Dr. N. M. Gelber (Jerusalem)
Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund
Jews were already in Raysn [2*] in the days of King Lev the First, who permitted Jews and Armenians to settle within his realm. However, there are no official documents that can confirm that Jews settled in Kolomea and its vicinity at that time.
There is a document from 1466 from which we learn that the Polish Lord Kastelan of Podolya and the provincial governor of Snyatyn and Kolomea, Mikhal Moszila Buczacki, leased the salt mines and estates in Kolomea to the well known Jew, Shimshon (Pamozo Samsoni Judeo), who was a lessee in Zidiczow [Zhidachov]. In addition, in 1469 a lessee agreement was signed between them. This Shimshon was a lessee of great prominence. He leased entire cities in the Halych area . Shimshon of Zidiczow was the largest holder of the right to collect taxes, lease holder and merchant, as well as the main banker in Raysn. He carried out commerce with noblemen and also leased estates from the king and from noblemen. He gave loans on pledges in Lemberg [Lviv] and in other cities. The lessee died in 1474 and after his death his wife, Sarah, and his son, Yehoshua (Owsha), took over the businesses .
The fact that Shimshon held various leases in Kolomea does not mean that there was a Jewish settlement in the city itself.
At the beginning of the 16th century Jews began to settle in the vicinity of Kolomea.
At that time the trade highway on which one
transported goods to Wallachia [region of Romania] drew many Jews to settle there. During the years 1521-1540 the Jews of Kolomea and Snyatyn were known in Wallachia, Raysn and also in Turkey, where the flow of many goods shipments were in evidence with goods from Wallachia . Lemberg Jews, who settled in Kolomea, enjoyed the privilege that was also confirmed by the constitution, namely: they were placed under the rule and jurisdiction of the city and they were obliged to participate in all city responsibilities, including the city taxes. Therefore, they enjoyed all of the city freedoms and the principles of equality applicable to every citizen without any restriction not only in the economic realm, but also in a certain measure in the realm of political rights. Jews received passive voting rights in Kolomea and they also had the right to take part in the voting for city officials, and even for the city president. They also had the right to take part in the audit of city finances and even to send a representative or two to the session of the city-council, where reports about the city finances were given. The granting of this right was motivated by the fact that the Jews took part according to an evaluation in two-thirds of the city expenses. The Jews could live in the center of the city (Rynek); however, they could not put out any tables of goods on the market days that would be held every week on Friday, unless on the central square of the city . Of the Lemberg Jews who lived in Kolomea, Mordekhai Yehuda, the holder of the lease to collect tolls, was well known in 1599.
Jews also lived in the villages in the Kolomea district and were employed running taverns and distilleries. We learn from the tax list of 1569 that 10 Jewish houses were found in the villages in the Kolomea district. If we take as a count that 12 Jews lived in each house, we will reach a number of 120 Jewish souls . In 1616, the Jews received according to the decree of the commission for tax registration a suitable location to build a shul and a location for a cemetery outside the city . Permission was given to erect a residence there for a grave digger. These locations and their buildings were freed of tax payments. The Jews made a 20 dollar yearly payment for a staroste [village chief]. The
Jewish butchers along with the Christian butchers were obligated to provide him with 40 stones (a stone equaled 32 pounds) of fat. In addition, the Jews along with the Christian residents had to grind straw from the field as fodder. In 1621, they suffered a great flood and from an ambush by the Tatars. In that year the Jews received written confirmation that all of their rights and duties remained in force.
In the year 5408 (1648), Chmielnicki attacked the city and his troops murdered the 300 Jewish residents .
After the Chmielnicki destruction, Jews again came to Kolomea and, in the course of several years, the Jewish settlement grew, thanks to the fact that the number of non-Jewish residents was small and their economic position was insignificant. The Jews so developed their trade that in 1715 an agreement was signed between the city hall and the kehile [organized Jewish community] that the Jews were required to contribute two-thirds of all city taxes. In addition, in 1717-1719, the Jews paid a head tax. Of the contribution of 33,857 gildn that was required of the Jews in Raysn, the Jews of Kolomea participated with a sum of 1,040 gildn and 21 groshn .
Lessees and holders of a lease to collect customs duties had the highest standing in the Jewish settlement. From time to time conflicts broke out between them and the kehile, particularly in matters concerning taxes. Such quarrels were brought to the Council of the Four Lands.
As can be seen by the decision of the council in Tammuz 5387 ([June or July] 1627), it was decided: In regard to the matter of a lessee  from Kolomea, we have found that whoever holds the lease will give the kehile a sum of 300 gildn each year for the first three years and the money will serve to support the rabbi and the khazan [cantor] and shamas [sexton] and the poor people. And he who will hold the lease will have the contract for three years. If the contract holder wishes to participate in the Gramnitz fair, the Jewish community in Kolomea may agree and is entitled to certain payments .
This internal life of the kehile was the same as in all of the organized Jewish communities in Poland. The legal power and the task of the kehile was administrative and fiscal, as well as jurisdictional and included the educational system.
At the head of the kehile stood the elected heads of the community, or leaders, who
(Photo: the City Hall)
constituted the guiding administrative body. It consisted of three to five members who were responsible for relations with the state for the entire kehile. They swore a loyalty oath after their election in the presence of the representative of the regime to the king and to the state. They were required to receive confirmation from the staroste [village chief] in Kolomea, or from his assistant.
Every month the parnosim [elected heads of the community] changed their roles and the acting parnes [elected head] was called the parnes khodesh [monthly head]. In addition to the parnosim, two elders from the cities sat in the kehile council, according to the pattern of boni viri [Latin for good men].
The third administrative office consisted of members of the kehile and of the kehile committees. The number of members was not fixed. The committees dealt with matters of charity (charity trustees), with audits of the accounts, with market matters, supervision of cleanliness in the Jewish quarter, provided a guard to supervise kashrus [observation of the kosher laws], supervision of weights and measure, with matters of educational institutions and schools (four to seven trustees for schools).
There were also trustees concerned with Eretz-Yisroel from the 17th century on, as well as tax evaluators and guardians of the unions of artisans (guilds) that represented their affairs in the leadership of the kehile and their number was tied to the number of artisan unions. The elections were carried out by the mediation of honest men (voters), who were chosen by lot so as to be nominated by the kehile.
