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The History of the Jews of Drohobycz

by By Dr. N. M. Gelber

Translated by Dov Youngerman

Edited by Valerie Schatzker, Yocheved Klausner, and Alexander Sharon

With assistance from Carole Glick Feinberg

Drohobycz was established early as a royal town chartered under the Magdeburg Law. Drohobycz, Borysław, Dolina, Stryj, and the surrounding areas were important for their salt mines. Because the mines did not yield pure salt, the mineral had to be refined. The earliest documents record that a church built in Drohobycz in 1392 was used as an administrative centre for the salt refineries. Refined salt was sold and distributed by agencies, most of them leased to Jews.

In Lwów, on 31 March 1460, King Kazimierz Jagiełłończyk (1427-1492), who reigned from 1447 to 1492, reaffirmed the privileges that had been granted to the townspeople and their leaders by King Władysław,[1] especially the Magdeburg Law[2] and the right to cut trees freely in the royal forests for both construction and for firewood. Drohobycz enjoyed royal patronage, especially from King Zygmunt I,[3] who founded a children's hospital there in 1540. In 1571, a shelter for old people was established. King Zygmunt August[4] also helped the town's development by granting various privileges that aided general growth and commerce. The town was situated at an economically strategic point on the Lwów-Grodek-Sambor trade route, with easy access to the salt mines near Drohobycz and Stebnik. King Zygmunt August also transferred to the town government the right to levy tax on beverages, as well as on the wagons, which came to transport salt or other goods.

The Ruthenian settlement grew from the start of the 16th century. Kings Jan Albrecht,[5] Aleksander Jagiełłończyk,[6] and Zygmunt I granted the Ruthenian church a number of comprehensive privileges that not only guaranteed their freedom of worship, but also established the foundation for the Church's economic existence. Nevertheless, in 1540, under the influence of the Polish settlers, Zygmunt I prohibited the erection of a Ruthenian church inside the city walls.

Jews lived in Drohobycz as early as the beginning of the fifteenth century.[7] In 1404, only Jews, who were salt lessees, were permitted to live within the town; the others lived in the suburb of NaŁanie,[8] where they eventually set up their own community. Although they were given permission to settle on lands adjoining the mines, they were not allowed to establish a cemetery, since a cemetery and a synagogue always constituted the basis for a Jewish community. When Jews had a cemetery, they were reluctant to leave the area, being fearful of leaving behind the graves of their ancestors.

One of the earliest Jewish salt-mine lessees in Drohobycz was known by the name of Wolczko. Besides leasing the salt mines, Wolczko served as a banker for the court. At the time, the king, Władyslaw Jagiełło,[9] took an active part in the settlement of Galicia, or Reisin,[10] as it was then known.

In 1425, we hear about a Drohobycz Jew by the name of Detko or Dzatko, who was a salt mine lessee, a wholesale merchant, with trade connections in Turkey and Kiev, and a supplier to the royal court. In the king's correspondence, he is known as officialis noster (our representative). Detko also had financial dealings with the court of King Władysław Jagiełło, with various noblemen, and with town dwellers from Lwów, to whom he paid sizeable sums on the king's orders.[11] We know of yet another lessee from Drohobycz, called Natko or Nathan, who held the lease for the salt mines from 1452 to 1454, paying a total of 3,050 grzywna (one grzywna was worth 200 grams of silver) in rent for two years.

Shimshon of Źydaczów, a well-known lessee of that century, held the lease for the mines from 1471 to 1474. He had to pay 2,363 grzywna a year for the lease for the royal tax collection of Lwów and Grodek [Jagielloński] and for the lease for salt in Drohobycz. In addition to that, he had to supply the king's court, and in 1472, the archbishop in Kraków with one roll of Turkish silk, as well.

In the fifteenth century, the salt mine lessees of Drohobycz were the most important in Red Ruthenia. They sought to obtain a monopoly on the right to collect the income of the town itself. Jakub Judicz was a salt mine lessee in Drohobycz and a well-known wholesale merchant in Reisin. At the end of February 1564,[12] King Zygmunt August granted him the lease on brandy, which the king described as being to the town's advantage. On the basis of that royal privilege, the municipal government, on its own initiative, leased to the Jews the collection of the annual income

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from the municipal monopolies of the alcohol distilleries, salt refineries, and the import of lumber and building materials. In turn, the lessees employed sub-lessees, as well as a considerable staff of Jewish customs officials and clerks. This increased the number of Jewish inhabitants of the area.

The Gentiles in Drohobycz were not comfortable with this situation and made every effort to get rid of the Jews. They used the only means at their disposal: the law de non tolerandis Judaeis (the law of not tolerating Jews). In 1569, the disputes concerning the presence of the Jews led to a dispute between the city and the king. In that year, the king, without having the authority to do so, mistakenly leased the tax on alcohol to two Jews, Shmuel Markowitz from Chelm and Yitzhak Jakuszow of Lwów. The city protested, maintaining that the right to lease the alcoholic beverage tax was the city's exclusive privilege. Because of this protest, the king was forced to rescind his decision in that same year. The lessees brought a suit against the city (adversus famatos proconsulem, consules, advocatum et scabinos oppidi nostri Drohobycz). The king rejected the lessees' claims. In his decision, he stated that the town's ancient privileges gave it the right over propination (This was the right over the production and consumption of alcoholic beverages, which was usually owned by the nobility; peasants could not purchase alcohol that was not made in the landowner's distillery and were obliged to purchase a given quantity of vodka). Thus, he argued that he had no power to grant the right to this tax to Shmuel Markowicz and Yitzhak Jakuszow. It would have been impossible to grant them an advantage that infringed on the city's privileges, and they were obliged to return the tax to the town.[13] This dispute encouraged the city to try to obtain the privilege of non tolerandis Judaeis. Its efforts bore fruit. On 20 March 1578, when about 3,600 people were living in Drohobycz, King Stefan Batory[14] granted this privilege to the city. Under this law, Jews were forbidden, either in Drohobycz itself or immediately outside its walls, to lease, rent, or conduct any trade whatsoever except at fairs, and even then only on occasion. They were also forbidden to settle in the area outside the city. Any Jew who tarried in the town longer than three days was to be punished with a 12,000 mark fine, and whoever gave him lodging would be fined 100 grzywna. The fines would be divided equally between the royal treasury and the town to cover its needs.[15]

For fifty-seven years there were no Jews in Drohobycz or its environs. In the same era, the town suffered from incursions by the Tatar hordes, and in 1618, the entire town was destroyed. This dire situation continued throughout the 1640s to the point that in 1645, the town was relieved of paying all taxes due “to the great destruction.”[16] But in 1635, there was a notable turning point. The wojewoda (head of a township) of Reisin, Jan Danielowicz, gave the Jews permission to settle on his lands in NaŁanie near Drohobycz. They were permitted to live only outside the town, near the salt refineries. They were forbidden to establish a cemetery. This permission was granted because of economic necessity. The lessees of the salt mines and the customs houses, and even the villages in the Drohobycz district, needed their Jewish clerks. Thanks to their efforts, this permission was obtained from Danielowicz.[17]

It should not be forgotten that, in this very period, there were royal estates, in the environs of Drohobycz, held by the very wealthy Jews of Lwów, Yitzhak Nachmanowicz and Yitzhak ben Mordechai (Markowitz), who lived and acted like lords. Their influence with the authorities was so great that they could obtain permission for a Jewish settlement. They lived in NaŁanie, on a private estate under jurydyka podmiejska (suburban jurisdiction). The Jews who lived there were not subject to the laws of the town. This permission was confirmed by Kings Wladislaw IV and Jan Kazimierz.

In 1648, the Cossacks of Bohdan Chmielnicki made incursions near the town. The townspeople made contact with them and collected jewelry for them in the Ruthenian church, but the priest stole it and fled from the town. When the Cossacks appeared before the town, the Catholic townspeople opened fire. The Ruthenians abandoned the batteries and shouted to those who remained to cease fire, since they would succeed only in destroying themselves and others.[18] In the meantime, another group took the weapons from the town and the batteries and handed them over to the Cossacks. Together with the Ruthenians, the Cossacks attacked the Catholic church, slaughtered the Catholics they found there, and pillaged everything in sight. The Cossacks withdrew, thanks only to military assistance of the citizens of Stryj. After the troops from Stryj left the town, Ruthenian people from the town and villages gathered together near Drohobycz; they looted and destroyed the town. It is not known what happened to the Jews of Drohobycz, but it is assumed that they fled with those townspeople who escaped to Stryj.

In 1663, only fifteen Jewish homes were counted in the census in the NaŁanie suburb. This census was conducted on October 8 by the officials of Volhynia, the starosta[19] of Pinsk, Jan Franciszek Lubowicki[20] the scribe of Halicz, Jerzy Mrozowicz, and the royal secretary, Stanisław Makalski.

During this census, the town complained to the authorities that the Jews living in NaŁanie brought only problems for the town. They had settled and built their own street, ulica Żydówska [Jew Street]. Contrary to the laws and privileges of the town, they had opened shops and were engaged in commerce, selling mead, liquors, beer and brandy. Therefore the town requested that the Jewish street be destroyed and the Jews evacuated, since in the past, Drohobycz had only one or two Jews working in the service of the salt mines.

To answer this complaint, the Jews produced the royal permit of King Kazimierz[21] given in Warsaw on 18 December 1659, which included the letter of the deputy minister of the treasury, Daniłowicz and the confirmation of that letter by King Władysław IV.[22]

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The Jews maintained that they were also in possession of other, even older privileges, but they could not produce them, since they were held by the jurist Zadworny in Warsaw. After considerable deliberation, the authorities recognized thatŁan belonged to the Drohobycz district, which collected an annual rent of 100 zloty from the Jews. They made no definite decision but transferred the matter for adjudication to the royal court that was scheduled to convene two weeks after the Sejm (the Polish Parliament) was to assemble. Apart from this grievance, the town also complained that the local lessee, Aron ben Yitzhak (Izakowicz) maintained four soldier-servants for his convenience, forcing the town to quarter them and pay each of them one and a half gold pieces per week. Residents of the suburb complained that Aron ben Yitzhak would take whiskey from them and prevented their buying whiskey for weddings and other joyous occasions at cheaper prices.

Aron ben Yitzhak replied that he maintained not four but two servants with the permission of and under contract of the town. These servants were needed to expedite the sale of whiskey and to prevent its being stolen and sold by neighboring peddlers.

The town officials ruled that according to the agreement with the town, Aron ben Yitzhak had the authority to maintain two soldier-servants. The townspeople could require new conditions concerning soldier-servants in any new contract they might sign. The complaint of the suburban residents was found to be unjustified.

Aron ben Yitzhak complained to the authorities that the town government had not repaid a debt of 2,511 gold pieces and 10 groschen that it owed him and did not allow him to deduct this from the rent, even though the town did not deny that it owed him that sum. The final rule was that Aron ben Yitzhak could deduct the debt from the rent payments in three stages.[23]

Following this census, on 28 September 1664, the town government rented to the Jews ofŁan, for a six-year period, one tavern and ten shops for the sale of merchandise permitted by the guilds. An annual rent payment of 200 gold pieces was paid in advance. Under this agreement, the Jews were released from a number of payments. The city would not allow any foreign Jew to reside in the town without the agreement of the leaders of the Jewish community. The Jews were not subject to the town's jurisdiction but to that of their own courts and the courts of the wojewoda.[24] Any disputes with the guilds would be argued before the town council. Jews from outside the town could not be employed in the shops. Any party that did not abide by the terms of the agreement would be punished with a fine of 1,000 gold pieces.

This contract was signed on behalf of the Jews by Izak Józefowicz, Shmuel Herszowiz, Isak Mejerowicz, Mendel Dawidowicz of Przemyśl, Lazar Ruwen Zelkowicz, Moshe Jakubowicz, Shlomo Berkowicz, Dawid Józefowicz, and Yudka Zalmanowicz of Cracow. The contract was renewed in 1672 and 1678. The third contract (1678) was kept only four years instead of six, since the Jews sold mead and beer in eight taverns instead of two and maintained forty stores instead of eight, as provided in the agreement.

