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Part I

City and People

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Dov Sadan

Translated by Theodore Steinberg

I will give (or: deliver to you) such a patch (or: a blow, a strike, a whack, a flick) that you will fly off to Boiberik–that was a popular saying. That and its source (according to Harkavy [compiler of an early Yiddish dictionary] “Bibrock on the Rhine”) and its variants (Poiperik, Poperek) deserve a devoted study, and we will, with God's help, offer one now. The saying was commonly used in our region and I heard it often as a child, whether in my birthplace of Brod or later in my wide travels through Galicia. I heard it in all kinds of situations and from all kinds of people of every age. I must confess that today, after years, I regret that the saying has not come true, whether when the assistant teacher thundered it at me because I did something that seemed wrong to him or when a frivolous and overeager schoolboy attacked me because I did not cater to his whims, like for instance tearing off a button and giving it to him. Then if the saying would become true, it would furnish me a triple benefit. First, I could see that there was such a city with such a name that the strength of a slap would send people to it; second, I would see that town that I was not destined to see even if I traveled the length and breadth of Galicia; third, I would encounter friends and acquaintances from Boiberke in their homes, and I would begin to sniff out what the town had that made it seem to us such an active, vital, and moving place.

First of all, something about the older generation–I knew only three of them; two no longer remain; the third for many years I knew only through reports.

The first was Yoel Shpiegel, a happy man who loved to play pranks. I myself was the victim of one prank;--a young man who was striving for something, though he did not know what. I went to Lemberg in order to consult with the people at the “Tagblatt” [a newspaper], whom I then considered to be like “Ashlei Rabrabi” [a reference to a commentary on the Shulchan Aruch–in other words, he considered them to be authoritative guides]. Shpiegel, who was the secretary there, advised me earnestly that I should enroll in the Hebrew teachers school, which would make me an adult, and he advised me to come at such and such a time and present myself, in his name, to the secretary; so, you see, I did what he said, but it turned out that he was the secretary there as well, and so I–as he said with pleasure–flew from Boiberik to Boiberik. But his biggest prank came when he traveled with Dr. Meir Geyer as an envoy to America, and the New York Yiddish press made a big fuss over his companion and gave him all kinds of publicity, while he, Shpiegel, remained–as he should have said–in the shadow of someone's beautiful, wide, stately beard. The next day, the worldwide Yiddish press ran a terrible cable that Yoel Shpiegel, who had really come as an envoy, had died; and a day later, another cable brought him back to life, and he appeared again in the papers, which had at first ignored him and now had to speak of him a second time: they paid double for their sin [a reference to Isaiah 40]. Like every other clown, he was at heart a serious and not a little sad soul; and this mixture of clown and sadness was reflected in his writing that would have to be sifted through, and what remains would have to be in a book.

The second was R. Pesachiah Afuer, the father of my young friend Yosef Afuer–a tall man who used to bend over to listen to a person, not only when the other person was short but even if he was taller. He was always ready to listen and to help.

When I knew him, he lived in Lemberg on Bernstein Street, and he was often a guest in the institutions on that street. I once asked him why he did not change his apartment–his was dark and dingy–and he responded that if one wanted to be a modern Jew in Lemberg, it was appropriate to live on this street: if a person simply stepped outside, one had the cultural world, that is, the Jewish community, at hand–or, as one might say: the Yad Cherutzim Hall where all kinds of gatherings pondered and considered matters. Not far off was the “Prasa” press of the Poalei Tzion, and there was the Tikvat Tzion organization, where he was an important member; and opposite, likewise, in Federbush's building, were the offices of Keren Kayemes, of “He-Chalutz,” and of “Ezra” [All of these were community and charitable organizations]. In those last institutions, we would meet almost every week–

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the work of “Ezra” was financial, to support the training and Aliyah of pioneers, and since representatives of all the Zionist parties could make appearances there, it often happened that they wanted to use the institute in order to serve as our political guardians. At that time the so-called ordinary Zionists had little appetite for that, especially after the influence of Dr. Emil Shmorak weighed in against it. He was not one of our admirers. We were interested in maintaining our autonomy, since the ordinary Zionist representatives in the “Ezra” were from the old school, students of the Zionist Integral, Avraham Korkis and Adolph Shtand. And our two dear comrades, Dr. Henrik Sterner and Yosef Afuer, did us a great favor when they prevailed with their fathers, old Sigmund Sterner and middle-aged Petachia Afuer, that they should be the representatives of the ordinary Zionists. They were honest and disinterested, doing the job for its own sake. You must understand that both were influenced by love of their children, and R. Petachia not only loved his handsome son but understood him. He understood him when he went to the training camp in the village of Okna; he understood him when he went to Eretz Yisroel. What he did not understand was that such a handsome, sweet young man should so early have been ripped away by a murderous bullet, after which the broken R. Petachia buried his son. As I heard, since then, everything went downhill for him–he had a bitter old age, the sad lot of one who would be a servant to his former servant–he always had the feeling of uselessness, in which from time to time there was a gleam of consolation: there, in the land where Zionist hope had its dreams, his grandson, thank God, made his way; and grandchildren have a habit of bringing great-grandchildren, they should live and know nothing of sorrow.

The third, who to this day I have never met face to face and with whom I have only spoken on the telephone, was a constant guest with us in the land, a confirmed Zionist–R. Yoel Julius Haber. Anyone who has read his book of memoirs, and the author calls it specifically the memoirs of a Zionist, knows that he has much to tell; it is a long chain of accomplishments, and where has he not been and when did he not lend a shoulder or a hand? He was no brilliant general, but also not a plain soldier, surely a kind of officer. It pleased him to say: an ordinance officer on his way to deliver the command from the general to the soldiers, he allowed himself not only the duty to finish but also to initiate. He is the type that Herzl sought and rejoiced to find, as he said so concisely: “I need men, men, men”; and if one reads his book, one sees clearly that although he went away early to Columbus, to live in his house, his town, living on his inheritance, his principal attribute was Jewish mercuriality.

This Jewish mercuriality is felt in every contact with Boiberkes from the younger generation, whether in those I have heard of or those that I know personally. No one from Boiberke came to my home town, and when I would look at Romer's school map of Galicia, I never saw clearly under the large circle of Lemberg the small circle of Boiberke, so I would not believe it was real. The first name I heard of a Boiberken was–Ariel Alvail. I heard of him from my friends who at the end of the First World War returned from Vienna and set about establishing “Ha-Shomer ha-Tza'ir.” Each of them became sooner or later a group leader, a flight leader, and so on, and would tell of a group leader or a flight leader in Vienna–Duvid Kaharik would tell about Ephraim Freifogel (Dror), Yakov (Kuba) Shtlander about Yissachar Reiss, and Mendel (Menachem) Zwillinger about Ariel Alvail. Although the group leaders were often not older than their underlings, maybe only a year or two, they treated them with respect, whether they knew them or not, especially in the earlier times, just as a Chasid regards the gestures of his rebbe, especially in the first days after he leaves the rebbe's court. So it was for a little time with us in the confines of “Ha-Shomer ha-Tza'ir,” as if Ephraim Freifogel went around, when he spent a couple of days with us from Stanislav, where he had built a strong organization, or Ariel Alvail, who had returned to Boiberke and then–as his friends said–overturned the whole town. Evidence of their success or that of their students in other towns, mine among them, was the large wave of Aliyah that took place over two years or so in all the cities and towns. Today, as we look back on that distant time, we must admit that the whole affair was a wonder–the young people who came from Vienna brought with them no large baggage, and nevertheless the little

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that they brought filled the world. Or, to put it better, it was the kernel of an overflowing world.

And if that kernel developed, if the young men and women fulfilled the great, perhaps the greatest obligation: said and done, it was in a large, often crucial way done in the character and the mentality of the two young men who came from the city on the Danube to their half-ruined towns and led a quiet but profound revolution. Aryeh Akvail was one of them, and when I saw him for the first and only time outside of Israel–in Lemberg–and we exchanged a few sentences. I felt from his tone and his gestures like he was an old acquaintance: even so had Henrik Adler (Chanan Nesher) told of Aryeh Alvail's use of a Polish saying when they met a year earlier: “the clock of history has struck twelve.” At first glance it looks like empty words, something to brush off, but he who said it and those who heard it knew it as the truth–it was the final hour. To put it otherwise: The foreign soil burns under our feet. This was a year or two after the First World War, and he and his fellows acted as if they were in their final hour. What else is there to say–the young people knew and understood more than all the wise men did; a Nehemiah of our time would say, “May God remember them for good.”