The kehile, which had an office room at its disposal, consisted of the city rabbi who was the first to be hired and was the religious-spiritual leader of the kehile; the magid [preacher], known under the name, Magid Mishorim [righteous preacher]; and the secretary who was the administrative representative of the kehile. The latter largely filled the role of the kehile intercessor. The kehile took care of all matters for its residents economic, communal, cultural and educational. It set and collected the necessary taxes in order to cover the kehile budget that included the salaries of the administrative apparatus, payments for state officials, such as the staroste (village chief) and so on, for the clergy in the schools, for City Hall and the remaining taxes that were placed upon the Jews.
Direct and indirect taxes also served to cover
payments for proprietorship and to pay for weddings, funerals, dowries, and for titles, khover [title given to learned, middleclass men], moyreyne [our master title conferred by Talmudic academies in Poland].
Kolomea belonged to the Vaad haMedine Rayzn [Council of the Raysn Nation], which was directed by the Lemberger kehile; but its influence became much less and its place was taken by the Zholkev [Zhovkva] kehile.
As is known, the Vaad haMedine [Council of the Nation] had the power to elect the representatives to the Council of the Four Lands, to divide the taxes among the kehilus and the small communities attached to them, as well as to regulate conflicts which took place among the individual communities.
We do not actually possess any precise information due to a lack of sources about their exact activities. The first Vaad haMedine was established in 1519 in Greater Poland [west-central Poland]. In Lesser Poland [the area of southern Poland], the first Vaad haMedine was founded in the middle of the 17th century and also in Raysn. The activity of the Vaad haMedine in Raysn began after 5408 (1648] with the decline of the Lemberger kehile. In 5424 (16th June 1664), the heads of the Zholkever kehile assembled along with the influential people and the envoys and those elected from the remaining kehilus of the Raysn Vaad haMedine in Svirzh (near Boiberik [Bobrka]); from Brod [Brody], Buczacz, Kolomea all former small communities attached to the Lemberger kehile which mutinied against it. At the session of the Vaad in question, improvements were made in the order of electing the kehile and in nominating the tax collectors and the setting of the head-tax. Rabbi Reb Avraham, son of Reb Wolf, who signed the rules that were adopted, took part in these sessions in the name of the Kolomea kehile with the approval of Reb Shimshon Ginzburg of Przemyśl, Reb Josef Aizik of Jaworów, Reb Shmeul Zaynwl Segal of Lemberg and Reb Dovid Preger of Buczacz, who was the main Bund organizer against the Lemberg kehile.
Reb Avraham Reb Wolf's (Reb Avraham, the son of Reb Wolf], who did a great deal for the establishment of the kehile, served as rabbi in Kolomea. However, it is not known how many years he was the rabbi and in what year he died.
Reb Avraham ber [son of] Josef Kac stood at the head of the yeshiva during the period of his rabbinate. He spent time in Lemberg in 5424 (1664) and was murdered there during the pogroms that took place there on Shabbos, 8 Iyar [3 May] .
Following Rabbi, Reb Avraham, Wolf's son, the rabbi was Reb Haim ber Yehoshua of Krakow (1590-1648) (the author of Meginei Shlomo [Shlomo's Sorrow] and Pnei Yehoshua [Yehoshua's Face]), the well known head of the yeshiva during the course of 1639-1648. In 5431 (1671), he was at the Jaroslower fair at the time when the Council of the Four Lands came together. He was received as the head of the yeshiva in Lemberg and died there on 9 Adar 5533 ([4 March] 1673). He supported yeshivus in various places and particularly in the important Jewish cultural center of Kolomea. He left behind two sons, Efraim Fishl, chairman of the rabbinical court in Kolomea, who died in 1683. His second son, Tzvi Hirsh, was the rabbi in Berezan, Drobich [Drogobych], Tismenitz [Tysmenytsya], Brod and Liske.
In that era (1690) the Rabbi, Reb Dovid Kohan was also the chairman of the rabbinical court in Kolomea .
After Efraim Fishl, his son-in-law, Rabbi Meshulem ber Yeshayahu, who was the head of the yeshiva in Lemberg for more than two years, sat on the rabbinical chair. He died on Sukkos 5506 (1746) and his place was taken by his son-in-law, Reb Noakh Efraim Fishl ber Moshe, who was the rabbi in Kolomea until 1783.
Life in the kehile was normal, without special events, until the Shabbatai Tzvi [3*] movement. The majority of the population supported itself with small businesses, with taverns, peddling and crafts. Individuals carried out wholesale-trade with Moldava and Wallachia there and back.
On 2 January 1765, a census was carried out for the purpose of collecting a head-tax by the commissar of the Halych district and the counties of Trembowla [Terebovlya] and Kolomea, Juzef Paradowski, who was the judge in matters of water boundaries in Halych, Matsei Korovosiecki (Lovczi Platski). The census authenticated by an oath of the rabbi, two kehile-parnosim [elected heads of the kehile] and the writer for the kehile .
Rabbi Fishl Moshkowitz (Fishko) signed the census in Kolomea and this was the rabbi, Reb Noakh Efraim Fishl ben Moshe.
According to the census, there were 985 Jews and 87 children under a year old in Kolomea. In the villages that were members of the Kolomea kehile, 74 Jews and four children under a year old were counted. And these are the villages: Piedik [Pidhaychyki] two and a child, Dietkovin [Dyatkovtsy] six, Kniazdwor [Nizhneye] 12 and one child, Spas four, Krinitsa
13 men and two children, Wiskrisnits [Voskresentsy] two and one child, Markowitz [Markoviche], 10, Tzienewe [Tsenyava] four, Hantsherev [Goncharov] seven, Diletin [Dilyatyn] two, Oslave four, Zalitshe [Zaliztsi] four.
All together, there were 1,059 Jews and 91 children under one year old.
There was a total of 10,987 souls, including 714 children under a year old in the entire Kolomea county. It must be noted that these cities belonged to the Kolomea county: Solotvine [Solotvyn] 471 and 19 children, Pystin [Pystan] 233 and 17 children, Yablonov 467 and 49 children, Snytyn [Snyatyn] 1,123 and 102 children, Kitev 1,013 and 26 children, Gvazdziets [Gvozdets] 659 and 27 children, Zabletov [Zabolotiv] 946 and 63 children, Kamineki Vielkye [Velyka Kamyanka] 56 and five children, Otynye [Otyniya] 345 and 51 children, Lysiec [Lysets] 171 and 16 children, Nadverne [Nadvirna] 1, 196 and 75 children, Obertyn 419 and 30 children, Horodenka 906 and 67 children, Kolockovtse [Kulachkovtsy] 150 and 13 children.