Little by little, the settlement grew. Despite the legal prohibitions, wealthy Jews gradually penetrated into the city itself. In the course of time, they established a community with many institutions. From time to time, this situation stirred up the opposition within the town government, which would protest against it. Relations between Jews and non-Jews were not always friendly. The situation grew especially bad in the Drohobycz area following the deterioration of the villages and suburban population by the Jewish lessees and their officials. Once more, the townspeople and craftsmen saw the Jews as strong economic competitors. They complained that the Jews were undermining their existence and destroying their economic standing.

In 1670, rabbi and chief religious judge, Rabbi Yekutiel Zalman Siegel Sharif, the son of the rabbi of Przemyśl, Józef Charif[25] served in Drohobycz. He was rabbi for ten years. In 1680, his position was taken by Rabbi Zvi Hirsch, the son of Chaim, rabbi in Kołomyja, the son of Yehoshua of Cracow, who had formerly been rabbi in Brzeźany. From Drohobycz, he went on to occupy the rabbi's position in Tyśmienica. His son Israel,[26] who was also rabbi of Drohobycz and later lived in Kamieniec Podolski, was appointed by King August III[27] as his agent on 26 February as his agent and servant with the right to buy wine and other goods for the king without paying customs duty. In the letter of appointment,[28] he was specifically cited as rabbi of Drohobycz (Israel Herschowitz Rabinus Drohobicensis incola Camenecii Podoliensis) and as a wise and honest man. In fact, he was the only Jewish agent at the court of King August III. In 1755, he was also appointed as a trustee of the House of Israel of the Council of Four Lands.[29]

After Rabbi Zvi Hirsch, R'Yehuda Leib ben Yaakov was appointed rabbi. In 1696, he gave his endorsement to the book, Dat Yekutiel (Źółkwa , 1696) by R'Yekutiel Siskind, the son of Rabbi Shlomo Halevy, who printed the 613 mitzvot in rhyme.

His successor in the rabbi's chair was the Rabbi Naftali Hirsch, who on 21 Sivan, 5526 (1766) in Drohobycz gave his endorsement to the book Ohel Moed (Frankfurt am Oder: 1767) by the rabbi and chief religious judge of the community of Ulanów, R'Yosef Jaski , the son of R'Yehiel Michal. It presented new variations on the number of blessings and the laws of the holidays.

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From the administrative standpoint, the autonomous Jewish institutions of Drohobycz, which was in the Przemyśl district, were part of the assembly of Jewish institutions of the province of Russyn and sent two community leaders to its meetings. Their work began to be noticed around the mid 18th century. In that period, there lived in Drohobycz R'Yitzhak Chajet (1660-1726), one of the most famous scholars of his generation, the well-known kabbalist and sharp opponent of Shabtai Zvi. He was the grandson of the Vilna rabbi R'Manosh Chajet. He served as rabbi in Skole, but due to disputes with the leaders of the community, he left its rabbinate and settled in Drohobycz, where he also took an active role in Jewish life. He died in 1726 and was buried in Drohobycz.

The Jewish community grew substantially during the reign of King Jan III Sobieski,[30] who concerned himself particularly with the situation of Jews in Żółkiew, Przemyśl, and Drohobycz. He took care of the Jews in Drohobycz and did a great deal to improve their circumstances. On 13 June 1682 under his reign, the lessees of the taverns and shops, along with the leaders of the community, agreed to pay an annual rent of 300 gold pieces for six years, starting on June 1, 1683. After the expiration of this agreement, the city was authorized to act according to its laws and privileges, if it did not wish to sign a new contract. This time the pact was signed by the community leaders: Icchak Józefowicz, Abraham Moszkowicz, Izrael Dawidowicz, Getz Helcelowicz , Izrael Hajfer from Lwów and Szymon Karo.[31] In 1684, the Jews already had forty shops and dominated all branches of commerce. Of course, the townspeople looked upon this unfavourably; they were not ready to tolerate the expansion of the Jewish community in the town.

On September 8, 1685, the townspeople brought suit against the Jewish lessees: Izaak Szmuel, Szimszon Szmuel, Dr. Danielew, Yaakov Getz, Mendel Jona and Mosze Szmuel Dawid, charging that by being in violation of earlier contracts they were bringing injury to the town.

The Jews brought a countersuit, and on 18 March 1686, King Jan III Sobieski ordered that no one disturb the Jews in their commerce, their shops, and their taverns, until the royal committee had reached a decision. In this order, the king also commanded that the Jews be allowed to maintain their customs and their court, as permitted to them by the laws of the kingdom. In 1688, a new dispute broke out on the matter of municipal leasing between the town and two Jews, Shmuel ben Chaim (Chaimowicz) and Leib ben Izak (Izakowicz). King Jan III Sobieski ordered that a royal committee investigate the matter. These lessees complained that the town government and the city council members of Drohobycz, Piotr Woszczynowski and Alexander Truska, had signed a three-year rental contract with them for the period 1688-91, but that, without any explanation, the town government was conducting negotiations with other individuals. The committee was instructed to study the matter from the legal standpoint, to enter into discussions with both parties, and to make efforts to reach a compromise.[32] However, we lack any information about the outcome of this dispute.

During the same period, on October 6, 1690, at the behest of the townspeople, King Jan III Sobieski forbade the Jew Liebermann, who had kept a tavern in the vicinity of the church, to distill brandy and beer, since his business violated the privileges of the town and brought damage to it and to the church. He ordered him to remove his tavern and ordered the town government to pay him compensation.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, Jews were primarily employed in the sale of alcoholic beverages, in leasing, and in trade. Almost all the villages around the town were leased to Jews. In 1564, we hear of the Jew Jakub Judicz, a lessee of the salt mines and of propination in the town. After him, two other Jews became lessees. One of the most important lessees was Aron ben Zvi, mentioned above. Toward the end of the 17th century, after 1683, the head of the community, Izak Józefowicz, leased the right for municipal propination.

In those years, the lessee Liebermann was involved in disputes with other Jewish lessees, when, behind the backs of the leaders of the community, he obtained an agreement with the starosta that granted him the lease for propination. Only thanks to the king's intervention was this matter dealt with according to the law. At the beginning of the eighteenth century, conditions changed to favour the Jews in many ways. From then on, the Jews expanded their activities in the town, taking over all commerce and industry, as well as most trades. Apart from leasing the town's monopolies, selling liquor, and distilling brandy and beer, they were involved in wholesale trade on a large scale, particularly dominating in foreign trade. Jewish merchants from Drohobycz came in great numbers to the fairs in Breslau, Frankfurt am Oder, Danzig, Königsberg, Leipzig and other German cities. A wholesale merchant would consign his merchandise to traders or agents, who would travel as his hired representatives and sell within the city or its environs. The agents would also travel to fairs in other cities to sell the merchandise. At this time, these merchants were the pillars of commerce. Trade in salt from the Drohobycz mines was another important sector of the economy that was almost entirely concentrated in the hands of Jews. They brought the salt to Lwów, where they ran into stiff competition from Jewish salt merchants who were bringing private salt from Bolechów and Kałusz to sell at a lower price. Thus, for example, during five weeks in 1621, 4,000 sacks of salt from Bolechów were sold at a price of one gold piece and six groschen per sack, while the salt from Drohobycz remained unsold because of its high price. However, Drohobycz merchants also sold their salt to other cities and to Wallachia [Romania].

Commerce in salt and the leases for the salt mines were in the hands of Jews in the 18th century as well.

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The trade in oxen, meant especially to sell in Breslau, was also concentrated in the hands of a number of Jews. The partners Yehoshua ben Shmuel and Baruch ben Elisha, Eliezer ben Arie and Eliezer ben Yitzhak used to buy herds of hundreds of bulls and cows and transport them to Silesia.

There were also wholesale merchants in cloth and fabrics in Drohobycz. One of them, Berko Mejerowicz, would buy and sell cloth for thousands of gold pieces. Another wholesaler, Wolf ben Josef, would bring large quantities of merchandise from Mogilew [in Belarus]. Leib Leibowitz, who had capital of over 200,000 gold pieces, carried on an extensive trade with the outside world.

Drohobycz merchants also conducted large financial transactions abroad. In this regard, we know of Israel, the son of the Drohobycz rabbi Hirsh ben Yaakov, who died during a visit in Dresden.

As a commercial center, Drohobycz attracted a large number of Jews in Reisin and the population grew apace. By 1716, the number of Jewish families in the town had grown to 200. In the course of time, all the commerce of Drohobycz and its environs was concentrated in the hands of Jews. In 1769, an official document noted that “the Jews include community leaders, merchants, shopkeepers, and artisans; the masses of Jews in Drohobycz, living in the town itself and inŁan, hold in their hands almost all sectors of commerce. They have settled within the Christian part of the town as well.”[33]

With the growth of the Jewish population, the number of artisans grew as well. In 1716 and 1717, there were a few Jewish tailors, three bakers, two goldsmiths, one tinsmith, one doctor, one furrier, one bookbinder, one jeweler and one housepainter in Drohobycz.

In 1728, there were six tailors, three bakers, two tinsmiths, two goldsmiths and two jewelers. Other Jewish workers found in Drohobycz and not in other towns were those serving the salt mines, such as clerks and lower officials working with the Jewish lessees.

Among the wealthy, there were also moneylenders. This was considered a profession. Some loaned only to Jews, and others loaned to both Jews and Christians. For the most part, they would lend for bills of exchange or a pawn. Even merchants, who were not professional moneylenders, used to make loans in order to invest their profits, so that the money would not be idle. There were also moneychangers, who dealt with currency exchange. Since Drohobycz maintained trade ties with Hungary, and Jewish traders would pass through various cities on their way to Hungary and Austria, they needed foreign currency. As Ber Birkenthal -Bolechower,[34] who accompanied his father on a trip to Hungary to buy wine, wrote: “… and we passed through the Jewish community of Drohobycz in order to change Polish coins into Austrian and Hungarian currency.” They were helped by the famous and honourable Rabbi Zalman Bejnat.[35]

As early as the 17th century, merchants and artisans, who had been well organized into various guilds as far back as the end of the 15th century, opposed the growing influence of the Jews in the economic life. From the community chronicle, which is mainly devoted to the 18th century, we know of the existence of artisans' guilds, but we have no documents of bylaws for these organizations.

According to one document, dating to the period of the Austrian rule, there were long drawn out conflicts, as there were in other communities in Poland, between Jewish artisans and the Christian guilds that resulted from the stiff competition between the two groups. The Christian artisans wanted, if not to completely destroy the Jewish skilled trades, then at least to limit their activity by controlling the number of artisans. Unfortunately, we have no details on the actual background and the scope of this struggle and on the compromises reached and the compensation paid, as we do for other towns.

From the organizational and administrative standpoint, the Drohobycz community was included along with thirty-three other communities in the Przemyśl district council, but it did not join in paying taxes, apparently because the residents of Drohobycz were exempt from taxes.

The synagogue and the cemetery were already in existence by the beginning of the 17th century.

In 1711, the Jews received a permit to repair the synagogue from the bishop of Przemyśl, Jan Kazimierz.[36] In the 1720s, a fire broke out, and the synagogue burned down. After great efforts, a permit was received in 1726 from the bishop of Przemyśl Alexander Antony to allow the construction of a new synagogue on the same site, on condition that it would not be larger or more beautiful than the old one had been. The costs of construction were high; the Jews had to borrow sizable sums to meet them.

In 1733, the Jews received permission from the church to fence in the cemetery, in exchange for supplying windowpanes and carrying out various repairs to the Catholic church.

From an organizational-administrative standpoint, communal affairs were conducted as they were in the other communities in Reisin. From the minutes of the elections in 1717, we learn that heading the community council were two chief alufim (leaders), four parnasim (community workers), three tovim (respected people), three members of the community, and a number of financial committees with three to seven members.

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The following committees were in existence: a) synagogue fund (three to five members), b) Eretz-Israel collections (seven members), c) Talmud-Torah fund (five members), d) widows and orphans fund (four members), e) general charity collections (four to seven members), f) assessors' committee (thirty members), and g) rabbi, cantor and attendant committee (five arbitrators). Apart from this, the community elected two courts, each composed of six members. With the growth in the number of residents, the numbers of committee and community workers increased.

The Jews, who lived in the villages, were affiliated with the Drohobycz community and took part in its expenses. Their numbers grew over the years. By 1765, eighty-six villages belonged to the community.

Communal activities encompassed administrative and financial matters, and judicial, religious and educational concerns, as in any community in Poland.

