was located in the district of Lvov, eastern Galicia, Poland.

HISTORY

Documents indicate that Lubycza Królewska was a village in 1667, and that by 1765 it had been classified as a town, with eight guest houses and several small houses owned by Jews. With the Partitions of Poland at the end of the 18th century, Lubycza Królewska, like the rest of the region of Galicia, came under Austrian rule.

The earliest Jewish residents worked as petty traders and in running the town’s guest houses, which appear to have been under Jewish ownership. At the beginning of the 19th century a local stone and ceramics factory was established in the town. Jews also ran the saw mill and flour mill which were also established in Lubycza Królewska at the beginning of the 19th century and operated using water power. At the end of the 19th century the ceramics factory was replaced by a small matchbox factory, which employed mostly Jews.

In 1880 there were 543 Jews living in Lubycza Królewska (83% of the total population). In 1900 the Jewish population was 821 (88% of the total population).

Members of the Rokach family served as the leaders of the local Chasidic community and as community rabbis beginning at the end of the 19th century until World War I (1914-1918). The last rabbi to serve  Lubycza Królewska’s Jewish community was Rabbi Naftali Hertz, the son of Rabbi Shalom Beck.

Around World War I the town’s Jews supported themselves through petty trade, peddling, crafts and as wagon-drivers. At that point, Lubycza Królewska served as an urban center for the surrounding villages; Jews leased taverns and worked in the urban services required by the villagers.

During the First World War many houses in the town were destroyed. About 60 Jewish children who were orphaned by the war received free meals in a kitchen supported by the Joint Distribution Committee; the Joint also helped the Jewish community rebuild during the interwar period.

Community institutions during the interwar period included a synagogue and a cemetery. A mutual aid fund was established at the end of the 1920s.

The first Zionist groups began to be active in Lubycza Królewska at the beginning of the 1920s, particularly branches of the General Zionists and Hitachdut.

In 1928 the physician Dr. Carl Weisberg settled in Lubycza Królewska and married the daughter of the local Ukrainian priest following her conversion to Judaism.


On the eve of World War II (1939-1945) about 650 Jews were living in Lubycza Królewska.


THE HOLOCAUST

After the outbreak of World War II (September 1, 1939) and the pact between Germany and the Soviet Union, Lubycza Królewska fell under Soviet control. However, the town was occupied by the Germans following their invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941. A ghetto was established, and approximately 900 Jews were concentrated in it.

At the end of Februray 1942 several dozen Jews were sent from Lubycza Królewska to the Bełżec extermination camp. An additional group was sent at the end of September 1942 (after Sukkot 5703) or October 4, 1942.

In October 1942 the town’s remaining Jews were sent to the district town of Rava Ruska, where they met the same fate as the local Jews.

 

POSTWAR

The Jewish community was not renewed after the war.

 

Tomaszów Lubelski

A town in the Lublin Voivodeship, Poland.

Tomaszów Lubelski was in the area that was annexed to Austria during the First Partition of Poland in 1772. After the Vienna Congress in 1815 it became part of the Russian Empire.

 

21ST CENTURY

A few tombstones have remained standing in the Jewish cemetery on Starozmowska Street. The site was renovated by donors, and surrounded by a fence and a gate.

The municipal library has a section devoted to the Jews of the city. Miles Lerman, a Holocuast survivor from Tomaszów, was among the founders of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

 

HISTORY 

Tomaszów was founded in 1590 by Jan Zamoyski, Chancellor of the Polish Crown, in memory of his son Tomaz. With permission from the Zamoyski family, Jews began settling in the city immediately after its establishment, and a community was formed as early as 1594. In 1621 the Jews received official rights to live, work, and establish their own autonomous institutions in the town.

The Jewish community of Tomaszów was almost completely destroyed during the Khmelnitsky riots of 1648. The community reorganized during the second half of the 17 century, in spite of the chaos and damage it incurred during the Swedish invasions into Poland (1600-1665). The leader (Parnas) of the community, Jacob Levi Safra, served as the community’s delegate to the Council of the Four Lands in 1667, and Rabbi Isaac Shapira was the town’s rabbi during the 1670s. He was succeeded by Judah b. Nisan. Another rabbi serving in the town, Rabbi Phinehas bar Meir of Tomaszów, was martyred in Lublin in 1677 following a blood libel.

Tomaszów was home to a major yeshiva founded by Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kock (1787-1859) and attended by scholars from all over Poland. Rabbi Menachem Mendel was known for his extreme methodology, summed up in his sayings: "All light or shadow" and "From Tomaszów emerges fire.” Rabbi Yossele of Yaroslav, who served as the presiding judge in Tomaszow, was opposed to Rabbi Menachem Mendel's extremism. This led to tensions between the two community leaders, and ultimately Rabbi Menachem Mendel left Tomaszów and went to Kotzk, while Rabbi Yossele continued to maintain a Chassidic court in Tomaszów until World War II (1939-1945).

