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[Page 44]

History of the Jews in Buczacz

Translated by Adam Prager


Buczacz was founded at the end of the 17th century, [1] but before it became a town it was a village known for its fortress and palace, which was built in a characteristic medieval style. The village of Buczazc was part of the aristocratic Buczaczki family's estates. The Buczaczki family, whose coat of arms was "abdank," excelled in defending Poland's eastern borders and spreading Catholicism and western culture in those areas. The earliest records concerning this aristocratic family which built the palace and the fortress go back to 1260 and 1379. One of the noblemen of the Buczaczki domain, the starosta [governor] of Halicz, Michael of Buczacz, received from Vladislav by way of tenancy the village of Zloczow. Rent was 100 grzibni and the only condition was that he live there on a permanent basis.

After some time Michael handed over the Zloczow village to the Sjonski family, which founded the town of Zloczow there in 1441.

The last member of the Buzcazcki family was Katerina, the daughter of Jacob. Jacob, who died in 1501, was a voivode [governor] in Belorussia. Katerina handed over the estate as a dowry to her husband, Jan Taburovski, as well as the Filaba coat of arms; the Taburovskis accepted the family name of Buczaczki. At the beginning of the 17th century the Buczacz family estates fell into the hands of the castellan from Kamenets, Janrze Potocki, who married the daughter of Mikolai, Katerina. And her brother Jan Krzishtoff Buczaczki, who was known for his fierce struggle against the Calvinists, died leaving no heirs. From that time on the Buczaczki estates were in the hands of the Putocki family, who further developed the estate and perfected the fortress. The one who particularly enlarged the city was the voivode from Bratslav, Stefan Potocki, who also broadened and perfected the palace and fortress.

Jews had lived in Buczacz since its estate days. After it became a town their numbers grew. In official documents Buczacz's Jewish community is mentioned from the year 1500 and onwards. [2] At the beginning of the 16th century, Poland held fairs in Buczacz which were important for its trade with countries to the east. During this period the Jews had close trade relations with the merchants of Krakow and especially with the famous wholesaler Jan Banner. [3] Likewise, Jewish wholesalers in Buczacz had trade relations with Turkey. We know, for example, that in the year 1578-1579 the Jews of Constantinople together with two Jews from Poland – one of whom was from Buczacz – brought to Lvov 391 barrels of wine from Lamesia out of the 813 barrels that were imported that year. [4]

In the middle of the 16th century the noblemen of Volin, Podolia and Ukraine began an extensive settlement campaign. During that period they founded a few towns in which many Jews chose to settle. These were Jews from various districts in Poland and especially from towns where their lives were a continuous conflict between themselves and the townsmen. The latter were against Jews living among them and persecuted them. The Jews, tired of the incessant friction, gave up their positions and emigrated to the eastern regions and settled in the new towns which by law were private estates of the noblemen.

These noblemen were interested in the development of their towns and therefore gladly bestowed upon the Jews many privileges. Here there were no restrictions concerning trade, work, settlement conditions and housing. All the trade as well as crafts and industries based on agricultural products were in the hands of the Jews. They also had the right to vote in municipal council elections and were exempt from all taxes and payments to the crown treasury. All this was arranged in order to provide them with convenient development conditions. The Jews of these towns represented the urban middle class, a class that every owner of a private town wished to have.

Buczacz was one of these private towns that in the 16th century absorbed a large number of Jews, who in turn founded a community. This community, like those in other cities in the eastern parts of Belorussia and Podolia, was affiliated with the regional center in Lvov. We know that in 1521 King Zygmunt the 1st ordered that taxes decided upon in Bidgushets were to be paid by the Jews of Buczacz to the Jewish collectors.

According to Polish law from 1539, Jews in Poland were divided into two groups: the crown's Jews and the estate owners' Jews. Thus the Jewish communities in the private estates – till then under the crown's jurisdiction – passed over to the hands of the aristocracy, who had the greatest authority in all matters concerning governance and law. The Jews were given rights and engaged in all trades, crafts and even industry based on agricultural products. However, the nobility were authorized to cancel these rights – an authority that was formerly in the sole hands of the crown.

In matters of taxes, and especially the head tax that was imposed in 1549, the private Jews were also under the crowns' rule. In the wake of the head tax, Jewish communities in the towns of the aristocrats, including Buczacz, were attached to the communities' organization – to the state committees and to the Council of the Four Lands – that existed from 1581 to 1764.