The earliest communal administrative committees known to us from documents are from the years 1664 and 1682. In 1682, the community council was composed of ten members: Izak Józefowicz; Szmuel Herszowicz, a bridegroom from Krynica, Isak Ajzik Majerowicz; Mendel Dawidowicz of Przemyśl; Lejzer Reuben Zelikowicz ; Mosze Jakubowicz of Mościska ; Szlomo Berkowicz; David Josijowicz of Lublin; Aszer Aharonowicz; Judka Zalmanowicz of Cracow.[37]

In 1682, the committee had only seven members: Izak Józefowicz; Abraham Moskowicz; Izrael Dawidowicz; Izrael Hajfer of Lwów; Matitiahu Selig of Lwów; Szymon Karo[38] and Getzl Helclowicz . According to the election by-laws, control remained permanently in the hands of the well off and the wealthy, the mine and propination lessees, and the wholesale merchants.

Over the years, there were a number of domineering people among the leaders of the community, who exploited their authority for their own benefit. One of them, Jona of Kropiwnik, made a ruling[39] naming himself “head of the leaders” for life. He exploited his position to effect a radical change in the method of election to further his schemes. Thus, in contradiction of the by-laws, two members of his family were among the four community heads elected.

During the period of his control, members of the community brought appeals against him to the Polish authorities. Despite these complaints, he succeeded in holding on to power, with the help of his family. His son Jehuda Lejb was one of the heads of the community and his chief aide. He ruled with cruel severity, imposing taxes according to his whim, without taking into account the situation of the members of the community. After Jona's death in 1728, Jehuda Lejb was chosen to head the community for the rest of his life.

The community also had an executive staff composed of rabbis, preachers, judges, slaughterers, and the scribe, who was the community's administrative officer and usually represented it before the gentile authorities. The community was involved in all the concerns of its residents: religious, economic, social, cultural, and educational. It fixed and collected the taxes necessary to cover its budget, which included salaries to the administrative staff, payments to government officials, the clergy, the municipality, and other direct and indirect taxes. It also collected general maintenance taxes, (100 gold pieces in 1738) and payments from weddings, funerals, dowries and honors.

Drohobycz was part of the council of the province of Reisin, and took an active part in its affairs. It used to send two representatives to council meetings. From a receipt of 1758, we learn that the community's representatives, who attended at a province council meeting convened in Radom, received 640 gold pieces from the community for expenses.[40] The only ones on permanent salary were shtadlanim (representatives to the Gentiles, lobbyists) at the Sejm and community shtadlanim who were community employees.

It happened not infrequently that the community was at loggerheads with the leaders of the province of Reisin. In 1756, together with the Dolina community, it presented a complaint against the tax burden and the use of the leaders' power against the general good. Drohobycz representatives at the council of Reisin took part in the opposition against Dov Berisch, the son of the chief judge of Brody.

Relations between the community and the heads of the provincial council were rather tense and especially bad during the period, when Zalman ben Zeev (Wolfowitz) headed the council. After he was removed from office in 1758, relations deteriorated again when the community joined with Dolina and Rożniatów in a protest (15 April) against the provincial council of Reisin under the leadership of Berk Rabinowitz (son of the chief judge). According to the complaint, they used their authority only for their own benefit and oppressed the communities with a heavy tax burden.[41]

In the worst period of religious fanaticism in Poland, during the reign of the Polish king August II of Saxony (1697-1733), a blood libel trial was held (1718) against Adele, the daughter of the wealthy head of the Lwów community, Reb Mosze Kikenis. She was married to the son of a salt mine lessee in Drohobycz. Because the couple lived in Drohobycz, she was called Mistress Adele of Drohobycz. She conducted wide-ranging business affairs. Adele's gentile maidservant hid a dead Christian boy in her house on the night of Passover, and “confessed” to the priests that, at the command of her mistress, she had slaughtered the child for its blood, which the Jews needed for their Passover matzos. On the basis of this charge, Adele and all the Jews of Drohobycz were arrested. After cruel torture, Adele confessed that she herself had committed the crime, and that no other Jew was involved. The Jews were freed, and she was put on trial in Lwów. The trial was short, and she was sentenced to a cruel death. When the maid heard the verdict, she repented declaring that her confession had been false. She said that she had killed the child and named the Christian, who had incited her to do so. She was immediately removed from the courtroom and strangled in jail, since the priests did not want the details of the act to become known.

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Map of the Town of Drohobycz


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Drohobycz: a general view

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The City Hall

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The City Tower The Gymnasium [High School]

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Despite this new confession, the judges were unwilling to reverse the verdict. The priests attempted to convince Adele to convert, promising that she would then be freed, but Adele refused to accept their mercy and courageously went to death, serenely accepting martyrdom. Adele was buried in Lwów. Her tombstone reads:

On Shabbat eve, the 27th of Elul 5478, the brave Adele, a holy and pure woman, daughter of our leader and teacher Rabbi Moshe Kikenis, was sentenced, sacrificed, and gave her life for all Israel. May God avenge her blood and may her soul be bound up in everlasting life.


The Jews of Drohobycz went through a difficult period in the middle of the eighteenth century, when they were ruled by Zalman ben Zeev, the central personality of the town and one of the cruelest men in all Jewry in Reisin.

Zalman was born in Drohobycz in 1711. His father was a very poor furrier.[42] His childhood was passed in poverty until he obtained a job as cashier in the salt mines. He lived licentiously and immorally, and spent a great deal of money wastefully. One day in 1729, when the books were audited, a deficit was found. Zalman then poisoned his supervisor, who died the next day. Zalman was arrested by order of the court and tortured, but they did not succeed in dragging a confession from him. A light sentence was passed; he received 100 lashes in the town square, and was banished from the town. For a few years, he was a cashier in the salt mines in the neighbourhood of Sambor. He got into trouble there with some Jews, who prepared an ambush one day in the forests at Słopnice in order to kill him. They did not succeed. Zalman brought charges against them. On 30 December 1732, the six Jews were sentenced to death, but through the efforts of the Jewish community the sentence was mitigated. The instigator, Yitzhak, was sentenced to one year in jail and a fine of 1,300 grzywna (1,000 paid to Zalman, 300 to the court). The rest of the accused received sentences of six months in prison.[43] Zalman succeeded in winning over Homantowski, the district ruler of Drohobycz, and received from him the lease of all the incomes of the district and the salt mines in the area.

Homantowski died at about that time. His wife, a young widow who later married the starosta of Tarlo,[44] fell in love with Zalman, who was a handsome man. She supported him and leased to him her estates, salt mines, and the brandy monopoly in the villages and town of Drohobycz. At her initiative, the scribe of the municipality removed the sentence against him in 1729 from the records of the court, and Zalman was completely rehabilitated. Her love also helped him be chosen as head of the community.

The head of the community, Rabbi Chaim, had died at that time. On the intermediate days of Passover, the members of the community gathered in the synagogue to choose a new head. Zalman offered his candidacy. His rivals opposed him and interfered with the elections. The vote was interrupted. The following day, Marichcycz , the representative of the starosta Bialski , brought forty peasants armed with pitchforks and whips, and in their presence, ordered that the names of the other candidates be stricken from the list and that Zalman be chosen parnas and head of the community.

The Jews were terrified. Seeing that there was no point in opposing the will of the authorities, they elected Zalman head of the community against their will.

Two months after his election, Zalman began to take over the entire community. First of all, his son-in-law Szmuel ben Lejb was named rabbi of the community. The Jews had no choice but to give in. Whoever dared to raise his voice against Zalman lost his livelihood and the right to live in Drohobycz. Zalman was revengeful, jealously pursuing power, and God help the Jew or Gentile, who didn't obey his desire and his command.

He concentrated in his own hands not only the leases on the monopolies and the salt mines, but also all the wholesale trade in wine and iron. He imposed taxes (he himself paid no taxes!) and increased maintenance fees. He imposed all kinds of taxes and payments on artisans, oppressed and beat them mercilessly with rods, when they didn't do as they were commanded. Whoever opposed him was punished with beatings; more than one was seriously injured. Detentions in the community jail were on the daily agenda, but all this did not concern Zalman. He was concerned only with accumulating power and wealth. The artisans' guilds were forced to keep constant armed watches in the marketplace and in front of his home and the homes of his family members to protect the treasury of the salt mines day and night. He didn't hesitate to steal community funds or to practice forgery and other kinds of deceit. In 1734, he lost the election and David was elected community head. But in 1735, Zalman brought peasants with staves and pitchforks and forced the voters to elect him head of the community again. The Jews made complaints to the starosta's wife, but in vain. Homantowska[45] confirmed the right of free election and gave order that new elections be held, but this order was only on paper and was not enforced. Zalman held on to power, but in the end, the community lost patience, and in 1741, a number of Jews made complaints against him and accused him of forging the tax lists. David Abosowicz filed suit, charging that he had been seriously injured by Zalman; the same complaint was joined by Yitzhak Józefowicz. Wolf Herszkowicz, called Boraczek, was seriously wounded by his brother-in-law Shmuel ben Yaakov, who struck him at the instigation of Zalman. Suddenly all barriers split open, and the court was flooded with complaints.

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The community itself presented a complaint that excommunications had been imposed unjustly at his initiative. A few families filed suit, charging that he had stolen houses and businesses from them, and dozens of people complained about the tax burden. There were also complaints about embezzlement of community and public funds. But Zalman did not respond. On the contrary, on the days in which the trials were scheduled, he was absent from the town. He and his family members, who aided him in all his deeds, always found some kind of trick to evade the deliberations of the court. Only his supporters and relatives were elected to the council. His son, Anszel Lejb, was elected his second in command. His son-in-law, Rabbi Shmuel Segel, gave him loyal support. He was elected together with Zalman in 1746 as “leader and head of the province.” Their appointments were signed by rabbis of Lwów, Żółkiew, Tarnopol, and leaders of the communities in Brody, Tyśmienica and Kałusz communities.[46] The two of them participated in sittings of the provincial council and were authorized to sign its minutes. But Zalman was always the one to sign. In 1748, Zalman obtained an order from the province council, which announced a decision that if the leader of the province found himself in any community, he alone was authorized to make decisions concerning disputes between the community and private individuals or between the various villages and the community. The order also informed all the rabbis in Poland that Zalman, citizen of Drohobycz, was leader and head of the province, and that for that reason, he could settle disputes between the Drohobycz community and private individuals. Thus it was forbidden for any rabbi or community to interfere with his authority. In this way, he dispensed with the possibility of appeals or complaints.

His behavior was also cruel to the Gentile townspeople and peasants. He put pressure on the municipality and forced it and even judges to bow to his will. It was forbidden to buy or sell housing in the town without his permission. He appointed mayors, village chiefs, and even guild leaders. He often beat people with whips, especially peasants who were forced to work in his fields, provide horses and wagons, and to make all kinds of payments to him. The bakers had to buy his flour at whatever price he asked.

Over the years, his misbehavior and crimes passed all bounds. The matter blew up in 1752, when the town government lodged a collective complaint against Zalman and his family in the name of the Christian population in the town and the villages, as well as the Jewish community, and against Jakub Szmulewicz, a former salt mine lessee, concerning the leasing of the municipal right to propination. This case was also brought against the starosta's widow, Homantowska. King August III[47] set the dates for the trials, enjoined both sides to refrain from any disputes, and gave both sides safe conduct.

Zalman scorned the whole matter and carried on with his deeds. For example, he extorted a tax of fifty Hungarian gold pieces from the community, while an excommunication was handed down against his rival Yaakov Shmuelowicz. Ignoring his letter of immunity, he seized him, beat him, and put him in prison. Yaakov managed to escape after three weeks and fled to another town.

In the meantime, many complaints began to pile up. On 16 February 1753, the king appointed Heryent Leon Lobiszewski and Ignacy Krokondo-Trepke as commissars and ordered them to investigate the situation. But again, nothing came of it. On the contrary, on this occasion, Zalman obtained a guard of twenty dragoons from the starosta of Przemyśl, who stood guard before his house to protect him from the wrath of the population.