And now back to Aryeh Alvail–barely two years after that informal meeting I heard a striking characteristic of him and his comrades in the group in Bitania Ilit [an early kibbutz]. It was given by David (Dolek) Horvitz, one of the comrades, before a small group in Lemberg. I will admit that I listened to his emotional speech with mixed feelings–everything that our comrades in Eretz Yisroel let us know was familiar, but I had no understanding or sympathy for such isolation as in Bitania Ilit; for me there was too much pretentiousness that I especially disliked. I had this thought: it seemed like a high-class castle at the top of a mountain, unlike the houses in our valley towns. And the group hailed from Brtod, Zlotchow, Ritin, Tarna. In a short time they themselves understood, and as their fallen “community” took shape, it was already far from their reality. Yes, to David Horvitz' account, an old Jew with a lively face listened, and I was his interpreter. That man–it was Alvail's father–listened and listened and made a skeptical gesture with his head. Possibly he understood something that I had, although perhaps in other terms. Anyway, he summed it up: “You're a Polyanna. Don't go crazy. What will come of it–at best a pedantic reputation.” I understood him in my own way: “You're from Brod, from Zlotchow, from Ritin, from the line of Bobierke. Don't go crazy for an aristocratic-individualistic step. And truly, they were all just people, as much as they thought of their pedigrees.

Years later I often met with Aryeh Alvail, especially when he painted me at the “Bezalel” [the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design] and we would discuss our towns. The upshot of our conversations, as each of us spoke of his town, was what Rabbi Akiva said to his students about his wife Rachel: “[The Torah] that is mine and yours belongs to her” [Babylonian Talmud Ketuvot 63]. But the towns were not alike. Boiberke was fully contained. We have already seen that the fine person that had stirred things up was a well-known painter and graphic artist: his friends came and took part, each under his own banner, which was substantial and colorful.

A young man named Michael Shein (later: Zabari] came. He had barely left when he developed a love of botany. He began his studies and completed his mastery of botany. He became a professor and a member of the Israel Academy of Learning, the author of authoritative studies in his field, and he produced a generation of students, who also brought him acclaim. A second young man came, Sama Zaid, the son of the rabbi of Boiberke, Mordechai Galler (later: Geller). He rose higher and higher and is today a big shot at “Tenuvah” Export. A third young man, Berl (Dov) Beher, came, a man of the people, and he brought with him a generous dedication to the living world, especially to livestock. For us in Israel he became the expert, with God's help, in knowledge of raising cattle and sheep. He wrote books on the subject, for example “Raising Sheep,” published “The Dot,” and when a shepherd or a cattleman needed advice, he would go to him in Ramat-Yochanan as if he were the rebbe of sheep. Then there came a young man, “Feivel Schledier, that is Shraga Kalay, a thorough Boiberker, immersed in folklore, whether anecdotal or musical. (If you want to hear his style, go listen to him lead the High Holiday prayers.). And soon he developed an aptitude for numbers. He studied mathematics, became a teacher, directed the Jewish school in Baghdad until he left with honors

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and he still teaches mathematics in Jerusalem, whether at the gymnasium or at the university. He is an educational inspector for middle schools. He taught a generation of students, many of them famous, and he is the author of many books. Then there was another young man, Moshe Vind, an expert in building houses, from those on Mt. Scopus to the rowhouses in many residential quarters. There was another young man, Gideon (Aharon) Krauthammer. He received the name Gideon from Gentiles on his way to Eretz Yisroel. He changed his family name to Keruvi because of something that happened. He had a weakness for weapons and for mountains. The former brought him to the Haganah, and when there was a problem or a calamity in Jerusalem in his area, he was there and helped people to escape. His other weakness brought him to be among the builders of Motza Illit [a settlement near Jerusalem]. He remains faithful to the pioneer spirit and he is helped by his eternal youth, like his youthful appearance, which is not offset by his white hair.

I now want to recall the beautiful Feigele (Tzipora) Redlech, a true Jewish beauty with blond hair who lives in Mishmar ha-Emek with her husband Mietek Gutgeld, that is, Mordechai Bentov, who was twice a government minister–but go have dealings with the government, and especially in light of the verse: “glorious is the king's daughter” [Psalm 45:14].

This is all I know about Boiberkers from the Third Aliyah, but I know a bit about a Boiberkers from the Fourth Aliyah, Uri Krauthammer (later Kruvi), Gideon's younger brother. He was very welcome to me–He was the first immigrant that I took up after his arrival, according to the teachings of “He-Chalutz.” I remember to this day the great joy that we shared in the Lemberg “Tz'irei Yehuda” when he and two friends, both from Pshemishl, Shener and Vithop (later Avitov), made Aliyah, and for us in Galicia, after the so-called Tobacco Aliyah opened the zel of the Fourth Aliyah. Later on, we were longtime neighbors–he used to tell me how his marriage came about: he was once walking by the seashore and suddenly he heard cries for help from someone whom the waves had overpowered and who was in danger, God forbid, of drowning. He jumped in and with great effort did the rescue. It was a young woman, who later became his wife, Miriam. She later presented him with twins–two sweet children whom it was a treat to watch grow up into successful young men. The older, Amnon, an aviator, who, to the great sorrow of those who knew him, fell from an airplane as he worked. The other–he should live long and happily–is an accomplished artist. I often look at that bright twin and think of Boiberke and its path to our sunny land.

To the Shomer ha-Tza'ir crowd also belonged Meir Shticker, although his path led to New York. Whoever listens properly to the fine Yiddish poems of this subtle poet, who takes care over his Boiberke Yiddish, can extract his idealism and hear the rhythm of youthful excitement that captured the youth of the town. How fitting is the heritage of our town in this refined, modern writer, clarified by the writer and critic A. Tabachnik in his book The Man in a Dream: The Works of Meir Shticker (New York: 1962). He says in the introductory chapter: “Shticker's Yiddishkeit is not a bookish Yiddishkeit but the lived Yiddishkeit of a Galician shtetl. If one seeks in his motifs, influences, allusions to the Chumash, to the prophets, to Chasidus, they are not from books. They are from the very air of a Jewish shtetl, from the Jewish reality, from the Jewish environment of the old home.”

Certainly Alvail's eye and Shticker's ear are indebted to their living shtetl, but now that it is ruined and destroyed, it lives thanks to the former's colors and the latter's sounds. To what can this be compared? A mother gives her life to her children, and they maintain her memory. They say Kaddish for her.

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In the Midst of Boiberke (1926)     Alvail


History of the Jews in Boiberke

Dr. N.M. Gelber

Translated by Theodore Steinberg

Boiberke, which was one of several cities in Eastern Galicia, was, until 1469, a village led by a magistrate. On May 17, 1469, Casimir Jagiellon, desiring to improve the situation of the new city that belonged to him, changed its status.

He transferred Boiberke from Polish and Russian law, which knew nothing of city organization, to Magdeburg rule. In this way, Boiberke became a city.

In the same year, other places became cities: Koomarna, Olesko (Aleks), Pomorszani (Pomerania), and Gologora (Goligi).

Writings from that year already speak of the city of Boiberke, which was a royal city in the district of Lemberg (Lvov). It had been granted the right to organize two fairs a year, as well as a market day every Tuesday, along with other options.

Jurisdiction in criminal cases was given into the hands of the mayor (Witt). The residents were required to pay the Catholic priest for the church ceremonies an amount of wheat, barley, and wine.

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The mayor had an income from what he received from the citizens and from the city's agriculture. This income amounted to 1324 zlotys and 15 groschen a year.

The office of mayor passed as an inheritance to sons and even to daughters. Thus, for a time, the mayor of Boiberke was Anna, the daughter of Mayor Hintza.

In Poland it was a rare thing for a mayor, who also possessed legal powers, to hold his position for his whole life and to have passed it on as an inheritance.

Aside from Boiberke, this existed in these cities: Brody, Mikoliev , Gliniani (Glini), Grudek (Greiding), and Shtszeszetz (Shtsheitz). It is interesting that this kind of mayoralty even existed in 1765. In the legal documents, the mayor is designated by the Latin title “Advocatus soltus.”

The official status of the city was first recognized in 1489. Thanks to the fairs, the tow developed quickly and even exceeded the scope of local fairs. This phenomenon called forth opposition from Lemberg, which considered it a challenge to its status as a major city.

From 1474-1490 the city was given into the control of the nobleman Andrei Wnotcek, and thereafter it fell to Rozbosz, and his heirs sold their rights to the nobleman Matteus Bobrszecka.

In 1488-94, Rozbosz's heirs filed suit because he had not paid for his rights to the city. In addition, he had to pay 200 marks to Wnocek's sister Dorothea for half the city. From this we can see that the city was valued at 400 marks.

