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Chapter A

The City of Zloczow [Zolochiv] and its History

Translated by Moshe Kutten

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Dr. Nathan Michael Gelber, one of the greatest historians of the Polish Jewry, was born in the city of Lvov [Lviv], and was a descended of a family of scholars. His historical research was first published in the monthly magazine of the Zionist academic youth “Moriah”. His scientific work was conducted along two routes: research of the history of Jewish communities in Poland and research of the history of the Zionist idea. We have received the sorrowful news about the passing of Dr. Gelber, before the book has been published.

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The History of the City

by N. Gelber

Chapter 1 – The City

The oldest settlements in the district of Zloczow {Zolochiv] are Zborov [Zboriv] and Olesko. [Polish King] Casimir the Great conquered these settlements from the Ruthenians and they were handed over to Vladislav Opolchik who was appointed the governor of Reisyn [Red Russia and Eastern Galitsia]. The area did not experience peace for a long time. Lithuania and Poland waged wars there, and in 1431, the army of [Polish King] Jagiello's conquered the area from [Lithuanian Grand Duke] Svidrigiello. Jan Sienianski, who excelled in that war, was awarded a lease of Olesko and its environs which included Zloczow.

As part of that award, which was granted King Władyslaw Warneńczyk in 1441, Jan Sienianski was allowed to establish cities and towns according to the “Magdenburg Law” [An urban law, developed in the German town of Magdeburg, which became a basis for new city constitutions in Central and Eastern Europe].

The fortress of Zloczow was built during the period of that3 lease along with 97 villages which were leased to a flag carrier by the name of Jarzhi Strumilen. However, due to conflicts with the former lease owner, the king handed over Zloczow, in 1443, to Michael of Buchach, who committed to settle in Zloczow.

Its geographic situation – [on] the road leading to the city of Lvov [Lviv], contributed greatly to the economic development of Zloczow. The people who travelled on that road, were always stopping at Zloczow. The local people demanded that the travelers pay a custom tax, although they were not entitled to collect it. The city prosecutor of Lvov, Mikolai Gerzimalah, brought this issue before the court, which issued a ruling prohibiting the collection of the custom tax.


A group of lawyers in Zloczow

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A group of girls in Zloczow


The city of Zloczow is mentioned as a private city with a custom station where municipal taxes were collected, as early as 1494.

The city suffered from Tatars' invasions form the start. Invasions took place in 1512, 1514, 1519 and 1524. In 1523, Stanislaw Sienianski received a Magdenburg Law's permit from King Zygmunt as well as an authorization for holding a market every Saturday as well as two annual fairs.

As mentioned above, Zloczow was declared a city towards the end of the 15th century. However, an official approval of the city's special status was only received in 1527.

The city's owner, Stanislaw Sienianski, quarreled with the church because of a private matter. He was living in adultery with a foreigner – Dorota of Sandomierz and the archbishop of Dunajow excommunicated him from the church in 1528. This was probably the reason why, in 1532, Stanislaw Sienianski sold Zloczow and its citadel to the new owner – Jedrzej Gorka. Gorka leased Zloczow to Zburovski for 70,000 gold bullions.

Jedrzej Gorka exempted the city dwellers from paying any taxes, following the destruction caused by the enemy invasion in 1537. However, they were burdened with the improvement of the city's fortifications. Jedrzej was named “the city's restorer” as he did much for the city's rehabilitation caused by the wars and invasions.

In the year 1553, King Zygmunt August allowed the city to hold a third annual fair.

In 1592, upon the death of Stanislav, the last member of the Gorka family, Zloczow was inherited by Barbara Charnkovska, the sister of Lukasz Gorka. Following quarrels with Zborovski, Barbara's sons sold Zloczow along with 18 villages to Marek Sobieski, the fraternal grandfather of King Sobieski.

The city was significantly developed during the ownership period of the Marek Sobieski's family. However, the good days did not last. The Kozaks attacked the city in 1649, burnt it and slaughtered most of its residents.

Following the victory by the Poles [over the Ukrainian Cossacks] in the Battle of Berestechko, a pandemic erupted in Zloczow, which resulted in the death of numerous people. In 1650, a recommendation was forwarded to the Sejm representatives to exempt of Zloczow from paying taxes.

Zloczow also suffered from the war with the Ottomans during the years 1966 – 1967 and later in 1675 and 1678.

Jacub Sobieski took care of the defense needs of the city and its development. During his time, important industrial plants such as sawmills, brick kilns, marble quarries, and glass kilns were built in the city. A paper factory and a wine and liquor brewery were established and orchards were planted in Sasov [Sasiv]

Armenians, headed by Daniel Dzarogovitch (1686 – 1687) settled on Zloczow During the reign of King Sobieski. They established their own community headed by a leader who had judicial authority. The Armenians were exempted from paying any taxes or duties for 20 years. They built their own church which existed until 1800. During that year, the last Armenian priest, Bazilo Daminovitz, passed away

The German tourist, Olrikh Vardom who toured Poland during the years 1678 – 1680, arrived at Zloczow on 24 July, 1671, and found it to be beautiful.

The French – Dalreikh wrote in 1867: “The city was built, almost entirely, with wooden houses and was well populated, particularly by Jews.”

Since the city was built almost entirely from wood, it wasn't surprising that it suffered greatly from fires during the years 1671 – 1672. However, the city managed to recover after every fire.

Swedes invaded the city in 1702. Later on,

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Moscow armies passed through the city. They burdened the city with fines and taxes and confiscated jewelry and monies. All of that lead to an economic collapse – so much so, that the city was mostly uninhabited during the first half of the 18th century. The roads around the city were in just a poor state, that travelers avoided the city altogether. There were only 269 houses in the city during the second half of the 18th century. Among them 139 large houses of gentiles, 70 large houses of Jews and the rest were small houses of both gentiles and Jews.

The “Piarists” came to Zloczow in 1731 as a result of Jakub Sobieski's initiative, and in 1742, they established an elementary school in the city.

Jakub Sobieski's grandmother – the princes Maria Karolina de Bouillon, purchased the city and villages in 1740. [She in turn sold everything (in the form of a donation.) to Prince Michal Casimir Radziwill, the grandson of Katarzyna Sobieska, Jan´s sister].

Prince Radziwill tried to revive the trade in the city. He made efforts to direct the trade to the roads connecting the city to the cities of Ternopol [Ternopil] and Brody. However, he was forced to give up the idea and declare bankruptcy due to the many debts that he was burdened with.

Zloczow which came under the ownership of Princess Sapieha, remained in private hands and subjected to its owners' rule until the 19th century, although it enjoyed a certain autonomy in judiciary and management matters. Its residents, including the Jews, had to pay property taxes (for houses and land) to the city's owners, and to perform tasks associated with roads and bridges construction and erection of fences.

Residents who worked in agriculture were forced to provide agricultural services, and pay taxes related to various specific crops.

Artisans were organized in guilds, with the Czechs and the Armenians in their own separate guilds.

The guilds were strictly vigilant about guarding the rights of the artisans. Their main interest was to keep a monopoly on marketing of their products in the city and the surrounding area. The rights they received in that regard, guaranteed the marketing of their products in a circle of 2 miles around the city. The guilds who enjoyed such rights were mainly the shoemakers and the weavers. Residents of the city suburbs cultivated beekeeping. They also developed fish farming, which were marketed only for the wholesale trade.

With the Austrian conquest and the establishment of the district office, Zloczow experienced a significant transformation. The “Magdenburg Law” was entirely voided.

In 1789, a general school was established in the city, where the teaching language was German[1]. The number of allowed annual fairs was increased to four with a duration of up to eight days each.

In 1786, the municipality requested to approve its city charter from the days of the Polish regime, however, the authorities ignored these requests, and continued to manage the city's affairs, including the selection of the mayor and the establishment of the various offices according to the Austrian laws. In 1805, the election law was made void and the regime appointed the mayors.

Among all of these mayors, Mayor Eiechmuller stood out as a person who did a lot for the improvement of the city and its buildings. In 1842 he lobbied to establish a high school. It was established in 1873, initially only containing four classes, however, in 1881, it was completed and contained all of its classes

In 1866, a city law was enacted, and Zloczow was allowed to elect its city management. There were 650 brick houses in 1867, and the population reached 6000.

The industry in Zloczow experienced a substantial development during the Austrian regime. At the neighboring village of Kotkorz, the residents were involved in the production of silk belts. Factories for producing gunpowder and paper were also established there. A factory for wax and candles and an iron casting plant were established in the village of Kavarovtza.

During the Austrian regime, when the anti–church policy of the Caesar Joseph was enacted, the buildings of the Piarists and the Reformed Church monasteries, built by Michael Radziwill in the year 1750, were confiscated and were converted to barracks. The regime did not touch the Basilian (Greek–Catholic) monastery which was built by Jan Sobieski in 1665.

Towards the end of the 18th century, The Ruthenians asked the Austrian authorities to give them the ruined Piarist church, as their own Ruthenian church was very small. According to an agreement, signed between the Poles and the Ruthenians, the Poles handed over their church to the Ruthenians for the Piarist Church, which became the main Catholic church.

The Austrian authorities took care to improve the health situation. A hospital for the poor had already existed, but there were neither a specialist physician nor a pharmacy. In 1788, the authorities transferred the Dominican pharmacy of Podkamen to Zloczow. A district specialist physician was nominated as well as a paramedic and a midwife.

