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A History of the Jews of Rohatyn (cont.)

G. 1848 – 1914

The second half of the 19th century marked the beginning of an increase in the number of Jews. As a result of the spiritual and cultural ferment of the times, which came about as a result of the Revolution of 1848, new slogans appeared in the Jewish towns and villages of Galicia, carried by a relatively small percentage of the intelligentsia of the maskilim. Rohatyn, too, albeit later, experienced this phenomenon. With the passage of time, political conditions developed in which the leadership of the communities passed to power-seeking individuals. These individuals made it their business to serve the interests of the rulers of the area at the expense of the important needs of the Jews. Until 1876 the Jewish Galician leaders were centrist-German in political outlook. Later, however, they turned for many decades to support the Poles during elections and helped to bring in the Jewish vote in national political matters.

At this time, Galicia became one of the main centers of Hasidism, including all its factions. The courts of the rebbes and especially the court of the Belzer rebbe became strong supporters of the Polish faction in the Austrian parliament. His followers were ordered to vote for the Polish nominees. In this way, the common political platform brought about a cooperation between Polish assimilationists and rabbinic Hasidim, both of whom accelerated the political subordination of the Jews to Polish policy.

On the other hand, these phenomena in Galicia awakened Jewish nationalism a number of years before the appearance of the Herzl Zionist movement and opened a new chapter in the political battle of the Jews of Galicia. This process could also be found in the Jewish community of Rohatyn but slightly later than in other towns. At the head of the community stood leaders of the old school. The size of the intelligentsia there was still too small to have any effect in gaining control of the community, and matters continued to run in much the same fashion as they had before, which brought about conflict with the authorities.

In the 1850s the government accused the kehilah of Rohatyn of illegal conduct. This arose as a result of the difficult economic condition and great deficits when the community could not cover its budget via the usual taxes.[103] They thus placed special taxes on staples such as salt, flour, kitchen utensils, and even lubrication for wagon wheels. Anyone who engaged in the sale of these products was required to pay a certain amount to the community treasury. The government suddenly rose to the defense of the “poor Jews” and declared that these taxes were illegal. They said that the officials should be punished for oppressing the weakest elements of the population by raising prices on basic necessities. Vienna ordered immediate steps to be taken by the Galician governors to eliminate these practices.[104]

After receiving permission in 1859 to reside and purchase land in the small towns, Jews began to settle in the villages surrounding Rohatyn, as brewers, lessees of estates, and farmers. The wealthy invested money in buying estates that were in turn managed by Jewish supervisors.

* * *

In the year 1857 Rohatyn had 5,101 inhabitants of whom about 3,000 were Jews. They were engaged primarily in business – the sale of agricultural products (such as flour and milk), clothing, fur, shoes, woven goods, and groceries and the operation of taverns, inns, and restaurants. Crafts included primarily tailors and furriers.[106]

In the year 1868 Jews were granted equal rights, including the right to participate in town councils. Thus, in keeping with the law of towns, the town council of Rohatyn was composed of thirty members, divided among eighteen Polish Catholics, six Greek Catholic Ruthenians (later called Ukrainians), and six Jews.

Under the influence of the equal rights laws, there arose among the maskilim of Galicia a movement to eliminate the organized communities (kehilot) or at least to limit their powers. They wished to place them under town supervision and to take these powers into their own hands, together with all the funds that were now being held by the communities. This movement was a reaction to the control of many kehilot by the ultra-orthodox. In this they were backed by the Poles who were interested in integrating Jews with Poles, primarily for political reasons. The Poles wanted to strengthen their position against the Ruthenians, especially since the Ruthenians had begun to demand the right to determine policy in Galicia. These demands were also supported by the municipalities in order to weaken the power of self-rule by the Jewish community organizations and place them under their domination.

The movement first arose among groups of maskilim in Cracow who were then joined by similar groups in Tarnow. Together they turned to the central government in Vienna and petitioned it to eliminate the independence of the kehilot. The Viennese government opposed this request to intermingle the Jewish communities with the towns, because it realized that behind it lay the desire to promote the Polonization of the Jews of Galicia. This was contrary to the policy held by the Austrian national government, which was interested in Germanizing the Jews.

In addition to the political aspect, the heads of the government pointed to the legal factor found in Paragraph 15 of the Basic Laws of 21 December 1867. The law stated, “The organization and administration of all internal affairs of churches and religious communities recognized by law shall be carried out by their own community organizations and remain under their control and administration, including their foundations and trusts that are related to religious, educational, and charity needs.”[105] Therefore, it was very clear from the start that these requests would be met by a strong negative reply.