At that time, Boiberke suffered various invasions and conflagrations, so that its inhabitants could not pay all of the taxes that had been imposed on them.

In 1474, King Casimir freed the city and its inhabitants, because of a fire, from all taxes for three years. Later on, he extended that to ten years.

In 1502, Boiberke was attacked by the Turks and Tatars, who set it aflame. Again the population had to be relieved of paying taxes for ten years. The same thing happened in 1518 and 1519, when King Alexander freed the city from taxes for eight years.

In the second half of the sixteenth century, Stanislaw Wenglenski leased the city. At that time, too, the town was invaded and King Zigmunt August was compelled in 1554 to free the city of all taxes.

In 1569, the king allowed the establishment of one fair a year and changed the market day from Tuesday to Shabbos.

In 1578, Boiberke was initiated into the Lemberg Quarter and paid the “shos” (the municipal state dues) of 12 florins and 24 groschen and the beverage payment of 228 florins.

At that time, Boiberke became known as a city of weaver and it had a prolific fish pool that belonged to the marshal Stanislaw of Chodecz. He would lease it to Albert, a resident of Lemberg, for a yearly payment.

In 1620 the city was again destroyed in a Tatar invasion. A survey from 1621 records, “Boiberke, half of which belongs to the castellan Gratus Tarnowski from Szarnowa, was burned in the Tatar invasion and no income was received from there. The tariff and bridge toll declined to 30 florins. Also during the Swedish War, the gate of Boiberke was very tragic.”

On April 18, 1643, King Wladislaw IV gave half of the city of Boiberke along with surrounding villages to the nobleman Stanislaw Kowalsky as a lifelong possession; and in 1649, Jan Kazimiesz released the inhabitants from all taxes for ten years because of the Cossack invasion.

In these conditions it was difficult for the city to develop. Most residents were occupied in agriculture. In the city there were also businesses in textiles, clothing, shoes, bakers, butchers, and horse breeders.

These business locales belonged to the mayor, who would lease them to the merchants and tradesmen for a certain sum. Also, the brewery and taverns belonged to the mayor and brought him a little income.

According to a survey from 1765, the mayor's income was 1324 zlotys and 14 groschen. His expenses for taxes and other payments came to 3412 zlotys, so that he had a clear income of 978 zlotys, in addition to which he received for the brewery 150 zlotys. The taverns in ten villages brought him between 234 and 270 zlotys a year.

In the seventeenth century, the city suffered greatly. From 1628 until the Tatar invasion

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of Galicia. Then came wars with the Cossacks from 1648 until 1655. It is not known whether Boiberke also suffered when the Swedes under the command of General Joubert Douglas occupied the Bzseszaner precinct in 1655.

The condition of Boiberke is illustrated in a report from 1611 in these words: “In Boiberke there was never a palace up to this very day. Before the war there were 150 houses, and now only 26 remain. There were five butchers, of whom only one is left. The brewery is always vacant. The city's residents complain that they are unjustly taxed on the money that they earn working for the Tatar Cossacks and others.”

Throughout this whole period, the residents of Boiberke lived in fear and unrest, especially in 1672-1692, when the Tatars set fire to Zborov (Zbariv), Alotchow (Zlotchew), Jeszierna (Yezerni), Buczacz (Biczucz), Jezopol, Pomorszani (Pomerania), Podhitze (Podayic), and Zalustszi—cities that were not far from Boiberke.

Aside from the invasions, fires occasionally broke out and ruined the city.

In 1681, the Sejm told the deputies that they should declare a suspension of taxes and excise payments for the cities of Janow and Boiberke because of a fire that had completely destroyed the cities.

The situation was no different in the eighteenth century. In 1752, another great fire broke out in Boiberke. The city was so ruined that the Sejm decided to excuse it from taxes and excises in order to allow it to recover and so that in the future it could meet its obligations to the government treasury. In 1860 the population was about 3,000. The income from the city was 1336 gulden and 85 kreutzer.

On the initiative of the magnate Hippolite Tchakovsky, in the second half of the nineteenth century textile factories were established, which provided a commercial focus for the city and items suitable for export.

There were 95 settlements in the Boiberke district, 81 villages, and 3 towns: Bszozdowica, Shtszeliska, and Chodorov.

According to a new law in the city from 1868, the city established a city council of 24 members: 10 Catholics (Poles), 6 Greek Catholics (Ruthenians), and 8 Jews. These numbers stayed the same throughout the Austrian reign.

In 1880, the city included 673 houses and 4038 residents. In 1890—704 houses and 4939 residents. In 1900-5315 residents, in 1910—5028, and in 1921, in the first census in independent Poland—4391 residents.


The Jewish Settlement

There is no certain information about when Jews settled in Boiberke.

When the city was founded, there were no Jews, as we can see from the court documents of 1468-1506, where Jews are generally not mentioned.

In truth, Jews would come to the Boiberke fairs, which were known throughout Poland, even in the fifteenth century, but there is no document that records a Jewish settlement in Boiberke in the fifteenth or sixteenth century.

The only kehillah [community organization] of a notable number of Jews in that region in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was in Lemberg, to which Jews from surrounding towns belonged.

There was a Jewish settlement in Boiberke already in the sixteenth century, and in contrast to the section of the Lemberg community in Alexa, Pomorszani, and Sosow, where few Jews lived, in Boiberke there were a good number of Jews. They had established their own kehillah, which became part of the Lemberg kehillah, together with Kulikow (Kilikow), Gologuri (Goligi), Navaria, Bruchnal, Koszikow, Podkamien, Mlinowce, Bszeszani (Berzan), Busk, Tadania, Knihinice (Knihentish), Siwniowa, Naraiew, Rohatin (Ritin), Podheice (Pideitz), Jowarow, Komianke, Szwirsz, and Gliniani (Glini). The residents of these towns, like those of Boiberke, were directly under the Lemberg kehillah, if their number was small and they could not establish their own kehillah, or indirectly through the mediation of the local kehillahs.

We also do not know about a residence permit for the Jews of Boiberke. The first document where the Jews of Boiberke are mentioned is the order from the Sejmek Sandowa-Wishnia from December 17, 1625, to the deputies in Warsaw, which says that “the cities in the Ruthenian Voyvodehip that were ruined by fires

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should be exempted from taxes for five years. These are: Jaroslaw, Radimna, Leszisk, Boiberke, Ksziwtshe (Kriwc), Niushankowe.” A special paragraph (#46) states that Jews and Christians should contribute to the city's defenses.

On November 29, 1624, the Sejm declared that because of the difficult situation of the city and its residents, the deputies should request an extension of the tax holiday.

After the events of 5408-09 [1648-49], when the Lemberg kehillah found itself in a difficult economic and financial situation, the smaller kehillahs that had been under its control began to rebel: Szolkew, Buczacz (Biczucz), Rohatin (Ritin). Boiberke was with them. According to a statement from these kehillahs, Lemberg had to consult with them on all questions of taxes and other financial and economic questions for which the Polish Jews were responsible.

In time, the small communities took control of the Ruthenian committee.

The fairs and the commercial ties at the beginning of the eighteenth century greatly aided the development of the Jewish settlement in Boiberke and improved the economic situation.

In 1717, Boiberke's Jews paid 473 zlotys in head taxes. When reports came of incorrect division of the head tax among the Jewish kehillahs, the Sejmek in Sondowa Vishnia decided on March 15, 1717, that the Jews from the cities and the tenant farmers from the villages should gather at a specific place and there devise a fair distribution of the head tax so that no one should be taxed unfairly.

Sadly, we have not found in the Viennese archive a document to witness the creation of the Boiberke kehillah. But one can posit that from an organizational and legal standpoint, Boiberke was like the other Ruthenian communities.

At the head of the kehillah stood the wealthy leaders, who were chosen by it. Boiberke belonged to the Lemberg Voivodeship and its kehillah was subservient to Lemberg's.

To the Boiberke kehillah belonged also the surrounding villages, and they paid the head tax and other payments assigned to the Jews to the Boiberke kehillah. The leaders of the kehillah had the right to fix the budget, to conduct all financial matters, and they also represented the kehillah before the city government. They also made decisions about the rights of Jews who wanted to undertake certain professions. They chose the rabbi, the religious judges, sextons, and other community positions. From among themselves the leaders would choose delegates to the Jewish autonomous institutions and to the area committees.

Among the kehillah personnel, aside from the leaders, were 3-5 distinguished Jews. Aside from them there existed a body of 4-5 kehillah members, a council. They were called “The Select,” the “Kahal,” or “Gaba'im.”

The post of leader changed each month, so he was called the monthly leader.

Aside from the wealthy leaders there were also Gaba'im. They belonged to the committee, who gave them special duties.