The communities in the private towns in most cases enjoyed special support from the towns' owners who were, as stated, very interested in their development. Thus these communities overshadowed those they originated from and even played a larger and more important role as regards Jewish autonomy than did the mother-community. They especially held key positions in the organization of the district committees.

Buczacz was handed down from one noble family to the other via commercial transactions, marital relations and inheritance. However, the constitutional basis for the Jews' life in the town remained unchanged during these transitional periods. In the middle of the 17th century the Cossacks raided Buczacz (the calamities of 1648). The Jews fought alongside their fellow townsmen. Armed with rifles and gunpowder and sometimes manning the cannons, the Jewish population defended the town together with the Christians. The town suffered a great deal during the Tatar wars (1655-1667), and the Turkish wars (1672-1675), when Sultan Muhamed the 4th put Buczacz under a long siege after conquering Kamenets-Podolskiy. In Buczacz in 1672, under the great linden tree behind the palace, the Sultan dictated severe surrender and peace terms to King Michael Vishniovitzk (1669-1673). Poland relinquished Podolia and the Ukraine to the Turks and was committed to pay an annual tax.

The Jews of Buczazc went through a difficult period during the years 1648-1676. However, in 1648 the Cossacks failed to conquer the city, which fended them off and withstood them due to its strong fortress. The Cossacks were forced to retreat and had to make do with burning the surrounding villages.

After a while life returned to normal.

Ulrich Werdum, who visited Poland in the years 1670-1672, relates his impressions of Buczacz, which he visited in 1672, in his memoirs:

“Buczacz is a large and amusing (possierlich) town spread over mountains and a valley with a lake to the West. The town is surrounded by a wall; its houses are well built. It has three Catholic churches and a Ukrainian monastery, now run by the Dominicans. The Armenians also have a church, and the Jews have a synagogue and a well-kept fence-encircled cemetery with beautiful large trees growing in it. The castle is made of stone, as are its fortresses. It lies on the top of the mountain where the Stripa River, originating from the village of Zlotnik 6 miles away, flows at its sides. The river supplies the power for 10 to 12 water-mills placed beside each other. The town of Buczacz is the estate of Lord Potocki. At the beginning of the raid, the Cossacks and the Muscals set fire to the whole town, which has now been rebuilt, especially by the Jews. They (the Jews) are numerous here, as in Poland and Belorussia.” [5]

Later on the Jews suffered greatly from the various armies passing through and the many invasions by Poland's enemies. In the year 1648 many Jewish refugees from the Ukraine who were fleeing from the Chmelnitski gangs found refuge in Buczacz. Among them was R' Yaakov Eliyahu Ben-Moshe Meir of Sharigrod, who was chosen to be the community's rabbi.

Faced by the danger of the Turkish invasion in 1674, the Jews of Buczacz took part in a joint meeting of nobility and state and municipal officials to discuss defense procedures. Special supervisors were chosen for each of the town's quarters. In the Jewish quarter, the community leader R' Yerakhmiel was chosen.

In 1675, when the Turks attacked the town, the aristocrats and townspeople succeeded in fleeing into the fortress. The town was burnt to the ground and many Jews that failed to escape were captured by the Turks outside the fortress gates and slaughtered on the spot. Those in the fortress defended themselves gallantly, maintaining their resistance until the army arrived under the command of Jan Soviski the 3rd, who drove away the Turks.

However, the town's relief did not last long. A year later (1676), the Turks lead by their commander Ibrahim Shaytan invaded Zhorbano. Again Buczacz was conquered and ruined completely, not one house being left. However, Jan Sobiski succeeded in defeating the Turks near Zhorbano and dictated to them the Zhorbano peace terms, according to which Turkey was compelled to return two thirds of the Ukraine, leaving only one third to Turkish rule. All annual tax payments were cancelled and the issue concerning the return of Podolia was postponed for future negotiation. [6]

After the wars with Turkey, the Jewish population of Buczacz and its surroundings dwindled to such a degree that the Polish aristocracy of the Halicz district (Ziemia halicka) ordered their delegates in Warsaw to ask the king to release the Jews of Buczacz (including Jews of Tarnopol, Podheytse, and the rest of the district's towns) from all head tax (poglowne), for “the Halicz Law commands every man to stand beside his fellow man,” [7] Also, in the year 1713 when Buczacz Jews suffered greatly from Russian invasion, the Vice-Minister of Finance Pshendovski released them from paying the head tax.