In addition to the Chassidic dynasty of Rabbi Yossele Rabbi Ari Leibish Neuhaus, the Admor of Tomaszow, also located his rabbinic court in the town. However, after clashing with the followers of Yarzov Chassidism, Rabbi Leibish Neuhaus moved his court to Chelm. Later in the history of the community, the last rabbis who served in Tomaszów Lubelski were Rabbi Yechiel Mordechai Weinberg of Krillow, and Rabbi Leibish Rubin, the Admor of Chishanov, who followed the tradition of the Sanz Chassidim.

In addition to the Chassidic courts, Tomaszów’s Jewish community operated a number of autonomous institutions and provided religious services to the public, including kosher slaughter. These institutions continued to expand, particularly as the Jewish Enlightenment gained traction. Along with small minyanim, batei midrash, and yeshivot, cultural life in the community became diverse. Zionism became popular during the early 20th century, and a branch of the World Zionist Organization opened in Tomaszów in 1916. The Bund and the communist party also became popular. Other cultural and community organizations included a library with Hebrew and Yiddish books, a Hebrew school, sports organizations, and drama circles. Social and cultural activities also took place within the framework of the Jewish Trade Union. Tomaszów also had a Jewish bank.

By the middle of the 19th century the Jewish population of Tomaszów was 2,090 people. By the end of the 19th century the population had reached 3,645 (59% of the total population). In 1931 there were close to 6,000 Jews in the city. On the eve of World War II there were about 7,000 Jews living in Tomaszow.

 

THE HOLOCAUST

On September 7, 1939, the Jewish quarter suffered from a heavy German bombardment. The local synagogue was burned down, and about 500 houses inhabited by Jews were destroyed. The German army occupied Tomaszów a week later, on September 13, 1939, but withdrew within two weeks. This was followed by a brief Soviet occupation, which lasted only a few days until the town was returned to German control.  

Once the Soviet Army withdrew from Tomaszów many Jews left with them. As a result, only 1,500 Jews remained when the Germans returned. Immediately after the German occupation the town’s Jews were subject to persecution and violence. The Germans appointed a Judenrat, which was responsible for carrying out German orders and providing the Germans with Jewish forced laborers; Rabbi Yehoshu Fishelson, the chairman of the Judenrat, refused to hand over a list of Jews scheduled for deportation and was shot on the spot by a Gestapo officer.

A number of smaller deportations took place during 1940 and 1941. A larger deportation took place on February 25, 1942, when most of the town’s remaining Jews were deported to the forced labor camp in Cieszanow. From there a number of Jews were sent to the death camp Belzec.

During the deportations a number of Jews fled into the surrounding forests and attempted to hide there. A group of young Jews under Mendel Heler and Meir Kalichmacher organized a Jewish partisan unit, which fought the Germans until it was betrayed by local Poles and wiped out by the Nazis. The Polish Chechonski family was awarded the title of Righteous among the Nations from Yad Vashem in Jerusalem for saving Jews from Tomaszów.

 

POSTWAR

The Jewish community was not reconstituted in Tomaszow-Lubelski after the war. Former members of the community founded the Association for the Preservation and Commemoration of the Jewish Heritage of Tomaszow-Lubelski in Israel. Among its activities, the Tomaszów Foundation in Israel and the United States worked to maintain Tomaszów’s Jewish cemetery and the Jewish exhibition in Tomaszów’s local museum.

In 1993 the old cemetery in Tomaszów was renovated, and a monument was erected in memory of the Nazis' victims. The ceremony was attended by residents of the city and representatives of its institutions. The local museum a special section was assigned to the Jews of the city.

Sources describing the history of the community and its Jews include: Tomaszów-Lubelski Yizkor books in Hebrew and Yiddish; Encyclopedia Judaica (in English); Shalom Lavy's "Pinath Yikrath"; Haim Ari Klein's "Our Holy Rabbis from Tomaszow"; Shmuel Krakovski's "Jewish fighting in Poland against the Nazis"; Dr. Peter's book in Polish, "Szkice z Przeststosc Miasta Kresowego"; and the writings of YL Peretz, including "Hallo the Informer" and "Shema Yisrael.”

Cieszanów

Yiddish: ציעשינאוו, Tseshenov

A town in Lubaczów County in the Subcarpathian Voivodeship, Poland

Between 1772 and until the end of World War I (1914-1918) Cieszanów was part of the Austrian Empire, in the region of Galicia.

 

21ST CENTURY

The synagogue that was built in 1889 has remained standing. However, it is abandoned, and in ruins. As of 2014 there were plans to renovate the synagogue and use it to serve the town’s senior citizens.

 

HISTORY

Records indicate that Jews began living in Cieszanów at the beginning of the 17th century. They proved to be good citizens, participating in efforts to fortify and protect the town against Cossack attacks. In 1670 they were permitted to build houses and work as traders, and the restrictions on their working in crafts, particularly in the weaving of fabrics, were lifted. Through the years, most of the town’s Jews worked as traders, craftsmen, and moneychangers.