Every year there were elections under the rabbi's supervision according to a particular system. The sexton would put in an urn slips of paper with the names of all the taxpayers. From there he would draw 9 slips that were the 9 electors. These electors chose 5 from among themselves who named the leaders, the Gaba'im, the religious judges, and others.

In the kehillah were the following institutions: the charity fellowship, the Torah school, the Talmud Torah, the Mishnah group, and so on. There was also a tradesmen's union. They were all supervised by the kehillah.

The sources of income were: the kehillah tax, the tax on kosher meat, wine, and other foods, and payments for working rights.

The Kehillah supported a shul, a cemetery, a communal bathhouse, a poorhouse, a hospital, and a butcher shop.

Understandably there were, from time to time, controversies that arose when certain parties stood in opposition to the kehillah and wanted to take power.

In connection with those, there was no shortage of denunciations and reports to the local Gentile government.

The Boiberke kehillah developed nicely. Its position in the local community was so widely recognized that the vice-finance minister, Jan Yeszi Pshendowsky, in a circular from November 24, 1722, announced that all the kehillah leaders should assemble for a meeting in Boiberke

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on June 10, 1723, to discuss matters associated with taxes. In addition the circular said that the meeting was called in order to make an end to disrespectful conduct by the committee elders.

The circular also said: “Community elders who will not attend the meeting in Boiberke will be fined 200 zlotys.” It appears that the wealthy leaders of the community did not appear at the meeting and the tax distributions were not amended.

The vice-finance minister then went to the leader, R. Chaim Reitzer, with a letter in which he complained about the disorder and the controversies between the Lemberg kehillah and the kehillah members in the Lemberg district. Pszendowsky ordered the committee to assemble on October 10 in Biala-Kamien to finally determine the tax distribution and deliver it to the finance ministry no later than November 8. If this was not done, the vice-finance minister warned, he himself would determine how much head tax each Jew would have to pay and he would ignore the resolutions of the Boiberke gathering.

In 1734, the Jews of the Lemberg voivodeship, among whom were the Boiberkers, reported that the head tax divisions were incorrect. As a result of this report, the Jewish leaders were ordered to gather on April 28, 1734, in Tarnopol. Also taking part in this meeting was the committee secretary R. Mordechai (Mark) Rabinowicz. A new division of the head tax was decided upon.

On July 20, 1753, there was another meeting of the district committee in Boiberke. This was after the district leader R. Yitzchak Yissachar Berish Rabinowicz (Babad) had invited the committee to Brody on June 9, 1750, to a conference about the payment of obligations over 150,000 zlotys. The leaders of Zholkov, Lemberg, and Tishminitz attended the conference. Embittered, the district leader declared that he would divide up the head tax without the participation of those delegates who had not appeared. He kept his word.

As a result of this conflict, these kehillahs complained to the vice-finance minister. Other kehillahs joined them. They all maintained that their Jewish residents would be harmed by the incorrect computation of the head tax.

On July 24, 1755, the district committee met again in Boiberke.

In 1764, the last meeting of the Lemberg district committee took place in Boiberke.

At the time of the census in 1765, Boiberke and the surrounding towns and villages numbered 840 Jews and 68 children under one year old. In the city itself lived 658 Jews and 53 children. In 17 surrounding settlements were 182 Jews and 15 children. The head tax paid by the Boiberke Jews came to 1680 zlotys a year. The Jews in the city had 71 houses and the Christians 219.

We have today no record of the professions in the Jewish settlement. We only know that one Jewish goldsmith was popular in the whole area. It is not impossible that the Jews in Boiberke had the same professions as the Jews in nearby kehillahs like Janow, Glinieni (Glini), and Bszeszani (Barzan).

According to the census, the Jews of Boiberke were engaged in brewing, taverns, and small businesses. A small number dealt in import-export, and some were craftsmen.

In those years the Sejm deputies in Warsaw prohibited Jews from dealing in horses, oxen pelts, and wine. In 1760, 1762, and 1764, Jews were also forbidden from leasing private church or government goods. Jews could not dare to occupy themselves as tenants and employees of custom houses, and the nobles did not dare to employ them.


Rabbis in Boiberke

Among the rabbis, we know Rabbi Simcha ben Yakov, who was the rabbi in Boiberke in the second half of the eighteenth century. His father, Rabbi Yakov, was the son of the Av Beis Din and an important teacher in Lemberg, R. Dov Baer (who died in Lemberg on the third of Iyar 5536), who was the son of the Zamocz rabbi R. Aryeh Leib.

R. Yakov was a religious judge in Lemberg and is cited in the “Questions and Answers” of Lemberg's R. Chaim Cohen Rapaport, and his Torah insights are recorded at the end of the Book “Puras Yosef” of R. Yosef Te'ummim, who was known as the Baal-P'ri-Magdim.

R. Simcha, who was called R. Simcha of

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Boiberke, was a student of the Baal-P're-Magdim (1726-1792), who was a preacher [a magid] in Lemberg and then a rabbi in Frankfort-am-Oder.

R. Simcha would go to him every morning for several years to study. R. Simcha was a great scholar, and his generation acknowledged him as a rare figure. He was a Chasid, a student of R. Meshllam Zusha of Anipola, of his brother R. Elimelech of Liszensk, and of the Mezerich Magid [famous early Chasidic rabbis].

R. Simcha's wife was the daughter of R. Chaim, one of the most distinguished citizens of Szelkew, a son-in-law of R. Aryeh Leib Auerbach, the rabbi of Stanislaw.

It is not known when R. Simcha became the rabbi in Boiberke.

He is cited in the book of R. Yosef Te'umim “Golden Jewelry” on the “Tur Zahav” and “Sfasay Da'as” and on the Shakh [works of rabbinic erudition; the Shakh was the sobriquet of Shabbatai ben Meir the Cohen, a 17th-century Talmudist]. He was involved with the book “Mavo She'arim” and provided the approval on the 8th of Tammuz 5569 (1808) for the book “Or-p'nei Moyshe” of Rabbi Moshe son of R. Avraham, the preacher in Plantsk.

From this mark of approval, we can see that in 1809 he was the rabbi in Boiberke. It is not known when he died.

As is known, in the southeast part of Ukraine, there was a significant influence of followers of Shabbatai Tzvi. The envoy of this movement, Chaim Malakh, would go from town to town. We do not know if there were followers of Shabbatai Tzvi in Boiberke.

It is believed that the agitators of the Shabbatai Tzvi movement were Moyshe Kaminer from Zolkev, Elisha Shor from Rohatin (Ritin), and Fishl from Zlotchew, who went to all the towns, including Boiberke.

We have no knowledge about these visits. We also do not know if there were any followers of the Frankist movement.

In the list of those Frankists who converted after the debate in Lemberg in 1795, none were from Boiberke, which indicates that Boiberkers were not influenced by this movement.


Under Austrian Rule

At the beginning of Austrian rule, Boiberke was part of the Lemberg district. But after 1780, Boiberke belonged to the Bszeszaner district.

Until 1776, the rules from Polish times applied to the kehillah.

After the Austrian empress Maria Teresa issued her edict against the Jews, there were far-reaching changes in the kehillah structure.

Leading the kehillah was a committee of 6, who had limited rights. They were totally dominated and had to carry out the orders of the Austrian government.

The kehillah was responsible for all taxes that the regime imposed on the Jews. They had to provide people for the army, were responsible for marriages, etc.

In setting up the community directors in the small cities and towns, there was a change according to the “Jewish Ordinance” that was issued by Emperor Joseph II. The directorship was reduced from 6 to 3 members, who were elected for three years.

After that, a tax was imposed on Shabbos candles. The right to vote, actively or passively, depended on the payment of taxes. Active voting rights were given to the head of a family who had paid the Shabbos candle tax for seven candles for a year before the election. The passive right to vote was given to the head of a family who lived in Boiberke, had a good reputation, and wrote and read German, and for a year before the election had paid the Shabbos candle tax on ten candles.

In addition to community elders, people also elected Jews who led the Chevra Kadisha [the burial society] and oversaw the schools, the hospital, and the accountants. In the kehillah there were other employees—a sexton, a writer, and religious functionaries such as a rabbi (who was elected for three years), judges, cantor, shul sextons, ritual slaughterers, undertakers, and guardians.

In 1785, the position of rabbi was vacant, and in his place a supervising teacher was appointed. Rabbis were only in the main cities and were called City Rabbis. In Boiberke there was a head teacher who received a salary of 117 florins and an apartment, at the expense of the kehillah. In the town of Stretin, whose kehillah was under the auspices of the Boiberke kehillah, the teacher received only an apartment. In Podkamien there was not even a teacher.

