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Translation of Zalosce chapter from
Pinkas Hakehillot Polin
Translation of Zalosce chapter from
Published by Yad Vashem
Published in Jerusalem
Published in Jerusalem
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This is a translation from: Pinkas Hakehillot Polin:
Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities, Poland, Volume II, pages 193-195, published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem
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Zborov District, Tarnopol County
Translation by Israel Pickholtz
|Year||General Population||Jewish Population|
|1931||( ? )||704|
The Jewish Community from its inception until the Second World War
Zalosce was founded as a private town of nobility in 1524. During the Polish Kingdom, it was part of Wohlin County, Kremenitz District. In the middle of the sixteenth century, a fortress was erected nearby and local merchants were permitted to collect customs from passing merchants. This brought prosperity to the town. The fortress was never captured during the wars of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and the town itself suffered only minor damage. In 1675, a massive Turkish army laid siege to the town, but the siege ended and the Turks merely burned it. In 1751, the owner of the town, a noble named Moncinski, opened a factory for cloth, which soon began to manufacture blankets. This factory was closed, apparently even before the partition of Poland in 1772. By the end of the nineteenth century, Zalosce had a brewery, a water-powered flour mill and a factory for bricks.
The first record of Jews in Zalosce is from 1606. In that year, a Jew from Tarnopol or Trembowle leased a flour mill in the area. The community seems to have been spared the edicts of 1648-9 and grew and developed as the eighteenth century approached. In 1717, the community of 300 Jews paid 430 gold pieces as head tax. In the eighteenth century, Zalosce hosted meetings of the committee of the state of Reisen.
During the nineteenth century, both the general population and the Jewish population increased substantially, despite the recurring fires. In 1865, sixty-five Jewish homes burned, at a time when the whole town consisted of three hundred houses. Most of the Jews of Zalosce were in commerce and a few were artisans. There was one Jewish doctor at the beginning of the twentieth century,
Towards the end of the nineteenth century, the town could no longer sustain the Jewish population and many Jews moved to surrounding towns and abroad. The Jewish community decreased by 435 between 1890 and 1910, while the number of Christians increased by 782. Zalosce was again struck by fire during the First World War. The Russians accused the Jews of arson and drove them from the town. By the end of the war, the Jewish community was only a quarter of its former size, while the Christian community had decreased by only 8%.
Since Zalosce was an important community, particularly in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, a number of well-known rabbis served there. The first rabbi known to have served there (at the end of the seventeenth century) was R' Israel ben R' Yaakov Zack, who wrote Hilchot Adam MiYisrael. In the middle of the eighteenth century, the rabbi was R' Mordecai ben R' Yitzhak HaLevi, who went on to Tikochin. He was followed by R' Eliezer ben R' Yitzhak HaLevi Horowitz. R' Yitzhak had been the rabbi of Altona/Hamburg/Windsbak and R' Eliezer's son R' Aryeh Leibush, founded the Horowitz dynasty which served in Stanislawow for 170 years. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the rabbi was R' Menaham Mendel ben R' Shalom Kahane. He was followed by a second Horowitz, R' Issachar ben R' Aryeh Leibush, who went on to Tishminice and later succeeded his father in Stanislawow. In the middle of the nineteenth century, R' Shimshon Hamidish was the rabbi of Zalosce and in the 1860's R' Shelomo Yaakov Shalita. [This is printed as a surname, not as a title - IP] He was followed by the third Horowitz representative, R' Aryeh Leibush ben R' Yitzhak, who served in Zalosce from 1871 until 1879, before going on to Stryj and from there (in 1904) to Stanislawow. He was followed by R' Yaakov Babad, who served as rabbi without pay and made his living as a merchant. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the rabbi was R' Natan Neta Leiter, who wrote MeAggadot Natan. After WWI, he did not return to Zalosce, but served as Head of the Rabbinical Court of Lwow. The last rabbi of Zalosce was apparently R' Shalom Kleinberg.
