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Economy, Business and Labor


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Economic Life of the Jews of Sanok

by Ascher Bit

Translated by Jerrold Landau

Economic life in Sanok and the region, both Jewish and non-Jewish, was never noted for its special intensity. We did not hear about the existence of any manufacturing enterprises in the city or nearby region until the 1890s. This is not the place to determine the reasons for this. It is possible that there is not just one reason for this phenomenon, but rather a confluence of several reasons and causes, including a lack of economic “backbone” of towns and settlements, and the lack of natural resources and raw materials in the region and its earth – except for lumber, which we will discuss later as a raw material for building and manufacturing. It is possible that chance was also a factor. The population of the city and the region, including the Jewish population, did not give rise to people who had an inclination toward manufacturing and labor or who possessed vision and inventiveness in the area of commerce. It is possible that even if there were such people, the aforementioned facts curbed any tendency or thought of vision that might entice them to economic life – even in the areas of industry that were relatively safe and far from risk of failure and loss, such as autarky or small scale industry with regional scope, especially in the areas of forestry and wood manufacturing.

Industry and Small Scale Industry

The development, albeit small, that began in the direction of progress of economic life of the city and region, tended toward those two areas that could be seen as having no hindrances: regional and autarkic. The establishment of the factory for train cars and iron construction was an important causative factor of this development. It began as a small workshop in the middle of the 19th century, but by the middle of the final decade of that century it began to develop rapidly. With the passage of years, it became an enormous factory, employing 1,173 workers in 1908 and 1,743 in 1923. It is clear that the centralizing of a manpower force of this size had a direct economic influence on the labor and industrial market, and on the purchasing power and market demands of the population of the city itself and no less among the suburbs.

The second manufacturing enterprise in the city also was of no small economic importance. It was a rubber factory that was established during the mid 1930s. On an objective level it would have been able to increase its influence by multiples; however its duration of existence was brief, for the Second World War broke out before it had reached its pinnacle. The common factor between these two factories was that neither one employed Jews.

This fact, and the fact that in the city and region there was no other heavy manufacturing enterprise with broad employment, enables us to establish that there was no manufacturing personality type in Sanok, of the typical Jewish personality with all that such implies. The Jewish worker in Sanok was indeed close to the personality type of the working youth who was employed in small-scale manufacturing or industry along with the owner of the enterprise himself. This is the organic essence of such workers. It is an essence that does not express itself in character of the veteran

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social-socialist. Such a personality did not have many demands, did not declare strikes or engage in any such workers' organizations such as the left-leaning factions such as Poale Zion and the like, the petite-bourgeois middle-class oriented organization, Hashomer Hadati, and the like. Such a personality sufficed itself with educational endeavors and the imparting of culture and education to his comrades.

We must note that there were also not many mid-sized factories worthy of the name in Sanok and its region – not by virtue of their scope of manufacturing or their scope of employment. The ones that are best known to us of this type are Leib Kolber's factory of concrete tubing for sewage and drainage; Shlomo Kramer's factory for vinegar and natural and artificial juices; Michael Stein's brick kiln; and the mechanical sawmill that was founded by Eliezer Szainbaum and later taken over by Plucker.

Even if we add to this list the beer factory that was directed by Mr. Cuker in Zarszyn, the number of such enterprises does not exceed five.

To our dismay, we do not have any details about the aforementioned enterprises and on other similar ones that we have not mentioned. The common factor among them all was that these enterprises were owned by Jews, some of them from the upper-crust of communal activism in the city and the Jewish community.

Enterprises of a different type that are worthy of mention here are the printing houses of Sanok. Only two of them were owned by Jews, one owned by David-Yoel Weinfeld and the other by Menachem Mendel Moszel. We will devote a few words to each one.

Jewish Printing Houses in Sanok

Even though the founding of the printing houses in Sanok was based on the private initiative of the owners for their own personal business goals as a source of livelihood, we must note the importance of these enterprises as a source of employment for the Jewish printing workers of the city, including heads of families whose entire source of livelihood was from their work in these printing presses.

The regional and municipal authorities in Poland paid attention to the printing industry and regarded it as a variegated and important branch of industry with political and cultural value. They wanted to enclose it in a legal, government regulated area and to include it among those industries that are under the constant administrative and professional supervision of the government. As one of the manifestations of this supervision, the printing houses were organized in the Czach (guild) network (Segula Czach) of Poland. One of the first conditions for the opening of a printing house was receiving an authorization from the Czach and an official certification asserting that the individual requesting to open a printing house has completed the required course of study for the printing profession.