Due to Radziwill's bankruptcy

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A group of the “Zionist Youth”, 1938

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a public auction of Zloczow and its villages was held in 1801. It was sold to Count Lukasz Komarnitzki, an arrogant Polish nobleman character who was an appellate councilor in Lvov. He renovated the castle abut sold it afterwards.

When in 1873 In 1873, the walls of the castile were about to be torn down, the government bought it (under the initiative of the high court president Pozhniak) and turned it into a prison and the site of the offices of the court.

In 1810, following the Austrian–French war, 10 villages (containing 668 homes, 983 families and 4012 people) were separated from the Zloczow district and annexed by Russia.

Starting in 1867, the city changed owners. After Komarnitzki came Frankovski and Lind, and following them the estates were purchased by Halberthal, Weinberg and the last one – Seltzer.

A new chapter in the development of the city began in 1870 with the opening of the railroad between Lvov and Brody with a side branch of Zloczow–Ternopol–Podbolitzki. The trade and the industry began to flourish.

By 1918, Zloczow was the home for the district government, the district court, the district assembly, the district education assembly and the headquarters of the 80th battalion and the gendarme. Except the high school, the city had a general school for boys, established by the district government and maintained by Radziwill and later on by Princess Sapieha. Starting 1853, the city also had a general school for girls. Among other institutions, we should mention the clinic established by Jan Sobieski in 1636 and the Hospital established in 1847.

Until 1848, the teaching language in school was German. After that Polish. The Ruthenian language was taught compulsorily.

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Chapter 2 - The Jewish Community During the Polish Regime

The Jewish community in Zloczow was first mentioned in official documents from 1550.

According to tradition, the oldest gravestones in the cemetery were from the 16th century. The first Jews resided in the city in the 15th century, before an organized community was in place. There were no Jews in the neighboring towns either– Mykolaiv, Pomorzany and Sasov, until 1628.

One of the first Jews in Zloczow was Israel, son of Yosef Zlotsovsky, who's name points to his origin [Zlots'ov is the Yiddish spelling of Zloczow]. He also lived in Lvov. He was also called Idelis after his mother Idela. His main business was being a lender and a lessee. In 1595, he leased for two years, from Samuel and Alexander Zborovsky, all the estates in Zloczow, all the pools in Bialokomin, Sasov, Gologory [Holohory] and Zloczow, the custom stations located in the fairs and roads, as well as the mills, workshops, breweries of beer, wine and liquor and the tavern. All of that for 4000 golden bullions, paid upfront. He was one of the known tycoons in the area. He lent one of Lvov residents, by the name of Shimon Spas, 300 golden bullions and another resident by the name of Jerzy Tzartorisky, 7000 golden bullions. These were huge sums in those days.

Most of his business were in Zloczow but he resided mainly in Lvov, where he served as a parnas [one of the Jewish community leaders]. His house was located opposite to the house of Mordekhai Izkovitz. His daughter Beila was married to Joshua Ben Alexander Falk, the author of the book “Meir Einayim” [Enlightening].

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Zloczow's natives in a gathering in 1964, Israel


In 1596, robbers attacked his leased pools in Zloczow and it's surrounding, took out the fish from the pools and sold them to Lvov's merchants. Israel sued [the owner] Zborovski in court, demanding retributions. He won the case and was allowed to confiscate the village of Tiltzitzi.

In the meantime, the number of Jews in Zloczow, who established themselves economically, continued to grow.

The geographic location of the city - on the road leading from Lvov to Iasi and from there to Turkey on one side, and to Volyn and Lithuania on the other, attracted Jews who believed that they would be able to secure themselves economically in Zloczow. Merchants and travelers, who came from Lithuanian and Volyn's cities – Lutsk, Ostroh and Kremenets, on the way to the salt mines in Reisyn, passed through Zloczow.

Zloczow's merchants, many Jews among them, accompanied the trade convoys from Lvov on their way to Skalat, Trembowla [Terebovlia] and from there through Kamianets-Podilskyi to Turkey.

The fairs in Zloczow contributed significantly to the economic development of the city, and through these fairs the city acquired fame throughout Poland and even abroad.

Zloczow suffered from the many invasions in the 17th centuries, which also harmed the Jews significantly. However, over time they managed to recover and slowly rehabilitate themselves.

Following the devastation and destruction of the city, Zloczow's Jews received a “Letter of Rights” in 1654, which was renewed in 1681 by the King Sobieski.

The letter opened with a statement that the city's owners were interested that “people from any class, would not only live with each other peacefully, but also that they would be economically sound above a certain minimum level”.

The previous “Letter of Rights” awarded the Jews of Zloczow the right to establish themselves in the city and bring there their family members and friends. The Jews were allowed to build a synagogue, cemetery, meat stores and ritual bath on their previous plots. They were allowed to trade in all things except for church goods, including furs, bonnets, shoes and cattle leather. Jews were also allowed to sell all sorts of alcoholic drinks. The home of the rabbi, cantor and caretaker, as well as the hospital were exempt from taxes and other obligations imposed by the [owner's] palace and municipality. The community leaders [parnasim] benefited from that exemption as well. Trials between Jews were litigated by the rabbinic court. Trials between Jews and gentiles were litigated at the municipal court. Appeals were handled by the [owner] palace's representative. The Jews were also allowed to appeal with the city owners. In cases when an imprisonment punishment had to be administered – it had to be carried out at the palace's jail rather than the municipal jail. In many cases, judgements, in a form of fines, were paid to Christian churches. A Jew found guilty of committing an adultery with a gentile woman was forced to pay a fine of 50 Grzywna's (one Grzywna was worth about 200 gram of silver). The Jews, like all other city residents, had obligations towards the city's and palace's owners. However, they were exempt from any service obligation during the Sabbaths and holidays.

The “Letter of Rights' was approved on 29 November 1681 by King

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A youth group in Zloczow


Jan Sobieski, the owner of the city, with a specific instruction to his subjects to fulfill it in its entirety.

Organizationally, Zloczow [Jewish community] was similar to other Jewish communities in Poland. The leaders [parnasim] and the rabbi were elected by the community.

The Jews residing in the 59 neighboring villages were subjects of Zloczow's congregation (Zloczow itself was located in Lvov province). These Jews paid a poll tax and the rest of the fees that were imposed on the Jews including congregation's taxes.

These Jews, whose numbers were between 4 to 17 people per each isolated village, worked as tavern barmen and other occupations.

On 20 November, 1684, Jan Sobieski awarded the Jews, in a special document, the right of every congregation to elect their own officials according to rules and customs in other communities.

This “Letter of Rights” was issued due to complains made by the congregation about the appointment of Shlomo Ben-Mordekhai (Mordkovitz) as a congregation's elder for life by the palace's bureau.

The appointment of Shlomo Ben-Mordekhai to the position of the congregation's head for life, was made completely against the decision by the Council of Four Lands from 1582 (5343) that said: “ When it comes to appointments of a Jewish rabbi, leaders, elders or other officials, the appointments would be carried out with the agreement of the leaders, elders and the congregations based on the Jewish Torah. it is forbidden for a Jew to accept an appointment coming from the king, ministers or governors. This would be like violating the oath sworn at the Giving the Torah on Mount Sinai.

That prohibition was renewed at the 1670 (5781) session of the Council of the Four Lands with a threatening announcement that a severe boycott would be imposed on “anybody who would accept an appointment through the authorities.”

Following the lobbying by the congregation, the King Jan Sobieski annulled the appointment of Shlomo Ben Mordekhai, as part of the “Letter of Rights” mentioned above, as it went against the community customs. The King approved the right of the community to publicly elect its leaders as was customary in all other communities.

The elders [parnasim] were entrusted to develop the congregation's budget, mange the financial affairs and represent the community before the municipal authorities and the palace. The elders also regulated the “right to possess” permit, which was required for any Jew who wanted to work at a certain occupation. The elders were also the ones who received the money from loans awarded to the congregation. They were entrusted with the selection and appointment of the rabbi, religious judges, caretakers and administrators and the clerical administration of the community. They elected the candidates to the congregation's institutions as well the representatives to the province and state autonomous Jewish institutions. Besides the elders, the community's leadership included three to five city aldermen, most of whom were past elders. Their main task was to serve as advisors to the elders. Like in any other Jewish communities, Zloczow had a council of the community's representatives, also named “People Called Upon by the Congregation”, or “Gabai's” [congregation administrators], who numbered four or five.

Three to five parnasim served as heads of the community. The role of the community top leader would have passed, monthly from one parnas to the other.

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A public soup kitchen for children


That leader was called “The Parnas of the Month”. Very rarely would the role be passed quarterly rather than monthly. “The monthly parnasim had to swear an oath to the palace. The appointment had to be approved by the city's owner. The gentiles called the “parnas” - “the “Mayor of the Jews”.

Since Zloczow 's Jewish community was organized based on the Jewish community of Zholkova [Zholkiew], which was also owned by the Sobieski family, we can assume that Zloczow 's community had a “Rules Committee” who was tasked with examining the old rules, from time to time, so that they could be corrected and updated.