According to the orders of the government, in 1783 the jurisdiction of the rabbis and teachers was vacated, and the jurisdiction of the Jews was dissolved.

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In contrast to the earlier situation, according to the new orders, the kehillah elders were paid from the kehillah's coffers. This was because there were many vying for those positions. The competition led to denunciations, quarrels, and even blows. And the Jews suffered for it with their taxes.

In 1774, the government raised the head tax that had existed since Polish times by 30 kreutzer. The tax was given a new name, “Tolerance Tax,” and amounted to 4 florins for a family. Aside from this tax, an income tax was established at 4 gulden for a family. This tax was annulled by Emperor Joseph II, but it was replaced by a tax on possessions in the amount of 1 gulden per family, and a wedding tax based on the groom's possessions, ranging from 3 to 12 ducats for someone whose income was above 100 gulden; for merchants and people whose income exceeded 400 ducats the tax ranged from 20 to 80 ducats.

Those who worked in community organizations paid between 12 and 24 ducats. Jewish agricultural workers were exempt from the marriage tax and, after 1789, from the Tolerance Tax.

A very difficult tax was the tax on kosher meat.

Aside from the taxes I have mentioned, Jews had to pay, according to the “Jewish Law” that was issued by Joseph II in 1789, the following taxes: a fee for building a new shul and establishing a new cemetery, a single payment of 200 gulden and a yearly payment of 100 gulden. A minyan had to pay 50 gulden per year. In 1797, this tax was annulled and was replaced by a tax on Shabbos candles and also a supplemental tax. This was in case the tax on meat and candles did not raise enough.

Every Jewish man and woman was required to pay the candle tax except for Jews who worked in agriculture, widows of soldiers, and other widows, unmarried men and women, business employees, and servants.

Instead of the income tax that Christians had to pay, Jews paid a special tax (an extra tax) aside from the taxes that only Jews had to pay for their dwellings, city and community taxes.

The Jews suffered not as much from paying taxes as from the tax collectors, who came after them in terrible ways. Understandably, this situation fostered among Jews bitterness and hatred for the tax collectors and assessors, who were generally the community leaders and their assistants, who were subject to scoldings and dismissals.

According to the accounting of 1806, a Jewish family would pay annually—and this applies as well to Boiberke—in specifically Jewish taxes:

Meat tax 15 florins
Candle tax 6 florins
Tolerance tax 2 florins
Extra tax 5 florins
Total 28 florins

In July of 1773 there was in Boiberke a strange case concerning the marriage tax.

The proprietor of an inn married his 14-year-old son to a 12-year-old girl. Since the bride and groom were minors and could not be prosecuted according to the law, the parents were prosecuted.

This case served the government as an excuse to sharpen the law regarding the marriage tax. Even so, there were other similar cases. In 1778, an employee named Sion Sokolski complained that in Boiberke there were twelve marriages that the community head had not reported. According to the complaint, he also did not provide the correct number of Jewish inhabitants at the time of the census. It did not help the community that Sokolski did this in revenge and wanted to get even with him. Sokolski sent his report directly to Vienna. The government sent it to the commissioner in Galicia with a special order on January 16, 1783, and demanded a detailed report on Sokolski's complaint regarding the marriages in Boiberke.

The commissioner turned the matter over to the district commander in Bszeszani (Barzan). In May of 1783, the district office sent to Vienna the report in which it established that the complaint was justified. The result was that the Jews were punished.

Meanwhile, in 1783, Sokolski gave information that certain falsehoods prevailed in the butcher shops. The commissioner again set up an investigatory commission, led by the finance officer Dutoy. The inquiry, which was conducted in Sokolski's presence

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concluded at the end of 1784 and decided to deny Sokolski's accusations of secret marriages and other offenses in Boiberke.

As a result of this investigation, Schlissel (a Christian) was dismissed as an employee of the community. He had submitted an indictment to Vienna against the district office and certain employees. That indictment was sent from Vienna to Lemberg so the matter could be investigated.

From the documents in the Vienna archive it is not clear how this matter concluded.

At any rate, we learn from this history how much the Jews of Boiberke were under the control of the government, which concerned itself with the smallest matters, based on false accusations.

The “Jewish Directorship” would come to the aid of the community's Christian officials, who bore the title “Jewish Office Scribes.” In Boiberke, this office was filled by Ernst Vut for an annual salary of 200 florins, from 1779 until the dissolution of the “Jewish Directorship” in 1784. After he left this position he was transferred to the district economic office, where he received the same salary.

In the 1780s, the Jewish kehillahs were still required to pay the debts that remained after the dissolution of the “Council of the Four Lands” and other autonomous administrative bodies.

In 1764, a commission was appointed by the finance ministry in Poland to look into liquidating the debts of the Jewish institutions.

On April 22, 1765, the commission proclaimed in a special announcement that 3 zlotys should be collected from every Jew to cover the debts. When the Jews did not react to this demand, the commission issued another announcement, on March 21, 1767, in which they demanded more money and penalties if the debt continued.

In the announcement, the kehillahs were ordered to pay their share and were also warned that any kehillah that did not carry out these orders would be severely punished. In the meantime, Poland was divided up among Russia, Germany, and Austria. The Lemberg area, including Boiberke, became part of Austria. Also dissolved were all Jewish autonomous institutions with heavy debts, for which churches, Jewish institutions, and private individuals remained responsible.

After the partition of Poland, the treaty of the larger powers that occupied the country established that they should collect the debts that remained in their areas.

In Galicia they created a special collection committee, headed by Ernst von Korhum, Joseph Baum von Eppelshofer, and Joseph Milbauer. The committee was charged with establishing the sums of the debts and the names of those in debt. They had to fill out precise lists to suggest how to collect the money from the kehillahs through the “Jewish Directorate.”

These employees and people who had to get the money from the Jewish workers communicated with the district office about all the debts that they received before December 6, 1772. When this communication was issued, six months were given for the repayment of debts, and beginning on August 1, 1785, 5% interest would be added.

At the meeting of this committee on July 26, 1786, there was presented a full list of the Jewish debts, including the names of the people who had paid and who had not. The total debt amounted to 602,285 florins.

In order to facilitate the payment of debts, the government decreed that the kehillahs must include in the debt fund the “korobke,” that is, the money that was collected for kosher meat.

According to this decree, Boiberke was responsible for 1,520 Austrian gulden, that is, 7,600 Polish zlotys.

In addition to this payment, Boiberke was required to share in paying the debt of Yakov Zelikowicz and Tzadok Meirowicz from the kehillahs in the Lemberg district, amounting to 34,654 Polish zlotys. After long negotiations between them and the “Jewish Directorate” of Galicia, on January 28, 1781, they reached a compromise, according to which they had to pay 14,580 florins, which were divided among the kehillahs to be paid by 1787.

According to this agreement, the Boiberke kehillah had to pay 126 florins and 20 kreutzer.

Aside from these payments, the Jews were required to buy war bonds in the war years of 1794-1799. At that time an order was issued that every Jew who was late in paying taxes

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for three-quarters of a year would be considered a derelict who could be expelled from the city and even from all of Galicia.

Many accusations came on this matter from certain scoundrels, who sought to get rewards for denunciations. The government offices paid well for such accusations. At the same time, these accusations could coerce money from poor people with the threat that if they did not pay, they would be denounced.

Things went so far with these accusations that in 1789 the district office in Bszeszani ordered 1,050 Jews to leave the state, including some from Boiberke.

In time, however, the government in Vienna came to the conclusion that driving Jews from their homes was too drastic. Therefore on March 9, 1789, they sent an order to Lemberg saying that according to the new “Jewish ordinance” that was now being considered by the central government, Jews would no longer be expelled from their homes for not paying taxes. But a new misfortune fell upon the Jews. In 1782, the government in Vienna issued an order according to which Jews had to stop being leaseholders and could no longer have taverns.

In the Bszeszani district, a large number of Jews left the villages—in the area of Boiberke as well.

This edict fell heavily on the Jews of Boiberke itself, in which a great number of people were leaseholders, either directly or indirectly. The result was that many Jews ran to the government offices and proposed various reasons for negating these decrees. And this all caused many disagreements among the Jews as well.

In 1791, a census of Jews was held. We know that results of this census only through the district. In Bszeszan there were 11,766 Jews.

From this time we know that in 1780 there were 486 Jews involved in business.

Jews also had other occupations such as tailoring, shoemaking, baking, and butchering.