The economic situation worsened during the last years of the Polish regime. The trade in grain the main commerce in Pokucie [4*] lost its value on the European market and exports from Poland declined to half their amount in the beginning of the 18th century.
Poverty reigned in the cities, which led to a decline in commerce because trade increasingly dwindled particularly in eastern Poland. It should be understood that these conditions also had a bad effect on the economic conditions of the Jews of Kolomea.
At the beginning of the 18th century, southeastern Raysn and Podolya were under the marked influence of the Shabbetai Tzvi movement and its messenger, the Kabbalist Haim Malakh. The cities of Zolkiew [Zhovkva], Buczacz [Buchach], Horodenka, Zbaraz [Zbarazh], Zloczew [Zolochiv], Podhajce [Pidhaytsi] were known nests of Shabbetai Tzvi followers.
It is not known if Shabbetai Tzvism penetrated into the Kolomea kehile and how much. It must be assumed that the propagandists of Shabbetai Tzvism, the followers of Reb Yehuda the Hasid and of Haim Malakh, such as: Moshe Meir Kaminsker of Zhovkva, Elihu Shor of Rohatyn and Fishl of Zolochiv, who visited the area of Kolomea and wandered from city to city, spreading the teachings of Shabbetai Tzvi, were probably also in Kolomea.
It is particularly possible because the Kolomea district contained such cities as Horodenka and Nadvirna where many followers of Shabbetai Tzvi were found who would leave their city on Tisha b'Av [the day commemorating the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem], steal a sheep and slaughter it not in accordance with Jewish law and roast it on a fire and eat it on Tisha b'Av. [5*] Yehuda Leib ben Note Kris, the head of Yakov Frank's [6*]gabbaim [assistants], would visit the nearby shtetlekh and preach Shabbetai-Tzvism, as well as Wolf Bendits who was sent by Shabbetai's followers from Nadvirna to Saloniki [Thessaloniki or Salonica] to Brukhia, the head of the Shabbetai Tzvi followers.
We do not have any exact information if Frank had any followers in Kolomea itself. We see that among those on a list of Frankists who converted to Christianity after the debate in Lemberg (1779) there is not even one Jew from Kolomea.
Therefore, an extensive range of Hasidim were found here who created and strengthened the triangular area in which Kolomea is located.
In the first half of the 18th century, the number of miracle workers in the area of South Raysn and Podolya, who were known only within the limits of their city and their region, increased. The majority of them were healers who healed with herbs, with incantations over the spleen, with amulets and conjuring; they would also drive out dybukim. [7*] These miracle workers had a visible influence on the common people who were inclined to passions and simple faith.
The Jewish miracle worker who settled in this era in the city of Toust revealed his new teachings and traveled to the nearby communities: Norodenka, Kitev and others and he was known as the Baal Shem-Tov [Master of the Good or Devine Name] (the Besht [an acronym of Baal Shem-Tov]).
Kolomea was mentioned in Shivhei Besht [In Praise of the Baal Shem Tov], the book that declares his praises.
There is a story about a magid [preacher] named Reb Dovid ber Moshe from Kolomea who traveled to collect Chanukah money and became lost on the way and came to the house of the Besht. The Besht was himself in his secluded shtibl. The preacher asked about the master of the house, his wife answered that he had gone to the holder of the tax collection lease in order to help him water the cattle. The Besht returned to the house and attended to the preacher. He
made the bed for him and prepared the dishes with water to wash himself when he woke up.
At midnight, the Besht arose for khtsos [midnight study and prayer commemorating the destruction of Jerusalem] and sat quietly behind the oven and performed khtsos.
Reb Dovid woke up from his sleep and saw a great light from behind the oven. He thought that the wood on the oven had caught fire. He went down from his bed and took the dish of water that stood near him and went to put out the fire. As he neared the oven, he saw to his astonishment that the Besht was sitting and a light shone on him like a rainbow. The preacher fainted from fright. As he revived, he asked the Besht what this signified. The Besht answered that he did not know; he had preformed khtsos and it was possible that I had been one with the Lord. Therefore, I shone thus.
From that night, the preacher from Kolomea became one of the Besht's Hasidim, but before the Besht was revealed, he would travel to him to hear words of Torah . Reb Dovid then spread the Besht's teachings. And when he was asked from whom he gets his learning, he would answer: From one, a secluded poor man. When Reb Dovid once heard how the Rabbi, Reb Gershon of Kitev, rebuked the Besht for his stories, he said to him: Leave him alone, because he is smarter than you. He did not say anything more because the Besht had decreed that he not tell what he had seen.
According to Hasidic legend, the Besht would come to Kolomea before going to Toust [Tolstoye] from the village of Koshylovtse (near Jaz³owiec) and here he was revealed. He designated his seat in the synagogue, after which this was called the Kosover shulekhl [small Kosovo [8*] synagogue]. He would immerse himself in the mikvah [ritual bath] of the old bathhouse, which was later referred to as the Besht's mikvah. Hasidic legend assigns one Hasidic story to Kolomea, which is connected to the Kuntshi's family (from the name of Mrs. Kune). Someone in the family argued with the Besht. One Friday night, one of the Kuntshis sat with his wife and spoke mockingly of the Besht and his stories. In the morning the Besht went to the mikvah and met that person standing on the doorstep of his house. The Besht asked him if this is how one pays respect on a Friday night, by speaking
slander and loshn hora [prohibition about speaking badly of someone]? The person answered him that he did not know who told the Besht or if the angels were speaking slander. The Besht said to him that by speaking slander one created an angel and this angel can speak slander.