That committee also nominated the “Guardians of the Rules”, whose role was to guard that the rules were being followed and act upon any violation. They nominated members of the committees (gabai's) for some specific tasks of the community affairs: supervision of the synagogues, religious schools, burial society (Khevere Kadisha), elderly homes, hospital, ritual baths, charity affairs, bride charity (Hakhnasat Kala), ritual objects, an administrator for affairs related to Eretz Israel, market affairs, and Kosher affairs. The community elected its leaders in an election which were held annually and attended by the Rabbi. The caretaker would place notes with the name of every person who paid the poll tax into the ballot box. After that he would withdrow, arbitrarily, nine notes, one by one. The people, whose name were withdrawn, were called the arbitrators. They, in turn, elected five from among themselves who would select the elders, aldermen, appraiser, judges, administrators (gabai's) and the leaders of the community.

Besides the above-mentioned leaders, there was also an administrative apparatus whose members received salaries: the rabbi, who was also the head of the rabbinical court, the rabbinical judges, community writer, caretakers, tax collectors, lobbyist and the community physician.

The community also oversaw the activity of the charities and organizations for religious affairs and Torah education. They also oversaw other secondary organizations, as well as the artisan's guilds organized according to the various occupations: tailors, furriers, butchers, barbers and paramedics, goldsmiths, cable makers, bartenders and merchants. Nominees and special administers were responsible for approving the regulations and supervising the activities of these guilds and organizations.

The community had a budget of revenues and expenses.

The sources for the revenues included the direct membership tax which was collected based on the declaration of one's property, and indirect taxes (called “Kropka”) form Kosher meat, wine, grape skin mead, food items, goods, crafts materials, and license fee.

The community funded the synagogues, cemetery, butcheries, ritual bath, poor house, hospital, physician and the paramedics. The expenses were mainly covered by the Kosher meat tax.

The first synagogue in Zloczow was a wooden building. It was burnt in the 1727 fire along with 8 inns.

The palace, which wanted to help the fire victims, agreed to provide, from its own forests, the needed wood for rebuilding. I also extended an offer for a loan of 1000 golden bullions with annual payments.

The Jews also suffered from damages caused by fires that occurred in 1754 and 1761.

Like other Jewish communities, the palace's owner imposed special taxes on Zloczow's Jewish community. The community was also obligated to pay a special tax upon the appointment of a new rabbi, who also served as the rabbi of the neighboring community of Sasov.

[Similar to other communities] conflicts rosed during the 18th century between the community's leadership and the people who opposed the regime of the elders [Parnas's]

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Complaints increased particularly robust in 1703 against the elder Aharon, because he did not submit reports about the management of the financial affairs of the community.

These complaints had probably reached the owner of the city, Alexander Sobieski, who declared that he had would want to intensify his supervision over all of his subjects to prevent from the rich to dominate over the poor. A special feat by the people of the community people was noted that in 1/1/1704, Jan Sobieski issued a special instruction that the people were allowed “to directly elect separate representatives who would manage the cashbox and the financial affairs” so that they would be obliged provide a full report to the entire community.

It would be logical to assume that in Zloczow, like in Zholkova which also owned by the Sobieski family, the order which obligated the community leaders to “get together with some wise and science-following people to elect a wise and dependable person of understanding. That person would keep watch over the revenues collection and approve all expenses and bills. He should be a trustworthy person who could be trusted to handle cash and even pawn money collected by the collectors such that it would not be touched by any leader, even by the “Monthly Parnas”, regardless of the reason. He would be entrusted to record all collections, and the “Monthly Parnas” would be obliged to provide him with receipts for all the expenses incurred by the rabbi, the head of the rabbinical court and the leaders”.

Zloczow's community was part of the provincial community organization of the Lvov province along with eight other communities, those of Lvov, Brody, Buchach, Tysmienica, Zholkova, Bohorodczany, Rohatyn and Lesko [Linsk]. Lvov community's head of the rabbinical court was also the state's rabbi and the rabbi of the entire state of Reisyn.

According to the available documentation, Zloczow's representative participated in the [provincial community organization] committee meeting that took place in the city of Kulikyv [Kulikov] in 1720. It is unknown whether Zloczow 's representatives had participated in earlier meetings such as the meeting in 1709, and those which took place in Burshtyn {Burshtein] in 1714, Novi Strilyshcha [Stelusk?] – 1705 and Burka – 1723. Documents of the committee that assembled in Kulikyv on 11 Tamuz 5484 (1724) were signed by “Yaakov Avraham of Zloczow”.

Lipman - the son of Yaakov Avraham BaRa”Z (acronym of the son of Reb Avraham Zolkver) was the son in law of the Rabbi Shmuel Kahana of Dubno.

In 1726, the provincial committee assembled in Zloczow to decide upon the dispersion of the Poll tax. It was said to be assembled with “a full forum in Zloczow 's assembly”.

In 1732, Avraham from Zloczow, who was the head of the Jewish community of Reisyn, along with 9 other heads from 9 different countries, signed on the dispersion of the poll taxes in the country {Poland].

The assembly of the “Four States Council”, headed by the physician Dr. Yitzkhak Khazak, took place in Zloczow in 1728.

The structure of the state committee, consisting of 13 members, and the order by which they were seated during discussions, was determined in the statute of the state committee meeting in Ruzhany from 1740. However, no representative from Zloczow was mentioned among the committee members. The thirteen members were: 5 elders from Zholkova, 4 from Lvov and 4 from Brody. There was no representative from Zloczow in the state committee, which gathered in Bobrka in 1753, either. In that meeting 15 representatives participated as follows: 4 elders from Lvov, 4 from Zholkova, 3 from Tysmenitsa, 1 from Stryy, 1 from Lyskiv and 1 from Yavoriv.

Ulrich Vardom described the city as follows:

“Zloczow has long suburban streets, with wooden houses located between the hill and the lake (on its North-East side). The city itself along with its wooden houses, is built nicely around its square center which was populated mainly by Jews, who's masses populated the entire area of Podolia and Reisyn. A castle is standing on a tall hill, was fortified well by earth embankments and stone fortresses and surrounded by a moat. The city and the castle are owned by the great Hetman and the kingdom's chieftain Jan Sobieski”.

The “Letter of Rights” issued in 1654, not only allowed Jews the rights to settle in the city but also encouraged them to attract their relatives to the city. Their city neighbors protested against the Jew's unrestricted freedom of dwelling, and tried to act against the broadening of that right with all the means available to them. In 1727 the municipality issued a decree that if a Jew had bought a house, and a short time later, a gentile desired to buy the same house, the Jew had to give up on the purchase. The Jews were allowed to build a new house on the condition that there wasn't a gentile who wanted to build a house on the same lot within a 58 weeks period. Despite of these limitations, many houses remained empty in the city, The municipality was indifferent to the growth in the Jewish population following the fire, Despite of the fact that the municipality announced that Jews were allowed to purchase houses, the owner of the city forbade the gentile residents to sell lots to the Jews by threatening that the lots would be confiscated by the palace. Despite of the prohibition, the number of Jewish residents in the center of the city continued to grow and towards the end of the 18th century, most of the houses there were owned by Jews.

Like cities of Zholkova and Brody, the Jews in Zloczow participated in the municipal elections during the 18th century. They were present

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during the election of the magistrate and the mayor, but were absent when the elected officials too oath.

In the official documents, the Jews are called “the city residents and its citizens”.

In 1687 – Dolriech who visited Zloczow stated that – “the number of Jews in the city was significant”.

According to the “Letter of Rights” from 1754, Zloczow's Jews were allowed to get involved in any trade (including the sale of [alcoholic] beverages), except for trading in Christian ritual items and goods originated from theft or murder.

Especially emphasized was the retail trade in furs and hats as well as leathers. That trade was carried out against the “Letter of Rights” given to the shoemakers' guild in 1599, in which “the Jews were only allowed to purchase leathers on wholesale, during fairs, and not on retail”. That “Letter of Rights stated that “the entire inventory of a person who would violate that rule would be confiscated and handed over to the palace”.

The gentile furriers were not enthusiastic about the freedom in trading furs, awarded to the Jewish furriers, and used every opportunity to limit that right to purchasing of lambs and foxes' furs only.

An important economic area for the Jews were the taverns and inns and the sales of brandy. The Jews were not allowed to distill brandy on Sundays and Catholic holidays. The palace issued instructions whether the Jews could sell alcoholic beverages on credit to rich people or poor.

The alcohol distillery industry grew more and more in Zloczow during the reign of Sobieski.

Besides the alcohol distillery industry, a sawmill, brick kiln, glass kiln and marble quarry were established in Zloczow. A paper factory existed in Sasov. The part Jews played in operations of those plants was unknown.

A limited number of Jews worked in support of the city's owners. That involvement included leasing of the municipal revenues such as custom and certain taxes as well as the utilization of the estates, forests and more.

A few Jewish rich wholesale traders gained fame during the Sobieski period: Moshe Turtzin, Moshe Postin and Shmuel Ben-Ber (Berowitz) from Zloczow to name a few. The later leased the beverages' tax throughout the entire Lvov province, according to a lease signed on 14 December, 1633, encompassing Zloczow, Zborov [Zboriv], Yerzyna[?], Markopola [Markopil], Gologory [Holohory], Bialokamin [Bilyi Kamin], Pomorezhny [Pomoryany], Dunayov [Dunayiv], Zalosce [Zaliztsi], Olesko, Pirliov[?] and Sasov [Sasiv].

