“Bukowsk” - Encyclopedia of Jewish
Communities in Poland, Volume III
(Bukowsko, Poland)

49°29' / 22°04'

Translation of “Bukowsk” chapter from
Pinkas Hakehillot Polin

Published by Yad Vashem

Published in Jerusalem


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Acknowledgments

Project Coordinator

William Leibner

 

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This is a translation from: Pinkas Hakehillot: Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities, Poland,
Volume III, pages 69-70, published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem


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(pages 69-70)

Bukowsko (Bukowsk in Yiddish),
Galicia, Poland

(District of Sanok, region of Lemberg)

(East of Krakow, South of Krosno and Sanok)

Translated by William Leibner and Tanya Klein 

YearTotal
population
Jews
1808?158
1880854480
1900991748
1921726494

A village by that name was already in existence during the 14th century. The hamlet of Bukowsko was established during the second half of the 18 th century near the existing village and the two communities co-existed. Each one had its own administration and maintained its own independence. The hamlet had a weekly market day and each March had a fair that lasted a week and attracted many villagers and merchants from the area. The small city was 17 kilometers from the railway and this factor hampered the growth of the place. In 1922, there was a great fire during which 18 homes were burned.

The first Jews that appeared in the hamlet of Bukowsko date to the creation of the hamlet as an independent unit. The Jews of the place were at first attached to the Jewish community of Sanok, but at the beginning of the 19th century established their own Jewish community council.

The Jews were primarily involved in the retail trade, peddling, and artisanship. During the second half of the 19 th century, the majority of the inhabitants of the city were Jews. The gentile population lived in the suburbs. The Jews controlled all commercial activities of Bukowsko except for the hog trade and the sale of Christian religious items. The only industrial establishments were the hide factory that was owned by a Jew and the small distillery that provided alcoholic beverages to the area. Most of the Jews of Bukowsko prepared intensively for months towards the annual March Fair and lived for months from the profits that they made from the fair. The court of the Hassidic Rabbi Meir Yehuda, also, attracted many Hassidim to the hamlet which provided income for the city's Jewish residents.

WWI practically destroyed the economy of Bukowsko and many homes were burned. In November of 1918, the villagers of the area staged a minor pogrom and robbed Jewish property. Many Jewish families were practically starving during the years of 1919 and 1920. The traditional fair was cancelled between the wars and the Hassidic Rabbi Dawid (Pronounced Dowid in the Ashkenazi pronunciation of Hebrew) Shapiro did not return to the hamlet and instead settled in Sanok. These economic hardships reduced the Jewish population by a third. The emigration that started to the States prior to WWI increased significantly following the war. The great fires of 1922 further aggravated the economic condition of the Jews for 17 Jewish homes were destroyed and excessive looting caused more economic harm to the Jews. Jewish life in Bukowsko never returned to pre- WWI level during the period between the great wars.

The study center that was destroyed during WWI was not repaired until 1927. The public bath house was restored with money provided by the American Joint Organization. The latter, also, paid for the services of a local doctor to help the needy and sick Jews. In 1927, a native son of Bukowsko returned from Los Angelos in the USA and donated the money to restore the study center and, also, provided assistance to needy Jews and Christians in the city. A revolving charity fund was established by the Joint Organization in that year, but the economic situation of the Jewish population kept sliding downhill.

Bukowsko was a Hassidic stronghold. At first the the Rynanower Hassidim of Rabbi Mendel of Rymanow dominated the scene and the synagogue was named for him. In 1806, Rabbi Shlomo Leib became Rabbi. He was the son of Rabbi Baruch of Laczina who was a student of the famous Rabbi of Lublin the so-called “Hoze of Lublin” or the “Seer of Lublin” and the holy Jew from Przesucha. It seems that his Central Polish style and manners of did not endear him to the Galician Hassidim who preferred a Galician Rabbi. Thus, Rabbi Shlomo Leib left the place for Laczina where he passed away in 1844. The new Rabbi of Bukowsko was Benyamin Zeew who was appointed in 1844 and then left for Dukla, and later for Zmigrod. In the middle of the 19 th century, Rabbi Eliezer Weissblum or the “ Reisher (from the city of Rzeszow or Reishe) Rabbi” was the head of the Jewish Judicial Council of the city. Rabbi Shlomo Halbershtam of the Bo bower Dynasty was appointed Rabbi of Bukowsko in 1864 and a few years later became the Rabbi of Oswiecim (Aushwitz).  

In the second half of the 19 th Century, the Jews of Bukowsko consisted of three main Hassidic groups. The Sandz-Bobower Hassidim centered about the Bet Midrash or study center, the Sadigora Hassidim (Ryzin)) congregated around their kloiz or synagogue and the Dynower Hasidim who were the largest group. The following of the last group even gained more strength and influence when Rabbi Meir Shapiro established his residence in the hamlet. He was also appointed judicial head of the local Jewish court in 1837. He was the son of Rabbi Dawid of Dynow. He published a book entitled “Light to Meir”. He established the Bukowsker branch of the Dynower Hassidut. Hundreds of Hassidim streamed to his court until his demise in 1909. His word was law in the Jewish community. The heads of the Jewish community I. Miller, and later Kornreich, the secretary of the kehilla or community council, Abraham Pinkas, and even the Jewish doctor, Dr. Atlas, listened to the Rabbi and on occasion visited him. With the passing of Rabbi Meir Yehuda, his son Rabbi Dawid inherited both his crowns ( he became Rabbi and Judicial head of the hamlet). He left the place for Hungary during WWI and settled in Sanok following the end of the war. Here he continued to propagate the ideas of the Bukovsker-Dynower Dynasty until he passed away in 1924.