It is interesting to note that this movement found appeal and backing in Rohatyn where the Jewish representatives – Ostern, Leib Weidman, Shmuel Holder, and Marcus Nagelberg – were seated in the town council. Judging by the wording of the Ostern suggestion that we will cite, we can deduce that it was motivated by a strong antagonistic movement against the leaders of the kehilah. Ostern, the sponsor of the proposal, and the members of the town council were all maskilim who saw that the kehilah lay in the hands of leaders who were irresponsible and careless with the assets of the community. Wishing to remove these community leaders from their position, they therefore requested that the administration of the community be brought under town control.

On 20 February 1868 at the session of the town council, Ostern, the Jewish member, presented the following proposal: “The Rohatyn Jewish community has under its control a large amount of capital derived from a variety of contributions, pledges, and collections that are in the hands of its leaders who do not present managerial reports to the town, and no one knows what they are doing. The synagogue, whose structure was begun years ago, is still waiting to be completed. At this rate, this holy structure will collapse. Despite the fact that large sums are constantly being collected for graves, the cemetery still lacks a fence. The bathhouse, for which three hundred florin are collected annually, is ready to collapse. There is no registry of Torah scrolls and megillot, which are in the hands of the beadle of the synagogue who has no supervision. According to Section 93 of the town ordinance, the town has the right to supervise special matters concerning the Jewish community. Therefore, I suggest that the town council should decide that from now on the administration of affairs, that heretofore have been in the hands of the heads of the Jewish community, be placed under the strict supervision of the town. Towards this purpose, a supervisory committee of three councilmen should be chosen, whose task it would be to supervise the operation of the affairs of the community in all of its aspects. These would include the signing of all documents and legal papers, the receiving of accounts and the registration of property, and, from time to time, presenting a report to the town council on its activities and undesirable impressions.”

The proposal of Ostern was unanimously accepted, and a committee was immediately chosen that included three Jews – Leib Weidmann, Shmuel Holder, and Marcus Nagelberg.[107]

The mayor of the town, Ambrose Mruczynski, passed the decision of 20 February 1868 on to the hands of the chief official of the district, who declared that this decision stood in contradiction to the existing laws and forbade the town to carry it out. The town council appealed the decision of the district official on 9 September 1868 before the commission on Galicia, which also turned down this proposal. The town then turned to the Ministry of the Interior in Vienna. The Ministry of the Interior viewed this decision as another attempt similar to the decisions of the cities of Cracow and Tarnow “to take out of the hands of the Jewish community the supervision of religious Jewish affairs, which it is legally required to carry out, and pass these powers on to the committee of the town council. This decision, whose purpose is to eliminate an organization recognized by law, directly contradicts Section 15 of the fundamental laws as well as the town ordinances of Galicia.”[108] On 19 November 1869 the Ministry of the Interior upheld the decision of the commission to reject the proposal of the town council.

Having been turned down by the central government, the town authorities were helpless to make any basic changes, and matters remained as they had been until the 70s when a new administration, composed of younger and educated members capable of initiative, was appointed.

In the years 1866–68 the chief rabbi of Rohatyn was Rabbi Eliezar Horowitz (1820–68), the son of the rabbi of Stanislawow (Rabbi Meshulam Yissachar Horowitz), who was raised in the house of his grandfather, the Gaon, Reb Arye Leibush. Before his appointment, the rabbi of Rohatyn was the rabbi of Maryampol, 1850–56. Contrary to the ways of his father, Rabbi Meshulam Yissachar, who refused to recognize the Admorim (the Rebbe leaders) and did not permit them to exert any influence in community matters in Stanislawow, Rabbi Eliezar became attracted to Hasidism and traveled to the Tsaddik, Rabbi Yehuda Zvi of Rozdol. He copied the works of his grandfather on the Torah and organized them according to the portions of the week under the name of Pnei Aryeh (Face of the Lion) to which he added his own addenda, entitled Ateret Zekenim (Crown of the Elders) (Przemysl, 1874). After that, Rabbi Meir Yehuda Leib, the son of Reb Shmuel Glass, previously rabbi in Pomorzany, was appointed rabbi. He remained rabbi in Rohatyn until he passed away in 1894.

In 1896 Rabbi Natan Lewin was appointed rabbi. He was born in Brody to a family of famous rabbis and was the student and later son-in-law of the rabbi of Lwow, Rabbi Yitzchak Schmelkes. He was learned in both secular and religious subjects and successfully matriculated as an extern at the gymnasium (high school) of Brody. After the passing of Rabbi Meir Kristianfoler, Brody did not hold any further elections of rabbis until after the victory of the Haskalah in the community elections. In the new elections there were five candidates, all natives of Brody – Rabbi Avraham Binyamin Kluger, the son of the preacher, Rabbi Eliezar Landau, Rabbi Moshe Reinhold, Rabbi Yitzchak Chajes, and Rabbi Natan Lewin. They chose Rabbi Yitzchak Chajes, the son of the rabbi of Zolkiew, Rabbi Zvi Hirsh Chajes.