The Jewish industrialists, Yitzkhak Bianioshovitz, and Yaakov Ben-Shlomo operated industrial plants based on franchising licenses they obtained from Alexander and Yaakov, the sons of [Jan] Sobieski. Especially noted were the glass foundries in the villages around Zloczow, as well as iactivities associated with utilization of the forests' resources for manufacturing and trade.

Most of the trade in agricultural products was concentrate in the hands of Jews during the 18th century, particularly the export of grains sent to Dantzig [Gdansk]. Estate owners in the surrounding areas, even the small ones, grew tobacco, which brought them significant profits. The tobacco trade was concentrated in the hands of Jews. The tobacco grower would receive credit, and even cash advances from the Jewish merchants. That trade expanded significantly until the Austrian conquest, when a monopoly was established on the trade of tobacco.

The Jews would buyagricultural products on wholesale from the city's owners and also form the big estate owners and the nobles, owners of the small estates. Most of the estate owners leased whole farms along with their workshops, mills and alcohol distilleries to the Jews.

During the days of the Polish Republic, many nobles (often up to 150 in the area around Zloczow), who resided in the villages, cultivated small plots of land, mostly leased from the estate owners. They sold their harvests to the Jewish merchants and taverns' operators. The city's owner, Prince Radziwill, who was in a difficult financial situation, leased his villages in exchange for loans he received from Jews. It is worthwhile to note that agriculture was more developed around Zloczow than in other provinces of Reisyn, and therefore its products were in a high demand in the markets.

In the large estates, the wood industry was also promoted. Its products were diversified and included windows sills, roofs, wood coal, potash and asphalt. Economically, the mills and paper industries, which were integrated with Jewish trade, were particularly important. The fabric industry also captured an important part of the breadth of the Jewish trade.

A very important [economic] area in Zloczow was the growing and fattening of cattle. Fattened oxen were sent from Zloczow to Prussia, Shelzia [Silesia] and Austria. The wholesale part of that trade was held by the Armenians. However, the Jewish traders, who bought the oxen directly from the farmers held a noteworthy part,. The bristle trade was also partially held by the Jews.

Bee keeping, the products of which included honey and beeswax, was cultivated efficiently in great numbers of Zloczow's villages. The trade of these products was held entirely by Jews, who sold the harvest to wholesalers in Brody as well as Lesser Poland [a historical region of southern Poland].

Another important economic area occupied by Jews were the crafts. According to the regulations of the various artisan guilds, particularly those of the tailors, bakers, furriers and butchers, enacted during the reign of [King] Jan [Sobieski] the III

[Columns 43-44]

The old cemetery and the army barracks building


Jews were accepted to those guilds in order to increase the guilds' revenues.

Instead of a compulsory participation in the Catholic church's praying, the Jewish members of these guilds had to deliver a liter of beeswax, during the main Catholic holidays.

As craftsmen, the Jews, who were members in the artisan guilds would receive a certificate which certified them as artisans. As a privilege of the tailors and furriers, which was awarded by King Sobieski, the Jews are mentioned specifically as “Jewish members who were awarded the title of artisan”. However, due to their absence from the prayers at the church, they were obligated to donate a liter of beeswax on every holiday.

With the permit to hold market days in Zloczow every Tuesday, in addition to the annual fairs (according to the “Letter of Rights” from 1523) and particularly due to the exemption of Zloczow's residents from paying the internal custom tax of the kingdom, favorable conditions for the development of the trade in the city were created. That tax exemption right was awarded on March 12, 1633, to be part of the original “Letter of Rights” (from February 4, 1532) on behalf of King Wladislaw the IV.

During the annual fairs- one was held two weeks after Easter and the second on 21st of October, each lasting for three days – the merchants brought all of their goods, and numerous shoppers, who came from surrounding areas flocked to the site. The farmers also brought their products to the city during the fairs.

During the period of the ownership of the city by the Gorka family, a third annual fair and a second weekly market day, on Monday, were added to the “Letter of Rights” of King Zygmunt August issued on August 8, 1553.

Following the disastrous years of the Kozaks and Swedes' wars, King Jan [Sobieski] the III, awarded the city, on February 22 1667, the right to hold a fair that lasted four weeks (to encourage a recovery and economic recuperation).

In 1719, when the economic condition of the city worsened more and more, [the noble] Yaakov Sobieski decided to increase the number of the annual fairs. That situation lasted until the end of the 18th century. During the period of the Austrian conquest, Cesar [Franz] Joseph the II awarded the city the right to hold four annual fairs, each lasting eight days, during the months of December, Mars, May and October.

The economic situation of the Jewish traders, particularly the retails merchants, worsened as a result of the competition from the artisan guilds, who did their best to sell their products during the fairs and also in the surrounding areas, where they were allowed to sell, at a distance farther away than 2 miles. In order to prevent a flood of imported goods coming to the fairs, the artisans, who were supported by the city's owners, forced the merchants to pay a special tax [on imported goods].

As mentioned above, the part played by the Jews in the wholesale trade was substantial, within the country and abroad. That included the export of grains, woods, honey and dried fruits. They used roads leading to Walachia [Romania], Moldova and Turkey. From among the Jewish wholesalers in the 16th century, Moshe Tortzin was very well known.

Jews used to lease from the municipality, the collection of taxes and other fees, such as market fees, fair fees and rent (for the shops at the city hall), public bath fee, weights and measures fees, fish ponds fees, asphalt production fees and candles tax. These were all the major sources of revenues for the city. These revenues were expanded from year to year and the municipality preferred to lease them rather than manage it. The fact that the taxes and fees were mostly managed by Jews resulted in many complaints and grievances by the city's residents against the Jews

[Columns 45-46]

as if they had taken over all of the city's revenues, which reached 400 – 600 golden bullions annually. The city used these revenues to cover its expenses for drying the swamps, street cleaning, deepening of the embankments and mending the fences and the fortifications.

As city residents, the Jews had to participate in paying for the expenses for repairing the roads, bridges and fences. Along with the rest of the city's citizens, the Jews had to take part in the defense of the city, when it was attacked by enemies. For that reason, they had to keep weapons and ammunition for that purpose in their homes.

Difficult years of bloody events and destruction befallen upon the city at the beginning of the 18th century.

The fires in 1724 and 1754, the [Polish] confederations and the intra-country fights, the Swedes invasions, and the passing of the Russian and Austrian[?] armies through the city, caused tremendous destruction. The entire population suffered, including the Jews.

In 1716, a poll tax of 350 golden bullions was imposed on the Jews.

After the city was abandoned during the years of 1733 and 1740, due to the invasions by the Swedes and other armies, all the limitations on purchasing houses and plots, imposed on the Jews, were annulled. The municipality announced that the Jews were allowed to buy any houses that the gentiles do not want. Most of the houses in the center of the city were transferred to the hands of the Jews (until than their center was at the Tatars' mill). The ritual bath, Rabbi's house and the synagogue were located in the center of the city as well. In 1782, center of town consisted only of Jews, except one gentile.

There were 169 big gentile houses, 70 big Jewish houses and 60 small houses of both gentiles and Jews in the city in 1782.

According to the “Letter of Rights”, Zloczow's Jews attended and participated in the election of the municipal senate, the mayor and other city leaders. However, the Jews had to leave the hall [where the election were held], during the swearing of the elected officials.

According to the census held in Zloczow in 1765, there were 1150 Jews, among them 62 children aged one year or younger. There were 618 Jews in the 59 surrounding villages, among them 40 children aged year or younger. Altogether, the community and its branches contained 1758 people among them – 102 children aged one year old or younger. The community paid a poll tax of 3312 golden bullions for 1656 Jews.

In the city of Zloczow, the children aged one year old or younger were 5.6% of the total Jewish population, in comparison to Zolkiew, which was also located in Lvov's province, were the percentage was 11.1.

In the year of 1767, the Zloczow's Jewish community was requested to pay off its debt [to the kingdom], like other Jewish communities in Reisyn, according to a notice letter of the committee established to eliminate the debts of the Jewish communities. The debts were accumulated due to delays in payments which also resulted in interest and fines.

We only have just a few evidences, or more like hints, that there were several “believers” in Zloczow during the periods of Shabbatai Zevi, and Yaakov Frank, however, there is no doubt that their numbers was very small. These “believers” kept tight connections with the people of the sect, and waited for the appropriate moment for when they could come out publicly. In Zloczow, there was one operative by the name of Fishel, who along with Itzik Kadeiner and his brother in-law, Meir Kaminer from Zolkiew, were among the leaders of the sect in Poland. A story was told about him by the sect people that was confirmed by Rabbi Yaakov Emden (Known in his acronym - Ya'avetz). That operative came to the Rabbi on his own will, and confessed about his sins that have not been known publicly as of yet. He claimed he knew that he had violated the commandments of the Torah, and came to ask for forgiveness. The rabbis thought the he should be treated as Baal Tshuva [penitent], since he had come up and confessed about his sins voluntarily and because he had agreed to become a religiously observant person again. However, soon after his confession he sinned again, drank a liquor made of grain at the synagogue during Passover and sinned in many other ways. When he was caught, like a thieve, he was asked – “what was your intention at the beginning, now that you have sinned like you had done before”. He responded that he wanted to suffer an insult on his honor the way Shabbatai Zevi suffered for his people.

His brother in-law, Moshe-Meir Kaminer from Zolkiew, used to travel from one city to another, in Poland and Germany, and preach in favor of the Sabbateanism. A branch of the sect was established in Zloczow under the influence and help of his brother in-law Fishel, who later on joined the sect of Yaakov Frank.