By 1629 Cieszanów had a synagogue, and the community grew steadily through the 17th century. An organized Jewish community was established during the first half of the 17th century. In 1690 the community’s rabbi was Rabbi Dov Berish the son of Rabbi Joshua Hoeschel Fraenkel-Teomim. The Chasidic movement became extremely popular in Cieszanów, and the Cieszanów-Lubaczów dynasty, an offshoot of the Sacz Sieniawa dynasty, was eventually established. Rabbi Ezekiel Schraga Halberstam was the last rabbi to serve the community of Cieszanów, before he was killed during the Holocaust.

In 1880 there were 1,463 Jews living in Cieszanów (about 52% of the total population). By 1910 that number had grown to 1,898 Jews (about 50% of the total). However, in the wake of World War I, with the economy suffering and antisemitism on the rise in Poland, a significant number of Jews emigrated.

A number of local organizations were established during the interwar period. A Benevolent Fund was established, in addition to mutual-aid societies in order to support the neediest members of the community, particularly during this period of economic distress. Indeed, in 1932 approximately 90% of the community’s workers were unemployed. A branch of the Bund was active, as well as the I.L Peretz Union for the Promotion of Culture. Additionally, a number of Zionist organizations became active during this period. A branch of Ezra was active beginning in 1925. During the ‘30s branches of Hitachdut Poalei Zion, General Zionists, HaMizrachi, and Revisionist Zionist movements were established. Cieszanów’s Jews were also politically active between the two World Wars. Twelve Jewish councilors were elected to the town council during the local elections of 1927, making up half of the councilors.

In 1938 there were 939 Jews living in Cieszanów.

 

THE HOLOCAUST

Cieszanów was occupied by the Germans in September 1939, a few days after the outbreak of World War II (1939-1945). After the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact between Germany and the Soviet Union, however, the Germans left the town, and Cieszanów came under Soviet control. Once again, however, the borders changed, and by mid-October Cieszanów was once again occupied by the Germans. At this point a number of Cieszanów’s Jews escaped to Soviet-occupied territory.

The Germans established a labor camp, in the area where the old synagogue was located, during the first half of 1940; approximately 4,000 Jews, most of whom had been deported from other areas, worked at the camp. Some of the inmates managed to escape to the Soviet side, though most were eventually transported back to their places of origin later in 1940, once the camp was closed; it reopened in the spring of 1941.

On February 25, 1940 the Germans brought 817 Jews to Cieszanów from Tomaszow Lubelski. They were joined on March 16 by 500 Jews from Mielec. A few months later all of the Jews in Cieszanów were sent to the Belzec extermination camp.

 

POSTWAR

The Jewish community was not reconstituted after the war.

The cemetery was repaired and fenced during the 1980s. An ohel was built above the grave of Rabbi Simcha Ber Halberstam in 1991.

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The Jewish Community of Rava-Ruska

Polish: Rawa Ruska

Yiddish: ראווע, Rave

 

A city in western Ukraine

Until World War II (1939-1945), Rava-Ruska was part of East Galicia, Poland.

 

HISTORY

Jews settled in Rava-Ruska when the city was first established, in 1624. Between 1629 and 1648 there were 25 Jewish houses in the town.

The Jews who lived in Rava-Ruska were sometimes subject to discrimination. During the 18th the city’s Jews had their rights restricted following a series of disputes with the townspeople. When the region was annexed to Austria, after the First Partition of Poland in 1772, heavy taxes were imposed on the city’s Jews of Rava-Ruska; this special taxation was annulled only after the emancipation of 1848, which granted Jews equal civil rights.

At first, the community of Rava-Ruska was subordinate to the rabbinate of Zolkiew, but in 1790 the community became independent.

The Jews of Rava-Ruska made their living by trade, by distilling and marketing spirits, and as craftsmen, particularly furriers and milliners. By the end of the 19th century many exported local agricultural produce to other countries, or worked in local industry. One Jewish-owned factory produced artistic tableware made of stone, while another made high-quality oil. There was also a cottage industry of Jews who processed pig bristles in order to make straw baskets and brooms.

Most of Rava-Ruska’s Jews affiliated with the Chassidic movement, particularly the Belz sect. Rabbis who served the Jewish community during the 19th century included Rabbi Solomon Kluger, the Maggid of Brody; Rabbi Zechariah, a student of the Seer of Lublin; and Rabbi Levy Isaac Schor.

Rava-Ruska was home to a number of prayer houses, many of which were named after where they were physically located, such as The Synagogue on the Sands.   

Though the Chassidim dominated the Jewish community, there were also some maskilim (advocates of the Jewish Enlightenment). Maskilim from Rava-Ruska included the satirist Isaac Erter; Erter was also a physician, and saved many lives during an epidemic that broke out in 1831. Another maskil was Abraham Goldberg, who published an anti-Belz book in 1848; Goldberg was also a friend and student of the historian and philosopher Nachman Krochmal.