At the beginning of the 1800s, the government brought public jobs to Boiberke in connection with work on the Dniester to ease passage for ships on the river. Jews were also employed in some of these jobs. In the 1800s, a new form of income developed—weaving. This work employed over 100 weavers, among them many Jews. The entire output was sold by foreign Jews, especially in Danzig. The first Austrian commissar, Count Anton von Fergen, had already in his report on Galicia, which he delivered to the government in Vienna on August 3, emphasized that heavy textiles were being exported from Boiberke to Danzig.

The tourist Rurer, who visited Boiberke in 1804, wrote that Boiberke had impressed him as a Jewish shtetl in which, in addition to rich Jews, there were also poor people. When that tourist found himself in a Boiberke hotel, the hotelier told him that he himself had sold 2,000 sacks of material in Danzig. This material was made in Boiberke. According to Rurer's account, one earned 30 kreutzer for each piece of material.

This business put more than one Jew on his feet and gave him a better position from an economic and community standpoint. In time, the whole weaving industry was in Jewish hands. The production of rugs was known to be done by Jews in Bszeszani, Zlotchew, and Skalat.

In 1782, community schools were opened to Jewish children. When the government offices were persuaded that the Jews were afraid to send their children to these schools, the kehillahs were ordered, on May 27, 1786, to establish their own schools. The Jews, however, did not respond to this order. As a result, stronger commands were issued to the Jewish kehillahs and made them responsible for seeing that Jewish children up to 13 years of age would study in the community schools.


Schools and Education

Each kehillah, including Boiberke, was responsible for establishing a community school where the language of instruction was German. It was expressly emphasized that no Jew would be allowed to marry unless he could show an official document that he had learned German either at home or at school.

In 1787, Hertz Hamberg (1749-1941), a student of Moses Mendelssohn, was named director of all Jewish schools.

In 1788, a school was established in Boiberke for young people. The teacher was Aharon Sharf. He was paid 150 zlotys a year.

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This school existed until the entire Jewish school system in Galicia was dissolved (96 schools) in 1806. This dissolution resulted from the negative Jewish attitude and opposition to sending the children to school out of fear that they would be negatively influenced and become apostates.



In the context of the reforms that Emperor Joseph had planned for the Jewish way of life in Galicia was a plan to lead the Jews into agriculture.

In 1785, people began to implement this plan, and in 1786, the first Jewish colony, Dombrovka, near Novy-Sontsz, was established with about 20 families.

After that, the colony of “Nay Bavel” (New Babylon) was established near Bolichov. In 1789 was founded an independent Jewish colony. The kehillahs were ordered according to the special ordinance to organize the settlement for 1,400 Jews in agriculture throughout Galicia.

According to this plan, the Bszeszani district was required to send 69 families, among them 8 from Boiberke.

Until the end of 1793, the kehillah sent the required number. This included 10 families from Bszeszani, 5 from Kozovo, 9 from Podhice, 7 from Burshtayn, 3 from Chodorow, 5 from Rozdol, 4 from Sztszeliske, 6 from Prszemisliyani, 12 from Rohatin, and 8 from Boiberke.

In the course of 10 years, until the end of 1803, these families practiced farming on 49 lots. Their composition was the following: 98 men, 83 women, 91 boys, and 80 girls under 18.

The colonists were given 66 houses, 6 barns, 124 horses, 88 oxen, 147 cows, and 66 implements.

From Boiberke there were 8 families on 4 parcels, consisting of 11 men, 11 women, 87 boys, and 12 girls under 18. They received 8 houses, 8 barns, 11 implements, 17 horses, and 16 cows.

From this entire colonization, there remained in 1882 in the Bszeszani district 69 families. Forty of them had settled—24 at the expense of the kehillah and 16 at their own expense.


Heavy Taxes

In 1798, the Boiberke kehillah was party to the accusations that the kehillahs in the Bszeszani district sent to the government about the terrible actions of the collectors of the Shabbos candle tax. This accusation made its way through the government, which punished the cause of the accusation, the Christian official Henrich Hepp.

Also at the start of the 1900s, the financial situation of the Jews was quite bad because of the taxes. On the one side they were oppressed by the tax collectors, and on the other side the government offices oppressed them by prolonging the old debts by using data of the liquidation committee.

Aside from these taxes, the Jews were required to pay direct taxes to the state for their houses and places, personal and income taxes that had been set in November of 1824---from Christians and Jews. There was also an additional tax that was supposed to supplement the small income from the meat and candle taxes and was a burden on the Jewish community. This tax was eliminated in 1827. According to an official accounting from the appropriate office, there were 52 kinds of taxes.

In 1818, Eliyahu ben Shlomo Burshtyn founded in Stanislaw a “charity fund for burials and for the housing of strangers.”

The capital for this establishment was 600 florins. Eliyahu also led the charge to create such funds in other cities. He traveled to the cities and towns where he raised money for burial funds on a cooperative basis.

These funds provided burials on the basis of need after receiving a pledge or a promissory note without interest. People had to pay in installments of 30-100 florins a week for one year.

Poor people who could not make a pledge received burials for 3 florins at the expense of 2 current homeowners. If they paid their debts on time, their credit would be extended to 18 florins.

Eliyahu Burshtyn also visited Boiberke. He agitated for a mass meeting to organize a burial society like that in Stanislaw. It is not known to what extent he succeeded.


Chasidism and Haskalah

In the first half of the nineteenth century, the Jews in the Bszeszeni area found themselves under

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the influence of the Chasidic movement. Especially widespread was the Chasidism of the rabbinical court of Rabbi Meir of Prszemishlan and Rabbi Brandwein of Stretin. Chasidimm of these rabbis were also found in Boiberke.

There is no evidence of the influence of maskilim in Boiberke. It is known that the Jews in Boiberke approved the founding of a school. The Boiberke kehillah did not take part in the gathering of kehillah leaders that took place in 1847 under the influence of the Lemberg kehillah that was led by leaders with academic educations.

It is also not known how much the events of 1848 influenced Boiberke's Jews.

In the press of that time there is no correspondence from Boiberke that would show the impression that was created on the political and community front in 1848 which created a storm among the Jews in Galicia, even in places not far from Boiberke.

The constitution of 1848 did not bring the long-awaited happy reckoning and did not ease the Jews' problems, as the Jewish intelligentsia had hoped and dreamed.

Also, the elimination of the two taxes—on kosher meat and on candles—did not materialize as was expected.

The Jews had interpreted [in their favor] the 25th paragraph of the constitution, where it spoke of good reckonings for all citizens on questions of the military and of taxes, but the government offices thought otherwise. The district commander of Bszeszeni even openly issued an order in which he denied the report that the taxes on kosher meat and Shabbos candles had been repealed. He ordered the kehillah to continue to collect those taxes and to turn the money over to the government.

Despite this warning, the Jews refused—in Bszeszeni and in other districts—to pay these taxes.

This led to sharp conflicts with the tax collectors. The situation first became clear after the parliament decided on October 5, by a vote of 243 to 207, to repeal all Jewish taxes. Thus the Jews were made equal to the rest of the population. In the community life of the kehillah, changes came with the appearance of the national Zionist movement, which countered the vegetative state of Jewish life.

* * *

Division over Eretz Yisroel

In 1849, an envoy came to Galicia from the Ashkenazi Jewish kehillahs in Eretz Yisroel, Ysroel Abramovitsh, with the aim of gathering funds for the partition.

Because other envoys from Eretz Yisroel collected money in illegal ways, the commander in Galicia, Engar Golochovski, refused to give permission to the open collection of funds. He declared that he would give his permission with the provision that all would be done according to a prescribed program that would be provided by the government. Overseers were then named for all eight districts in Galicia and Bukovina. The overseer for the Bszeszeni district was Duvid Leiter from Boiberke.

According to the order of the commissioner, the directors were responsible for appointing their representatives in every kehillah who would place sealed pushkes in Jewish homes that only they could open. The moneys that were collected were sent to the head director in Lemberg and to Director Schuler from Potok, who would send them immediately to Beirut.

The Jews in Galicia were allowed to collect funds and send them to Eretz Yisroel only up to 3,000 florins.

The new slogan that resulted from the spiritual uprising of 1848 spread to only a small portion of the state's population. The same percentage were affected in Boiberke. A little while later arose political considerations that connected the leaders of the kehillahs—even those from religious and Chasidic circles—with the political line of the Vienna government. In later years they also helped the Poles in the elections and with Jewish voices strengthened their political-national position in Galicia.

These politics were led mostly by the rabbinical [Chasidic] courts led by the Belz rabbi. They worked together with the Polish assimilationists and gave rise to the political dependence of the Jewish masses on Polish politics. This was the situation in all of Galicia, including Boiberke.