We know from the testimony given by Nathan Ben Levi in the Kloiz [house of pray and study] in Brody on 12 Nisan 5513 (25 April 1753), that Feibish from Zloczow and Itzik-Meir Zlotsover, who resided in Buchach, committed “abominations and lewd acts” and quoted from dubious writings such as Rabbi Jonathan Eibshitz's book “Ve'avo Hayom El Ha'ain” [literally - “And I Will Come Today to the Eye”].

We do not have any additional accurate details, except the above-mentioned testimonies about the Frankists In Zloczow.

It is worthwhile to note that nobody from Zloczow were among those Frankists who converted to Christianity after the Lvov's debate in 1759. That cold serve as a proof that even those few believers of Yaakov Frank in Zloczow, did not follow him to the end of the road when he abandoned Judaism.

During the second half of the 18th century, the popularity of the Hasidic movement in Zloczow grew so much that the Jewish community extended an invitation

[Column 47]

to one of the movement's leaders in Galitsia – Rebbe {Hasidic Rabbi] Yekhiel Mikhel, the son of Rabbi Yitzkhak of Drohobitz, to become a “Magid” [preacher] in the city. Yekhiel Mikhel was a student of the BESHT [Rabbi Israel Ben-Eliezer, Baal Shem Tov] and was one of the ten “loafers” in the “Beit Hamidrash” of the rich man and the fame philanthrope during that period – R' Yozefa Ostra. Yekhiel Mikhel was born in Brody. He was an enthusiastic follower of the Hasidic movement from his youth. The BESHT said about him: “He was given a tiny soul from heaven, as small as anyone can get in that generation, and he elevated it to the level of the soul of the holy tannaitic sage Rabbi Shimon Ben Yokhai”. Later on, Mikhel became one of the renown disciples of the BESHT. After the death of the BESHT, Yekhiel Mikhel, went to Mezritch and studied Hasidism from the Great Magid Rebbe Ber of Mezritch. He was a member of the circle of the Magid's disciples along with Rebbe Levi Yitzkhak from Berditchev, Rebbe Nakhum Tzernovler, Rebbe Zeev Walkh of Zhitomyr, Rebbe Elimelekh of Lizhensk, Rebbe Aharon Karliner and Rebbe Mendil of Vitebsk.

The Hasidim considered Rebbe Mikehl to be one of the Hasidism's greats. In 5546 (1785/6), Rebbe Khaike of Amdor said about him to his students, that “the man Mikhel form Zloczow is the reincarnation of the prophet Habakkuk”, a phrase that invoked mockery against him among the “Mitnagdim” [the people who opposed Hasidism].

It was known that the BESHT urged Rebbe Mikhel, during his youth, to accept a position of a rabbi in one of the Jewish communities, but Rebbe Mikhel refused to do so.

When Rebbe Mikhel returned to Brody, he used to pray in a special Hasidic “minyan”, which was named “Hasidim of the Shtibel” [Shtibel – Hasidic house of pray].

In 1781, Yekhiel Mikhel witnessed the burning of the books of the author of: “Toldot Yaakov Yosef” [literally – the chronicles of Yaakov Yosef, written by Rebbe Yaakov Yosef of Pollonye, one of the first and most known of BESHT's students] in front of his house in Brody. He suffered tremendously during the period of the persecution of the Hasidism in Brody, particularly by Rabbi Yekhezkel Landau, the author of the book “Noda Beyehuda” [literally – “Known among the Jews”]. Things got so bad that Rabbi Pinchas Horowitz asked Rabbi [Yosef] from Poznan to ask his father in-law Rabbi Yekhezkel Landau to “please do not cause sorrow to the holy Teacher and Rabbi Yekhiel Mikhel of Zloczow”. Due to the persecutions in Brody, Rabbi Yekhiel Mikhel accepted the invitation extended to him by the Jewish community of Zloczow to become a Magid there.

Rabbe Yekhiel Mikhel was among those salient people who spread the Hasidism in Eastern Galitsia and was an effective teacher of the Hasidic customs.

A collection of some of his sermons were published in the Hasidism primary book: Likutei Yekarim” [literally 'Precious Collections”]. He captivated the hearts of his listeners from the masses with his sermons that contained a polemic undertone. The “Mitnagdim” mocked him and told all sorts of derogatory stories about him.

The students of Rebbe Yekhiel Mikhel included the head of Nezkizh [Nesukhoyezhe] rabbical court, Rabbi Mordkehi [Shapiro] who was earlier a rabbi in Leshniv,

[Column 48]

near Brody, Rabbi Yaakov Yitzkhak Horwitz [Wagschal] of Lantzut, Rabbi Meshulam Feibish Helir from Zbarazh, Rabbi Yitzkah Izik HaKohen,, head of the rabbinical court of Kartz, Rabbi Khaim of Tzernovitz [Chernivtsi] (the author of “Be'er [Ma'im] Khaim”), and Aharon leib, the son of Rabbi Meir of Peremyshliany.

The five sons of Rebbe Yekhiel Mikhel – Yosef of Yampol, Mordekhai of Kremenetz, Yitzkhak of Radyvýliv, Moshe of Zvohil and Ze'ev Wolf of Zbarazh spread the strongholds of Hasidism throughout Galitsia and Ukraine.

Rebbe Yekhiel Mikhel left Zloczow, at the end of his life, and became a “magid” at the Jewish congregation of Yampol in Podolia, where he passed away close to year 5552 (1792).


Chapter 3

Zloczow Rabbis and the Situation in the City

Translated by Moshe Kutten

The following were from among the first famed rabbis in Zloczow:

Rabbi Eliezer was also called the “Famous Gaon from Zloczow” was the father of Rabbi Yekhiel Mikhel, who was the head of a yeshiva and the author of the book “Shivrei Lukhot” [literally - The Fragments the Tablets]. The book contains sermons about the weekly Torah readings and kabbalistic commentary on several Talmud sections (published [posthumously] in Lublin in 1680]. Rabbi Mikhel was murdered in the Pogrom of Nemerov [known also as the Cossack Riots] on 20 Nisan 5408 ]1648] along with 6000 other Jewish martyrs who were murdered in the riots. His son-in-law - Rabbi Yehudah of Potok, was a well-known rabbi of his generation.

Rabbi Moshe Elkhanan Heilperin served as a rabbi after him (during the years 1690 – 1710). He was the son-in-law of the leader of the province of Lviv, Gershon Nathan, the son of Zolkiew's tax collector - Betsalel. His son, Nathan Heilperin, was the son-in-law of the author of the book “Pnei Yehoshua” [Rabbi Jacob Joshua Falk] and the brother-in-law of Rabbi David, son of “Hakhakham Tzvi” [literally – Tzvi the Sage by Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Ashkenazi]. Rabbi Heilperin was taken from Zloczow to be the rabbi of Szharogrod.

During the years 1701-1718, Rabbi Meir, son of [Rebbe] Shmuel Shmelki Horowitz, served as the rabbi of the city. Before his service in Zloczow, he served as the Rabbi of Bolechiv [Bolechow]. In 1696 he was invited to serve as a rabbi in Tykocin, where he died in 1743. He was the father of Rabbi Yaakov Yukel Horowitz, the head of the rabbinical court in Glowgo.

After him (probably at the beginning of the 18th century) served Rabbi Eliezer, the son of Zekharya Mendel, the head of the rabbinical court in Belz city and the country. He served as the rabbi in Komarno. His realm included the holy community of Zloczow. He was the father of Lviv's Rabbi, Moshe Khaim, the rival of Rabbi Yaakov Yehoshua (author of “Pnie Yehoshua”). The latter was nominated to the rabbinic position with the help of his rich father-in-law. He was also supported by governor Jablonowski.

Rabbi Moshe, the son of Rabbi Elazar Rokeach, author of “Ma'aseih Rokeach” was the rabbi in Zloczow and Zbarazh until 1740. He settled in Zloczow in that year with his second wife, the daughter of Rabbi Tzvi Ashkenazi of Lviv. He died in Brody

[Columns 49-50]

A group of women beggars


on 2 Kislev 5514 (1753). He had a son, Rabbi Shmuel Shmelki, the rabbi of the tailors in Brody from his first wife, the daughter of Frankfurt Head of the Rabbinical Court, Rabbi Naftali. He is the grandfather of Rabbi Shalom Rokeach, Head of the Rabbinical Court in Belz, and the founder of the Hasidic Admors [Rebbes] dynasty of Belz.

During the same period, a famous scholar and one of Galitsia's most eminent people of the period lived in Zloczow – Rabbi Arye Leibush Kantchuger, the great-grandson of Rabbi Zekharya from Krakow.

He was born in 1698 in the Galitsia town of Kantchuga. He excelled in his talents and piety from his youth. He did not eat meat during the week and was immersed in cold water daily. According to Rabbi Yehoshua, the author of “Pnei Yehoshua” “he was the greatest scholar of the Mishnah and Jewish law in his generation”.

He was nominated at a young age to be the rabbi in Kantchuga and later was elected as the rabbi in Hrubieszow, but he stayed there for only a short time. He settled in Zloczow, as a private person, in 1728. He taught Torah and ordained many students.