Reb Dovid ber Moshe, already mentioned above, was known as one of the Besht's first Hasidim in Kolomea. He died in 5492 (1732) in Skala. Reb Leib of Pystin was even more well known,  who was embraced by the leader of Hasidus in the first era. He died in Kolomea, 3 Iyar [12 May] 5505 (1745) . Reb Jakov Kopl ber Nehemiah Feiwl, who was know as Kopl Hasid, was also among the well known Hasidim. He was the father of Reb Menakhem Mendl of Kosov, the author of Ahavas Shalom [Lover of Peace]. Reb Kopl then left for Tismenits [Tysmenytsya] and died there on the 15 Elul [29 August] 5547 (1787). His daughter married Reb Uri of Strelisk, who was known by the name, the Seraph, the student of Reb Shlomo of Karlin. His son, Reb Menakhem Mendl lived in Kolomea for many years before moving to Kosov. There his wife, Sheina Ruchl had a shop and with it was the source of support for them. He was the founder of the Hager Hasidic Dynasty.
At that time, the well known tzadekus [pious woman] Nekha, the daughter of Reb Yitzhak Drobicher and the sister of Magid Yeheil Mikhl of Zlotshev, who was considered one of the first followers of the Besht, lived in Kolomea, Her husband, Eliezer ben Josef Katvan , went to Eretz-Yisroel and died there.
Changes took place in the life of the local kehilus [organized Jewish communities] with the political union of Galicia and Austria after the first division of Poland in 1772.
According to the Juden Ordenung [Jewish arrangement or order] of the Empress Maria Theresa in 1776, the Jews of Galicia were organized into a special administrative body at whose head stood the chief leader of the Jews in Galicia. It was put together from the kehilus with six to 12 parnosim [elected heads of the community] at the head. The kehilus in each districts in Galicia were divided into six districts. They were under the direction of a parnes [elected community leader; plural, parnosim]. Six parnosim from throughout the country had control of them, along with
the chief rabbi of the country.
The six district parnosim and the six country parnosim, with the chief rabbi of the country at the head, formed the main leadership of the Jews in Galicia.
In 1785 this organization was liquidated. Only the parnosim from the local communities remained. Except for the communities of Lemberg and Brod, where seven parnosim stood at the head, Kolomea, at the head of the remaining communities, brought in three parnosim. Their task was to represent their communities before the regime, to provide for the community's poor, to have supervision with the rabbi over the registration of those born, married and the dead, to collect the community taxes and to direct all kehile business. Actually, the parnosim were dependent on the district regime and they were subject to their orders.
Kolomea was surrounded by much uncultivated and unbuilt stretches of land. The thick forests around the city were used without any economic considerations. The majority of houses in the middle of the city and in the main streets were in Jewish hands, which constituted the predominant majority of the population. The Christians for the most part lived in the suburbs where they were employed in handiwork and agriculture. Because many fires broke out and many wooden houses were burned, the regime forbid the building of new wooden house and only permitted buildings of brick and stone. At the end of the 1780's, Kolomea began to build buildings of brick and stone and in this way, the city began to receive the character of a large urban city. 
The city of Kolomea and vicinity constituted a special district until 1782. However, based on the law of the 22nd of March 1782, this district was combined with Tisminitz [Tysmienica] as the united district of Stanislaw.
During the first period of its rule in Galicia, Austria considered the Jews as a foreign element that needed only to be tolerated and protected. This protection and tolerance they had to buy with taxes and special payments. As foreigners, they were excluded from the area of defense and they had to pay many taxes that were higher than for the other parts of the population. The Austrian administration intended to slowly
change the Jews and have them adapt to new conditions. But the innumerable injunctions, regulations and decrees with which they flooded the Jews in Galicia as a result of parliamentary motions and as a result of the initiative of the government in Lemberg, and according to the confirmation of the central government in Vienna, created only chaos.
In the course of time, the Austrian bureaucratic apparatus began to understand little by little that the decrees and injunctions were not reforming Jewish life.
The fate of the Kolomea kehile was exactly the same as all of the other kehilus in Galicia.
Despite various difficulties, the Jewish population began to develop here in the economic sense and also began visibly to progress.
In 1776, the Kolomea Jews lived in a small number of houses, that is, 10 or 11 souls lived in each house. The houses at that time were small and badly built and the Jewish apartments were crowded.
The majority of the Jewish population consisted of retail merchants, shopkeepers and tavern owners.
One of the purposes of the administration was to close the Jewish taverns in Galicia, which were seen as the essential factor preventing the development of the standing of the peasants.
On the basis of a questionnaire that was circulated among the 18 district leaders, the central government arrived at this decision, although only eight district leaders said yes to the closing of the taverns. It was the intention that the liquidation of the taverns would force the Jews to be employed in a productive manner. The same point of view was held by those in power in Kolomea.
However, in addition to the decree and the attempts that were made based on the initiative from above, a positive result and a bettering of the economic life of the Jews in Kolomea did not occur under the reign of Maria Theresa. Therefore, it is no wonder that the economic situation of the Jews in Galicia under the reign of her successor, Emperor Josef the Second, was also bad, so that the government
posed the difficult question: what can be done to improve the precarious circumstances of the Jews?
Various prohibitions were placed upon the Jews as a supplement to their taxes. The most difficult prohibition was related to getting married. When there was an income of 100 gildn a year, there was a payment required of three dukats for the marriage of the first son, six for the marriage of the second son and 12 dukats for the third son. The father had to pay not less than 30 dukats for permission to marry for each additional son.
Woe to those who married off their children without permission from the regime. Thus, in 1774, for example, the possessions of two Jews who had married off their children without government permission were confiscated. Their possessions were given away to Simonowitz, a convert. And they, the two Jews, were driven out of Galicia.
Heavy penalties were placed for even taking part in an illegitimate wedding.
In connection with the ban, the ban against marrying relatives (1785) and against burying bodies before two days should be remembered. It was also decreed that a divorce must be carried out in a government court.
The remnants of kehile autonomy were eliminated in 1875 and all political and legal privileges were annulled. Taxes were not placed on the entire kehile, but on each Jew individually and the collection was transferred to government officials. The Jewish population was placed under the jurisdiction of city hall in policing matters. The kehile thus was robbed of its civil character and converted into an exclusively religious organization.
Josef the Second was a follower of political-economic beliefs according to which he believed that he would solve the Jewish problem by settling the Jews on the soil as farmers. In 1782 a decree was issued from Vienna that the Jewish agricultural workers would pay only half the marriage tax and would be completely freed from this payment in a short time. However, the founding of the Jewish colonies
first began in 1785; after a royal decree of 16 July, in the spring [12*] of 1786, the first Jewish colony in the village of Dombrovke [Dubivka] near Ney-Sandez [Nowy Sacz) was created. After this, the colony, Babylonia, was founded near the city of Bolechov. Several small colonies were also founded, but they did not exist for very long.