In 1752, Zalman's affairs also involved the Council of the Four Lands, which assembled that year in Konstantinów. The Jews of Drohobycz brought suit against the tyrannical parnas. However, for lack of time, the chief shtadlan, Reb Shimon, suggested that the dispute be transferred for arbitration to a meeting in the Lwów district. The parnas of the Council of the Four Lands, Rabbi Avraham of Lublin, carried out the decision and informed the parnas of the Lwów district, Reb Yitzhak Yissaschar Berisch, son of Reb Moshe Wolf, son of the chief judge (of Brody).[48]

In 1753, the dispute of the Jews of Drohobycz with Zalman came up on the agenda of the Lwów District Council, convened in Bóbrka under the leadership of Reb Berisch, the son of the chief judge. A delegation of five Drohobycz Jews, headed by the baker, Leib, appeared before the council. Leib described in detail Zalman's past, how he came to power with the help of his lover the starosta's widow Homantowska, and all his misdeeds, crimes, and frauds. The leader of the province Reb Berisch, who himself was involved in many disputes with the people of his community in Brody, where he ruled firmly and autocratically, did not want to discuss Zalman. The majority of members of the Council viewed Leib's complaints as part of the dissatisfaction of the masses, well known to them. In their opinion, the masses were always dissatisfied and ready to complain at any opportunity about their parnasim and their leaders. Working from this assumption, they saw no justification for the complaints of the Jews of Drohobycz, since as far as they knew Zalman was totally innocent. Nothing was done, and the deputation of Drohobycz's Jewry returned home without obtaining a ruling against Zalman.[49]

In Drohobycz, Zalman, had already received a report on the deliberations at the session of the District Council from the Council's scribe, Józef of Skałat. He prepared an appropriate reception for the delegation. Reb Leib scarcely had passed the town's border, when he was seized by Zalman's mercenaries and brought to prison. A new phase of persecution, fines, and heavy taxes began. Whoever dared to oppose them was excommunicated by Zalman's son-in-law, Rabbi Shmuel ben Leib.

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Zalman behaved in a wild manner in this period and acted cruelly toward the citizens of Drohobycz, Dolina, and Sambor, both Jews and Christians. He didn't hesitate to put mayors and village chiefs in jail and punish anyone who did not obey his commands.

At this point, the patience of the entire population was at an end. On 29 August 1753, at the initiative of Mayor Jan Jachniewicz, the residents of the suburbs, Zwarycz, Liszniańskie, and Nadworna, united with the Drohobycz city government to defend the rights and privileges they had received from the kings and obtain justice in a suit, which they brought against Zalman. A complaint was presented owskiin Warsaw, joined by the Jews of Drohobycz, Dolina, and Sambor, the lessees and sub-lessees of Stebnik, Kałusz, Czehryń and Truskawiec. At a special assembly of Jewish representatives in Stryj, the Jews promised to cooperate with the Christians and make every effort to destroy Zalman. Since they had received no assistance from the Council of the Four Lands or from the district council, they chose to help themselves.[50]

On 12 April 1754, the Drohobycz municipality and the starosta, Maj.-Gen. Count Nosticz Reżbowski, received a royal decree, in which the king named commissars to rule in the dispute between Tarlowa-Homantowska and Zalman on the one hand and the town of Drohobycz and the communities of Drohobycz, Dolina, and Sambor on the other. The committee arrived a short time after the decree was received. The town government recanted all its complaints against Homantowska and turned all the accusations against the Jew Zalman, his son Leib, his son-in-law the rabbi and the rest of the family. Two town council members, Piechowicz and Czernigowicz, of Stanisławów, inspected his account books. On the basis of this investigation, Zalman and his entire family were arrested. During the investigation, the matter of the poisoning of 1729 was reviewed. The Jews presented the community's books to the committee and revealed in detail the corrupt dealings and bribery at the time of the election of the rabbi, as well as the other frauds and misdeeds. The rabbi, his son-in-law, fled Drohobycz. Zalman and Leib also tried to break out of prison, but their escape was not successful. The commissars turned the matter over to a court composed of the starosta and the town judges.

On 9 June 1755, a judgment was delivered. Zalman was sentenced to death by hanging, and his son Leib was sentenced to receive 100 lashes with a rod in front of the town hall. All his property was confiscated to compensate the victims. Leib's son and his wife were ordered to have all the property, gold, silver, cash and jewelry conveyed, and were to be kept in jail until this was done.

In the ruling, Zalman was accused of making pacts with devils, witches, and magicians and in so doing, bringing great damage to Christianity, as well as concentrating in his hands all the power of Drohobycz in the office of the starosta. Everyone had been dependent on him and had brought him They had gifts. even held the court in his home and had revealed to him every decree in advance, changing them according to his command. He had demanded money for everything. All the artisans' guilds and village councils were forced to give him all their money. The peasants worked his lands for nothing; trees were felled in the forests of the county without payment. He demanded special payments from anyone who purchased a lot of land or built a house on his farms and estates and in the town and its suburbs. Only after the payments were made, did he allow the documents to be entered in the town's record books. The residents were forced to drink brandy, to ensure that his liquor would be sold. Whoever distilled brandy without his knowledge was punished with a large fine. Zalman himself paid no taxes, neither to the crown nor to the municipality. Half of the houses and all the stores in town were in the hands of his family, but the municipality was forced to pay the taxes on them.

Noting that in a free Christian republic one Jew had been able to oppress the Christian population, the court ruled that no punishment would be appropriate for him other than hanging and the confiscation of all his property for the benefit of the victims. On the Sabbath, 14 June 1755, the judgment was to be carried out, and Zalman was to be hanged in the town square.

Meanwhile, the masses gathered in the square. A scaffold had been erected in the centre. The court, together with the mayor and town council members were seated in their places. After a drum roll, the town scribe began to read the sentence. Suddenly, a number of Jews appeared and began to stream directly to the town benches. They began to negotiate. The scribe ceased reading. The community's parnassim, Avigdor ben Zeev, Anschel ben Leib, Waltzia Wojnowicz, Yehoshua ben Moshe, Lazar ben Lejb and Abel ben Aron, offered the municipality 500 red gold pieces (9,000 gold pieces) in exchange for commuting Zalman's death sentence to life imprisonment. After brief deliberations, the proconsul announced that the town government would be prepared to accept the offer, if the entire sum were paid right away. Because of the sanctity of the Sabbath, they accepted pawns, which the Jews had brought with them: a basket full of gold objects, necklaces, rings, chains, pendants, and earrings. On the spot, the town scribe prepared a promissory note on behalf of the parnassim of the congregation and in the name of the families of Zalman, Yitzhak ben Hirsh, Leib ben Zalman and Jona ben Hirsh. According to the promissory note, they took upon themselves, in the name of the community, the obligation to present pawns worth about 500 red gold pieces to the municipality immediately after the Sabbath, thus sparing Zalman Wolfowitz from the hangman and commuting his sentence to life imprisonment. The money was to be paid in cash the following day. They undertook to meet the various claims brought by the Jews of Dolina and Sambor against Zalman. Zalman was to be imprisoned for life, and no steps were to be taken to free him.

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If Zalman did not conduct himself properly in jail, then the authorities were authorized to carry out the death sentence without a new trial. His son Lejb's sentence of 100 lashes with the rod in front of the town hall was commuted.

The following day, the community's parnassim paid the money. Negotiations with the Dolina and Sambor communities continued for years on the demand of the Drohobycz parnassim that the other communities share in the payments made to the town government. The matter was also discussed in a sitting of the District Council at Brody and handed over to the Lwów rabbi for a decision.

Leib and Zalman's family left the town. Zalman remained in jail in Drohobycz. At the order of the judge Lipowski , he was given many comforts. He was even brought kosher food. Yet Zalman tried to figure out how to free himself. Even though his property had been expropriated, he and his relatives had managed to transfer some money to Tiacziw before the sentence was handed down.

Flight was impossible. Thus, Zalman decided to convert in exchange for release from jail. He made his conversion at the end of 1755, receiving the name Andrzej Wolfowicz. He was freed from prison, but only to be transferred to the Carmelite monastery near the town. He attempted to flee from the monastery. His only ambition was to reach Tiacziw. A number of his Jewish adherents even tried to smuggle him out, but they did not succeed. The number of his guards was doubled, and Zalman died in the monastery in 1757. He was buried beside the small church in the Zwarycz suburb of Drohobycz. His memory was immortalized in Galicia in legends and, most especially, in Ruthenian popular song. In the Ruthenian Easter festivities (Hailka), young girls used to sing many songs about the life and cruel deeds of Zalman. Until 1914, the following song was sung in the area[51] of the Drohobycz hills:


Text of song [Polish] English translation by Alex Sharon
Jede, jede Zelman Riding, riding Zalman
Jede, jede jeho brat Riding, riding his brother
Jede, jede Zelmanowa rodyna Riding, riding Zalman's family
W sej koreti Zelman In this carriage sitting Zalman
W sej koreti jego brat In this carriage sitting his brother
W sej koreti Zelmanowa rodyna In this carriage sitting Zalman's family
Pomahaj bih Zelman Help God Zalman
Pomahaj bih jeho brat Help God his brother
Pomahaj bih Zelmanowa rodyna Help God Zalman's family
Każe klasty Zelman Orders Zalman to throw [person] down
Każe klasty jeho brat Orders Zalman's brother to throw [person] down
Każe klasty Zelmanowa rodyna Orders Zalman's family to throw [person] down
Każe byty Zelman Orders Zalman to beat
Każe byty Zelman jeho brat Orders his brother to beat
Każe byty Zelmanowa rodyna Orders Zalman's family to beat
Perebrau wże Zelman Overstepped Zalman
Perebrau wże jeho brat Overstepped Zalman's brother
Perebrau wże Zelmanowa rodyna Overstepped Zalman's family
Ne panuje Zelman Zalman is not in charge
Ne panuje jeho brat Zalman brother is not in charge
Ne panuje Zelmanowa rodyna Zalman's family is not in charge
Na pohybel Zelman To death Zalman
Na pohybel jeho brat To death Zalman brother
Na pohybel Zelmanowa rodyns To death Zalman's family



All of Zalman's assistants and followers, who had run the affairs of the community with him, were dismissed except for Anschel Leibowicz. He remained head of the community for another few years and was also named leader of the province. Besides the 9,000 gold pieces that the community had to pay for freeing Salman from the noose, it was forced to meet the financial demands of the Dolina and Sambor communities. The community was able to recover only 1,000 gold pieces from all of Zalman's property. For many years, the community was delinquent in its tax payments, and under heavy pressure by the authorities. The community sent the salt mine lessee Yaakov ben Shmuel to Warsaw to explain to the authorities the sorry state that had resulted from Zalman's rule. This intervention at court cost sizable sums and led to disputes between the representative and the community, which did not reimburse him for his expenses.

Yaakov Shmuelowicz, one of Zalman's harshest rivals, was chosen parnas after Anschel Leibowicz. In the latter half of the 18th century, Hirsh ben Yaakov, one of the richest people in town, and Yisrael ben Zvi served as rabbis. The community was plagued with debts that dated as far back as 1716. Installment and interest payments rose to 10,000 gold pieces; 50,000 gold pieces were owed to the Carmelite order in Sambor alone.

By 1741, the debts had risen to 90,000 gold pieces, of which 50,000 were owed to the Jesuit order in Sambor, 11,500 to the Carmelite order, 2,000 to the Dominicans in Lwów, and 3,000 to the church in Felsztyn.[52] The community had trouble paying the interest, for which purpose, it had to resort to taking new loans. The countless court cases, which were undertaken, also involved great expense.

In 1716, it had been decided at a general meeting of the entire community to raise the existing taxes and impose indirect taxes of twenty gold pieces on every 100, 10 percent of the value of gold and silver objects and jewelry, 5 percent on apartment houses, and 3.1 percent on simple homes. A special committee took evidence under oath from everyone about his economic situation and property. But the sums mobilized in this fashion were not sufficient to pay the debts.

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When the situation became worse in 1733, it was decided to raise taxes once more. In 1738, the community decided to impose a special tax (koropka) on all items of commerce and on all craft sectors. The tax burden rose, especially during Zalman Wolfowitz's rule.

In 1752, the budget showed revenue, including loans, of 15,652 gold pieces and expenditures of 18,768 gold pieces. That did not include debt payments, the rabbi's salary, and such tax payments as the yeverna, a head tax totaling 2,200 gold pieces.