There was constant strife between Dynower and Sandzer Hassidim. The Sadigora Hassidim were always “neutral.” Thus, each Hassidic group had its own ritual slaughterer and Sandzer Hassidim even brought their own Rabbi to the city in 1908. He was Rabbi Chaim the son of Rabbi Itzhak Pinter. This Rabbi was a sick man and on the eve of WWI during one of his visits to the doctors in Vienna ended up living there. His son Rabbi Avraham inherited his post and established a Yeshiva. He continued in this post between the great wars. At his side was the official Rabbi of Bukowsko namely Rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum.

The two above-mentioned Hassidic groups had an absolute majority at the community council of the hamlet. They elected Avraham Pinkas to head the Jewish community. He held this position for a long time. Then there were communal elections in 1928 and the united list that consisted of Hassidim, “well to do” home owners, and village representatives won the election. They reappointed Awraham Pinkas to head the Jewish community.

Following WWI, the Zionists of Bukowsko gathered strength and became publicly active. In 1923 informers reported to the local authorities that the Zionist organization “Dorshei Tov” in Bukowsko were communists. Six of them were arrested and held in jail for about a week. With timethe Zionists established roots. A branch of the Histadrut Hatzionit was established in Bukowsko and in the thirties two Zionist youth organizations were established namely “Hanoar Hatzioni” and “Akiva”. In the elections for representatives to the Zionist Congress, 41 ballots were cast; 36 votes went to the “General Zionists”, 3 votes to “Mizrachi” and one to “Eretz Yisarel Haovedet.”

Between the two world wars, most of the Jewish children attended heders and continued to receive a traditional Jewish education.   Some parents began to send their children to the public school, especially girls. Later on boys were, also, sent to the school and the Jewish parents did not even ask for a teacher for Jewish religious instruction fearing that such a teacher would not be religious enough. Only in 1929 was a teacher appointed to teach Jewish religion in the public school.

In the first half of September 1939, Jewish refugees fleeing the German advance escaped to Bukowsko. As the front approached the city, many local Jews joined the refugees in their movements further east. Some of these refugees remained in the area that would be controlled by the Russians. The Germans immediately imposed restrictions on Jewish movements with their entry to Bukowsko. The decree directly affected the livelihood of the Jewish merchants, peddlers and artisans. Jews were forced to repair the damaged roads and later to build fortifications along the Russian border in 1940. The Germans pauperized the Jewish community through the imposition of financial indemnities, seizure of goods, and a host of decrees. Many Jewish youth were rounded up in 1940 and 1941 and sent to various labor camps including the Zaslawia (presently the place is called Zaslaw) labor camp.

It is reported that in March of 1941 there was a public kitchen in Bukowsko that provided meals to the needy. It was financed by the J.S.S. (Jewish Self Help) organization. It also distributed clothing and limited financial assistance. In February of 1942, this organization helped about 50 people.

In the summer of 1942 the Jews of Bukowsko were driven out of the city and led to the labor camp of Zaslawia. Jews of the surrounding areas were also sent to this camp. Most of the Jews of Zaslawia including the ones from Bukowsko were sent to the death camp of Belzec. Some young Jews were also sent to work camps.

After the Jewish expulsion from the hamlet, the Germans left around 60 Jews in Bukowsko. These Jews were put into a fenced house on August 8, 1942 that became a labor camp. The inmates worked at road building until the camp was closed on October 15, 1942. The surviving inmates were returned to the Zaslawia labor camp.

Bibliography

Yad Vashem Archives, 021/19, 021/16
Yivo, Wilner Archives-youth research, Aspirantor, case#3965
Central Historical Archives of the Jewish People in Jerusalem; HM/7921, HM/7099
Central Zionist Archives; Z-4/226-26, Z-4/213-34,
American Joint Archives; Poland, localities, 219, 377
Yizkor Book for the Community of Dynow, Tel Aviv 1979, p68
Yizkor Book for the Community ofSanok. Jerusalem ,1970, pp556-554
“Der Morgen” 24/1/1927, 9/6/1927. 20/9/1928.
Hamagid Hahadash;17/5/1894.
“Di Tzionistiche Woch” 21/4/1933
“Chwila” 23/3/1929.
“Hanoar styczen” 1932
“Hanoar Hatzioni” 15/4/1935
“Narod I Chaluc” May 1925
“Nowy Dziennik” (newspaper); 27/7/1920. 8/6/1922. 1/3/1923, 14/7/1928. 24/1/1931.8/4/1931
“Wschod”-5/8/1910

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