There were also several Hassidic Maggidim in Zalosce. First among them was R' Simha ben R' Yehoshua who lived there in the 1730's. The Maggid R' Binyamin ben R' Aharon was particularly appreciated by the Jews of Zalosce. He was a student of R' Yehiel Michel of Zlocew and according to tradition had even known the Baal Shem Tov. He preached in any number of surrounding towns, but lived in Zalosce until his death in 1812. R' Binyamin published many books, among them Torei Zahav, Ahavat Reim, Helkat Binyamin and Ahavat Binyamin. From the time of his death until the beginning of WWI, there was a custom that each day, one of a select group of ten men would light a candle and say Psalms at his grave. On the anniversary of his death, the Jews of Zalosce would hold a celebration at the grave site. At about the same time, there was a maggid known as R' Moshe of Zalosce, who also preached in Zborow and other towns. He wrote Berit Avraham and Be'er Hayyim and brought many Jews to Hassidism. At the beginning of the twentieth century Zalosce had as a resident the Hassidic Admor R' Eliezer, son-in-law of R' Yaakov Moshe ben R' Eliezer Zvi Safrin of Komarno.
The first Zionist activities in Zalosce were in 1902. In 1906, the organization Ahavat Zion was established, and it included a drama group among its activities. In 1908, a chapter of Poalei Zion was established. After WWI, chapters of the General Zionists and the Mizrahi were set up, and in the early 1930's a chapter of the Hitahdut. Ahva was active among the youth and there was a small Betar group. In the elections for the Zionist Congress of 1935, the local results were as follows: General Zionists 109, Mizrahi 63, Labor Zionists 70.
Aggudat Israel was also active in Zalosce and the local rabbi was its head. The rabbi organized a Mishnah Society and was active in elections within the community and for the town. In the local elections of 1933, Jews won two of twelve seats - one a Zionist and one from Aggudat Israel. The community was controlled by Aggudat Israel, together with the various Hassidic groups.
In 1895, a Jewish school was set up under the sponsorship of Baron Hirsch. At the beginning of the twentieth century, it had 118 students. It closed at the beginning of WWI and never reopened. Between the world wars, a cultural association called HaTehiyya tried to maintain a library and sometimes had a drama group.
Zalosce During the Second World War
The period of Soviet rule (1939-1941) brought upheaval to the public and economic lives of the Jews of Zalosce. Community institutions closed, organizations ceased to function and only the religious life around the synagogues continued. The soviet nationalized factories and agriculture and the Jews suffered as much as everyone else. Several Jewish families were deported to the Soviet Union.
Upon the German invasion of the Soviet Union, some Jewish families fled east. At the beginning of July, there was a battle for the city and soldiers on both sides fell. After the Germans captured the city on 9 July 1941, the local Ukrainian priest told the Germans that the Jews had participated on the fighting on the side of the Russians and had killed German soldiers. The Germans took advantage of this fabrication and killed at least twenty Jews that same day.
The Judenrat was set up at the end of July 1941, headed by Glasgol, the attorney. Forced laborers from Zalosce worked paving the Lwow-Kiev road. In August 1941, the community was forced to make a contribution of thousands of rubles. In the fall of 1941, groups of young Jews were kidnapped for work camps in the area and they eventually ended up at the camp at Jezerna.
In December 1941, the Germans confiscated the fur clothing of the Jews. During the spring of 1942, the kidnappings continued. In the summer of 1942, Gestapo agents would come to Zalosce from Tarnopol to kill Jews in the streets. The Jews of Zalosce had not been put into a ghetto.
In October 1942, most of the remaining Jews of Zalosce were driven to the ghetto in Zborov and Zalosce was declared Judenrein. Two groups of forced workers remained, detachments of a Zborov work camp. Another group of fifty worked on building and maintaining roads and another ten fished the lakes of the area for the Germans. We do not have specific information regarding when these remaining Jews were killed, except that it was in the spring of 1943.
Throughout 1943, the Germans and their local collaborators continued to search for hidden Jews. Any that were found were killed. including a group of fifteen found in December 1943.
On 7 March 1944, the city was liberated by Soviet partisans. About twenty-five survivors came out of hiding. The Germans retook the city and the surviving Jews were sent east in haste. On 23 March 1944, the city was liberated once again. During the final months of 1944, a number of Jews who had fled to the Soviet Union returned to Zalosce. The last of the Jews left Zalosce for Poland in the spring of 1945. Most of them went on to Israel and a few went to the United States.
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