Thus, it isn't surprising that the community's financial situation in those years was disastrous, even before taking into account the serious effects of Zalman Wolfowitz's rule on the community's financial situation. In 1754, the community owed 121,574 gold pieces, 89,174 to the priests, and 32,400 to the noblemen.[53] We can see how heavy the tax burden was by examining the communal records from the 1750s.[54] As well as direct taxes, there was no consumer good or food item that was not taxed.[55]

From the tax lists in the communal records of 1753, we can determine the occupational composition of Drohobycz Jewry in that period. Jewish breadwinners were divided according to occupation into eight categories: a) lessees and tax-collectors; b) bankers and money-changers; c) wholesalers; d) tavern-keepers and innkeepers; e) retailers and traders; f) middlemen and apprentice traders; g) religious functionaries; h) artisans.

The first group, lessees and tax-collectors, included: a) lessees of the town's mills; b) mead distillery lessees; c) road tax lessees; d) municipal propination lessees; e) salt mine lessees, and salt merchants.

The first group, lessees and tax-collectors, included: a) lessees of the town's mills; b) mead distillery lessees; c) road tax lessees; d) municipal propination lessees; e) salt mine lessees, and salt merchants.

Bankers and moneychangers: as cited above, eighteenth century Drohobycz was an important commercial transfer centre with Hungary. In connection with this trade, capital transactions of three types occurred there: a) loans with interest; b) pawnbrokers to Jews and Christians; c) money-changers.

There were fourteen types of wholesalers. They were headed by: a) wholesalers, who traveled to the fairs in Breslau, Frankfurt am Oder, Rawa,[56] and Danzig, bringing back wares to sell in Drohobycz. It is interesting to note that during this period the Drohobycz merchants were the only traders from Poland who came to these fairs; b) wine merchants, who brought wine from Hungary or from other towns to sell in barrels. Hungarian wine was also purchased from wine merchants in Stryj, the best-known merchants of Hungarian wine in Poland; c) wholesale merchants who dealt with the lands across the Vistula (Germany) and brought back iron, plowshares, and all types of iron implements; d) merchants bringing implements from Bohemia and Italy, such as sickles and roofing nails; e) poultry dealers; f) linen merchants, and those importing linen from Danzig; g) dealers in women's fabrics from France and silk goods; h) grain merchants; i) leather merchants; j) horse and cattle merchants; k) salt fish wholesalers; l) wax wholesalers; m) gold and silver merchants; n) harness merchants.

The fourth category, tavern-keepers and innkeepers, included: a) innkeepers who distilled their own beer and sold liquors, wax, and mead; b) grain syrup merchants; c) sellers of wiśniak[57] or cherry whiskey in jugs; d) innkeepers who also dealt in oats.

The fifth category, retailers and traders, included: a) sellers of salt by the pound; b) sellers of salt fish in the town square; c) sellers of plums, small nuts and Italian nuts; d) sellers of goat cheeses; e) grain sellers; f) sellers of wax by the pound; g) sellers of linen; h) sellers of shoes; i) sellers of leather; j) sellers of lead, sickles and roofing nails.

The sixth category included: a) salt mine clerks; b) middlemen.

The seventh category, religious officers included: rabbis, judges, preachers, slaughterers, teachers, synagogue attendants, tutors.

The eighth category included artisans: by the agreement of 1664, Jews were allowed to deal only in merchandise that competed with the Christian craft guilds. But the Jews paid no attention to this regulation. Jewish artisans worked in the crafts that supplied the needs of the Jewish population. The number of artisans from the start of the Jewish settlement until the 18th century was relatively small, but from the 17th century, Drohobycz was an important center for Jewish artisans, who distributed their goods, especially furs and jewelry, throughout Reisin and beyond.

In the 1765 census, Drohobycz numbered six bakers, six doctors, seven goldsmiths, sixteen tailors, four furriers, three dyers, one tinsmith, one bookbinder, two jewellers, a barber-surgeon, and and a number of musicians.

In the mid eighteenth century, there was a wealthy group among the artisans, who paid substantial taxes. According to the koropka list of 1742, tailors paid two groschen for every gold piece of profit. Traveling tailors, who worked in the villages, paid three groschen for every gold piece, tinsmiths paid four groschen. Jewellers, who worked their own raw material, paid three gold pieces for every 100 gold pieces worth of merchandise. Jewellers, who worked raw material belonging to others, paid four groschen for every gold piece of wages.

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Artisans paid two to four times more than merchants. There was a difference in payment between those artisans, who worked independently and those who worked for others,

As a commercial centre, there was great occupational variety in Drohobycz's Jewish population. But this list does not reveal the differences among those Jews working in trades and those who were laborers and wage earners. One must assume that there was great diversity in this stratum too.

The masses were not always happy with the communal rulers. For the most part, they did not like them and made their dissatisfaction known. It is true that we only know of only one case of an attempt to rise up against the rulers of the community, but this is because of the lack of documentary evidence for similar cases. In 1770, an excommunication was declared in the synagogue against Avigdor Herszowicz , on the grounds that he had incited the masses against the leaders. On the basis of this excommunication, he was barred for life from any communal job or position.

In the second half of the 18th century, the Jewish community had become large and stable from a socio-economic point of view. The houses in the center of town belonged to the Jews. The crises during Zalman's rule had passed and were quickly forgotten, and the community resumed its normal functioning. It even managed to pay off a sizable part of its debt, to the point that the total had fallen to 26,968 gold pieces by the time Galicia was annexed to Austria. In 1765, in the last census under Polish rule, there were 1,923 Jews in Drohobycz and its dependent areas. In the town itself, 979 Jews paid the head-tax. Jews owned 200 houses, mostly built of wood. In this period, Rabbi Reb Naftali Hirtz served as rabbi and chief judge.

In 1769, a large number of Polish soldiers passed through Drohobycz and camped in the town. They forced the population provide lodging, food, fodder and beverages. According to an order by the starosta, Wacław Rzewuski , given to his son Józef on July 20, the burden was distributed among the population according to the following formula: one third of the expenses were to be covered by the Christians, one third by the villages and one third by the Jews living in the town and inŁan. In order to ensure a fair distribution of beverages, food, and fodder, the Christians and the Jews each chose two officers, who were sworn in by the town government.[58]

We do not know to what degree confusion and disorder was brought upon the Jews of Poland by the Sabbataean[59] movement and how Frankism[60] affected the Jews of Drohobycz. The existing sources relay no details whatsoever on this matter. However, the khasidic movement did penetrate into the Jewish community. Rabbi Yitzhak of Drohobycz was one of the earliest of the khasidim. His father, Rabbi Yosef was a man of truth, and was called by the people Safra Viedliver. Yosef was a follower of the Baal Shem Tov. In his old age, he immigrated to Eretz Israel and sent his son a khumash[61] from there. His mother was called Yente, the prophetess.

Rabbi Yitzhak was a moralizing preacher in Drohobycz. At first, he opposed the Baal Shem Tov[62] and his teaching, because he wrote amulets.[63] But despite his opposition, khasidic legend tells, he secretly admired him. We know how much he admired and honoured the Baal Shem Tov from the legend that tells that the Besht would go to him to serve him. One night, Reb Yitzhak was unable to sleep. He knew, therefore, that he had committed a sin and that he had to repent before he could sleep. He considered all his deeds and found no sin, apart from having kept his silence and made no protest, when he had been in the company of mockers, who made fun of the Besht. He immediately went to the Besht, made peace with him, and became one of his intimates. From that time he became one of his most faithful pupils.

After joining the Besht, Rabbi Yitzhak Drohobyczer went to Ostrava, and became one of the ten batlanim,[64] and later a moralizing preacher at the bet hamidrash[65] of the well-known magid Yózef Yózefa ben Shmuel Yelkish (d. 1762). For a certain period of time, he lived in Brody and befriended the head of the yeshiva, Rabbi Yitzhak Hamburger. He was later a moralizing preacher in Horochów and once more in Drohobycz. He died in Horochów.[66] His son was Rabbi Yehiel Michael, the preacher of Złoczów , among the most outstanding pupils of the Besht.[67]

Among the first khasidim in Drohobycz, one Drohobyczer, who was rabbi and judge of the tailors' society in Ostróg[68] and should also mention Rabbi Yosef Drobyczer (Ashkenazi), father of Rabbi Israel Nahman later judge and rabbi in a number of towns in Poland and Germany. At the end the eighteenth century, he went to Italy and traveled widely there. He was a native of Stanisławów, and sympathized with the khasidim. He, his wife, and his family emigrated to Eretz Israel and settled in Safed in 1804. In 1807, he traveled abroad to publish his books. He left again in 1813, living for a few years in Livorno. He spent his last years in Eretz Israel. There were not many khasidim in Drohobycz in the 18th century, and their influence was not felt in communal life. The influence of the khasidim began to be important only in the 19th century.


In 1772, Reisin was annexed to Austria, and Drohobycz became an Austrian city. This political event brought change in all areas of daily life. First of all, the Austrian administration that was sent to Reisin, known as Galicia after 1772, had a colonizing mission. Through a series of orders, laws, and decrees, they tried to erase the area's past and turn it into an imperial province, just like the other crown lands within the Hapsburg monarchy.

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From the very beginning of the Austrian rule the administration viewed Drohobycz as a city. Right after the conquest of Galicia, Drohobycz was faced with an important problem. Its solution influenced its economic and financial existence.

As a royal city, Drohobycz, like other cities with the same status, benefited from special attention from the bureaucracy. In contrast to cities, in which the municipal government during the Polish era held monopoly rights to the propination, the starosta, the king's legal representative, leased out this monopoly in Drohobycz, Sambor, and Stryj, in the majority of cases to Jews, through agreements reached with the municipality, at times voluntarily, at times by force. When these agreements had been made many years before, the municipalities showed no concern about the manner of leasing or about who was getting the income. The Austrian authorities declared immediately that these rights be returned to the cities. Acting on their advice, Drohobycz brought suit against the treasury and the lessees, demanding the cancellation of the contracts and return of the monopoly to the city. The city won the case, thereby gaining the possibility of an annual income of 5,000-6,000 gold pieces. Naturally, this change seriously damaged the vital interests of the Jews. Furthermore, the officials disregarded the fact that the majority of the city's residents were Jews, the very Jews, whom most of the bureaucrats viewed as smugglers, swindlers, and thieves.

From an administrative standpoint, Drohobycz belonged to the Sambor district. Changes in the internal affairs of the Jews were initiated as well. According to new legislation regarding Jews, promulgated by Empress Maria Theresa in 1776, the Jews of Galicia were governed by a new organization. The Generaldirektion der Juden, the chief executive council of the Jews of Galicia, stood at the top of a hierarchical order that included all the communities, each led by six to twelve parnassim (community leaders).

The communities in the Drohobycz and Sambor districts were under the direction of the district parnassim (Kreisältester), over whom six provincial parnassim (Landeältester) were in charge, headed by the provincial rabbi. Six district parnassim and six provincial parnassim, together with the provincial rabbi at the head, constituted the chief executive council of the Jews of Galicia and were responsible for all Jewish concerns.

This body was eliminated in 1786. No province-wide body was set up in its place; only the local community parnassim remained in office. With the exception of Lwów and Brody, each headed by a directorate composed of seven parnassim, all the communities (including Drohobycz) were run by committees composed of three parnassim. Their functions included: representing the community before the authorities; caring for the poor in the community; supervising, together with the community rabbi, the registration of births, marriages, and deaths; collecting the community tax; collecting the Jews' taxes; and running all communal matters. The parnassim reported to the district authorities and were under their control.

The authorities investigated what taxes and payments had been imposed on the Drohobycz community and its members and then approved the community rabbi and parnassim.[69] In the meantime, economic problems arose which worked to undermine Jewish life. In Austria, unlike Poland, the trade in salt was a government monopoly. The authorities took control of all trade in salt and established an office for the sale of Galician salt (Direktion des galizischen Salzverschleisses).

Except for the large mines at Bochnia and Wieliczka, they took over all salt mines, including those in Drohobycz, together with the salt-water springs, from which refined salt and distilled salt (Sudsalz) were produced.

Just after the annexation of Galicia, Shlomo David, a Jew from Breslau, and Ze'ev Moshe Heymann of Prussia, attempted to obtain from the director of the salt monopoly the right to sell Galicia's entire salt production, whether from the mines, the springs, or the refineries. In fact, Shlomo David succeeded, after negotiations with Vienna, in attaining the right to purchase salt for a total of two million gulden but he did not succeed in getting a lease for mining salt.[70] In Drohobycz itself, a number of Jews received the right to sell salt from the board of the monopoly. But the government's concentration of salt production hurt a large number of Jews, and over the course of time, even those few Jews, who had received the right at the beginning of Austrian rule, lost it.