Two years later, in 1896, Rabbi Natan Lewin became the rabbi of Rohatyn. He was, as we have said, a man of wide education and nationalistic views. He did not become involved in the differences between the Hasidim and the Mitnagdim (those who objected to Hasidic views). He urged the establishment of Jewish schools and a Jewish gymnasium, because he viewed a well-rounded education as the solution to and defense against the assimilation of youth. He objected to the desires of the Admorim to separate the communities similar to what was occurring in Hungary and saw a unified kehilah as the only national religious institution that would serve the interest of all Jews.

During his rabbinical term in Rohatyn – until 1905 – he took part in the congress of the Jewish communities of 1 May 1900 and initiated an intensive drive to expand and improve Jewish education in Rohatyn. In 1903 he participated in the first general rabbinic congress, which assembled on August 13 in Cracow. In 1905 Rabbi Lewin was appointed rabbi of Rzeszow.

Pressed by the Zionist movement that was striving to dislodge the administration of Jewish communities from the control of the traditional conservative families, a congress was held on 1 May 1900 in Lwow after a break of twenty-two years. The previous congress of kehilot had last taken place in Lwow in 1878 and was initiated by the organization Shomer Yisrael (Protector of the Jews), which was promoting at that time the rejuvenation of community life. Rohatyn did not take part in the first meeting and contented itself with sending a congratulatory telegram.

As for the second gathering, Rohatyn sent its rabbi, Rabbi Natan Lewin, as a delegate. The meeting was attended by seventy representatives, forty of whom came from the smaller communities; thirty representatives were from Lwow alone. Twenty-nine representatives, including Rabbi Natan Lewin, united to form the Zionist club, which succeeded in obtaining representation in the leadership of the congress. They elected Rabbi Natan Lewin, who had been taking part in the proceedings, as their representative. During the debate, he sharply attacked the corrupt methods of community organization that had become the main obstruction to development of public life in Jewish Galicia. He made a strong impression on the delegates during this address when he presented the need for opening a Hebrew gymnasium.

Lewin stressed that “the necessity for a Hebrew gymnasium is strongly felt by us. If with regard to secular studies there may not be a great difference between one school and another, from the religious point of view, we need to worry about our children becoming assimilated as a result of their contact with the outside world. In any case, we can no longer leave the sad conditions as they are now. Do we want a school in which the study of Hebrew predominates and Jewish studies do not exist, like 'those souls who walk around naked'?[Tr5] The Jewish student must first and foremost be an exemplary Jew who respects his people, his Torah, and his nationality. How sad is the picture that exists now, in which Jewish students are so poorly educated that they celebrate our holidays while at the same time violating the laws of the Sabbath and the Holy Days. Since, at this point, we have a long way to go before we can erect a special gymnasium, because that would result in too many hardships and be difficult to put into operation, we will therefore have to content ourselves, at this point, with something small and attempt, where it is appropriate, to incorporate a suitable curriculum in every gymnasium that would enable Jewish students to withstand the pressure to violate Shabbat and Yom Tov.”[109]

When the spokesman for the assimilationists, Dr. Bernhard Goldman, demanded that the official language of the community organization be Polish, and Dr. Gottlieb attacked the Zionists, claiming that rabbis are anti-Zionist, Rabbi Lewin replied, “We Orthodox rabbis are all Zionists even if we do not always take part in Zionist activities. For how is it possible for an Orthodox rabbi who constantly thinks of Zion and constantly pours out his soul in prayers for the return to Zion not to be a Zionist? Not Zionists? We are waiting with baited breath to return to our land. It is our heart's desire to which all of our poets have dedicated their most inspired works in the holy tongue. Here they saw their visions that have maintained us for generations. Every lump of earth in our land is holy to us, and we are all tied to it body and soul – and we are not Zionists?” (During the speech Dr. Caro interrupted with the objection that this address implied that only Orthodox rabbis are ardent Zionists. Progressive rabbis are also very attached to Zion.)

“However," continued Rabbi Lewin, "the time has not yet come to put into effect the use of Hebrew in community matters. On the other hand, to use Polish would result in a great disadvantage to the Jewish community, since most of the people, especially the rabbis, who should be in the forefront of community affairs, do not know Polish adequately and would therefore be unable to function properly. They would be regarded as outsiders, sitting with folded hands, because they would be unable to take part in the community assemblies.” Rabbi Lewin therefore requested that matters be left as they were, wherein each group manages its affairs in the language it finds most comfortable.[110]

Most of the proposals that dealt with the creation of a permanent representation of the communities – ranging from a renewal of the Council of Four Lands to an increase in the productivity of the Jewish masses in order to improve their economic condition – was accepted under the pressure of the Zionists. In the end, a permanent committee for the congress of the communities was established, consisting of sixty members, including four Zionists – Dr. Kornheiser, Adolph Stand, Hillel Badian, and Rabbi Natan Lewin.