According to the registration program, it was decided that Kolomea had to provide 20 Jewish families of the total number of colonists 1,410 in Galicia. However, up to the end of 1794, only 10 families from Kolomea 20 men, 36 women and 62 children under 18 (35 boys and 27 girls) actually moved. The possessions of these colonists consisted of 20 houses, 20 barns and stalls, 248 parcels of land, 20 agricultural tools, 25 horses, 46 oxen, 56 cows. 
The budget for colonization had to be covered by the kehile. The expense for one family was estimated at a high of 250 florins. Each 25, 30, 40 families were obligated to pay for the colonization of one needy family.
The general number of colonists reached 91 families in the entire Kolomea district, which it should be understood also included the city of Kolomea itself. In 1822 there remained only 83 families on the soil and all were supported by the kehilus. (Not one family settled on the soil of its own accord.)
Just as in all communities in Galicia, the Jews in Kolomea also suffered from the yoke of taxes that in no small part resulted in a difficult situation. In addition to the tolerance taxes, the Jews also paid various other taxes and fees.
As was already mentioned above, the majority of Jews were involved with taverns; often the number of Jewish families was identical to the number of taverns. There was a special official to take care of all matters that were connected to the collection of the meat tax. His yearly salary reached a sum of 200 florin and there was a Jewish secretary who received yearly support of 350 florin.
Sadly, we do not possess any exact facts about the number and the composition of the Jewish population in Kolomea itself. In 1788 a count was carried out in all of Galicia. There
were facts about the number of Jews in the Stanislaver District, to which the city of Kolomea also belonged. According to this count, there were 11 kehilus in Stanislawer District, namely: Stanislav, Tiseminc [Tyśmienica], Boroszyn, Kolomea, Jablonow, Kosiv, Kitev, Obertyn, Narwerne, Maryampol [Mariampol] and Monasterzyska [Monastyriska]. These kehilus consisted of 3,530 families, comprised of 17,342 souls, of them 8,584 men and 8,758 women.
In 1790, there were 3,351 families in the Stanislaver District and they paid 13,404 florins in tolerance taxes. In 1792, these taxes were paid in the Stanislaver District by 3,252 families, which consisted of 15,420 souls.
In addition to running taverns, retail trade and peddling, the Kolomea Jews were occupied in the wood business, excluding the leasing of the forest estates that was forbidden to Jews since 1780, and with potash and salt. However, the Jews were forbidden to transport the salt from its production place to the market place. Kolomea Jews were also employed with tobacco plantations that were a very important part of the economy. Three story tobacco warehouses were erected in Kolomea.  A Jewish company in which the brothers Avraham and Shlomo Krigshaber and Moshe Lew took part would sell 2,500 50 kilo [bundles] of tobacco leaves each year to the Jewish lessees of the tobacco administration in Galicia, Moshe Honik and Josef Szrenk. 
Feywl Hershl was also a well known tobacco merchant. Feywl Hershl was the type of community leader who took advantage of every opportunity. In August 1784, the regime notified him that he could receive his wages at the district office in Zaleshchik [Zalishchyky] for his information about the secret weddings among Jews. However, he was not alone among the Jews of his generation. There was no kehile in Galicia where one of its leaders was not employed in the craft of denunciations and giving secret information to the regime. Such a phenomenon was the product of the administration. The same Feywl Hershl was one of the leaders of the kehile and he was himself implicated in an investigation that was carried out against him and Shmuel Nota, the secretary and treasurer of the kehile, because of kehile accounts. True, they both complained to Ertl, the district governor of Stanislaw, that it was because of a campaign of agitation being waged against them by the broker Mendl Markus that he had involved
them in a trial about disarray in the kehile treasury. As a consequence of this investigation, the secretary of the kehile, Shmuel Nota, was removed from his office, as well as Wolter [13*], the Jewish scribe in Kolomea.
In their accusation against Ertl, they complained about the turmoil from which they suffered and that he had conducted an investigation without any proof. Besides these complaints, there were grievances against this Ertl on the part of Jews in Nadwerne and in Kolomea. On the 30th of December 1784, the government demanded from Ertl an exact report about this question and simultaneously told him that it would be sent to Stanislaw to the attention of the district governor, to a provincial council, in order to investigate the entire matter. During the course of the investigation, it was stated that Commissars Rimain and Gors were also involved as well as a number of employees, due to the taking of gifts and bribes from Jewish brokers. The central government in Vienna also became involved in this matter and demanded an end of the shortage in the managing committee and to the taking of bribes, as well as a ban on the use of Jewish agents who fill the role of intercessors with the regime. The investigation of Ertl lasted several months and ended in June 1786 with the resignation of Walter and with blame placed on Ertl. 
The kehile in Kolomea and the kehilus in Tismenic, Nadwerne and Kitev complained in connection with this investigation of the matters of sub-lessees [14*] for meat taxes in Bord, as well as about the matter of the Jewish tax lessees Kopler and Wofstal. 
An important economic sector that was in Jewish hands was wax, honey and tallow. In 1786 Leizer Leibl received the lease [or concession] for wax, honey and tallow for a payment of 200,000 florins. It was worthwhile for him to pay 10 florins for 50 kilos of honey, although the market price was then six to seven florins. 
Trade relations with Walachie and Moldava were expanded during the era of the Austrian regime, particularly after the conquest of Bukovina, thanks to the geographical position of Kolomea. Austria was interested in continuing the
trade relations with these nations in order to import livestock and various agricultural products.
The Jews concentrated in their hands the important fields of buying and selling of livestock and horses, as well as the sale of agricultural products. Their dealings went as far as Bukovina through Kolomea to other cities in Galicia and from there they all carried on the salt trade with Bukovina and Moldova. The commerce in horses of southern Galicia and Moldova actually was mainly concentrated in the hands of Armenian livestock traders from Stanislaw. However, the majority of the contractors were Jewish merchants from Kolomea.  It is interesting that Hake Baltazar, a professor from Lemberg University, who would make brief visits across Galicia every year, reported that in Kolomea, which is one of the most important cities in Galicia, all of the economic sectors were in Jewish hands.