The Intelligentsia in Boiberke

In Boiberke itself there was a small number of Jewish intelligentsia. In the 70s there was only one surgeon—Wilhelm Rett. At the end of the 90s another surgeon had settled there—Shloyme Urich. A medical doctor was found in Boiberke only at the beginning of the 20th century—Dr. Vulf Lechowicz.

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The first Jewish lawyers were: Dr. Kahana, Dr. Isidore Diamant, Dr. Joachim Rosenthal. Later came Dr. Avraham Shrentzl, and before World War I Dr. Duvid Rotfeld and Dr. Yakov Shrentzl.


The National Movement in Boiberke

Even before Herzl's Zionist movement there were Zionist activists in Boiberke who belonged to the Zionist land organization of Galicia, which was established before the publication of Dr. Herzl's book, “The Jewish State.”

Leading these Zionists were Michal Matizes and Shmuel Schleider (the son of Yakov Schleider, brother of Freyda, mother of Feivel Schleider, now known as Shraga Fivl Klay)

In Boiberke, no Zionist association had yet been established. The local activists were members of the “Ahavas Tzion” [Love of Zion] organization in Tarnow (Turna) that agitated for the colonization of Eretz Yisroel by Galician Jews. Michal Matizes was the representative of this organization. He would collect funds, propagandize, publicize “Ahavas Tzion,” and from time to time he wold bring a speaker to the city to encourage “Love of Zion.”

With the appearance of Dr. Herzl in the political arena, the first Zionist organization was established in Boiberke, “Ahavas Tzion,” whose leader was Shmuel Schleider.[1]

He was also the association's representative at the Zionist land conferences between 1895 and 1905.

In 1908 was established a chapter of “Po'alei Tzion” that was active in all areas of the national work, and especially in 1911-1913 in connection with the reforms of the elections for the Sejm. At that time, Boiberke was visited by Dr. Yitzchak Schipper, Berl Locker, Kandle, and Wattenberg from the “Po'alei Tzion” leadership. They used the meetings to expand their organization.


Leases and Owners

Until the meeting of the kehillahs in Austria, called by the Vienna Parliament, on March 21, 1890, the kehillah was led by local leaders, who organized no elections and led according to their own desires the affairs of the kehillah and of the whole Jewish population.

When permission was given in 1859 to live in the villages and in 1860 to buy fields and certain goods, changes came to the economic life of the Jews. Jews began to settle in the villages around Boiberke. They opened inns, got leases and goods, dealt in agricultural products, and invested money in buying goods. There was a new type of Jewish entrepreneur.

In the city itself the Jews became, over all, small merchants and craftsmen. Some were involved in textile production, which was generally in Jewish hands.


City Council and Kehillah

In 1868 the Jews were given equality, and they took part in the city council.

In Boiberke, there were 8 Jews among 24 council members.

After the Kehillah Law of 1890, there were elections for the kehillah. Avraham Levinson was elected to be head of the kehillah.

The rabbi then was Rabbi Chaim Simcha Viteles. In the area of Boiberke there were 5 kehillahs: Boiberke, Bszodowce (Bruzdowitz), Chodorow, Mikelayew, Srtrzeliska-Nowe (Strelisk).

At the start of the 20th century, new kehillah personnel were elected. The number of kehillah taxpayers was then 1,200. The kehillah personnel were arranged—by law—in a small group (advisory body) and a council.

At the head of the kehillah was a small group. From 1901-1914, Duvid Hollander headed the kehillah. His deputy was Meir Tzuch.[2] Other members were: Moyshe Jagid, Yitzchak Landau Shmuel Taubs, Yehudah Hersh Vind, and Avraham Levinson.

In 1914, the following were elected to the kehillah leadership: Hersh Shvadron, Yitzchak Landau, and Yehudah Hersh Vind. Elected to the kehillah council in 1901-1910 were: Yehoshua Ehre, Avraham Yitzchak Beller, Chanoch (Chenich) Propst, Leib Hauster, Markus (Mordekhai)

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Vind, Duvid Leib Mantel, Yitzchak Lutger, and Simcha Lotringer.

In 1910-1914, elected were: Yehoshua Ehre, Leyzer Fuchs, Chanoch Propst, Leib Hauster, Markus (Mordekhai) Vind, Yitzchak (Itzi) Alvail (grandfather of the young Aryeh Alvail), Michal Matizes, and Simcha Lotringer.

Until 1914, the kehillah secretary was Yitzchak Haber, the religious teacher was Morris Diamant, and the cantor was Yehudah Haber.

After Rabbi Viteles, Rabbi Binyamin Goller was chosen (currently the rabbi of Kriutsh).

The kehillah's budget until 1906 was as much as 8,000 crowns, and in 1911-1914 grew to 11,000 crowns.

In Boiberke there were, aside from the large synagogue, seven beis-medreshes and private places where people prayed, a Talmud Torah, headed by Leib Gold. There were also several fellowships: “Visiting the Sick,” “Chesed v'Emes,” “Ner Tamid,” “Agudas Re'im,” “Agudas Nashim,” and “Chesed v'Rachamim.” They were all involved in offering aid and charity.

In the Boiberke neighborhood there were in 1894-1902 five Jewish schools with five teachers and about 90 students. In 1905 there were ten cheders with eleven teachers and 189 students.

In 1880 there were in Boiberke, according to an official count, 2,097 Jews among 4,338 inhabitants. They were 48.4% of the entire population. In 1890, there were 4,939 inhabitants—2,395 Jews. That is 48.5%. In 1900, of 5,315 inhabitants, 2,500 were Jews (47.4%). In 1910, the last census by the Austrians, of 5,628 inhabitants, 2,502 were Jews (44.5%).

At the time of the first census in independent Poland in 1921, of 4,391 inhabitants, there were in Boiberke 1,480 Jews (33.7%).

In the area of Boiberke in 1880, there were 52,216 Christians; of this number, in the cities and towns there were 6,904 (13.2%). Jews numbered 8,393, and in the cities and towns 5,865 (69.9%).

In 1890, there were 59,443 Christians, 7,587 in cities and towns (12.8%). Of 9,685 Jews, 6,715 were in the cities and towns (69.3%).

In 1900—69.185 Christians, in cities and towns 8,980 (13%); Jews—9,725, in cities and towns 6,782 (69.7%).

The number of Jews in 84 villages in the Boiberke area was as follows:

1880 — 1,919 people (22.8%)

1890 — 2,329 people (24.1%)

1900 — 1,191 people (22.6%)

In the city of Boiberke itself, the number of Jews grew from 2,097 in 1880 to 2,502 in 1910.

Due to the growth of the Polish and Ruthenian population at that time, the percentage of Jews fell from 48.4% to 44.5%. In fact, the Jews maintained a stable position.

As a result of the First World War, the number of Jews fell—in 1921 to 1,480, 33% of the general population, which also fell from 5,628 in 1910 to 4,391.

Totally different was the percentage of Jews in the villages: from 1,916 Jews (22.8%) in 1880, the Jewish settlement grew to 2,329 (24.1%). In the decade of the 1890s, the number fell to 1,191 in 1900 (22.6%), that is, 1,138 fewer.

In the area of Boiberke in 1889, 302 hectares of immoveable property was in Jewish hands, and in 1902 the number had risen by 239. Of the woods, Jews owned 55.9% in1889 and 35.09% in 1902.

At the time of the elections to the Austrian parliament in 1907, Boiberke was assigned to the 34tth electoral district: Rozdol, Szidatshow, Boiberke, Ruda, Hatshiska, Burshtn, Bosowtsa. As representative of the Jewish national movement, Dr. Duvid Maltz was chosen as a candidate. He was from among the Zionist leaders in Galicia. He received 1260 votes, but he was not elected. In Boiberke, the elections elicited great excitement for national Zionist thought, and despite persecutions by the Poles, the Jews did not refrain from voting for the Zionist candidate, Dr. Maltz.

A short time before the outbreak of the First World War, a Jewish national life sparkled.

The war of 1914-1918 devastated the city and its Jewish inhabitants.

A large number of Jews fled the city and some of them survived the war in the refugee camps of Czechoslovakia and Austria. A smaller number had to go to Vienna. The Russians took some with them in the retreat of 1915. After the war, some returned to Boiberke, but it was not easy for them to return to normal life.

At the end of 1918, when the Habsburg monarchy collapsed, Eastern Galicia became a republic of Western Ukraine.

In all the cities where Jews lived, the kehillahs were dissolved and were replaced by Jewish national committees.

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At the head of the committee in Boiberke was Dr. Tzvi Margulies.