During the 1890s, the Jewish intelligentsia and secularists became more nationalistic. Shalom Melzer (1871–1909), a very religious man, was among the first Zionists of the town. He organized and activated the intelligentsia who had previously been affected by Zionist ideals. He founded the Zionist organization 'B'nai Zion,' as well as a branch of the Austrian group in Vienna, 'Zion,' whose goal was to repopulate the land of Israel. The B'nai Zion group offered lectures and courses in the study of Hebrew literature and Jewish history on a regular basis. These Zionist Hebrew activities found a home in the house of Shalom Melzer, who together with his family, made it a point to speak Hebrew in their home. It was because of his religious background that he was able to attract religious people to the Zionist movement, while regarding with understanding people of other points of view. This enabled him to be well accepted by members of the secular intelligentsia, who joined him in the Zionist movement.
As early as two years after the establishment of the Tarnow branch of 'Ahavat Zion,' Rohatyn made the largest contribution of any of the towns of Galicia, two hundred florin. After the appearance of the pamphlet Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State) by Theodor Herzl, the Zionist organization of Rohatyn became among the first to decide, at a meeting, to notify Dr. Herzl of their affinity with his ideas. These were expressed in “his pamphlet that was written in the Jewish spirit and in which was propounded a G-dly and elevated plan to establish an independent Jewish state. This has met with enormous response and is accepted with great enthusiasm among all sectors of the people.”

Thanks to this plan, it was stressed in the decision, “We now know what we want and what we have to do. You have presented us in a clear and definite fashion with a true, elevated goal, and we must do all that is in our power to realize it.” However, they go on to say that these Zionist hopes are based on the proposition that he, Dr. Herzl, will take upon himself “to be the captain of our ship that is shaking on the waves of dangerous political oceans and will raise the fallen flag of our people that will gather the masses about him with enthusiasm.” The contents of this decision were relayed to Dr. Herzl in a letter dated 22 April 1896, two months after the publication of Der Judenstaat.[111] In response to their letter, the Zionists of Rohatyn received the following reply, dated 27 May 1896, which stated: “Honorable Sirs, Having only recently returned from my journeys, I was unable to answer your letter of encouragement and acceptance of my views until now. I thank you wholeheartedly for your kind words, and I hope that when the time comes and the proclamation is announced in our ranks, that we will all march together, united and willingly. I am still working and fighting almost entirely alone through my own efforts, and I am planning on promoting matters through a society that I will create in London called the 'Society of Jews.' The efforts of one man alone do not suffice to awaken the stragglers, and the stragglers are mostly those who do not lack for anything. However, we must be strong in spirit and not stray from the great purpose that lies before us. Your devoted, Theodor Herzl."[112]

Beginning with the year 1894 Rohatyn was represented at all national gatherings of the Zionist movement of Galicia as well as at the general meeting of the 'Chevrat Yishuv Eretz Yisrael Zion' (Society for the Settlement of Eretz Yisrael and Zion) and 'Ahavat Zion' (Love of Zion) in Tarnow.

Shalom Melzer was the representative of the Zionist association and took part in debates at the assemblies. At the national congress that took place on 26–27 December 1897 in Lwow, he was elected to the national committee and took an active part in its procedures. Ahavat Zion was founded in Rohatyn as a branch of the organization in Tarnow and was headed for several years by Alter Weidmann, with Ephraim Sternhal as his deputy. Other members included the physician Dr. Siegfried Scharf, Manish Schenker, Hirsch Yoseph Haber, Moshe Damm, Naftali Schumer, Eliezer Igra, Avigdor Edelsberg, and Avraham Zlatkis, while Shalom Melzer basically managed the Zionist activity behind the scenes.

In 1896 Ephraim Sternhal, Alter Weidmann, Yitzchak Nagelberg, Dr. S. Scharf, Daniel Damm, and Shalom Melzer were elected to the local committee. In the contest that took place between the leadership of Ahavat Zion in Tarnow, headed by Dr. Avraham Zaltz, and the Action Committee of the World Zionist Organization, Shalom Melzer attempted to mediate and reach a compromise. At the general assembly of 19–20 May 1897 in Tarnow, Melzer and Ephraim Sternhal were elected representatives of Rohatyn to the Tarnow Ahavat Zion convention.