A number of schools were established that promoted Enlightenment ideals. A German-language Jewish school was founded in 1788 by the maskil Naphtali Herz Homberg, who founded a schools throughout Galicia. This school functioned until 1806. Another school, which ran Hebrew language classes for adults, was founded by Baron Hirsch in 1892; the school was officially recognized by the government in 1900. Later, another Hebrew school opened in 1922, in spite of opposition from the Belz Chassidim; in 1931 the school expanded to include a kindergarten. For religious Jews, the organization Agudas Yisroel ran a Beis Yaakov school for girls.  

In addition to educational institutions, Rava-Ruska’s Jews were also politically active. A local branch of the Jewish Socialist Party was founded by Jewish workers in 1908. Hatikva, Rava-Ruska’s first local Zionist organization, was founded in 1910.

During World War I (1914-1918) the city’s Jews were subject to violence and displacement brought on by the war. Additionally, in 1915 cholera and typhoid epidemics broke out in the city, and many Jewish and non-Jewish residents were killed.

In the wake of the war, Rava-Ruska became part of independent Poland. This proved to be dangerous for the city’s Jews. Polish troops who fought the Ukrainians in East Galicia levied false accusations against the Jews, resulting in several Jews being court-martialed (the charges were eventually proven to be false, and the accused were acquitted). Nonetheless, a Jewish baker from Rava-Ruska was awarded a Military Mark of Distinction by the Polish government for hiding a wounded Polish officer in his home during the fighting.

In 1880 there were 3,878 Jews living in Rava-Ruska (about 60% of the total population). By 1921 that number had grown to 5,048 (56% of the total population).

During the interwar period most of Rava-Ruska’s Jews worked as innkeepers, traders, peddlers, craftsmen, porters, and carters. The carters eventually organized under the union Yad Charutzim, while the merchants organized under the Union of Merchants and Manufacturers.

The Jews of Rava-Ruska were particularly active politically and culturally between the two World Wars. Zionism became increasingly popular during this period, and a number of Zionist organizations and youth groups were founded. Other political organizations included Agudas Yisroel, which was established in Rava-Ruska in 1928, and a branch of the Bund. The youth movements that were active in Rava-Ruska held drama circles and other cultural activities in the building of the Jewish orphanage. Meanwhile, the Bund established a large library and organized a number of study groups.

During the 1928 elections to the local council 22 Jewish, 20 Polish, and 6 Ukrainian delegates were appointed. Internal community politics also changed that year. Until 1928 the community’s own committee had been dominated by the Belz Chassidim. After the 1928 electionsthe Zionists won 7 out of 12 seats.

On the eve of World War II Rava-Ruska’s Jewish population was 6,200 (approximately 50% of the total).

 

THE HOLOCAUST 

After the outbreak of World War II, many refugees from the German-occupied parts of Poland came to Rava-Ruska on their way to the Romanian border, and were helped by the Jewish community. However, Rava-Ruska itself was occupied by the Germans on September 10, 1939.

With the German occupation came a number of discriminatory measures enacted against the city’s Jews. They were ordered to wear distinguishing marks, their movement in public was restricted, and they were drafted for forced labor. German troops broke into synagogues and desecrated the Torah scrolls.

Relief came on September 24, 1939; following the pre-war agreement between Germany and the Soviet Union, the region that included Rava-Ruska was given to the Soviet Union. Rava-Ruska was occupied by the Red Army shortly thereafter. Following the Soviet policies of nationalization, private Jewish businesses were confiscated. Religious and cultural institutions were closed down. In March of 1940 a number of wealthy Jewish families were arrested and sent into exiled in the Russian interior. Still, the Jews of Rava-Ruska were safer under the Soviets than they were under Nazi Germany.

Rava-Ruska was once again occupied by the Germans on June 28, 1941, days after Germany attacked the Soviet Union (June 22, 1941). At the beginning of July 1941 about 100 Jews were rounded up by the Ukrainian militia that worked with the Germans. The group was taken to the nearby wood of Wolwokice, where they were shot to death.

In July of 1941 the Germans ordered the Jewish community to establish a Judenrat in order to carry out German orders. Joseph Mandel, a member of the Judenrat and a prominent figure in the community, was arrested for resisting the German demands and was never heard from again.

The Judenrat took on the responsibility to supply medical and financial aid to the needy, and setting up a soup kitchen and a hospital. In August 1941 the Judenrat was ordered to provide the Germans with a large sum of money from the Jewish community.

Larger quotas of men for forced labor began to be demanded in the winter of 1942. During this period Rava-Ruska’s Jews were ordered to hand over all their fur clothing. The cold, hunger, and disease led to many deaths.

On March 20, 1942 German military police units, with the help of the Ukrainian militia, took Jews off the streets and from their homes. By the end of the day approximately 1,500 Jews had been deported to the extermination camp Belzec. Many were also killed during the aktion, whether in the city itself or in the nearby woods. The next day the Germans demolished the old Jewish cemetery, and ordered the Jews to use the broken tombstones to pave a road.