As an additional detail in this area, we must note the fact, the importance of which is no less than the previous fact, that the two printing houses in Sanok, that of Menachem Moszel and David Waeinfeld, served throughout the period as teaching houses: that is to say, places of study for the printing profession in all areas that are relevant to that field (manual typesetting, printing, printing machines, pagination, etc.). It is no wonder, therefore, that of the many printing personnel who received their first professional education in Sanok, there are some who spread out to other areas and countries after working in their field for many years in these printing houses in Sanok, and attained high levels in this profession and all associated with it in their places. Among them were some who made aliya to the land and continued, and still continue, in their profession in the Land with broad commercial and business scope. We note here that the printing house of David Weinfeld was completely transferred

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to the Land, and his sons Shraga and Yaakov continue in their profession, each one separately, as owners of independent printing houses in Jerusalem of no small scale. They employ a significant number of professional employees.

san225.gif [4 KB] - The title page of a book, one of many, that was published by the printing house of Reb Menachem Moszel

Kotevet Haaretz
Vetzel Hamaalot

Including a description of the dimension of the earth and units of measure of length, width, length of days and nights, the daily and yearly motion of the earth and sun, seas and rivers, and many other good things and important tables that are required for these fields by the conventions that apply in the five continents of the world and the orders of government.
Everything is written and set out in a clear fashion for beginners.

Shlomo Zalman the son of the late researcher and Kabbalist Rabbi Yitzchak Yonah Segner of blessed memory.

I live amongst my people in Dukla.

Written in 5671

Published by Mendel Moszel printing house


Versaffl von Salomon Segner, Dukla
Druck und Verlag von M. Muscher, Sanok

Nachdruck sirengs verboten

The title page of a book, one of many, that was published by the printing house of Reb Menachem Moszel

We will mention here in brief some of those enterprises which would be counted among the small scale manufacturers by common nomenclature of that era, and which remain etched in our memories. These include the bookbinderies of Moszkowicz and Schmidt of the previous generation, and of the Aler sisters and Shimon Werner of our generation.

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Carpentry shops: That of Yisrael Gottlieb – a modern manufacturer of furniture with a broad scope, and a modernist manufacturing style from an artistic-esthetic perspective.

The clothing manufacturing businesses of Yitzchak Kaszer, Menachem Baitler, Moshe Wolch, Propper, Maj, Kohel, Alter-Hirsch Pipe, Klach and Gershon Scherer.

The paper bag manufacturing business of Wolfe Filinger and Asher Schtaif.

Workshops and Smithies

Furriers – The fur manufacturing enterprise (for coats, hats, etc.) of Yaakov Dolinger and Moshe Szert. The men's hat manufacturing enterprise of Amnet, Sonia Leizer and others.

Tailors and sewing enterprises – for men: of Leib Werner (on the Jewish street), of Leib Werner (on Koszioszko Street), Meier Messer, and others. For women: of Itchi Messer, Mrs. Porec, Yosef Robach, Mrs. Schabs and others.

From the designers of clothing, we will move over to food, to the following food enterprises:

Bakeries. Among the approximately twenty that existed and functioned in Sanok and its suburbs, we will mention here the biggest and best developed of them, based on the scope of products, the technical level and modernity of equipment, and the high level of hygiene. Among these were the bakeries of Simcha Diller, Yitzchok Yeshaya Weinstein, Avraham Bal, Baruch Fass, and Hirsh Leib Schabs. We will mention here the confectionary of Shalom Bajtler. If we continue on with the topic of the manufacture of food, we will not skip over David Taubenfeld's meat processing and sausage making enterprise, Kupfer's enterprise for the preserving of fish, and the two wineries of Nachum Glaicher and Shmelke Zilberman.

Watchmakers and goldsmiths: Shmuel Orbach and his brothers, Altholc, Yitzchok Hirschfeld, the Lazior brothers, Reis.

san226.jpg [34 KB] - Reb Yitzchok Hirschfeld in front of his watch making and jewelry store and workshop
Reb Yitzchok Hirschfeld in front of his
watch making and jewelry store and workshop

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Tinsmiths: Zelig Goldman, Yerucham Wolch, Hirsch Moricz, Hirsch Reich, Reis, Szerc, Yitzchok Schrekinger.

Creams and soaps: The soap factories of Wolf Pinczowski, Moshe Aharon Ader and Szerc. The shoe polish factories of Shmuel Lefelschtil and Hirsch Finkel. The wheel grease factory of Baruch Apter.

Brushes: David Eliahu Gols, Binyamin Gols, Yisrael Karel and others.

Sign painting and monument engraving: Leibli Messer and David Rob. Building painting: Shmuel Knobel, Yaakov Schteinbrecher, whose sons Baruch and Aryeh made aliya to the Land and continue in their trade.

Wood engraving: Grolneder, Maurer, Yisrael Kac, and Meller.

The reader will read about the organization and activities of professional and trade organizations in the chapter “Yad Charutzim”

san227.jpg [21 KB] - The staff of the tinsmith workshop, one of the most modern of its kind in Sanok
The staff of the tinsmith workshop, one of the most modern of its kind in Sanok


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