The representatives of Rohatyn – Melzer and Zlatkis – played an important role in the national Zionist convention that took place on 26–27 June 1898 in Stanislawow. This convention dealt with the question of taking a unified stand by the Zionists of Galicia regarding problems that were on the agenda of the Second Zionist Congress. In the convention, Melzer opposed the goals of the group headed by Rosenhock of Kolomyja – to sever their relationship with the national committee of Lwow and form a central organization of their own, because they felt that the Lwow committee opposed political Zionism. The representatives of Rohatyn strongly backed the national organization led by the committee in Lwow, and Melzer was elected to this national committee.

In 1898 the B'nai Zion organization of Rohatyn numbered one hundred members, headed by Alter Weidmann. In the fund raising campaign for the Treasury for Settlement (JCT), which took place between March 1899 and 28 April 1899, 112 shares, at one pound sterling per share, were sold in Rohatyn as compared with 7,210 shares in all of Galicia.

With the selection of Rabbi Natan Lewin as Rabbi of Rohatyn, intensive activity began in the field of education. He represented the community of Rohatyn at the assembly day, which convened on 1 May 1900 in Lwow.

Between the years 1900 and 1905, the B'nai Zion organization was headed by A. Weidmann, and many political and social activities were carried out. Shalom Melzer was among those who laid the foundation for the 'Mizrachi' organization, which came into being at the convention of Pressburg in August 1904. He was elected to the central executive committee as the representative of Galicia, but he refused the mandate and remained with the national Zionist organization. In 1909 the Zionist organization of Rohatyn suffered a great loss with the passing of Shalom Melzer.

Leibel Toives of Rohatyn was among the sixty-three representatives elected in Galicia to the Zionist Congress of Vienna in 1913. In the year 1905 the Zionists became an important active factor in community leadership. Their impressive activities, led by Shalom Melzer, resulted in the establishment of a Hebrew school that year through the community council. This was the first Hebrew school of its kind in Galicia. With the appointment of Rafal Soferman as principal of the school, a noticeable change came about in Hebrew cultural life among the Jews. Teachers included Lichtman, Berkowitz, Zvi Scharfstein, Carmi, and Sobel. The number of students reached 176. Rafal Soferman (1879–1956), an outstanding personality, was one of the first modern Hebrew teachers who instilled new energy into the nationalistic activities and was the driving force of the Hebraic Zionist movement of Galicia. Under his initiative, the Hebrew Teachers Union was founded, and its main headquarters were in Rohatyn. In 1911 Soferman went to Brody, and the new school principal was Jacob Prost. The years 1910–14 were characterized by a high degree of Jewish nationalistic life that left its stamp and color on the entire Jewish population of Rohatyn.

* * *

The Jewish community continued to grow. In 1880 Rohatyn numbered 5,101 inhabitants, of whom 3,035 were Jews (59.5%).[113] In 1890 the town had 914 homes and 7,188 residents, of whom 3,503 were Jews (48.8% of the
 population).[114] In the year 1900 Rohatyn had 931 houses and 7,201 residents of whom 3,217 were Jews (about 44.7% of the population).[115] In 1910, in the last count under the Austrian rule, there were 7,664 inhabitants, of whom 3,254 were Jews (about 42.4% of the population).[116] With the increase in the town population, the number of Jews also increased. However, as a result of the large increase in the number of inhabitants of the town, the proportion of Jews fell from 59.5% in 1880 to 42% in 1910. In 1880 among eighty-nine surrounding villages in the Rohatyn district, there were 2,397 Jews (approximately 19% of the total population). In 1890 the number of Jews in these villages numbered 2,434 (about 17.2% of the total population), while in 1900 this number fell to 2,070 (about 15.4% of the population).

In 1880, in the total district of Rohatyn, including the town of Rohatyn, there were 72,491 non-Jewish residents and 12,569 Jewish residents. Of this number the Christians residing in towns and villages numbered 10,331 (13.6% of their total number), while the number of Jews was 9,561 (76.1% of the total Jewish population in the district). In 1890 there were 81,743 Christian residents, of whom 12,810 lived in towns and villages (15.7%), and 14,149 Jews, of whom 10,609 lived in towns and villages (75% of the total Jewish population in the district). In 1900 there were 94,799 Christian residents, of whom 14,368 lived in towns and villages (15.2%), and 13,472 Jews, of whom 10,305 lived in the towns and villages (76.5% of the total Jewish population).[117]

At the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries, there were in the town "learned" families such as the Nagelberg family, the grandchildren of David Moshe Avraham (Rav Adam); Holder, Ostern, Goldschlag, Alter Weidmann, Ephraim Sternhal (one of the wealthy members of the community); and, of course, Shalom Melzer (one of the first Zionists of Galicia). They all held top-level positions in the Jewish community.

For decades, until 1904, Chaim Holder stood at the head of the Jewish community, followed by Alter Weidmann. Weidmann instituted many changes in the community and initiated the building of the large synagogue that was famous for its artistic murals. After that came Dr. Pinchas Scharf, who held the position until the day of his death. Lastly, Shlomo Amarant followed and remained in this position until the Holocaust.