The most important salt refinery in Galicia was located in Drohobycz, with branches in Hucisko, Stebnik, and Solec. 50,000 hundredweight (each about 2 kilograms) of refined salt were produced each year in these refineries. They brought almost 180,000 florins into the treasury each year.

Besides salt, the government began to be interested in another type of mineral resource. As far back as 1772, in Słoboda Rungurska in Pokocja[71] several Jews began to exploit a type of oil found beneath the surface. From this material, which was actually petroleum, although this was not recognized, the Jews produced grease for wagons and for leather. In the vicinity of Drohobycz, where petroleum was later discovered, the residents had noticed that a kind of earth-oil would seep up from the ground. The peasants used it to make grease for wagons and shoes, and also a sort of varnish.

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The peasants paid two florins and fifty kreuzer for each hole they drilled to dig this oil.[72] The first attempts to strike oil were made in 1810 in the area of Borysław by a Jew named Hecker, but without positive results. More than half a century passed before it was successfully shown that these lands were indeed rich in petroleum. We have detailed information as to the degree to which Jews exploited this resource and concerned themselves with the production of grease for wagons and shoes.

In the meantime, the city, which had won its suit to regain its right over propination, was making major efforts to obtain recognition for the privilege de non tolerandis Judaeis, in order to drive out the Jews from within the city. In fact, it succeeded. At first, the municipality requested in 1780 that its citizens be given back the homes that once belonged to them and now were owned by Jews.[73] In October 1783, the city's representatives, Piechowicz and Anton Hisowicz, turned to the authorities with the request that the Jews be made to evacuate the city immediately and to move to their quarter NaŁanie, where they had long since been given permission to live. In addition, they asked that the Jews be prevented from carrying on any commerce or sale of brandy in the city. The government replied that after studying all the city's privileges, it would decide to what extent the implementation of these demands would be legal.[74] In November 1783, they sent to Vienna for all the documents concerning the privileges of Drohobycz. But even before this request, the above-mentioned representatives asked that an order be given that elections to the city council be held only in the presence of the district governor and without the participation of the Jews.[75] On 3 April 1784, the government ruled that the city council elections be held under the supervision of the district commissar in the presence of the area officer, and that Jews be excluded from the elections.[76] The privilege de non tolerandis Judaeis was renewed in this ruling, and at the start of 1784, the Jewish community was ordered to leave the city, sell their houses, and settle only in NaŁanie, This order, carried out punctiliously and with severity, caused the economic collapse of the Jews.

In connection with this evacuation, the beverage-tax lessees Aba ben Zalman, Moshe ben Israel, and Ze'ev ben Leib demanded the return of beverage taxes paid by Jewish tavern keepers as advance payments or as unjustified payments. After extended negotiations, the Jewish community and the municipality reached an agreement. This Vienna Agreement provided that any payment of more than forty-five kreuzer per barrel of beer be returned. Advance payments of a total of 3,573 florins and seven and a half kreuzer were invested as the capital of the Jewish community in Drohobycz as a public trust. The profits were used to cover expenses of the community. In 1787, the government agreed to use the interest from this capital to pay the community's debts from the Polish era.[77] In the same period, the community asked the government to order that 15,000 florins be paid to it by the heirs of the last starosta, General Rzewuski.[78] On 9 December, they sent to Vienna for the documents, but we do not know to what extent the community's demand was complied with and whether this money was returned. The municipality also made efforts to eliminate the rest of the lessees, such as Shmuel Majerowicz, lessee of the flourmills, but in this instance the municipality failed.

Despite the decree that they evacuate the city and give back their houses, the Jews of Drohobycz did not despair. A few weeks after the authorities' decision was announced, the parnas Yitzhak Benyamin made a written appeal on behalf of the community that the Jews be allowed to keep their houses and conduct commerce. In November 1784, the central authorities in Vienna ordered that the Jews be protected against all prejudices.[79]

But the Jews still faced a difficult struggle for the right to live and own property in the city. The Christians, the earlier owners, broke into the homes and forced their Jewish owners to leave. The authorities were flooded with complaints from Jews evicted from their homes and requests that they be allowed to conduct their businesses or trade.

The head of the community Izak Benyamin, who used to represent the community to the authorities prior to the Austrian conquest,[80] carefully examined and worked diligently on each and every case. For example, in November 1784, he reported the humiliating incident of the Jewish tailor Cymel Berkowicz and two wealthy merchants, who were turned out of their homes and whose merchandise was thrown into the street. In the name of the community, he requested that the sale of the houses be stopped and that the situation be examined anew.[81]

Apart from their struggle with the municipality, the Jews of Drohobycz were suffering from the burden of taxes and fines for violating the ban on marriages and divorces. Their situation in this respect was no better than that of the rest of the Jews in Galicia.

After the Austrian conquest, the community's economy deteriorated, so that it was no longer able to meet its vital needs. In addition, creditors from the Polish era were pressuring the community. As mentioned above, in 1772, the debts of the Drohobycz Jewish community totaled 26,968 gold pieces. In particular, the Drohobycz Jew Feiwel Herschowitz was demanding that the community pay the 9,816 gold pieces that it owed him. In March 1774, the community asked for a ten-year extension. This extension was approved, allowing the congregation to breathe more easily.[82]

In 1785, the last remnants of communal autonomy were eliminated, and all political and legal rights were canceled. Taxes were no longer levied on entire communities;

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they were imposed on each individual Jew. The job of tax collection was handed over to government officials. The community lost its national character and it became a purely religious society.

Emperor Josef II, a believer in physiocratic theories,[83] tried to solve the Jewish problem by settling the Jews on the land as peasants. It is interesting to note that shortly after the Austrian conquest, Count Potocki, lord of the city of Brody, wanted to settle Jews on the land as farmers in his village Stanisławczik (near Brody). The Galician government, acting on orders from the government in Vienna, replied negatively to Potocki's proposal.

But the government changed its mind over the course of time, with the idea that through the agricultural settlement of Galician Jews, it would be possible to solve the Jewish problem, which the government found to be a heavy burden. In 1782, an order went out from Vienna that Jews who worked the land would have to pay to pay only half the marriage tax, and after a short period of time, they would be completely exempt from this tax. The program began to be put into effect only after the emperor's order of 16 July 1785 was issued. In the spring of 1786, the first Jewish colony was founded, at the village of Dąbrówka near Nowy-Sącz, followed by the colony “New Babylon” near Bolechów, and a number of other small colonies that did not last very long. According to the government's plan, it was determined that of the overall number of 1,410 families of Jewish settlers from all of Galicia, twenty-four families should come from Drohobycz. By 1792, twenty-four families were settled, comprising twenty-five men, twenty-eight women, twelve boys, and fourteen girls under the age of eighteen. The settlers' property consisted of twenty-four houses, twenty-four barns, 190 land parcels, twenty-four units of agricultural implements, twelve horses, fifteen bulls, and twenty-eight cows.

Expenses were to be covered by the Jewish communities in the areas of settlement. Settlement expenses for one family were reckoned as a total of 250 florins. Every twenty-five, thirty, or forty heads of household were required to settle one indigent family.[84] Although the Jewish settlement quota for the Sambor district, which included the city of Drohobycz, was seventy-two families, by 1803, 117 families were settled, with 278 adults and 179 children under the age of eighteen. Their property included 117 houses, 117 barns, 980 plots of land, 117 agricultural implements 128 horses, 130 bulls and 206 cows.[85]

At a meeting of the Imperial Court in Vienna on 29 June 1804, it was especially emphasized that in contrast to the districts of Myślenice, Bochnia, Tarnów, Jasło, Przemyśl, Reisha (Rzeszów), Sanok, Lwów, Złoczów, Tarnopol, Stryj, Stanisławów, and Zaleszczyki, where the total number of families settled fell short of the quota imposed on them by 356, the Jews of the districts of Sambor, Źółkwa, Zamość, Brzeżany and Bukovina should be singled out for praise, especially the Jews of Sambor, who exceeded their quota by forty-five families, and of Brzeżany, who settled sixty-two families more than their quota.[86]

In 1822, seventy-two families in the Sambor district of those settled at the expense of the Jewish communities were still involved in agriculture (not one family settled at its own expenses). The following data can give some idea of how the heavy tax burden reduced many Jews to impoverishment: in the Sambor district, 1,662 families paid a total of 8,310 florins, just for the tolerance tax (Toleranzsteuer).

In 1788-89, due to their impoverished economic situation, these families fell short of this sum by 3,083 florins and forty-five kreuzer. In 1801, a family of category A (paying the lowest tax) had to pay four florins and nine kreuzer per year, but because of unpaid debts from previous years, the actual amount owed was fifteen florins and thirty-five kreuzer, so that in 1801, the Jews of Drohobycz collectively owed 4,101 florins and fifty-seven kreuzer for the tolerance tax alone. Because of their difficult financial situation, the district office granted a five-year extension, so that they had to pay only 820 florins and twenty-three kreuzer each year.[87]

Most of the Jews made a living by selling beverages or through retail trade in the NaŁanie suburb. A few Jews tried to set up factories. In 1792, Leib Yosefsberg, who had leased the candle tax under Emperor Josef II, received a special decree allowing him to set up a factory to make leather shoes. His company remained within the family for nearly 150 years, and was among the best enterprises in the leather industry in Galicia.

Unfortunately, we lack precise numbers for the Jewish population in Drohobycz and for its occupational breakdown. In 1788, a census was taken in all of Galicia. We have data only for the numbers of Jews in entire districts, without details for the individual cities. In the Sambor district, to which the city of Drohobycz belonged, there were four Jewish communities (Sambor, Drohobycz, Turka, Komarno) with 1,812 families numbering 8,690 individuals, 4,315 men and 4,375 women.

In 1790 the number of families in the Sambor district was 1,662; they paid 8,310 florins for the tolerance tax.

In 1792, when seven small communities were added to the Sambor district, a total of 1,801 families paid the tolerance tax. They numbered 8,140 individuals.[88]

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As in all other Galician communities, a Jewish elementary school (Jüdische Normalshule) was set up in Drohobycz in 1788 according to the plan of Herz Homberg.[89] Frankl Eidlitz worked there as teacher with an annual salary of 150 florins.[90] In 1793, Moses Zekendorf served as teacher. Among the most extreme supporters of the Enlightenment, he aimed at improving the cultural and intellectual situation of Galician Jews. At the end of 1793, Zekendorf presented a memorandum with his recommendations to the government in Vienna. But he asked that care be taken so that his memorandum did not fall into the hands of Herz Homberg, his supervisor. His memorandum had been put together at the initiative of a number of Jews, apparently from Drohobycz, who were interested in improving the situation of the Galician Jews. In his memorandum, Zekendorf demanded that the government force the Jews to exchange their traditional garb for German dress and prohibit marriages of children before the age of puberty. He admitted that the Jews had a weakness for giving bribes but said that through systematic education, it was possible to change their way of life and arrive at a point, which, without even feeling it, they would cease to be Jews and would be disgusted at those Jews, who were tied to their traditions and outmoded customs and ideas. In his opinion, the Jews should be left in the villages, since by moving them to the cities, the latter would be made Jewish. They should be prohibited from producing or trading in brandy. Their desperate situation and the poverty that prevailed among them was not the result of economic circumstances but of their religious principles, which kept them from being producers and artisans. His memorandum shows that he belonged to the Enlightenment school in the manner of Herz Homberg, who aspired to use all means to prepare the Jews of Galicia for an extreme process of assimilation.