In the spring of 1942 all of the Jews were concentrated in a single quarter. As a result of the overcrowding, an epidemic of typhoid broke out.

On July 29, 1942 another aktion took place, this one lasting a few days. About 800 Jews were brought from Nemirov; they were deported to Belzec together with 1,200 Jews from Rava-Ruska. Jews who were found hiding were killed on the spot, as were the approximately 30 Jews who resisted boarding the cattle cars. About 60 of the deportees managed to jump off of the moving train and to return to the town, injured and exhausted. Many others were killed while attempting to jump from the train.

Through the summer of 1942 hundreds of trains to Belzec passed through Rava-Ruska. Approximately 500 Jews who managed to jump from the trains reached Rava-Ruska, where they were aided by the Judenrat and the Jewish community.

In September of 1942 a few hundred Jews were deported from the neighboring villages to Rava-Ruska. The ghetto was sealed off that December 1942.

On December 7, 1942 the Germans gathered the old and sick people from the ghetto, and deported them to Belzec. Many were killed or died on the way. The liquidation of the ghetto began on December 9. The German police and the Ukrainian militia transported most of the remaining Jews on lorries to a nearby wood, where they shot them. The bodies were buried in two pits prepared in advance. Approximately 300 Jews were left in the ghetto. 60 were responsible for collecting the remaining Jewish property, while the rest were taken to a nearby labor camp. A labor camp was set up also in the town itself, where the remaining Jews of Rava-Ruska and the surrounding area were gathered. In June 1943 the Germans murdered most of the camp’s inmates; a few survived by hiding in the homes of Christian acquaintances, or in bunkers in the woods.  

Rava-Ruska was liberated by the Red Army on July 20, 1944.

 

POSTWAR

Rava-Ruska’s Jewish community was not renewed after the war.

 

Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People
RAWSKI

RAWSKI, RAVSKI

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name is a toponymic (derived from a geographic name of a town, city, region or country). Surnames that are based on place names do not always testify to direct origin from that place, but may indicate an indirect relation between the name-bearer or his ancestors and the place, such as birthplace, temporary residence, trade, or family-relatives.

This family name is derived from the name of a number of locations in Poland, among them Rawa Mazowiecka, a town in the Łódź Voivodeship, and Rawa Ruska, now Rava Ruska a city in Lviv Oblast in western Ukraine. Both places were home to large Jewish communities.

Places, regions and countries of origin or residence are some of the sources of Jewish family names. But, unless the family has reliable records, names based on toponymics cannot prove the exact origin of the family.

Rawski is documented as a Jewish family name with Laya Rawski, a housewife of Warsaw, Poland, who was born in Gora Kalwaria, Poland in 1906, and perished in the Holocaust.  

Market in Rawa Ruska, near Lvov, Poland, 1916-1917
Market in Rawa Ruska, near Lvov,
Poland, c.1917.
Photo taken by German soldiers during W.W.I.
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Polska Akademia Nauk, Warsaw)
Wedding Picture, Rawa Ruska, Galicia, Poland, 1937
Family picture at the wedding of Gita Sperberg.
Rawa-Ruska, near Lvov, Galicia, Poland, 1937.
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot)

Laszczow

Łaszczów

A town in Tomaszów Lubelski County, Lublin Voivodeship, Poland

HISTORY

Evidence suggests that Jews were living in Łaszczów since the 15th century. Once Łaszczów was granted the status of a town in 1578, with weekly market days and an annual fair, more Jews began arriving and trading in Łaszczów. By the end of the 16th century Łaszczów was home to an organized Jewish community. A grand synagogue in the Baroque style; according to community elders the synagogue was donated by the ruler of Łaszczów in appreciation for the help he received from the town’s Jews when he could not find his son.

By the beginning of the 19th century Łaszczów’s population declined. It lost its town status, and became a small rural settlement, centered around agriculture and crafts. Most of the town’s Jewish residents worked as craftsmen, and records indicate that Łaszczów had a Jewish printing press at the beginning of the 19th century.

Among the rabbis who served the Jewish community of Łaszczów during the 18th and 19th centuries are Rabbi Ori Faivel, a student of the Baal Shem Tov (the founder of Chassidism), and Rabbi Mordecai Ziskind, the cousin and disciple of rabbi Levi Isaac of Berdichev.

During the interwar period the Jews of Łaszczów were particularly active politically and socially. The Bund became active, as did Zionism, communism, and religious political parties.

On the eve of World War II (1939-1945) there were about 1,000 Jews living in Łaszczów.

 

THE HOLOCAUST 

After the outbreak of World War II (September 1, 1939) Łaszczów was within the territory that fell under the control of the Soviet Union. Jewish refugees from the parts of Poland occupied by Germany arrived in Łaszczów and were absorbed into the community. Jews found work with the Soviet authorities, and young Jewish men were mobilized into the Red Army.