Between the years 1904 and 1910 Alter Weidman was assisted by his deputy, Ephraim Sternhal. The executive department (Kultusvorstand) was staffed by Dr. Siegfried Schaff, Avraham Zlatkis, Motel Kreisler, and Z. Weidmann. In the council (Kultusrat) were Yonah Rappaport, Daniel Damm, Sender Margulies, Shalom Melzer, Yaakov Fisch, and Yaakov Lewenter. The community budget amounted to 14,400 crowns.

The officials who participated in the last community council of the Austrian regime were Alter Weidmann, chairman, and Ephraim Sternhal, vice-chairman. The executive members were Dr. Siegfried Schaff, Avraham Zlatkis, and Motel Kreisler. The members of the board included Yonah Rappaport, Daniel Damm, Sender Margulies, Avraham Koenigsberg, Yaakov Fisch, Zadik Zeidman, and Yaakov Lewenter.

No new rabbi was appointed after Rabbi Natan Lewin left. The rabbinical tasks were performed by the dayanim rabbis, Shmuel Henna and Avraham David Spiegel. In the general schools, religion was taught by Hirsch Schwartz. The community budget rose to 20,000 crowns, which was covered by the community taxes paid by 620 taxpayers. This was in addition to revenues permitted by law, such as the tax on kosher meat, payments for the bathhouse and cemetery, etc. The community recorder of births, weddings, and deaths was at that time Yisrael Ostern.

The Jewish elected representatives to the municipality included Ephraim Sternhal, Alter Weidmann, Shalom Melzer, Yerachmiel Schwartz, the attorney Dr. Goldschlag (who also functioned as deputy mayor), and Rabbi Avraham David Spiegel. In addition to the chevra kaddisha the following committees were active in the town:

  1. Association of Merchants, presided over by Fischel Banner. Members of the committee included Yitzchak Doller, Yeshaya Singer, Akiva Wagschal, Yechezkel Weiler, Yoel Granowitter and Aharon Weinstock
  2. The Diligent Hands Craftsmen Association, presided over by Chaim Szkolnik
  3. Maot Chitin – Money for Passover officially collected by the community
  4. Kimcha DePischa – Money for Passover, collected for the poor by individuals
  5. Community charity organization, directed by Shimon Teichman
  6. Dorshei Tov – Seekers of Goodness
  7. Rodfei Zedek – Pursuers of Justice
  8. Women's Society (Frauenverein), presided over by Helena Ostern
In 1906 the I. C. A. Loan Society was founded. In 1907 it had 168 members, and by 1908 it had 385 members. During 1907 it granted 155 loans valued at 29,050 crowns; in 1908 it granted 346 loans amounting to 71,425 crowns. The administrative cost for 1907 amounted to 600 crowns, and in 1908 it came to 1,222 crowns. From the day it was founded until 31 December 1908, 501 loans were distributed, totaling 100,475 crowns, 65,336, of which were returned by that time. Loans of between 50–600 crowns were granted to merchants, retailers, and craftsmen.[118] In addition to this loan association, thirty-nine other loan associations existed in Rohatyn, fifteen of which were Christian and twenty-four, Jewish.

One of the great accomplishments at this time was the founding of the Hebrew school under the sponsorship of the organization called 'Safa Brura' – clear speech. There was also a small yeshiva run by Reb Avraham Grünberg.

[Translation of the election ballot at the top of p. 62 of the Yizkor Book]

Election ballot
Being entitled to vote for one representative to the state parliament from Diestrict 29, I give my vote to:
Dr. Wladyslaw Duleba

The Jewish community played an important role in the election campaign to the Austrian parliament. In 1907 the Viennese parliament passed a law eliminating the system of constituencies, and suffrage was granted to all citizens of the empire. This act aroused new hopes and possibilities among the Jews in Galicia. In the Zionist camp, preparations on a large scale began for the elections that took place between 17 and 27 May 1907. Election publicity was organized throughout Galicia that was also geared toward realizing Zionist ideals. Wherever there was a Jewish community, candidates were nominated. Gatherings were held, speeches were made; preachers and rabbis and just ordinary Jews aroused the masses from their political lethargy and brought into the darkened streets of Galicia light, national hope, and political clarification. Rohatyn belonged to the 29 th election district, which encompassed the municipal areas of Brzezany, Rohatyn, Chodorow, and Brzozdowce. The Zionist organization of the district nominated the well-known Zionist leader Rabbi Dr. Shmuel Rappaport. The Polish choice for nominee to the Austrian parliament was Dr. Wladyslaw Duleba, who was nominated by dint of terror, bribery, and fraud. He had been the representative for the district in 1902. Duleba was backed by assimilationists but also received aid from the court of the Admor of Belz. The Admor ordered his Hasidim not to vote for the Zionist, Rabbi Dr. Shmuel Rappaport, but to vote for the Pole Dr. Duleba who, as it was known, was one of the leaders of the National Democrats (Endecy).