As a result of Joseph the Second's Juden Ordenung, dated the 20th of March 1786, which placed many obligations on Jews, particularly that they were obligated to erect secular schools for the Jewish youth, the emigration of Jews located in the counties near the Walachie-Moldova border increased. The Jews of Kolomea were also drawn to this border. It became so widespread that the Viennese government gave instructions to its consulate in Jas not to give these emigrants any consular support. 
As in other communities in Galicia, a Jewish public school was founded in Kolomea in 1788, according to the program of Herc Homberg and was certified by the government. Leizer Fryd served as a teacher here and his yearly salary was 200 florin.
However, the harshest decree was on the 17th of February 1788 that obligated Jews to military service. This decree intensified the flight of young men to Poland and Moldova. The asentirung [military conscription] law was only repealed two years later, after the regime became convinced that the Jews would not appear for military service. Instead of military conscription, a sum of 30 gildn was required to be paid for every young man obligated for service. This situation lasted until 1804.
A bitter chapter, full of oppression of the Jewish masses,
began in the life of Galicianer Jews on the 11th of November, 1797 with the initiation of a candle tax. The period of the candle lessees [the right of individuals to sell candles] is sadly engraved in the life of all kehilus.
The yoke of taxes grew larger year by year, so much so, that in 1811 there was a large debt for the taxes for meat and for Shabbos candles, as well as a debt from the state that the Jews were obligated to pay off. In 1815 accusations were made to the state against the heads of the kehile. The parnosim were accused of dishonest management of the kehile money and in using the taxes for their own good and of working with the lessees. The county officials removed the kehile leadership the same thing happened in Stry and in Brod and nominated new kehile parnosim.
The Jews of Kolomea especially complained about the manner of the tax distribution, that a greater number of the taxes were placed on the poor residents and the rich strata was spared. Tax debts accumulated due to this situation. However, the regime paid no attention to the plea of the Kolomea Jews and demanded payment of the tax debts.
In 1812 there were 427 Jewish families in Kolomea, which numbered 2,003 souls, 986 men and 1,047 women. There were 2,484 Jewish families in the entire Kolomea district, which numbered 11,205 souls. Of them 5,514 men and 5,691 women. The number of Jews in Kolomea district did not change very much in those years. In 1819 2,473 Jewish families were counted and of them 91 families that were employed in agriculture.
It would be interesting to learn of the professional structure in 1820.
There were 757 Jewish merchants in the entire district who were involved with the trading of wheat and with various agricultural products, food, hides, tanning, salt, livestock, wax, malt and hops. There were 334 retail merchants counted in the entire district and there were 488 proprietors of workshops and small factories, of them 201 whiskey producers (out of 2,015 in all of Galicia), 20 carpenters (of 69 in all of Galicia), nine candlemakers (38 in all of Galicia), three roof weavers who were
then the only ones in all of Galicia, 252 various craftsmen, such as tailors, shoemakers, furriers and ropemakers.
We can learn from these figures that the economic condition of the Kolomea Jews improved considerably at the beginning of the 19th century. There were 67 Jewish wholesalers out of 72 wholesale firms in Kolomea district in 1826. According to the count, the Jews in Kolomea then made up half of the general local population.
In 1818-1819, a struggle broke out in the kehile against the Vad HaKehilus [Council of the of Jewish communities]. At the head of the opponents stood Moshe Lajbrajkh, who pelted the regime with memoranda and letters in which he complained about the parnosim of the kehile and their actions against the population, whom they treated severely in the distribution of taxes. The district office carried out long investigations, in which the tax-lessees and their agents were implicated. In 1819, the parnosim were removed and new ones were nominated in their place. But conditions did not change.
In 1820, thanks to the efforts of the then rabbi in Kolomea, Reb Gershon, the holy society, gmiles khesodim [15*], was founded, because the old were gone and the young people had begun to neglect the mitzvah [commandment] of taking care of the dead, particularly with carrying the mite [board on which a corpse was placed].
The duties and the tasks of the members were stated in the statutes of the society. A vote was taken on every Khol Hamoed Pesakh [the intermediate days of Passover, during which work is permitted]. Five kosher [i.e. honest and pious] arbitrators elected three gabbaim [those who assist with synagogue work] by majority vote. The gabbai was obligated to provide a banquet for the society on holidays.
In addition to the matter of burials and everything related to the corpse, the society was also concerned with the sick in the hospitals and took care of their comfort and restored them.
In cases in which a corpse was a very wealthy man in life, the gabbai did not have sole authority to decide the cost of his grave without the knowledge of the other gabbaim from the society. Donations for the society had to be collected in a special pushke [a box or can used to collect money for charity]. The duties and the rights of gabbaim were arranged in special statutes in one-two order.
In the history of the Jews in Galicia, the period of the Austrian revolution in 1848 was symbolized by the severe conflicts between the pious Jews and the Hasidim on one side and the emerging maskalim [followers of the Enlightenment] on the other side.
The Hasidim succeeded in planting widespread roots in Kolomea and administered kehile [organized Jewish community] life. The Haskalah [Enlightenment], in opposition, began to spread with slow steps; it was not strong enough and did not have any known personalities, as did the followers of the Enlightenment in Brod, Tarnopol, Lemberg, Tismenitz and Bolekhov.
Kolomea did not have a distinct role in the struggle to spread general culture that flared up in all of the communities during those years. Still more: it was almost entirely outside the struggle between the pious and the followers of the Enlightenment. There was no sign of any followers of the Enlightenment who strove to bring in reforms and changes in the internal life of the Jews. There were also no attempts made to break away from the existing synagogues and houses of prayer and build a synagogue for the progressive thinkers as was done by the followers of the Enlightenment in Tarnopol in 1820. A stable Hasidic life took shape here. It is therefore no wonder that the Hasidim from Kolomea made efforts to influence the tzadek [righteous man] from Sadigere [Sadagora, Bukovina], Rav Yisroel Friedmann when the regime of Bukovina issued a deportation order from Sadigere against him to settle in Kolomea. In fact, they succeeded in obtaining the right of residence in Kolomea for him. There was great joy among the Hasidim. They sent a delegation to Sadigere and the rebbe promised them that he would settle in Kolomea. However, in the meantime, the entire matter in Bukovina became quiet and there was no longer any obstacle to the rebbe remaining in Sadigere.