It is not surprising that the Viennnese Authorities were interested in his memorandum. They passed it on to the Lwów government with instructions to make use of its proposals, since the government was at that time busy preparing a new Jewish law.[91]

But Zeckendorf, the teacher, was not the only one in in Drohobycz, who offered proposals to the government for reforming the lives of the Jews. Ozer Lipmann, a Drohobycz Jew, was concerned not only with reforming Jews, but also with increasing the revenues of the government treasury. In November 1793, he presented a memorandum to the governor of Galicia, Count Brigido, in which he suggested that the granting of titles by the Jews be restricted, and that an appropriate payment be imposed by the treasury for the granting of each title of morenu (our teacher). The commissioner found the suggestion interesting and passed the memorandum on to Herz Homberg for his opinion. Homberg, as was his custom, gave an explanation of the essence of the term morenu. He said that in Galicia the title was misappropriated, because it was granted to people who were not learned in the Talmud. Their pride was exalted, and most of them became idlers. Furthermore, this situation impeded learning in the German schools. But despite this opinion, the bureau of the Court in Vienna decided that unemployment among the Jews resulted not from the granting of titles, but rather from Jewish religious principles and Jewish education. Despite this determination, the government was not deterred from ruling that candidates for the degree morenu had to know the German language in addition to the Talmud, and had to pay a fee of six ducats. Whoever used the title falsely would be punished by a twelve-ducat fine.[92]

Ozer Lipmann was apparently not a nice person. In May 1793, he presented a charge that the leaders of the Jewish community in Drohobycz were hiding money collected for the community and had embezzled fifty florins. He was prepared to conduct an investigation, accompanied by a commissioner, and to return the “misappropriated funds”, but in return for this service, he asked to be given a job in the beer distillery in Drohobycz.[93] The central authorities rejected his offer, but demanded a detailed report on the Drohobycz community finances.[94]

A dispute emerged in the community at that time. In 1792, a number of Jews, led by Wolf Sternbach, Isaac Sonnenberg, Moshe Baumgarten, Izak Benkendorf and Józef Diamantenstein presented complaints against the leaders of the community regarding the dishonest management of community finances. The bureau of the district government rejected their complaints. They presented an appeal in March 1793.[95] but once again they failed in their efforts. The administration of the community did not pass to the opposition.

The Jews of Drohobycz, as those of the other cities, suffered greatly from the sub-lessees of the meat and candle tax in the district city Sambor. Every now and then the authorities were flooded with complaints about acts of oppression by the lessees, who carried out tax collections with unusual cruelty, which brought dozens of families to impoverishment through corruption and confiscation of the few possessions they had.

Jewish wholesalers had concentrated important economic sectors in their hands. But the majority, who were retailers, peddlers and even publicans, had a tough struggle for existence.

The case brought by the municipality against the Jews concerning the return of the houses they had purchased from the Christians was still unresolved. But a number of documents from 1822 show, that after extended negotiations, the Christian owners generally agreed to a compromise and financial compensation, and left the houses in the hands of the Jews. These sums were approved by the central authorities in Vienna. Thus this affair, which weighed heavily on the Jews of Drohobycz, was at last resolved and the houses remained in their hands. One such extended case was conducted by the Jewish merchant Akiwa Kanarienstein against Johan Dolański for nearly three decades, until he received his house through a compromise and compensation approved in Vienna.[96]

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The Jewish tavern keepers were also involved in a difficult struggle with the authorities, who reduced their numbers and canceled the majority of permits. But in this struggle as well, a sizable number were able to arrange things by extensions, which delayed the permit cancellations, despite the complaints of the Christian tavern keepers. This struggle between the Jewish tavern keepers and the municipal authorities on the one hand and the Christian tavern keepers on the other hand continued until the middle of the nineteenth century, even though according to clause 33 of the patent of 7 May 1789, only those Jews who had been in the business in their own homes in 1784 were allowed to continue.

In 1819-20, the authorities significantly increased the tax quotas. The Jews of Drohobycz joined with the other communities to request a reduction, since the decline in commerce and their economic impoverishment had made them unable to pay the taxes at the required rate. The provincial government, in light of the difficult situation, suggested that the additional tax (Ergänzungssteuer) be dispensed with.[97]

In the 1812 census, 636 Jewish families were counted in Drohobycz, numbering 2,492 people including 1,237 males and 1,255 females. Data for the rest of the Sambor district: 1) Sambor, with 280 Jewish families (1,190 people: 599 men, 591 women); 2) Turka with 126 families (554 people: 286 men and 268 women ); 3) Borysław with five families (twenty-three people: nine men and fourteen women ); altogether [in the Sambor district]; there were 2,337 Jewish families with 9,907 people, 5,054 men and 4,853 women; in the four cities, there were 1,047 families with 4,259 people (2,131 men and 2,128 women), and in the villages, estates and hamlets around the cities, 1,290 Jewish families with 5,648 people (2,923 men and 2,725 women). In addition, six Karaite families, with twenty-two people (ten men and twelve women), lived in Drohobycz.[98]

No great changes occurred in communal life in the period before 1848. Rabbi Yosef Zvi Hersch served as rabbi from 1822-1825, followed by Rabbi Abraham Yaakov ben Feiwel Horszowski, who served until his death on 27 Tevet 1841. Rabbi Horszowski, who had previously been rabbi at Jezupol and Uhnów , made a great spiritual contribution in shaping the community and its institutions from the beginning of his term in 1825. He was noted for his human approach and fine relations with the members of his community, who idolized him. Thanks to the influence of Rabbi Horszowski, those years, when most Galician communities had launched into serious wars between the misnagdim [opponents to khasidim] and khasidim on one side and the maskilim (Enlightened) on the other, passed quietly in Drohobycz. The community did not suffer the internal shocks, as in other communities.

In 1849, the burial society arranged for a special hearse with a black coffin. A similar arrangement in Brody had roused up a storm among the haredim (ultra-orthodox) headed by the preacher Reb Shlomo Kluger, which even led to arrests and court cases. Not so in Drohobycz. Here the Jewish public accepted the new arrangement quietly, and among the haredim, as it was said at the time, “no one is opening a mouth or making a peep”. When it was learned that the authorities were thinking about ordering the Jews to change their traditional garb for European clothing, the Drohobycz community, together with the rest of the Sambor district communities, presented a memorandum asking that such a law not be put into effect, since the change of clothing would entail serious financial expenditures, which would do great damage to incomes from the kosher meat tax. Secondly, such a law would cause great damage to merchant houses, which were holding a large stock of cloth. The price of European clothing would also increase. The government replied to this memorandum and those from other communities saying that changing Jewish costume in Moravia had not reduced incomes from the kosher meat tax. The government was considering granting an extension before carrying out the law.[99]

A change occurred in the life of the community when Rabbi Eliezer Nissan Teitelbaum (1786-1856) became rabbi of Drohobycz.

Rabbi Teitelbaum was the son of the Szigeti rabbi Moshe, the author of “Yismach Moishe”, the founder of a dynasty of admorim[100] in northern Hungary. Rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum (1759-1841) was born in Przemyśl, served as rabbi in Sieniawa and later in Przemyśl, was close to the admor of Lublin, Rabbi Jakub Yitzhak, at the time the latter was living inŁancut and became famous among the Jewish masses as a wonder rabbi. Rabbi Moshe learned the ways of khasidim from him, especially the ways of becoming holy in the eyes of the masses.

In 1809, he moved to Hungary and settled in the city of Ujhely, where a small community of khasidim was living. With his leadership and religious enthusiasm, the members of his community became his followers. Apart from his sermons, which aroused his listeners emotionally, most of his work involved distributing amulets to sick people and to all those in distress, who sought help. The number of followers seeking his help grew from day to day, and his influence spread to other northern Hungarian cities as well. Thus a new khasidic dynasty of admorim was established. His son, Rabbi Eliezer Nissan, who was educated in the khasidic atmosphere of his father's house, naturally brought this influenced to Drohobycz. Khasidism grew stronger in Drohobycz during his rabbinate. Before he came to Drohobycz, he was rabbi of Marmoresh-Sziget, which in his era became the khasidic bastion for the entire region. He served in Drohobycz until his death on 9 Tishrei 5616 (1856). Although two of his sons, Yehuda of Sziget and Shmuel of Gorlice, were rabbis, the community chose as its new rabbi the son of the late rabbi's predecessor, Eliahu Horszowski (the author of “P'nei Eliahu”), who had previously been rabbi in Jezupol and Uhnów.[101]

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The maskilim, whose numbers had increased during these years, influenced the leaders of the community in this choice. The economic developments in the city and its environs that followed the discovery of naphtha, in which foreign customers were interested, made it undesirable to have a partisan rabbi. Rabbi Eliahu Horszowski, like his father, was noted for his practical approach to general affairs and was acceptable to all members of the congregation, because of his humane and non-partisan attitudes. He died on 2 Marhesvan 5644 (1883), after serving in the rabbi's seat in Drohobycz for twenty-seven years.

* * *

In the war over the growing influence of Western culture that raged in the mid-nineteenth century in the communities of Lwów, Brody, Tarnopol, Bolechów, Stanisławów, Tyśmienica, and Jarosław, Drohobycz did not play a sizable role. As was mentioned, the town did not take part in the struggle that broke out between the haredim and the supporters of the Enlightenment. Nevertheless, a small circle of maskilim, who aspired to reform and changes in the Jewish way of life, began to expand and attract a sizable number of merchants and oil businessmen. Over the course of time, it managed to take command of running the community and its institutions.

However, their chief wish, which was educational reform and elimination of the obsolete methods of the kheder, remained only a pium desiderium [pious desire]. The attempts to found a Jewish school remained on paper and were not successfully implemented until the 1860s. In this period, only a very small number of children studied in the general government school. In a number of families, private tutors taught foreign languages.

The contact with non-Jewish circles and Jews from outside of Drohobycz, who were interested in developing the oil reserves after they were discovered, had a sizable influence on cultural assimilation and the spread of general education among the merchant families.

In contrast to Lwów, Tarnopol, Stanisławów, and Brody, where the maskilim were led by people from the academically educated strata, for the most part doctors, the maskilim circle in Drohobycz was composed of merchants and commercial functionaries. Moderate maskilim were already sitting on the community council. They did not want to introduce new arrangements likely to stir up opposition from the pious. The merchants Berisch Gottlieb, Hersch Goldhammer, Selig Lauterbach, and Yehoshua Moshe Sternbach led the community. They were moderates who were not looking for battles and struggles with the haredim.

The events of 1848 were not particularly noted in Jewish life; we have no information as to how much the Jews of Drohobycz participated in the political events of those days or what their reactions were. But one may assume that the leaders of the community knew about and gave their consent to the submission in 1848 by the Sambor district rabbi Shlomo Deutsch of a memorandum to the government concerning the abolition of the meat and candle tax in accordance with a resolution of the first assembly of representatives of the major communities in Galicia, convened in the summer of 1847 at the initiative of the Lwów community. Rabbi Deutsch's memorandum cited the impoverished economic situation of the Jewish population and the suffering that stemmed from the limitations placed on Jews' activity in commerce, crafts and the purchase of farms. In particular, the Jews were suffering from the burden of taxes placed only on them because of their religion. In the memorandum, signed by Rabbi Deutsch and three of the leaders of the Sambor community, the government was requested to set up a school for Jewish youth.[102] This memorandum was sent, as was stated, as a result of the resolution of the assembly of representatives of the major communities in Galicia. At this assembly, it was decided that the Jews of the districts of Lwów, Tarnopol, Stryj, Brody, Sambor, and Stanisławów submit memoranda to Emperor Ferdinand I, which included the demands for the abolition of the ghetto, the kosher meat and candle tax, and the existing limitations on Jewish activity in commerce, the crafts, and the free professions.


Economic expansion began to take place even in the period before 1849, when oil was discovered in Borysław and its vicinity. In the mid-19th century, especially after 1848, Drohobycz turned into an important commercial and industrial point in the Galician economy.

The Jewish population grew by leaps and bounds with the arrival of Jews from the smaller towns and other places, who came to Drohobycz to seek their livelihood. The Jews' economic importance had an effect on their political status. In 1848, the Jews were given the right to own land. On the basis of this right, a number of Jews in Drohobycz purchased estates in the environs of the city. After the constitution of 1849 was abolished by the decree of 31 December 1851, the question arose as to what would happen to the land and other real estate purchased by the Jews between 1848 and 1851. The decree of 3 Oct 1858 restored all the limitations on the right of ownership that had been in force before 1848. However, it was stressed that those limitations did not apply to the legal acquisitions made by the Jews before the new decree. Whoever now wanted to purchase an estate or real estate would have to present a special request to the central government. The estate lessee Schlomo Bronstein of Drohobycz made such a request in June 1855, to allow him to purchase an estate in Galicia. After the authorities confirmed that he was an honest, loyal citizen with proper manners and noted his special affinity for agriculture, the ministerial council suggested that he be given permission; his request was answered favorably by Emperor Franz Josef I.