[P. 63: A poster (in German)] [A picture of Dr. S. Rappaport]
Protest against the election of Dr. Wladyslaw Dulemba.
A picture of the terrorism and crimes committed in favor of Dr. Wladyslaw Dulemba in connection with the elections to the Austrian parliament from the 29th Electoral Circuit in the district towns of Brzezany, Rohatyn, Chodorow, Brzozdowce, etc.
At the same time we appeal to civilized Europe
Issued by the United Ruthenian (Ukrainian) Social Democrats, Ruthenian (Ukrainian) town and Jewish-National Election Committees in Brzezany.
Publisher Richard Timm's Family Press, Vienna II, Darwin Street (etc.)

The Jewish national election committee of Rohatyn was headed by Dr. Katz, Dr. Moritz Fichmann, Marcus Weiler, A. H. Holder, and Dr. Oswald Klugman. Right from the beginning, the Poles, with the backing of the Austrian government, waged a tyrannical election campaign that became worse on Election Day. The campaigners for Dr. Duleba paid five crowns for each vote. The Jews were not given ballot slips, and the head of the district, as well as the mayor, distributed ballots with the name of Dr. Duleba – all this with the backing of the Austrian government. On Election Day the police stood in front of the election hall, and anyone who did not present a ballot with the name of Dr. Duleba was not permitted to enter.

Despite the terror, stealing of ballots, and bribe money, Duleba was unable to obtain a majority in the first round and was forced to run again, against Dr. Rappaport. In the second round, which took place 31 May, the Ruthenians decided to vote for Dr. Rappaport. On Election Day the terror was increased even more. Contrary to election laws, government officials together with the head of the district and the mayor openly carried out acts of bribery and deceit with threats of pogroms against the Jews. Ballots marked Dr. Rappaport were stolen out of the ballot box, and in this way, Dr. Rappaport lost, and Duleba was elected. The election committees of the Zionists and Ruthenians presented an appeal to the parliament contesting the election – however, to no avail.[119] The Polish club, backers of the members of the national government, saw to it that the election of their candidate, Dr. Duleba, would be accepted. In the elections of 1911 the Jewish nominee for Rohatyn was the lawyer Dr. Horowitz of Stanislawow, and his campaign was waged by the Austrian member of parliament Ernest Breiter, a gentile who was pro-Zionist, and again, the Jews lost.

By the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, Rohatyn possessed a class of intelligentsia with academic training. Among doctors these included Dr. Siegfried Schaff and Dr. Moritz Stein, and among lawyers, there were Dr. Moritz Lipner, Dr. Yosef Weidmann, Dr. Pinchas Scharf, Dr. Herman Zahnhauser, Dr. Ferdinand Katz, Dr. Shmuel Schoder, Dr. Oswald Klugman, and Dr. Moritz Fichmann.

* * *

After the outbreak of the war on 31 July 1914, many Jews fled to Austria where they were gathered in evacuation camps in the towns of Moravia, Bohemia, and Austria. An especially large number gathered in Vienna. In August the Russians entered Rohatyn. They burned the Jewish quarter and arrested 570 Jews. Rohatyn became the headquarters for supplies under the command of the cruel officer Purbana. Esther Schorr and Sarah Butfeld were executed on the excuse that they had sold soap two kopeks above the prescribed amount. Before being forced to leave the town, after a siege of the town for six months, the Russians tried to convince the Polish and Ruthenian inhabitants to move to Russia – however, to no avail. They assembled all the Jewish inhabitants and deported all the males – 570 men – to Russia, including very old people between the ages of seventy and ninety-five and children between the ages of ten and thirteen.[120] One woman was exiled in place of her husband who was in hiding. In June 1915 the town was recaptured by the Austrians, who found a few Jews left. The refugees did not return at that time, and the town was not rebuilt. However, by the end of 1917 and the beginning of 1918, people began to return and rebuild their homes. Life slowly returned to what it had been before the war.

At the end of World War I political changes began to take place. The Ukrainians set up the Western Republic of Ukraine in eastern Galicia. Then a war broke out between Poland and Ukraine in which the Jewish leaders declared their neutrality and refused to take part in the dispute. To protect their interests, all the Jewish parties united to create a national Jewish committee for all the communities. Community councils were eliminated and national committees were elected in which all parties were represented.