The events of 1848 were not particularly apparent in the life of the Jews, except that the medical doctor, Dr. Rosenheck, became one of the few active participants in the events. We do not have any information about the participation of the Jewish population in the National Guard or something similar.
Dr. Rozenhek of Kolomea was elected to the Sejm [lower house of the Polish parliament] that was called by the government in Lemberg on the 20th of April 1848 against the will of the National Committee. But the Sejm never met then.
During the years 1848-1849 the city suffered from cholera, which claimed many victims and bankrupted the poor population from an economic standpoint.
During the second half of the 19th century, and particularly after the year 1848, Kolomea was transformed into an important place of trade for Galicia, Bukovina and Walachia. The Jewish population in Kolomea increased from year to year until it made up half of the entire city population thanks to the improved economic situation. Despite the changes brought about in the life of the Jews in Galicia after 1848, the Kolomea Jews remained devoted to tradition and they did not strive for any widespread reforms in kehile life.
The management in the kehile remained in the hands of the pious Jews. The Kolomea kehile and the Stanislaw kehile turned to the Interior Ministry with a request to permit the Jewish merchants to open their businesses on Sunday because it was difficult for them to observe two days of the week, as well as the Jewish and Christian holidays in addition to Shabbos and Sunday. They provided the details of what this means: not working 149 days a year something that they could not endure from an economic standpoint.
In 1860 when Jews were permitted to buy permanent estates, 15 Jews from Kolomea submitted requests to be permitted to buy houses and estates. The names of the Jews whose requests were granted were:
1) Josl Chajes, a wholesaler of woolen goods and a parnes of the kehile.[Page 36]
2) Shlomo Wieselber[g], an agent.
3) A. Meltzer, an estate lessee.
4) Y. Ro[s]enheck
5) Chajes, an owner of a whiskey distillery.
6) Yakov Zenenzib, a wood and grain merchant, as well as a builder.
7) Gugig, a building contractorAt that time the Jews constituted half of the general population of Kolomea. In 1860 the Jewish population increased to 8,000 souls and in 1869 to 8,232 souls and the general number of residents reached 16,909. The greater part of economic life was concentrated in the hands of the Jews, both the wholesale trade and the retail, particularly the cattle and horse trade, as well as agricultural products. The industries, mills and pottery making were also mostly in Jewish hands. Jewish trade changed, especially in the year 1869 when the Lemberg-Chernowitz train line was completed with a station in Kolomea. This greatly improved the economic condition of the Jews in Kolomea and its surroundings.
8) Litman Brettler, an estate lessee.
Despite the changes that took place as a result of the legislation in 1848 and 1851, the law of the 25th of January 1803 according to which Jews were forbidden to employ Christians as attendants and servants, remained in force. On the 23rd of September 1853 the governor even found it necessary to declare to all county clerks that this ban was still in force, but that exceptions could be made in cases of agricultural work.
It is interesting that only the leadership of the Kolomea kehile protested to the Interior Ministry against this ban.
Thanks to this, the matter was dealt with by the government. The Interior Minister transferred the matter to the Minister for Religious Matters. This minister expressed his opinion that the order of the governor must be followed. In this way the Interior Minister rejected the protest from the Kolomea kehile. That year the governor of Lemberg dealt with the question of founding a rabbinical seminar and the problem of Jewish clothing. In 1851, the rabbi of Sambor, Shmuel Daitch, sent the government a memorandum about reforming Jewish life in Galicia. He proposed that the Galicianer Jews renounce their traditional clothing, that an assembly of esteemed Jewish representatives be called together and that the suppression of Hasidism and of rebbes [Hasidic rabbis] begin. Against this plan emerged
the rebbe, Reb Tzvi Hirsh Chajes from Zolkiew, who opposed the forced methods. He proposed that more rabbis be invited to this assembly than worldly representatives.
On one side it was proposed that the Lemberg city governor should call together an assembly of 16 representatives, of them only six county rabbis who had graduated from a faculty of philosophy. The six should be: the county rabbis from Slotew-Brod (Kristiampoler), Zolkiew (Chajes), Czernowitz [Chernivtsi] (Dr. Ingl), Sambor (Daitch) and Kolomea. Reb Nakhum ben-Yitzhak Tojbsz was then the rabbi in Kolomea. It is hard to believe that Tojbsz had graduated from a faculty of philosophy.
In 1854 a Jewish hospital was founded in Kolomea. There was no Jewish school in Kolomea then, as in Lemberg, Brod, Tarnopol, Bolekhow [Bolechow] and in the other communities, only private khederim [religious elementary schools, usually only for boys].
During the same years, the kehile erected a special building for the Talmud Torah [school for poor boys], where 120 children studied.
A Jewish public school was founded by the Viennese Allianz [17*] first in 1886.
It is interesting to note that in 1850 the wish to found a gymnazie [high school] in Kolomea, in order to spread education among the Jewish population in one of the large city election districts in Galicia was published in the press. The government needed to be made interested in the founding of a gymnazie. The opinion was expressed that the founding of a gymnazie was necessary from a Jewish standpoint. The Kolomea Jews, it was said there, surpass their brothers in the other parts of the country in their ignorance. Nothing would be so able to help the spreading of education among the Jews as an educational institution. Moreover, one can imagine with certainty that there would be gratifying results if a gymnazie were founded in Kolomea. This wish was only fulfilled 10 years later.
In 1861, a gymnazie was founded in Kolomea and Jewish students began to be taught there.
Kolomea elected its own deputy to the Galician Sejm the same year. The well known Jewish community worker, Dr. Eliezar Duks, was elected
who fulfilled his functions as a Sejm deputy until his death in the beginning of 1865.
After his death, the mayor filed a memorandum to the regional government with a demand that no by-election be arranged in Kolomea because the majority of voters are Jews and there is no doubt that Jews will again elect a Jewish deputy. If it was not possible to annul the by-election, the municipal administration asked to change the voting arrangements so as to enable another respected resident from the city of Kolomea to be elected and his election would be recognized only if a third of the votes were from Christian voters. The municipal administration rejected this request because it was in contradiction of the constitution.