However, approximately two weeks later, the border between Germany and the Soviet Union shifted and Łaszczów and the surrounding region (the sub-district of Tomaszow-Lubelski) came under German rule. Many Jews left with the retreating Soviets; while they were deported to Siberia, and life was extremely difficult, they were nonetheless able to survive the war.

With the German occupation came anti-Jewish violence and persecution. A number of Jews were killed the first day of the occupation, and 142 were killed later, and buried in a mass grave in the Jewish cemetery. Those who survived the occupation were ultimately deported to the extermination camp Bełżec.

 

POSTWAR

Jewish life was not revived at Łaszczów after the war.

In 1987 Jacob Ehrlich, a former member of the community who immigrated to Israel, visited Łaszczów. He had lost his entire family (37 people) in the Holocaust. During his visit he found that while the synagogue building was still standing, the cemetery had been sold as agricultural land. After his return to Israel, he raised funds in order to restore the cemetery and build a monument to Holocaust victims.

Ehrlich returned to Łaszczów in the summer of 1990. With the help of the mayor, Henrika Torba, the local priest, and a number of Polish volunteers, the bones of the Jews who were killed by the Nazis were unearthed and given a proper Jewish burial. Ehrlich invited 12 Jews from Warsaw to take part in the funeral and the prayers. They were joined by hundreds of Poles, led by the priest.

At the beginning of July 1990 the Holocaust memorial was unveiled in the presence of the Polish Scouts’ Honor Guard, the mayor, and the priest Stanislaw Kowalski, who was recognized by Yad Vashem for his help. The unveiling itself was performed by two Jewish women from the original community, one of whom survived the war by being hidden by a Polish family.

 

Lubycza Krolewska

Lubycza Królewska

Ukrainian: Любича Королівська
A town in Tomaszów Lubelski county, Lublin Voivodeship, eastern Poland.

Until World War II (1939-1945) Lubycza Królewska was located in the district of Lvov, eastern Galicia, Poland.

HISTORY

Documents indicate that Lubycza Królewska was a village in 1667, and that by 1765 it had been classified as a town, with eight guest houses and several small houses owned by Jews. With the Partitions of Poland at the end of the 18th century, Lubycza Królewska, like the rest of the region of Galicia, came under Austrian rule.

The earliest Jewish residents worked as petty traders and in running the town’s guest houses, which appear to have been under Jewish ownership. At the beginning of the 19th century a local stone and ceramics factory was established in the town. Jews also ran the saw mill and flour mill which were also established in Lubycza Królewska at the beginning of the 19th century and operated using water power. At the end of the 19th century the ceramics factory was replaced by a small matchbox factory, which employed mostly Jews.

In 1880 there were 543 Jews living in Lubycza Królewska (83% of the total population). In 1900 the Jewish population was 821 (88% of the total population).

Members of the Rokach family served as the leaders of the local Chasidic community and as community rabbis beginning at the end of the 19th century until World War I (1914-1918). The last rabbi to serve  Lubycza Królewska’s Jewish community was Rabbi Naftali Hertz, the son of Rabbi Shalom Beck.

Around World War I the town’s Jews supported themselves through petty trade, peddling, crafts and as wagon-drivers. At that point, Lubycza Królewska served as an urban center for the surrounding villages; Jews leased taverns and worked in the urban services required by the villagers.

During the First World War many houses in the town were destroyed. About 60 Jewish children who were orphaned by the war received free meals in a kitchen supported by the Joint Distribution Committee; the Joint also helped the Jewish community rebuild during the interwar period.

Community institutions during the interwar period included a synagogue and a cemetery. A mutual aid fund was established at the end of the 1920s.

The first Zionist groups began to be active in Lubycza Królewska at the beginning of the 1920s, particularly branches of the General Zionists and Hitachdut.

In 1928 the physician Dr. Carl Weisberg settled in Lubycza Królewska and married the daughter of the local Ukrainian priest following her conversion to Judaism.


On the eve of World War II (1939-1945) about 650 Jews were living in Lubycza Królewska.


THE HOLOCAUST

After the outbreak of World War II (September 1, 1939) and the pact between Germany and the Soviet Union, Lubycza Królewska fell under Soviet control. However, the town was occupied by the Germans following their invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941. A ghetto was established, and approximately 900 Jews were concentrated in it.

At the end of Februray 1942 several dozen Jews were sent from Lubycza Królewska to the Bełżec extermination camp. An additional group was sent at the end of September 1942 (after Sukkot 5703) or October 4, 1942.

In October 1942 the town’s remaining Jews were sent to the district town of Rava Ruska, where they met the same fate as the local Jews.

 

POSTWAR

The Jewish community was not renewed after the war.

 

Tomaszow Lubelski

Tomaszów Lubelski

A town in the Lublin Voivodeship, Poland.