He refused to accept an offer to become a rabbi in Dubno and preferred to live in Zloczow. He made a living by working as a teacher until his passing in 1786. His innovations about the Mishnah were published after his death (Lviv, 5631 - 1871) in the book - ”Ateret Zkenim” [literally – The Crown of the Elders]. His son, Rabbi Meir, was a rabbi in Roman, and the other son - Rabbi Yekhiel Mikhel, in Lukiv [Matsiv]. After the city of Lukiv was burnt, Rabbi Yekhiel Mikhel transferred to Zlozcow.

The community's rabbi during the second half of the 18th century was Rabbi Yisaskhar Berish, the author of “Bat Eini” [literally - The Apple of my Eye]. The book contained new interpretations of the Gemara [with Rashi commentaries] and the Nidah tractate. The book was published in Dubno, 1798, along with his book “Mevaser Tzedek” [literally - The Herald of Justice] about the Torah, after his death by his son Yehuda Leib and his grandson R' Efraim Fishel. He lost his eyesight at the end of his life[2]. He immigrated to Eretz Israel in 1793/4 and died there in 1798.

In a letter written by the Hasidim of Tveria [Tiberias] in the month of Shvat 1795 to their fellow Hasidim in Russia, they announced the following: “Great scholars and luminaries had arrived at our Holy Land. The honorable Gaon Rabbi of the holy community of Shepetovka, and the Gaon Rabbi of the holy community of Zloczow, Yehuda Leib and his grandson Efraim Fishel”.

After him, the person who served as the rabbi – for a short period – was the author of “Pnie Yehoshua” and later on – the son-in-law of Rabbi Yissaskhar Berish, Rabbi Avraham son of Gedalia. He was the student Of Rabbi Shmelki HaLevi Horwitz, the Head of the Rabbinical Court of Nikolsburg. He was also one of the students of the Magid of Mezritch [Rabbi Dov Berish son of Avraham] as well as Rabbi Yekhiel Mikhel of Zloczow. He was the son-in-law of Rabbi Pinkhas Ha'Levi Horwitz the author of the book “Hafla'a” [literally – Turning into a Miracle. It is also an acronym of his name]. After the death of his first wife, he married a second wife who was the daughter of Rabbi Yisaskhar Berish. He authored the book - “Orakh Lekhaim” [literally – Way of Life] about the Torah. He was beloved by the people of his community because of his virtues and his charity work.

After him, Rabbi Khaim Wolf Katz served as the rabbi of the city for a short time. Later on, he moved to Brody and managed the financial affairs of Polish nobles and the shoemakers guild.

According to the Jewish Statute from 7 May 1789, every district could nominate a single rabbi (the Districts' Rabbi), and for the rest of the places, only teachers and cantors were allowed to serve. Similar to the heads of the communities, rabbis were elected for three years.

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The place of residence of the District's Rabbi was the district city. Since Zloczow was located in the Brody district, the District's Rabbi resided in Brody. However, according to [Empress] Maria Teressa's [Jewish Statute, the Zloczow community was allowed to have a rabbinical court headed by a rabbi. The authority of the rabbi spanned over religious, judicial, property, and financial matters. One could appeal before the state court in Lviv, which was under the authority of the state rabbi. The court consisted of five additional judges. However, based on decrees from 25 August 1783 and 23 May 1784, the Jewish judicial system was annulled and the rabbinical courts were abolished.

The First District's Rabbi was Rabbi Meir Kristianpoler which served during the years 1785 – 1815. He was the son of Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch, son of Rabbi Moshe of Bialokamin, and later the head of the rabbinical court in Lviv. Rabbi Meir was one of the students of the Country Rabbi of Moravia, Rabbi Shmuel Shmelki Horwitz. He also served as a rabbi in Chervonohrad [Kristynopol] and Brody.

Following him, the District's Rabbi was Rabbi Arye Leib Teomim. When the latter fell ill, the grandson of Rabbi Yekhezkel Landau was nominated in 1829. Following him, the son of Rabbi Meir Kristianpoler, Rabbi Yekhiel Mikhel, served until 1863.

The District's Rabbi supervised the religious affairs, managed the vital records ledgers, oversaw the use of the holy vessels, supervised the cantors and caretakers, declared a shun according to the instructions from the authorities, and satiated people handling political affairs.

During his reign as the Zloczow District's Rabbi, Rabbi Kristianpoler received a salary of 450 Florin and as a Rabbi in Brody – 900 Florin.

The religious teachers in the various locations received the salaries or made a living from as follows:

Busk – 31 Florin, Toporov – contributions and donations only, Bialokomin – 104 Florin, Hlynjany – an apartment and exemption from taxes only, Kaminka – 312 Florin, Shchurovychi – a monopoly in the casting of candles, Shetshmiltza [?] – no salary, Olesko – no salary (contributions and donations), Podkamen – 52 Florin, Pomoryani [Pomorzhany] – no salary, Radekhiv [Radzhiakhov], Uzlovoye [Kholojow]. Ozerna [Yazhirna] – made a living only from tuition, Stoyaniv [Stoyanov] – 10 Florin, Zaliztsi {Zalozhtse]– donations, only, Zboriv [Zborov] – 312 Florin and Zloczow – arbitration fees.
During the beginning of the Austrian conquest, Zloczow played a major role in both domestic and foreign trade. All the cargo of goods that originated in Volyn and Podolia passed through Zloczow, on the road that spitted at Zloczow to two branches: the northern branch, leading to Brody and Radyvyliv [Radzivilov, and the eastern branch leading toward Ternopil and Lutsk. Goods from Vienna, Lviv, and Krakow were also transported to Volyn, Podolia, and the other above-mentioned cities and countries. Goods sent from Russia to Brody passed through that road, particularly after the opening of the port in Odessa.

Since all of that trade was concentrated in the hands of Brody's Jews, they used the assistance of Zloczow's Jews for all associated services such as transportations, loading, and unloading.

Until the construction of the railroad, many of Zloczow 's Jews worked in freight and transportation.

Despite all of that, the Jews experienced difficulties in adapting to the new conditions. These conditions were very different from those that existed in Poland.

At the beginning of the Austrian conquest, the community was organized based on Empress Maria Teressa's Jewish Statute, issued on 16 July 1776, the Jewish Statute issued by [Emperor] Joseph II from 27 May 1785, and the Edict of Tolerance on 7 May 1789. The latter was a regulation that attempted to find a permanent arrangement of the Jewish affairs in the entire area of Galitsia.

A committee (“Kahal” or assembly) consisted of elected elders headed the community. However, they had limited authority, and they also had to obey and yield to any demand of the district authorities. The community was responsible for all the government taxes imposed on the Jews and for completing the quota of the army recruits. According to the Jewish Statute from 1776, the community committee consisted of six members, and according to the Statue of [Emperor] Joseph II – three members. However, in Brody and Lviv, the community committees consisted of 7 members, as the Jewish populations in these cities were sizable. Members were elected to serve for three years. Heads of households were allowed to actively participate in the election if they paid the Tax on Shabbat Candles for at least seven candles during the preceding year. Reputable heads of families, residing in Zloczow, were awarded the right to passively participate in the election if they fulfilled the following conditions: 1) They paid the tax on at least ten Shabbat candles in the preceding year 2) They could read and write in German. Besides the leaders, the community elected the heads of Khevra Kadishah [the burial society], superiors of the synagogues and hospitals, and the bookkeepers.

The administrative organization of the community consisted of the community secretary (Sofer – writer), community caretaker, cantors, synagogue caretakers, slaughterers, and undertakers. The rabbi, who was elected by the community voters for three years, was responsible for all the religious matters. According to the Statute from 1785, the position of the community rabbi was eliminated and replaced by regular teachers, religion teachers, and cantors. However, every district had its rabbi.

[Columns 53-54]

Zloczow, as the district city, was where the rabbi resided. A unique right was awarded to the city of Brody. Its rabbi was independent of the district rabbi, although the latter, who resided in Zloczow, retained all of the judicial rights. That situation was maintained until the annulment of the Jewish Judicial system and the rabbinical courts. That was done based on the decrees by the central authorities in Vienna on 25 August 1783 and 23 May 1784.

According to the Statute on 7 May 1789, the leaders of the community received salaries from the community tax revenues. That was why so many people pursued the positions of the leaders of the community. They also chased after the honor associated with these positions. That was true even from the days of the Jewish autonomy in Poland. In Zloczow, as in other places, there were no elections where there was no opposition. The opposition challenged the legitimacy of the elected officials and blamed them for illegally imposing taxes. That was the case since the main burden was imposed on the unwealthy classes, while the elite and their relatives were nearly exempt from paying any tax. Conflicts and quarrels broke out from time to time. The case of David Lezerovitz (Ben-Eliezer) was well known. His tax book was taken away from him, which led to his removal from the community. He turned to Vienna to complain and requested that the tax book would be given back to him. Vienna responded that he must first appeal to the governor's office. On April 1793, he was notified that his request had been denied.

That was not the only case when the heads of the community attempted to get rid of “undesirable elements” and people who were fans of the opposition.

In 1774, the authorities increased the poll tax from 30 Kreuzers to one Gulden. This tax was also mentioned in the Jewish Statue from 1776, as a Tolerance Tax (Taleh Rantzsteir - Toleranzsteuer) of 4 Gulden per family. Each family has also levied an income tax of 4 Gulden. However, a property-based marriage fee was considered as part of that tax. The tax quota was levied on individual Jewish communities, and every community divided the total among its members.

