Community of Gorlice Yizkor Book

Project Name Translation of Gorlice Yizkor Book

Project Leader
Dorron Lemesh

JewishGen Yizkor Book Project Manager: Lance Ackerfeld

Project Synopsis

The objective of the project is to provide an English translation of the Sefer Gorlice; ha-kehila be-vinyana u-ve-hurbana (Gorlice book; the Building and Destruction of the community) to the public, via JewishGen. The book was written mainly in Hebrew with some Yiddish and German articles.

This fund is being initiated in order to pay for the English translation of the 338-page book.

The Gorlice Yizkor Book was published in Israel in 1962 by the Association of Former Residents of Gorlice and Vicinity in Israel, with M. Y. Bar-On as Editor. Scanned images of the Yizkor Book, in its original languages, can be viewed and copied online at the website of the New York Public Library.

Translations are available on the JewishGen website

Key Audiences

Researchers of Jewish shtetl life in Europe as well as genealogists seeking their roots in Gorlice constitute audiences for the material. The descendants of families who lived in the town constitute another important audience. The translated material will facilitate the building of personal and emotional connections between present and future generations with their ancestors.

Project Importance

There is little information available to the English-speaking worlds regarding Gorlice and its Jewish community. The town's geographic location is N 49°40' E 21°10'. It is situated south east of Krakow and south of Tarnow between Jaslo and Nowy Sacz. It is the capital of Gorlice County.

The necrologies and lists of residents are of tremendous genealogical value; often the names of individuals who were taken to extermination camps or shot in the forests are not recorded elsewhere.

The translation of these important books into English makes the information available to many more researchers internationally. In 2002, the JewishGen Yizkor Book Project received the award for outstanding contribution to Jewish genealogy by the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies.

Originally founded by German settlers from Görlitz in 1354, it was given to the Habsburg Monarchy by the first Partition of Poland (Treaty of St-Petersburg dated 5 July 1772), and remained in Austrian hands until 1918.

Until the 17th century there was no Jewish population to speak of in the city due to the town having a privilege De non tolerandis judaeis allegedly granted by King Jogaila. The first big wave of Jews arriving happened in the second half of the 19th century, formed mainly by industrialists. The rapid development of the Jewish population was halted during the First World War. The number of Jews decreased suddenly as a result of the war and a siege to the town. Activities of the Russian army, or rather Cossacks, who committed incidents of rape, robbery and even murder vastly contributed to it. A part of the prosecuted tried to escape to Hungary, but were turned back at the border by the Hungarian army. In April 1915, the Russians displaced a large group of Jews from the town. Consequently, their number fell from 3,297 in 1910 to 2,300 in 1921 that accounted for 41% of the total population.

During the Second World War some Gorlice Jews escaped to the east, to the lands occupied by the Soviet Union. Deportations to the death camp in Belzec and mass executions started in the spring of 1942. On 13 August. a Nazi unit and some Ukrainian police surrounded the ghetto, resulting in about 700 elderly and infirm Jews being executed on so-called presbytery square and in the forest of Garbacz near Strózówka.

Our generation is obligated to preserve and perpetuate the memories of our ancestors and pass on the history and traditions of our forefathers to our grandchildren.

Project Description

This project is intended to result in the translation of the Gorlice Yizkor Book into English. The Project Coordinator(s) will determine the order in which to translate the text and will work closely with the translators to ensure a grammatically correct and idiomatic translation. Qualified volunteers will be recruited to translate some sections of the book. Professional translators will be hired for complex Yiddish, German and Hebrew chapters.

The Project Coordinators will undertake to proofread, edit, and prepare the work for submission to the Yizkor Book Project. The resulting translations will be posted, as they are completed, on the Gorlice Yizkor Book site at JewishGen.

Estimated Cost

The projected cost for this project is in the range of US $9,000. JewishGen will be responsible for paying the translators. Donations to the fund will be tax-deductible for US tax-payers.


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Updated 28 Sep 2013 by LA