The Jewish community of Rohatyn had many problems under the Ukrainian regime. There was a Jewish population of 3,000, of whom 2,000 (66%) were in need of monetary aid as compared to 150 (15%) before World War I. There were 2,100 (70%) without any means of support. Shops and crafts were paralyzed because of the anti-Jewish policies of the Ukrainian regime and their ineptness in government and economics. As a result, Jews were unable to find any source of income. In addition, there were pressing shortages of food and basic necessities. Persecution, attacks by soldiers, robbery, and thievery were the outstanding characteristics of daily life for Jews at that time. The Jewish committee of Stanislawow made every effort to obtain redress from the Ukrainians, but to no avail, because the town authorities paid no attention to the demands of the committee and did exactly as they pleased. Nevertheless, despite all the difficulties, schools and cultural institutions functioned. In June 1919 the Poles broke through the Ukrainian front and conquered all of eastern Galicia, thus beginning a new chapter in the Polish exile.

Surrounding Towns

Bukaczowce: Bukaczowce is first mentioned in documents dating from 1438. In 1489 it received the rank of a town. In 1515 the town paid three and one half grazovna tax on liquor. From 1489 on, the town, together with Chodorow, was owned by the noble family Zarwinski. In the year 1578 the town had six craftsmen and paid a liquor tax of twenty-eight florin. No one knows when Jews first settled there.

In the census of 1765 there were 289 Jews listed in the town and 72 Jews in the surrounding villages, making a total of 361 Jews.

Prior to 1914 there were 230 taxpayers in the Jewish community organization headed by Yona Bick and his deputy, Meir Schorr. The executive department consisted of Zev Bronzweig, Leib Steinberg, Marc Scher, Chaim Dickman, Avraham Bregman, Anshel Wilf, Shlomo Gelber, Alexander Willig, Beresh Axelrod, Moshe Dickman, Shlomo Hoftman, Heinrich Horne, and Benedet Yupiter. The Rabbi was Ephraim Chamaides; the teacher of religion in the general schools was Yeshaye Schwartzberg.

Stratyn: Until the 17th century Stratyn had the official rank of a village. In 1671 King Michael agreed to the request of the owner of the village, Gabriel Sylinski, to grant Stratyn the status of a town, with the right of holding three yearly market fairs and a market day every first and sixth day of the week. In 1675 the Tatars attacked and were severely defeated by the Polish commander, Ataneus Miaczynski.

Stratyn was famous for being the seat of the Stratyn Hasidic court of the Brandwein rabbinical family. In the beginning of the 19th century Rabbi Yehudah Zvi Hirsch Brandwein of Stratyn – a student of Rabbi Uri of Strzeliska, known as the Saraf (burning angel), who was the student of Rabbi Shlomo of Karlin – founded the Stratyn Hasidic dynasty. Rabbi Yehudah Zvi Brandwein, who lived during the first half of the 19th century, was one of the most influential and well-known Admorim in the towns of eastern Galicia. He was noted for his remedies and cures (segulot) for diseases and for women with difficulties in bearing children. He was bitterly opposed by the maskilim of Tarnopol, who accused him, before the Austrian government, of taking money from his followers under false pretenses, by giving amulets that he claimed had the power of curing diseases and other ailments. In their campaign, they used the letter that Rabbi Yehuda Zvi Hirsch wrote to his Hasid, Yitzchak Chaim Moishes in Gologory, in which he suggested “remedies” to cure his sick wife. The Austrian government conducted investigations against him in this matter.

His position as Admor was inherited by his eldest son, Rabbi Avraham, whose brother, Rabbi Eliezer (Reb Laiserel), became the Admor in Jezupol. He had two sons – Rabbi Uri, who inherited his father's position in Jezupol, and Rabbi Nachum, who became the rabbi of Stratyn in the year 1865 at the age of eighteen. After a few years he moved to Bursztyn and was the Admor there until 1914. He was a Cabalist and a very erudite man who published four books on Cabala – Imre Tov, Imre Chaim, Imre Brachah, and Imre Ratzon. He established a stately court in Bursztyn where a large number of “residents” lived at his expense. There were many “Stratyner Hasidim” in the surrounding towns of Bursztyn, Rohatyn, Bukaczowce, Bolszowce, and Nadworna. After his passing in 1915 the Stratyn court was divided up into two courts – one headed by his son, Eliezer, and the other, by his son-in-law, Rabbi Isaac of Podhajce. The son of Rabbi Eliezer, Rabbi Moshe, renewed his grandfather's court in Bursztyn in 1935. He was killed together with his wife and children during the Holocaust.

Bolszowce: Bolszowce is first mentioned in documents dating from 1436. In 1578 it became the property of the Szeniewski family who owned it until 1624. In the year 1624 it became a town with the right of holding markets. The marketing fairs for oxen were especially well known. In the 19th century the town was owned by Kornel Kaszczonowicz, a well-known Polish statesman, who was a member of the Sejm of Galicia as well as a member of the Austrian parliament.

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