[Page 29]

On 20 June 1855,[103] after the Jews had been given permission by the decree of 18 February 1860 to purchase real estate, thirty Jews from Drohobycz and two from Borysław presented requests for permits to buy houses and other real estate. The following are the names of those who submitted such requests, which were approved:

  1. The head of the community, Berisch Gottlieb, wanted to build homes.[104]
  2. Hersch Goldhammer, propination lessee, oil well owner, and military supplier.[105]
  3. Marko Dinter, an agent in Moldavian merchandise.[106]
  4. Dan Lindenbaum, had received citizenship in the town in 1850,[107] along with Selig Lauterbach. 1
  5. Jakub Segal.[108]
  6. Berisch Gottlieb.[109]
  7. Selig Lauterbach, who had already received citizenship in Drohobycz, owned houses, and founded and administered the Jewish hospital.[110]
  8. Rafael Hersch Pitzele, owned an oil refinery in Drohobycz.[111]
  9. Altmann, Gottlieb, “private oil producer”.[112]
  10. A. Präger wanted to buy mineral real estate. He owned oil wells and was a partner in the oil refinery in Borysław and the parafin candle factory.[113]
  11. Kallenberg, merchant.[114]
  12. The doctor, surgeon, and obstetrician. Zwangheim, took the obligatory exams in 1854. “Has given up Jewish dress and is not given over to the obsolete Jewish customs.”[115]
  13. Sternbach, owner of houses and plots, spice merchant; owner of an oil and paraffin candle factory in Borysław, parnas of the Drohobycz community since 1858.[116]
  14. Spandorfer, blacksmith.[117]
  15. Fichmann, owner of an oil refinery.[118]
  16. Aronauer, merchant.[119]
  17. Süssmann, Abel, army and municipal supplier.[120]
  18. Löwenthal, oil producer.[121]
  19. Liebermann, army and municipal supplier.[122]
  20. Berger, former soldier.[123]
  21. Chajet.[124]
  22. Freilich, one of the most important oil producers.[125]
  23. Händel, oil well owner and owner of an oil refinery.[126]
  24. Mauzer, former soldier, army supplier.[127]
  25. Bloch.[128]
  26. Hersch Dörfler.[129]
  27. Goldhammer, oil manufacturer.[130]
  28. Gartenberg, oil producer.[131]
  29. Schützmann, Borysław.[132]
  30. Kreisberg, Borysław.[133]
  31. Weitzmann[134] Drohobycz.
  32. Shreier.[135]
  33. Josefsberg, Leib.
In the 1840s, a mineral was found in the soil in the village of Borysław, similar to oil and wax, at a depth of 5-6 metres. After digging for 30-40 metres, solid strata of wax turned up. This wax was called łep; the workers who excavated it were known as “łepaks”. Wax was also found in stones and was removed by workers known as kuczynierzy.

Even before 1848, a Jew from Drohobycz, Abraham Schreiner,[136] made experiments. After a number of primitive experiments, he discovered that the oily liquid found in the soil yielded a transparent liquid. After chemical experiments that were conducted by the Lwów pharmacists I.Łukasiewicz and Jan Zeh, it was realized that this was pure naphtha. From that time, frenzied searches and well digging began, with simple implements and in a very primitive fashion, and only to a depth of a few metres. Oil refineries were immediately built, primarily in Drohobycz, following the methods devised by Schreiner andŁukasiewicz. Benjamin Landesberg discovered other methods for producing naphtha from wax. Until 1840, Landesberg lived in Brody, where he was engaged in the import of English merchandise into Russia. Following the commercial crisis in Brody, he went to Vienna.

He returned to Galicia in 1850, and became interested in the production of naphtha in Borysław. After a number of experiments, he found a way to produce paraffin and set up a factory, which burned down after a short period. After rebuilding it, he received a permit in 1866 for a paraffin and paraffin oil production monopoly from Emperor Franz Josef I, the only Jew to receive one. Under its terms, he set up a factory in Lwów. His son Marian set up a factory in Lwów in 1860 for the production of stearin, stearin candles and soap. Marian also discovered a way to color the oil.

Owners of lots and plots of land in Borysław began digging for oil. If they discovered a source of oil, poor people became rich in a short time. Although a later the picture changed somewhat, now owners of plots, where oil was found, became rich overnight.

[Page 30]

A member of that generation who lived to see these events, described the turnabout as follows: “Many people who had been poor, who had nothing, no clothing, who were hungry for bread, now appeared at the top of the stairs. They built houses, their wives got fat, sported earrings in their ears, rings and bracelets on their hands, pearls, precious stones, silver and gold vessels; they ate and drank, dressed in expensive suits and dresses, and celebrated every day. They would also buy fields and vineyards; they would dig holes; in most of them oil was found.”[137]

In those days the refineries were still worked by hand, and young boys and girls would gather the oil in vessels. Apart from the oil wells, huge quantities of wax were also brought out of the depths of the earth.

In that period, they would usually dig only to a depth of thirty meters. In 1862, they began to dig as deep as 250 metres. In those years, production reached 10 tons a day.

All of this work was done only by Jewish workers. After the 1860s, when foreign companies invested money, the Jewish workers started to be pushed out. Oil production shot up particularly in 1866, when a Jew dug a well on the border of Wolanka near Borysław, and found oil in great quantities. Every day 100 to 150 barrels were drawn from this well. One barrel cost ten florins.

In 1865, there were already 5,000 workers in 2,500 wells; by 1872, the numbers had risen to 10,500 workers in 4,500 wells, of whom only about one third were Jews, the large majority of whom worked only as day labourers in processing the wax. A sizable number of Jews also worked in the oil refineries and the paraffin candle factories, especially in the firms of Lauterbach, Gartenberg, and Goldhammer, and Zacharia Händel together in all the firms some 500 workers. In December 1866 the Jewish workers set up an organization, the “Po'alei Tzedek” (righteous workers), with a sick fund.[138]

Only in 1885 did large quantities of oil begin to be produced with modern machinery. Up to 1864, Jewish workers had removed 30,000 barrels of wax at a price of 6-12½ florins per barrel. From the wax, they produced white candles and paraffin; from the waste products they produced grease for wagons. The oil was refined at refineries set up by a number of Jews in Drohobycz. Among the first oil industrialists were Schreiner, Gartenberg, A. Präger, Freilich, Hersch Goldhammer, Mermelstein, Liebermann, Selig Lauterbach, Rafael Hersch Pitzele, Fichman, Waldinger, Löwenthal, Händel, and Kreisberg.

Excavation for wax ceased at the end of the century, when modern crude oil drills were introduced and large refineries built. Besides Borysław, strata of wax and oil wells were also found in the villages of Mrażnica , Tustanowice, Schodnica, Popiele and Uniatycze, mines by Jews of Drohobycz and Lwów.

The petroleum revolution brought change in the lives of the Jews of Drohobycz. Along with industrial development, the number of Jewish clerks, most of whom were educated people, increased. Opposition to the khasidim, who had grown in numbers during the days of Rabbi Eliezer Nissan Teitlboim, began to develop A struggle erupted in the field of education. The maskilim came out against the haredim [ultra-orthodox], who did not allow their children to attend general schools. It is true that their daughters went to schools, where they studied German, Polish, and handicrafts, but only a few sent their boys to the general school. In those years, only three Jewish boys attended the gymnasium [high-school], which had already been founded in Drohobycz. The maskilim, who participated in running the community, wanted to set up a secular Jewish school on the model of those in Tarnopol, Bolechów, Brody and Lwów. But the haredim opposed this with all their force, preferring to educate their children in a kheder. The kheder, according to one maskil of those days, was “a place full of foul odors” with very bad sanitary condition, where the children were subjected to the “wild behavior of the melameds” (teachers).[139] In particular, the maskilim looked askance at the teaching methods and the attitude of the melameds to the children. They cited a case in which a melamed, Abraham, hit the children with a strap, and another case in which he attacked a child and wounded him by biting him. The child became very ill. The parents brought suit before the rabbi, who became angry and said he would not get involved in a dispute that did not concern him. The father wanted to bring a criminal suit in court, but was asked not to do so.[140] This case caused even many haredim to take their children out of the kheder and send them to the government schools.

The maskilim, seeing this phenomenon, became convinced that it was necessary to set up a Jewish school, because in the government schools, “the children would turn their backs on the language of the past, the wisdom of Israel, and the national spirit among the children of Israel will decline from one day to the next.” In particular, the maskilim, Zelig Lauterbach, Yaakov Segal, A.H. Żupnik and Shmuel Abel Apfel worked to set up a Hebrew-language school. The maskil circle also protested the conditions and way of life of the Jews, such as child marriages, unsanitary conditions, and ignorance. They tried to improve things through education and information.

The changes in economic life brought about changes in the way of life as well. The Jewish population had increased with the arrival of new elements, mostly workers, and the demand for labour in the wax mines, oil wells; refineries and factories attracted the youth to productive labour. In 1864 there were already several thousand Jewish families in Drohobycz, most of them living from the proceeds of their own toil.

[Page 31]

Apart from the merchants and tavern keepers, the majority of people were engaged in industry and crafts. There were twelve oil refineries, of which ten were owned by Jews, tanners and beer and brandy distilleries, all of them owned by Jews, who employed only Jews. Among Jewish craftsmen there were tailors, shoemakers, stonecutters, cabinetmakers, construction carpenters, upholsterer, glaziers, brass smiths, tinsmiths, painters, watchmakers, coppersmiths, rope makers, jewellers, harness makers, coopers, bookbinders, engravers, soap makers, candle makers, chain makers, welders, agricultural laborers, hatters, furriers, woodcutters, and water carriers. Jews were also foremen in the factories. In the oilfields, they were not deterred by the hardest labor.

Under the influence of the maskil circle, the cornerstone of a lavish synagogue was laid in 1844; it was finished in 1863 and had a festive dedication on Shavuot of that year. Costs of construction and outfitting came to 50,000 gulden. In 1860, Selig Lauterbach founded a hospital for the poor, with eight rooms. A shelter for the poor was also founded.

In order to cover expenses for the hospital, the congregation received permission from the authorities to collect a payment of one kreuzer for every slaughtered chicken, two kreuzer for every goose, and three kreuzer for every turkey. The municipality contributed fifty gulden a year toward the hospital's upkeep.

After a difficult struggle, the maskilim were able to put through their educational plan. In 1860 they opened a Jewish secular school with twenty children, who studied Hebrew, German, Polish, and mathematics according to the general education curriculum. The school was private. It was administered by an experienced teacher by the name of Blumenthal, who was taken in on the recommendation of the Lwów preacher Bernhard Löwenstein.

Studies were conducted for three hours in the morning and one hour in the afternoon. In addition, a special teacher taught the Talmud. The khasidim were not reconciled to the founding of the school and placed a ban on it, as well as the teachers and the children. They were aided by the melameds, who saw the school as serious competition to their kheders. In particular, they harassed the Talmud teacher and made his life very bitter. But in the face of the community's persistence, they were forced to retreat and stop their sabotage. At the initiative of the community, a teacher of religion that they selected was appointed to the school, since the number of Jewish students there was growing from year to year. In this period, there were two synagogues and twenty-four private batei midrash [houses of learning] in Drohobycz.

In 1866, the Osei Khesed [charitable] society was founded, whose goal was “to strengthen and help the sick, rich as well as poor. Two members would come to care for and feed a patient, and would remain at his bedside, day or night.” In fact, this was a bikur holim [visiting the sick] society. In order to cover expenses, collection boxes were distributed to families to collect contributions.[141]

In 1866, the people of Drohobycz endured an outbreak of cholera, which carried off a large number of Jews, including the son-in-law of Rabbi Eliezer Nissan Teitlboim.

With the outbreak of the Austrian-Prussian War, the Galician Poles decided to set up a volunteer unit, the freiwilliges Krakusenregiment under the command of Count Starzyński . Contributions were collected in the cities of Galicia to equip the regiment. Count Komorowski came to Drohobycz. Even before his arrival, the Jewish leaders in Drohobycz set up a committee, the patriotisches Komitee, to collect contributions for the war. The Committee included Zvi Goldhammer, Selig Lauterbach, Chaim Joel Stern and the community heads Yehoshua Sternbach and Issachar Berisch Gottlieb. Through the work of the committee, 1,800 florins were collected in a few days, and put at the disposal of the Galician authorities. In addition, a contribution of 200 florins was made to Count Komorowski.


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