In 1784, Emperor Joseph II canceled to income and property tax and replaced them with the following taxes:

A national houshold tax of one Gulden per family.

The marriage fee was replaced by a marriage tax 0n three brackets:

Artisans and employees paid one Ducat for the first son, 6 for the second, and 12 for the third. If the income exceeded 100 Guldens, the tax was doubled.

Public service workers paid 12 Ducats for the first son and 24 for the second.

All merchants and people working in related fields with income not exceeding 400 Guldens paid 20, 40, and 80 Ducats respectively.

Jewish farmers and people who worked in agriculture were exempt from paying these taxes.

6. Kosher meat Tax – according to the type of meat

In 1789, people who were working in agriculture were also exempt from paying the Tolerance Tax. According to the Jewish Statute of Joseph II (1789), additional fees were imposed:

In 1797, the poll tax was canceled and was replaced by a tax on candles. Additional taxes were levied: People who were exempt from that tax were: Besides these taxes, the Jews paid tax on storage and a tax on plots, and obviously, they also paid a tax for their community.

Many quarrels erupted upon the establishment of the [Kosher] meat tax, which carried significant profits. In actuality, this was the monopoly of the tax lessee, who had the authority to raise the Kosher meat tax and to void the slaughtering permit, as he saw fit, of many butchers. Using that authority, the butchers, who colluded with the lessee were able to increase the meat price, infuriating the masses, particularly to poor, who were agitated by the boycotted butchers.

On the other hand, the rest of the taxes, which were also leased, were collected vigorously, often with the help of military horsemen and policemen, who confiscated furniture and other household items and did not shy away from blackmailing. These oppressions intensified with the imposition of the tax on candles.

[Columns 55-56]

A couple of demented people


The [tax] lessee were often the elders-leaders of the community, so the anger by the populate would be anger at them.

Gregory Bartholomeus served as a magister[?] for the Jewish affairs on behalf of the authorities. His annual salary was 350 Florins. Besides him, an additional magister, employed daily was hired with a salary of 150 Florins.

Disagreements about the [Kosher] meat tax also rose between the community and the tax lease management in Lviv.

Following a request by the Sasiv community that was affiliated with the Zloczow community, it was disassociated in 1785 from Zloczow, in matters associated with the meat tax. That meant a loss of revenues for the meat tax lessee in Zloczow. Zloczow community, which was interested in keeping Sasiv under its authority, appealed to Lviv. In March of that year, Lviv advised Zloczow that they would need to contact the appropriate authority in that matter. We could not find any documentation as to how that disagreement had been resolved in the end.

The meat tax lessees during that period were Kalman and Funkelstein. Aharon Horowitz complained against them in 1785, claiming that he had the leasing license, and requested compensations. After losing his court case, Mr. Horowitz appealed to the Justice Ministry in Vienna. However, the matter was transferred to the governor, and, in the end, the governor ruled against him.

In 1798, Khaim Kahana and Eliezer Landau secured the lease of the meat tax in Zloczow. A person by the name of Shlomo Oxsenhass appealed, on behalf of the butchers in the city. They claimed that the lessees were interfering with their work. The appeal was also transferred from Vienna to the governor.

At times of war, Galitsian Jews were required to purchase emergency bonds, besides the regular taxes. That happened during the period 1794 – 1799.

In 1798, the district authorities were supposed to collect the war bond from the Jews. For some reason, the bond was not collected from Zloczow's Jews. When the governor, in Lviv, heard about it, he imposed a monetary fine upon the district minister in Zloczow and confiscated his salary.

A worsening in the tax collection situation occurred in 1784. A decree was issued that any Jew who was lagging in paying the taxes, would be proclaimed a beggar and would be subject to expulsion from Galitsia. Many censuses followed that decree, which caused a horrendous situation and fear of being exposed as a “Yuden Bootle” [Jewish loafer] or as somebody who was married fictitiously (to subvert to poll tax law). There were always people, gentile or Jewish, who were ready to tell the authorities about tax evasion by a “Yuden Bootle” and particularly about fictitious marriage. One would get an award for such information. One such informer – Berl Yaakov from Podkamen, cast fear onto the Jews of Zloczow and its neighboring area. He asked the authorities for protection since “his enemies were threatening him due to his devotion to the state treasury”. Indeed, embittered people attacked him more than once, and they bit him harshly more than once. They were also some gentile officials who snitched about Jews for a fee. A post office manager in Zboriv, Anton Retel, was known to have requested a “reporting fee” for his reports about fictitious marriages of Jews in Zboriv and its environs. A special investigating committee was established based on the information provided by that official.

In 1782, a class committee proposed to remove the Jews from all leases Arendas). The central government in Vienna took advantage of that proposal and issued a decree in the spirit of the proposal.

The district minister of Zloczow, Von Tanhauzer, opposed that arbitrary ruling claiming that the estate owners would not be able to find Christian lessees who would be sufficiently skilled to replace the Jews. However, Tanhauzer's opposition was in vain.

The Jews were deported from many villages in the district of Zloczow. The representatives of Zloczow's community turned immediately to the authorities and asked to keep the tavern owners and bartenders in their places.

[Columns 57-58]

Their request reached the emperor in Vienna on 8 February 1787. The Jews explained their request by the fact that as part of the privileges they received during the period of the Polish republic, they were awarded the rights to serve brandy, wine, and other alcoholic beverages. In 1789, the heads of the community requested again for the privileges to be re-approved. They considered these privileges as the legal basis for sustaining all the occupations associated with serving alcoholic beverages. The Jews hoped that the privilege would be recertified and that the authorities would refrain from deporting the tavern owners and bartenders from the villages and also eradicate them in the city. Their hope did not materialize.

Besides the worry about the tavern owners, who were forced to abandon their occupation, other concerns and troubles rested on the shoulders of the community leaders.

During the first years of the Austrian regime, the community leaders lobbied to obtain a new approval for the Jewish privileges.

As early as 1778, the Zloczow Jewish community requested, in a special appeal to the Governor in Lviv, through the local authorities, to approve the privileges that the Jews received from the Polish King Jan Sobieski III. However, the governor was not in a hurry to resolve the matter. He reported Vienna about the request to approve Zloczow's community privileges, which consisted of rules about the relations between the Jews, the city, and its owners, only in October 1782. In the end, the central government ruled that the privileges could remain in the future without any recertification. Even before the appeal mentioned above, the community submitted requested to forbid the municipality from imposing unreasonable taxes and also petitioned to act against the malicious duty to host military personnel, which resulted in a substantial amount of expenses on the Jewish populate.

Viann responded with a reprimand that time. They told the community that they must first turn to the local authorities with any complaints. They can then turn to the governor if the local authorities did not resolve the matter. Only upon rejection by the governor can the community turn to Vianna.

That was how Zloczow's Jewish community learned about the nature of the Austrian bureaucracy and its operation!

The debts that rested upon the community, from as early as the days of the Polish regime, caused enough problems as well. The rulings of the committee for the elimination of the Jewish debts imposed all sorts of obligations on Galitsia's communities, including the one in Zloczow. These debts were accumulated from the days of the Polish Republic. In 1788, the Jews of Zloczow were obligated to pay all of its debts in five years.

At the beginning of 1785, Zlozow's community with the community of Pomoryany turned once more to the authorities. They appealed to certify their privileges from the Polish period. However, their request failed again. The governor passed Vienna's response on 10 June, which stated that that approval could not be provided at that time.

During the years 1755 – 1780, several fires broke out in the city. However, the authorities prohibited Jews from rebuilding their houses. Appeals submitted to the authority were delayed for over one year until the Jews finally got the needed approval.

We learned about the Jewish population of the Zloczow district from a census that took place in 1788, but we could not find details about the number of Jews in the city itself.

According to that census, there were 14 Jewish communities affiliated with the community in the city, consisting of 5324 Jewish families: among them - 5111 men, 5151 women, 2095 boys, and 1857 girls (the children above the age of twelve). These families had 1544 male housekeepers and 1544 female housekeepers. There were 190 poor males and 735 poor females. Altogether 12,867 people. The total number of men in the community was 11,571 and women 26,185. Of the 5324 families, there were 4487- first-level taxpayers households, 379 – second-level, 371 – third-level, and 87 poor households.

In 1790, the district had 5185 Jewish families, who were obligated to pay 20,740 Florin of Tolerance Tax and 5185 Florin of additional tax - a total of 25, 925 Florin. In actuality, only 4885 Florin of the Tolerance Tax and 1221 Florin of the additional tax (together 6106 Florin) was paid. 19,818 Florin were registered as a debt.

In 1791, the total number of Jewish families was 5029, and the number of people: 11,751 men and 12,209 women (together 23,960), Of the 5029 during that year, 4150 were first-level taxpayers, 539 – the second-layer, 201 – third-layer, and 130 were considered poor families.

Compared to 1788, the number of Jews decreased by 2225 people, and the number of first, second, and third-level taxpayers decreased by 348 (from 5237 to 4889). The number of poor families increased from 87 in 1788 to 130 in 1791 (an increase of 43 families).

The economic situation of Zloczow's Jews improved at the beginning of the Austrian regime, albite not in all the classes. During those years, the property value of the Jews increased. The Jews preferred to invest their money on houses and plots, particularly in the center of the city.