Tomaszów Lubelski was in the area that was annexed to Austria during the First Partition of Poland in 1772. After the Vienna Congress in 1815 it became part of the Russian Empire.

 

21ST CENTURY

A few tombstones have remained standing in the Jewish cemetery on Starozmowska Street. The site was renovated by donors, and surrounded by a fence and a gate.

The municipal library has a section devoted to the Jews of the city. Miles Lerman, a Holocuast survivor from Tomaszów, was among the founders of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

 

HISTORY 

Tomaszów was founded in 1590 by Jan Zamoyski, Chancellor of the Polish Crown, in memory of his son Tomaz. With permission from the Zamoyski family, Jews began settling in the city immediately after its establishment, and a community was formed as early as 1594. In 1621 the Jews received official rights to live, work, and establish their own autonomous institutions in the town.

The Jewish community of Tomaszów was almost completely destroyed during the Khmelnitsky riots of 1648. The community reorganized during the second half of the 17 century, in spite of the chaos and damage it incurred during the Swedish invasions into Poland (1600-1665). The leader (Parnas) of the community, Jacob Levi Safra, served as the community’s delegate to the Council of the Four Lands in 1667, and Rabbi Isaac Shapira was the town’s rabbi during the 1670s. He was succeeded by Judah b. Nisan. Another rabbi serving in the town, Rabbi Phinehas bar Meir of Tomaszów, was martyred in Lublin in 1677 following a blood libel.

Tomaszów was home to a major yeshiva founded by Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kock (1787-1859) and attended by scholars from all over Poland. Rabbi Menachem Mendel was known for his extreme methodology, summed up in his sayings: "All light or shadow" and "From Tomaszów emerges fire.” Rabbi Yossele of Yaroslav, who served as the presiding judge in Tomaszow, was opposed to Rabbi Menachem Mendel's extremism. This led to tensions between the two community leaders, and ultimately Rabbi Menachem Mendel left Tomaszów and went to Kotzk, while Rabbi Yossele continued to maintain a Chassidic court in Tomaszów until World War II (1939-1945).

In addition to the Chassidic dynasty of Rabbi Yossele Rabbi Ari Leibish Neuhaus, the Admor of Tomaszow, also located his rabbinic court in the town. However, after clashing with the followers of Yarzov Chassidism, Rabbi Leibish Neuhaus moved his court to Chelm. Later in the history of the community, the last rabbis who served in Tomaszów Lubelski were Rabbi Yechiel Mordechai Weinberg of Krillow, and Rabbi Leibish Rubin, the Admor of Chishanov, who followed the tradition of the Sanz Chassidim.

In addition to the Chassidic courts, Tomaszów’s Jewish community operated a number of autonomous institutions and provided religious services to the public, including kosher slaughter. These institutions continued to expand, particularly as the Jewish Enlightenment gained traction. Along with small minyanim, batei midrash, and yeshivot, cultural life in the community became diverse. Zionism became popular during the early 20th century, and a branch of the World Zionist Organization opened in Tomaszów in 1916. The Bund and the communist party also became popular. Other cultural and community organizations included a library with Hebrew and Yiddish books, a Hebrew school, sports organizations, and drama circles. Social and cultural activities also took place within the framework of the Jewish Trade Union. Tomaszów also had a Jewish bank.

By the middle of the 19th century the Jewish population of Tomaszów was 2,090 people. By the end of the 19th century the population had reached 3,645 (59% of the total population). In 1931 there were close to 6,000 Jews in the city. On the eve of World War II there were about 7,000 Jews living in Tomaszow.

 

THE HOLOCAUST

On September 7, 1939, the Jewish quarter suffered from a heavy German bombardment. The local synagogue was burned down, and about 500 houses inhabited by Jews were destroyed. The German army occupied Tomaszów a week later, on September 13, 1939, but withdrew within two weeks. This was followed by a brief Soviet occupation, which lasted only a few days until the town was returned to German control.  

Once the Soviet Army withdrew from Tomaszów many Jews left with them. As a result, only 1,500 Jews remained when the Germans returned. Immediately after the German occupation the town’s Jews were subject to persecution and violence. The Germans appointed a Judenrat, which was responsible for carrying out German orders and providing the Germans with Jewish forced laborers; Rabbi Yehoshu Fishelson, the chairman of the Judenrat, refused to hand over a list of Jews scheduled for deportation and was shot on the spot by a Gestapo officer.

A number of smaller deportations took place during 1940 and 1941. A larger deportation took place on February 25, 1942, when most of the town’s remaining Jews were deported to the forced labor camp in Cieszanow. From there a number of Jews were sent to the death camp Belzec.

During the deportations a number of Jews fled into the surrounding forests and attempted to hide there. A group of young Jews under Mendel Heler and Meir Kalichmacher organized a Jewish partisan unit, which fought the Germans until it was betrayed by local Poles and wiped out by the Nazis. The Polish Chechonski family was awarded the title of Righteous among the Nations from Yad Vashem in Jerusalem for saving Jews from Tomaszów.

