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Encyclopedia of the Jewish Diaspora
(A Memorial Library of Countries and Communities)

Poland Series

Ternopil Volume

Edited By: Dr. Ph. Korngruen

Published by

the Encyclopedia of the Jewish Diaspora Company Ltd.

Jerusalem – Tel-Aviv


Chairman of the Encyclopedia of the Jewish Diaspora Company

Kh. Barles, Jerusalem


All rights reserved

The Encyclopedia of the Jewish Diaspora Ltd.
Jerusalem, 6 Se'adia Gaon Street, Tel.: 3259
All Rights reserved, Printed in Israel
Arranged and published at “Sefer” Printing Ltd., Tel Aviv
Engravings and Zincography by Y. Rindzonski, Tel Aviv
Adar 5715, February 1955


Members of the Committee

of the

Ternopil Volume:

A. Oks, Dr. Sh Amernat, Y. Biler, A. Goldberg
B. Goligher, Dr. Kh. Gilad (Shmertling), A Dolin
Eng. M. Hamer, Dr. H. Zeidman, M. Khartiner, Dvora Levion
Y. A. Mesh, Ben-Tzion Pet. Dr. Tz. Parnas, Dr. Korngruen
A. Kornblit

Editorial Secretary- Meir Kuzhan


Corrections of Errors and Omissions

[All corrections and omissions have been incorporated in the translated book]


[blank page]


[Forward by] the Editorial Committee

After a great deal of effort, we offer the readers the Yizkor book for the famed community of Ternopil. This magnificent city yielded numerous Torah scholars and prominent people of wisdom and action and captured an honorable and paramount place in the history of our people.

The mission to publish the book was not easy, as most of Ternopil Jewry was annihilated in the Holocaust. Lives were not the only thing that was terminated. All the government and municipal archives, archives of the community executive committee and political parties, and the documentation of many other institutions that our city was blessed with were destructed. There wasn't even one document we could have relied on to reconstruct the past.

Therefore, we had to rely on memory, which is flawed by nature. We also encountered difficulties with memories because only a few activists who could give us details survived. We had to rely on these few activists and officials to recount their actions and tell us about the diversity of the institutions where they served. Hence, the articles and memories brought herewith may not be sufficiently thorough for the subjects they are meant to cover. For that reason, the description of many of the life aspects is somewhat lacking, and at the same time, other areas comprise an abundance of material. All of the shortcomings were known to us. We did our best to circumvent them. If we have not always succeeded, we cannot be blamed for it.

The material presented in the book is arranged chronologically. We started from the day the city was established, proceeded through the period when Jews settled in it and, ended with the destruction of the Jewish community by the Nazis.

The historian N. M. Gelber wrote the history of the Jewish Ternopil specifically for this book. He relied on the information found in archival materials that had not been published as of yet. This article sheds new light on some periods of Ternopil's history, particularly the Enlightenment period. We trust that the new material was fully and correctly presented herewith. Due to the historical and cultural importance of the phenomena of the Enlightenment movement, this material would be valuable not only for Ternopil historians but also for those who want to explore the roots of the Enlightenment movement with its various manifestations.

We allocated a central location in the book to the discussion about National Movement in Ternopil. We described the 20th century history of our city from that National Movement's point of view since it was the one, which had the principal effect on our lives, and because it shaped our history in that century. It is important to note here that Ternopil contributed significantly to the consolidation of the idea of our national dream. A historian could find compelling details about the beginning of the National Movement in Poland and its development routes in the articles of Dr. Ph. Korngruen, Meir Khartiner, and Dr. Tzvi Parnas.

We did not ignore the other movements, such as the assimilation movement, Zh. P. S. [Jewish Socialist Party] and others, whose influence was substantial, during some of the periods in the city's history. We also did not disregard lesser affairs, such as folklore and popular folklore songs. We did our best to make sure that nothing worth mentioning was missing. We strove to highlight the unique character of Jewish Ternopil as a vibrant city, always alert, fighting, zealous, stubborn, extreme in its conduct, and joyful-but- serious at the same time. In our mind, Ternopil was not just a geographic location or just a regular place where Jews lived their entire life from birth to death. In our memory, mind, and heart, Ternopil occupies a very unique image. Our wish of resurrecting that Ternopil on the pages of this book was our guiding principle in our work.

We paid particular attention to the period of the Holocaust. With awe and reverence, we collected all of the relevant material concerning that period from the miraculously surviving eyewitnesses, and based on some documents, memories, and letters that we managed to collect, laid down that section of the book. The reader will find in that chapter a comprehensive and accurate description of the Ternopil Ghetto. That section contains a description of the daily life in the ghetto, the suffering, and the ghetto destruction. That section is also available in Yiddish for the benefit of the readers in the US who are not proficient in Hebrew.

We, the remnants of our generation who live in this critical time, took it upon ourselves to preserve the historical information so valuable to the history of the Ternopil glorious community. We collected remnants of ruins, broken tablets, fragments of creative works, and personal memories from daily life before they would disappear into the oblivious abyss.

We trust that the readers would forgive us for any flaws as our good intention and dedication invested in this holy work would stand in our favor.

We must thank all of the people who participated and helped us to publish this book. We are thankful for the people who provided us with material or advice and those who helped by doing. We would like to thank the people and natives of Ternopil in Israel and the US, particularly Dr. Tzvi Heller, who represented the Ternopil Jewry at the Polish Sejm. As such, he was rooted in the life of his people and their problems. He extended his kind help to us in the resurrection of whole chapters and isolated details from the not-so-distant past, which, to our dismay, became so farfetched.


The Old Synagogue of Ternopil


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