Maximillian Landesberger, the Jewish candidate, received 353 votes against 226 votes received by the Polish candidate. Dr. Landesberger was elected in this manner. He was a well known lawyer in Lemberg and in 1840 took an active role in the life of the Lemberg kehile. He was one of the founders of the temple in Lemberg and in 1848 he was numbered among the community workers of the Lemberg Jewish intelligencia in political life and he was an adherent of the centrist direction. For a time he belonged to the wing of the pious Jews in Lemberg, under the direction of Meir Minc. He was a member of the Galician Sejm until 1870 and he took an active role in the negotiations that were then being carried on in connection with the Jewish problem.
Dr. Landesberger represented the Galicianer Sejm in the Viennese Parliament from 1867. He was the only Jewish representative. No direct elections to the parliament took place from 1867-1873, but the Sejms would send delegates. On the 7th of April 1870 the Poles left the Viennese Parliament and Dr. Landesberger resigned. He also left the Sejm a short time later and withdrew from political life.
In 1865 (May 2nd), a terrible fire broke out in the city that made a ruin of 500 houses with a thousand families, mostly Jewish. Those suffering remained without a roof over
their heads. Little by little the burned quarter was rebuilt and the victims had their lives restored.
In the 1870's changes came to the composition of the Vaad haKehile [Council of the Jewish community]. Little by little, parnosim [elected leaders of the Jewish community] were also elected from the intelligencia and they tried to carry out reforms in the structure of the kehile. While the Lemberg kehile worked out sample statutes for the kehilus in 1877, Kolomea was one of the first communities in eastern Galicia that brought in these statutes and conducted community business according to them.
Arguments and conflicts broke out in the kehile between Hasidim from Vizhnitz [Vyzhnytsia, Ukraine] and Sadigere. These arguments were also a product of the events in the neighboring kehilus. So in 1875 the election of a rabbi in Snytyn gave rise to arguments among the Hasidim in Kolomea.
The Kolomea Jews took a much greater part in general communal life during the second half of the 19th century, particularly on the city council. In 1873, the Jews offered their own list, with Dr. Rash as mayor, in the election to the city council. In addition, according to the number of residents, the Jews should have received 36 electoral positions; only 14 Jews [33) were elected as members of the city council. A non-Jew was elected as mayor. In 1878, the Jews also came out with an independent list against the Poles. At this election, the Jews received the majority. At the session of the city council on the 24th of September 1878, the Jewish lawyer, Dr. Maximillian Trachtenberg was elected as mayor. He was born in 1846 in Tarnopol. After finishing his studies, he settled in Kolomea and was a beloved lawyer there. He was the mayor until 1885. In 1893 he was elected as president of the kehile.
In 1873, the first elections to the Austrian Parliament in Vienna took place. In view of the fact that the Poles in the Galician Sejm did not envision the interest of the Galicianer Jews, and during the years 1870-1873 there was not even one Jewish representative in the Vienna Parliament, the organization Shomer Yisroel [Guardian of Israel] in Lemberg decided to enter the election with an independent Jewish list and on the 28th of May 1873, constituted itself a central
Jewish election committee that was composed of the representatives of the city under the leadership of Dr. Julius Kulisher and Dr. Emil Byk as secretary.
Shomer Yisroel decided to present as its political program of the Jews, the carrying out of the constitution and their devotion to it.
In Kolomea itself, the majority of the Jewish voters wanted to present a candidate who was devoted to the constitution. The Kolomea Jews and the Jewish county election committee published their first program on the 20th of August 1873, in which the Jewish demands were formulated in relation to the elections to parliament. This was the first such declaration in Galicia.
It was established in the declaration:
The representation of the Galician Jews in the Galician Sejm and Parliament is not representative of their numbers, their status and their tax payments. Therefore, it is necessary to present a Jewish candidate in the Kolomea district, who would especially represent the important life interests of the Jews.Dr. Oscar Henigsman, was chosen as the candidate in Kolomea, by agreement of dozens of Jewish election committees. Against him,
The Kolomea Jews demand devotion to the state constitution and are opposed to the independent oligarchy and opposed to the decentralization of Austria which would only lead to the rapid breakdown of the monarchy and to changes that could not be favorable to the Jews in Galicia.
They are also against the removal of the German language from the folks-shuln [secular public schools] and the middle schools. Taking into account the fact that the Slavic languages do not possess any capability for scholarly expression and are only spoken by a limited stratum, the young who are studying would not be proficient in absorbing the subjects and preparing for higher studies as a result of the removal of German as an instructional language.
True, the Kolomea Jews want the constitution to take into account the interests of the various national groups and religions, how much these interests are in agreement with the interests of the state and of its development. By this means, they want their candidate to be particularly acquainted with economic life in order that his position would be appropriate for representing them .
the Poles presented Dr. Florian Ziemiakowski. But after negotiations with dozens of Polish election committees, Dr. Ziemiakowski withdrew from his candidacy in Kolomea.
Dr. Henigsman was elected and was the first Jewish deputy from Kolomea in the Austrian Parliament in the years 1873-1879. He was born on the 10th of March 1824, in Rajcza and he died in Vienna, the 27th September 1880. He studied jurisprudence in Vienna, settled in Lemberg as a lawyer and there took an active part in Jewish life. He was a member of the Vaad haKehile [Council of the religious community] and the city council in Lemberg during the years 1861-1866 and he was a deputy in the Galician Sejm from Brod starting in 1867. He was a magnificent speaker, one of the main speakers in the Sejm because matters of Jewish equal rights were considered there.
He was one of those who founded the Jewish-Polish union, Shomer Yisroel; and thanks to this union, he was elected as a deputy from Kolomea, after the agreement with the Ukrainians. In parliament, he belonged to the Writers' Party along with the other Jewish deputies from Galicia: Nusen Kalyu, Dr. Yaakov Landau and Herman Mieses.
JewishGen, Inc. makes no representations regarding the accuracy of
the translation. The reader may wish to refer to the original material
JewishGen is not responsible for inaccuracies or omissions in the original work and cannot rewrite or edit the text to correct inaccuracies and/or omissions.
Our mission is to produce a translation of the original work and we cannot verify the accuracy of statements or alter facts cited.
Kolomyya, Ukraine Yizkor Book Project JewishGen Home Page
Copyright © 1999-2021 by JewishGen, Inc.
Updated 11 Feb 2011 by LA