 

POSTWAR

The Jewish community was not reconstituted in Tomaszow-Lubelski after the war. Former members of the community founded the Association for the Preservation and Commemoration of the Jewish Heritage of Tomaszow-Lubelski in Israel. Among its activities, the Tomaszów Foundation in Israel and the United States worked to maintain Tomaszów’s Jewish cemetery and the Jewish exhibition in Tomaszów’s local museum.

In 1993 the old cemetery in Tomaszów was renovated, and a monument was erected in memory of the Nazis' victims. The ceremony was attended by residents of the city and representatives of its institutions. The local museum a special section was assigned to the Jews of the city.

Sources describing the history of the community and its Jews include: Tomaszów-Lubelski Yizkor books in Hebrew and Yiddish; Encyclopedia Judaica (in English); Shalom Lavy's "Pinath Yikrath"; Haim Ari Klein's "Our Holy Rabbis from Tomaszow"; Shmuel Krakovski's "Jewish fighting in Poland against the Nazis"; Dr. Peter's book in Polish, "Szkice z Przeststosc Miasta Kresowego"; and the writings of YL Peretz, including "Hallo the Informer" and "Shema Yisrael.”

Cieszanow

Cieszanów

Yiddish: ציעשינאוו, Tseshenov

A town in Lubaczów County in the Subcarpathian Voivodeship, Poland

Between 1772 and until the end of World War I (1914-1918) Cieszanów was part of the Austrian Empire, in the region of Galicia.

 

21ST CENTURY

The synagogue that was built in 1889 has remained standing. However, it is abandoned, and in ruins. As of 2014 there were plans to renovate the synagogue and use it to serve the town’s senior citizens.

 

HISTORY

Records indicate that Jews began living in Cieszanów at the beginning of the 17th century. They proved to be good citizens, participating in efforts to fortify and protect the town against Cossack attacks. In 1670 they were permitted to build houses and work as traders, and the restrictions on their working in crafts, particularly in the weaving of fabrics, were lifted. Through the years, most of the town’s Jews worked as traders, craftsmen, and moneychangers.

By 1629 Cieszanów had a synagogue, and the community grew steadily through the 17th century. An organized Jewish community was established during the first half of the 17th century. In 1690 the community’s rabbi was Rabbi Dov Berish the son of Rabbi Joshua Hoeschel Fraenkel-Teomim. The Chasidic movement became extremely popular in Cieszanów, and the Cieszanów-Lubaczów dynasty, an offshoot of the Sacz Sieniawa dynasty, was eventually established. Rabbi Ezekiel Schraga Halberstam was the last rabbi to serve the community of Cieszanów, before he was killed during the Holocaust.

In 1880 there were 1,463 Jews living in Cieszanów (about 52% of the total population). By 1910 that number had grown to 1,898 Jews (about 50% of the total). However, in the wake of World War I, with the economy suffering and antisemitism on the rise in Poland, a significant number of Jews emigrated.

A number of local organizations were established during the interwar period. A Benevolent Fund was established, in addition to mutual-aid societies in order to support the neediest members of the community, particularly during this period of economic distress. Indeed, in 1932 approximately 90% of the community’s workers were unemployed. A branch of the Bund was active, as well as the I.L Peretz Union for the Promotion of Culture. Additionally, a number of Zionist organizations became active during this period. A branch of Ezra was active beginning in 1925. During the ‘30s branches of Hitachdut Poalei Zion, General Zionists, HaMizrachi, and Revisionist Zionist movements were established. Cieszanów’s Jews were also politically active between the two World Wars. Twelve Jewish councilors were elected to the town council during the local elections of 1927, making up half of the councilors.

In 1938 there were 939 Jews living in Cieszanów.

 

THE HOLOCAUST

Cieszanów was occupied by the Germans in September 1939, a few days after the outbreak of World War II (1939-1945). After the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact between Germany and the Soviet Union, however, the Germans left the town, and Cieszanów came under Soviet control. Once again, however, the borders changed, and by mid-October Cieszanów was once again occupied by the Germans. At this point a number of Cieszanów’s Jews escaped to Soviet-occupied territory.

The Germans established a labor camp, in the area where the old synagogue was located, during the first half of 1940; approximately 4,000 Jews, most of whom had been deported from other areas, worked at the camp. Some of the inmates managed to escape to the Soviet side, though most were eventually transported back to their places of origin later in 1940, once the camp was closed; it reopened in the spring of 1941.

On February 25, 1940 the Germans brought 817 Jews to Cieszanów from Tomaszow Lubelski. They were joined on March 16 by 500 Jews from Mielec. A few months later all of the Jews in Cieszanów were sent to the Belzec extermination camp.

 

POSTWAR

The Jewish community was not reconstituted after the war.

The cemetery was repaired and fenced during the 1980s. An ohel was built above the grave of Rabbi Simcha Ber Halberstam in 1991.