The powers in the kehillah in Austrian times did not make peace with the new situation and did not want to understand that times had changed. They did everything they could to impede the activities of the national committee. On January 30, 1919, Dr. Margulies went to the national committee in Eastern Galicia in Stanislaw and asked them to help him in opposing those powers.[3]

At the time of Ukrainian control, Boiberke's Jews suffered from difficult economic conditions and from the weakness of the Ukrainian government, which was not willing to hold back the spreading antisemitism in the military and in government offices.

The number of Jews was 2,500, half of whom required aid, according to the list of the national committee. Before the war, 150 needy people required aid (6%), and 875 Jews (35%) were unemployed.

This picture shows how far the Ukrainians restricted Jewish employment in business, labor, and manufacturing, not allowing them to find other sources of income.

In fact, they tried to eliminate Jews from economic life in Boiberke and in all the other cities of Eastern Galicia.

In addition, chaos reigned in the government offices. One had to offer bribes for everything.

Commerce and other labor were paralyzed because of the anti-Jewish politics of the Ukrainian government. There was a lack of food and other necessities. The post-war situation, the persecution of Jews, wild attacks and robbery by soldiers—all of these belonged to the daily life of Jews in Eastern Galicia.

After Galicia was taken over by the Poles, a new chapter of suffering and oppression opened for the Jews and lasted for years.

Original footnotes:

  1. Shmuel Schleider was mobilized during the First World War and fell at the battle at Piave in Italy. Three of his children, Leo, Heini, and Lola live in America. A second daughter, Vicki, lives in Melbourne, Australia. His wife Rachtzi was deported to Poland and killed with all of the Jews. Return
  2. He spent his last years in Jerusalem with his wife, Simman Tzuch Return
  3. At the same time, in 1919, a small group from the “Shomrim” (Aryeh Alvail, Feyval Schleider, Shimon Breitfeld, z”l, and others visited, at night, one of the city powers and forced him to turn over the official books and stamps. “Since you are using force, that's a different story,” he said. Return

[Page 135]

The First Boiberker Sick and Benevolent Society in New York
Later known as “Progressive Boiberker Young Men's Benevolent Society”


by Israel Gimpel (New York)

Translated by Claire Rosenson

It was after the horrible destruction of the Jewish community in Bobrka, after the Nazi murderers and their willing Ukrainian lackeys barbarically destroyed all the Jews in Bobrka and erased all traces of Yiddishkeit from the old historic town in the years 1939-1943, - that's when the New York Boiberker Sick and Benevolent Society was the only Jewish help organization and started operating under the name “First Bobrka Assistance Union”, Progressive Bobrka Young Men's Benevolent Society and Ladies Auxiliary Relief.

The organizing of the Bobrka Union actually started a lot earlier when the Bobkra pioneers who immigrated to America organized themselves and founded the First Boiberker Sick and Benevolent Society.

The first young Bobrkans who went to America in the final years of the 19th century were children of poor parents who lived in Bobrka in more and more poverty. When they grew up they came to realize there was no future in this small backward town and started to search for a way out of this poverty and backwardness and to make a better life for themselves. At other times other Bobrkans heard the news of the “Goldena Medina”, the free land of America, a place that was thought of as a land that accepts with every person open arms and without question as to their religion or race. Also at that time they talked a lot about the opportunity where everyone can improve according to his ability and become rich and where you can conduct yourself according to your beliefs.

The first few years the Bobrka newcomers didn't fare well in New York. It was very natural that people who came from a small shtetl where one out of every two people knew one another would feel alone in the big tumultuous city of New York. Without knowing the language and without friends and relatives and stable income, but full of hope in their pioneering mission, they worked hard. Under the hardest conditions they worked at whatever they could from 12 to 14 hours a day.

Most of the time they slept at their workplaces for fear of losing their jobs to other persons. Under the worst conditions in the sweatshops, the Bobrkans dreamed about a better tomorrow for themselves and their families. That's how they worked day in and day out. They were thrifty with food and saved money to send to their families in Europe.

As the Bobrka immigrants became more assimilated in America, they thought of ways to bring their families from Europe. They planned how to find and help one another and how to live in the big city of New York.

That's how the first few Bobrka landsleit came together and founded the First Bobrka Health Assistance Union. Later in 1908 the Progressive Bobrka Young Men's Union was founded.

[Page 136]

Reb Sender Ehrlich from Strilke


The Village of Strilke near Boiberke

Motl Ehrlich (New York)

Translated by Theodore Steinberg

(Strelki, Ukraine)

49°38' 24°19'

Strilke was a village almost one and a half kilometers from the city. About twelve families lived in the village, but the village was always full of Jews from early in the morning until late at night. Jews had various businesses in the village, because there was a courtyard, a distillery, and people did business with Gentiles; people bought cattle, horses, grain, potatoes, and vegetables.

One of the most important citizens in Strilke was my grandfather, Sander Ehrlich, a”h. He lived to be 104. He lived until the impure hands of the Germans dragged him out–because he could not go on his own–and sent him to Belzec. Ever since I can remember, I thought of my grandfather as an old man. He was a tall, sturdy man, fastidious about his clothing. He knew Polish, both spoken and written. In his time, he had a warehouse that supplied arms to the Polish revolution in 1863. He was also a sworn judge. Like everyone else, he was an observant Jew. He welcomed the poor to his home. A night never passed without his having guests. He himself would carry the straw for their beds and lay it out with his own hands. I remember how he would awaken at midnight to recite tearful lamentations. Every Shabbos he went to shul in the city; this was a long trip, but he never missed it. He lived by a courtyard with his sons Berl and Leibush. There was an open room at the Ehrlich family home where one always knew he could get some potatoes, a little flour, some milk, a warm meal.

I remember in 1915 at the Russian invasion that the people in Boiberke had nothing to eat, and my

[Page 137]

grandfather said, “Jews, come to my field and dig potatoes and take them,” and so it happened. All of the Jews came and dug potatoes for their families. Reb Sender of Strilke's house was also a storehouse for the goods that the Jews bought in Strilke. My grandmother, a”h, was also very righteous. Not only did she welcome Jews to her home, but she was very generous and gave whatever she had to the poor.

My father, a”h, Berl Ehrlich–known as Black Berl–always took pleasure in life. He was always busy and weighed down with work. He did not understand how one could live and not work hard. He learned to welcome guests for Shabbos from his father–our grandfather, Reb Sender, a”h–and he acted like his father. He gave away whatever he had. The food that was prepared for his children he divided up for the poor, so many of whom came to the village. Our mother, a”h, died in 1915 and left my father with six small children so he had to be both father and mother. In the early days of the First World War, 1914-1918, there was widespread hunger. I remember how Srol'tche Fisher ate and slept with us. My father had great respect for Reb Yosef Fisher. He took food to him himself–not, God forbid, because Yosef Fisher could not buy it, but just because it was difficult.

When the pioneer trainees from Boiberke were in Strilke (in 1919), they came to us almost every day, and my father and my grandfather were delighted to carry out the commandment of hospitality.

The Spirit of All Life…

M.Z. (Jerusalem)

Translated by Theodore Steinberg

(Stratin, Ukraine)

49°28' 24°42'

When Rabbi Yitzchak Eizik closed his eyes,
It was a sad Friday night.

A voice from Heaven cried out in anger and sorrow.

Heaven and earth
Did not hear,
That the Strettiner had died?–

The earth heard the news with a shudder,
And the heavens with quiet resentment.

The clouds tore open in mourning
And filled the seas with tears.

It seemed that the moon and stars wept
Bitter tears.

And the winds blew and storms raged–
And thus the world recited Kaddish.

On Shabbos morning
The sun stayed hidden–
It never shone,
But wept and wept.

In the heavens
Was an uproar.

The voices grew louder,
For the Strettiner was coming.

And there is the Strettiner,
The desired guest,
For angels had long awaited him,
As Chasidim on earth
Follow the recital of prayers–
And they wanted to hear his “Nishmas”.

They began to measure the time
Until morning prayers.

The Heavens were decorated as if for Shabbos,
And they led the rabbi to his prayers.

The chorus sang the “Yotzer Ohr”,
And the choir sang the opening prayers.

An angelic chazzan stood in front,
And they said Kedushah and Bor'chu as always.

And when they got to “Nishmas”,
They called the rabbi to the front,
And the rabbi in ecstasy approached “Nishmas”
As he had last week in his shul.

But this time his “Nishmas” moved souls,
Captured hearts,
Bent knees,
With sweet melody.

And that “Nishmas” rose
To the upper Heaven.

The Throne of Glory trembled,
And the sacred ones above were shocked.

And when the Shekhina heard that “Nishmas”,
It seemed to weep.

Note: According to the poem, Rabbi Yitzchak Eizik was the rabbi of Strettin and was known for his beautiful singing. “Nishmas” is a prayer in the morning service that begins, in English, “The spirit of all life…”


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