The fame scholar, Professor Belkhazar Hakeh, who toured throughout entire Galitsia between 1790 and 1796 wrote: “The Jews in Zloczow,

[Columns 59-60]

have the upper hand. They reside in houses with large plots, while the Christian population is crowding in small alleys”.

Most of the Jews were occupied in commerce. Toward the end of the 18th century and in the first half of the 19th century, all of the trade of Podolia and Volyn regions with Ternopil and Brody passed through Zloczow. The vast majority of that trade was in the hand of Jews. Brody [Jewish] traders employed Jews, both by commission and brokerage or in transportation in Zloczow, which served as a critical transfer stop for the free trade city of Brody.

In the city of Zloczow city itself, virtually all the stores were in the hands of Jews. They imported all the goods needed for the city. Artisans, particularly shoemakers, tailors, and bakers, worked mainly for Jewish merchants. Zloczow and its neighboring areas was an important center of weavers of fabric, nets, and sails. Jews brought these products to Gdansk [Dantzig] in loads of 1000 packages, 25 arshins [1 arshin = 28 inches] each. The owners of large and medium-size estates around Zlozcow, Pomoryani, and Holohory used to lease their villages to Jews and sell them their agricultural products: grains, honey, wax, fruits, cattle, brandy, flour, and wood products. Local Jews were given a priority. The grain trade brought substantial profits. During the Polish days, the traders earned 1 Florin for every Koretz [1 Koretz = 128 liters]. The price of a Koretz of grain, for an intermediary trader, was 4 Florin.

In the city of Zloczow city itself, virtually all the stores were in the hands of Jews. They imported all the goods needed for the city. Artisans, particularly shoemakers, tailors, and bakers worked mainly for Jewish merchants. Zloczow and its neighboring areas was an important center of weavers of fabric, nets, and sails. Jews brought these products to Gdansk [Dantzig] in loads of 1000 packages, 25 arshins [1 arshin = 28 inches] each.

With the Austrian conquest, various factories began to sprout in the district of Zloczow. For example, a plant, with an annual production that reached 15,000 leathers, was built near Kotkorz. A person by the name of Fridreikh Hershel planted large areas of hops that yielded 30 – 40 Kanters [1 Kanter = about 300 kg.]. A paper factory, owned by a person by the name of Bini, was established in Busk.

A vital trade field, the horse trade, was concentrated at the hand of Jews. Zloczow's traders would buy horses in Russia and eastern Galitsia, in collaboration with traders from Brody, Chortkiv, Pidhaytsi, and Kosova, and sell them in Silesia, Prussia, and Austria. They also provided the horses to the Austrian military.

In 1791, a massive fire broke out in Zloczow, which destroyed almost the entire city, including the Jewish houses and particularly their stores in the city center. Construction of stone houses and stone stores commenced following the fire.

The commerce incurred a substantial loss and suffering upon the third partition of Poland when a border pass with Russia was established in Brody. As a result of probationary economic tendencies, high customs were imposed at the border. In particular, Zloczow's traders, who were dependent on the traders in Brody, suffered from that situation. A considerable upturn for the better occurred at the beginning of the 19th century. That was particularly felt during the period 1806 – 1812 due to the blockade that Napoleon imposed on all of Europe ports.

* * *

The education of Jewish in Zloczow was carried out, like in all Galitsia, in traditional educational institutions.

Unlike the Polish authorities, which were not interested in educating Jewish children and did not take any effort to accomplish it, the Austrian authorities, while handling the general education in Galitsia, did try to take care of the education of Jewish children.

The authorities allowed the traditional education institutions, the supervision of which was assigned to the country chief rabbi, to continue to operate. However, as part of the regulations, the authorities set a framework, curriculum, teachers' obligations, and a timeline for tests, for these institutions. The Jews did not receive these changes enthusiastically – and that led the authorities to change their mind. After the abolishment of the state community organization in 1782, the Jewish children were allowed to study in the general state elementary schools.

On 27 May 1785, the authorities requested that Jewish communities establish schools of general studies. When nothing was done about it, stern orders were issued. According to these orders, the Jewish communities were responsible that every youth under the age of 13 would study in general schools. Even the melamed's assistant had to attend a school of general studies.

The Jews did not pay attention to these stern orders, since they felt that going to school would lead the youth to assimilation.

With the issuance of the Jewish Rights document (“Yuden Patent”) by Emperor Joseph II in 1789, that its role was to change the lifestyle of Galitsia's Jews, a sharp turn in the government attitude towards Jewish education.

In clauses 11-14 of the “Yuden Patent” the Jews were obliged to establish a German school of general studies in every community “to correct the Jews through education“. Associated with that “Yuden Patent” document, it was ruled that no Jew would be allowed to get married without a certificate showing that he or she studied in a school of general studies or privately at home. A teacher seminar was established in Lviv to prepare an appropriate teaching workforce.

[Columns 61-62]

A student and assistant of Moshe Mendelson – Hertz Homberg (1749 – 1841), was nominated as the head of the Jewish education system in entire Galitsiain in 1787.

In 1788, 48 [Jewish] schools of general studies were established in Galitsia (including in Zloczow).

Most of these were schools for boys. Only in Brody and Lviv, girls' schools were also established. A special fund of 259,028 Gulden was established for that system. Jewish heads of households were forced to finance it.

As mentioned, the school of general studies in Zloczow was established in 1788, where the teacher was Yaakov Frenkel. He received a salary of 200 Gulden. However, the Jews did not cooperate and refused to send their children to school. Neither gentle lobbying nor threats of punishments and fines helped. The aspiration of Joseph II did not find an echo or support among the Jewish masses. There was no other choice left for the government in Vienna but to abolish the Jewish school network and the [teacher] seminar. That was done according to the decree by Emperor Frantz I, from 26 June 1806. The teachers were paid meager compensations. They dispersed and went each their own way.

* * *

As known, Emperor Joseph II aspired to transfer some of Galitsia's Jews to agriculture as part of his “Corrections of the Jews” policy.

This matter was discussed among circles of the government in Vienna as early as 1774. These discussions were held under the influence of the Physiocratic Theory. There was also the need to compensate the Jews for the loss of their livelihood as lessees of taverns. One way to do so would be to employ them in agriculture.

Jews who would settle and dedicate themselves to work in agriculture were promised to receive a reduction of 50%, and later on, a total exemption from the Tolerance Tax.

Thousands of families were left without a way to make a living following the Jewish Regulations from 1785. In his decree from 16 August 1785, Emperor Joseph II ordered to begin with the immediate settlement of 1400 Jewish families, from throughout Galitsia, in agricultural settlements. The district of Zlozcow was obligated to fulfill a quota of 228 families, including 12 families from Zloczow city itself. By the end of 1793, the following communities managed to reach their quotas: Leshniv – 7 families, Olesko – 5, Bialokomin -9, Podkamen – 7, Kamika – 8, Zalitsi – 10, Holohory – 6, Zloczow – 12, Pomoryany – 6, Vitkam[?] – 8, Busk – 7, Zboriv – 8, altogether 113 families. The quota for Brody was - 128, which was reached by 1803.

The execution of that decree progressed very slowly, which the authorities did not like. Sambir [Sambor], Zhokova [Zalkiew], Stryj, Rzeszów [Raysha], Tarnov, Mishelnitza[?], Buchnia Gobi Suntz[?], Zalischyky, and Chernivtsi [Tzernovitz] managed to fill their quota as early as 1792. The governor in Lviv notified Vienna of that progress in a special report. In a directive from Vienna on July 1792, the authorities commended and thanked the officials in the above-mentioned districts for properly executing the instructions and timely fulfilling the quota.

An instruction to reprimand the district authorities of Ternopil [Ternopol], Zamosc [Zamoshetz], Ivano-Frankivsk [Stanislavov], and Zloczow, was included in the same directive, and they were sternly ordered to execute the mission.

By the end of 1803, 288 Jewish families settled on 104 plots. These families included: 258 men, 251 women, and 146 boys and 132 girls under the age of 18. The settlers received 29 houses, 258 barns and cowsheds, 461 horses, 389 oxen, and 412 cows.

The Jewish communities located in the area of the settlements were forced to cover the settlement budget in their area. Between 25 to 40 families were required to cover the expenses incurred in settling one family, which amounted to 250 Gulden.

All the farmers who had settled in the district of Zloczow before the end of 1793 were surveyed in 1822. Only families whose settlement was financed by the communities were inspected. The authorities treated the settlers very strictly. They were investigated as to whether they suitable to work in agriculture, physically and mentally. The settlers were not allowed to employ workers to cultivate their fields and work in another occupation.

Anybody who did not perform his job appropriately was deported from the village. That was how the Jewish farmer by the name of Moshe Shliter had to leave the village of Salvia on July 1823 by the ruling of the district office. That village was where some of the farmers from Zloczow had probably settled. The reason given for the ruling was that the Jewish farmer did not fulfill the essential conditions of a Jewish agriculturalist – he did not work in his fields by himself and also worked in a forbidden occupation. The ruling of the district office was approved by Galitsia's governor's office. Shliter submitted an appeal to the palace bureau in Vienna, which discussed the matter in its meeting on 19 October 1826. The bureau approved the district office's ruling.

Author's Notes

  1. Starting October 1848 and on, the teaching language was Polish. Return
  2. He ordered to call the book “Bat Eini” [The Apple of My Eye] since it is identical to his name – Yisaskhar Dov in gematria (542). That name was also a hint about his blindness. Return


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