When the war ended, Jan Potocki rebuilt the town. In 1684, Buczacz (according to the traveler Daleyrac who visited Poland that year and saw Buczacz), was a town built of large, high-storied houses. The Jews were living in the center of town in houses not yet restored, while the castle and fortress were completely rebuilt. During those years – in the second half of the 17th century – the large synagogue of the Jews was built next to the Stripa River. The situation of the Jewish settlement improved and it became financially sound.

The official documents concerning the community's privileges that were destroyed during the catastrophic years were renewed by Stefan Potocki on May 20th and they are a carbon copy of the privileges that were given years before to Chortkov and Stanislavov, also by the Potockis. They are actually no more than a confirmation of the rights given in the past. At the head of the document it is emphasized that Stefan Potocki is renewing and authorizing the rights given the Jews by the former town owners.

According to the bill of privileges, Jews are permitted to reside in the town as well as to deal in crafts and wholesale and retail trade, excepting Christian religious articles. Due to their bad state following the fire, they were exempt from all city and castle taxes for 12 years. At the end of this period, they are to pay one taller for each house whose front faced the street and half a taller for an extension. According to the old arrangements, the Jews were given free passage through the area between the church and the synagogue built by their fathers. Furthermore, Potocki gives them more land in order to expand their cemetery, and the right to construct a building for the caretaker, who will be free of all tax payments. The bill of rights frees them for good from payment of general taxes such as corvee, tithe, castle maintenance duties, and cattle tax. However, like all the other townspeople, they had to pay road maintenance expenses. The Jews are not subject to the municipal law courts but to the Buczacz castle commissioner. They have a right to appeal before the town owner, but are under no obligation to present themselves on Sabbath. It is forbidden to hold them in a cold prison, except for penal crimes. It is forbidden to hold the weekly market day on a Sabbath. Conflicts and trials between Jews are under the jurisdiction of the Jewish rabbinic courts.

Jewish butchers are exempt from supplying pork to the castle. However, they must supply the castle annually with one stone [8] of tallow and a large haunch of meat every week to the deputy starost [governor].

Jews are permitted to purchase houses from Christians, to build breweries and wineries, to produce salt and liquors, while fulfilling their obligations as in the past. They were also given the right to keep taverns. In another bill of privileges from 1706, it is emphasized that the rights of the Jewish craftsmen are equal to those of the Christian craftsmen. They must be members of the general craft guilds and pay all general taxes. However, as Jews they are exempt from all religious duties of the Christian craftsmen, such as churchgoing, participation in religious processions, and obligatory candle contributions to the church. But they must pay all candle fees, including tallow expenses, etc. to the castle and the church. (In 1799, the Roman Catholic church filed a complaint in the municipality against the Jewish and Christian furriers for not contributing their share of tallow. In that year there were fourteen furriers in Buczacz, eight of whom were Jews. The Christian furriers claimed that due to their modest numbers, and the bad state they were in, they could not provide their proper share. They suggested that the Jews, being more prosperous, contribute all the tallow. The mayor ruled that both Christians and Jews must give their share. {Baracz, p. 97-98}. On May 19th 1799, the community requested that Jews not be punished bodily but rather be imprisoned and that the communal leaders be present at their trials. This request was granted by the authorities.)

The 1699 statutes state that the Jews of Buczacz will have the same rights and freedom as the Christian townspeople, It is stated explicitly that a Jewish treasurer will be chosen who will be present when the town collects taxes from the Jews. Furthermore, the Jews must join in defending the castle in times of danger Buczacz Jews were also given the right to be elected to the town's council elections. [9]

This bill of privileges, approved by the town owners that came after Stefan Potocki (approved on Oct. 2nd 1737 by Mikolai Potocki, and on Oct. 3rd 1768 and March 26th 1777) determined the relations between the Jews, town owners and townsmen, enabling the Jews to live in a safe environment. In 1723 Potocki had declared in a special article of the bill of privileges, which was presented to the town hall, that there was to be a guard in the market composed of four people, two of whom must originate from the Jewish community. Potocki also tried to improve the financial state of the town and supported the Jews, whom he believed to be the sole factor for the town's financial development.

Due to these conditions, Jewish trade grew in the well-known markets of 17th century Buczacz. Besides trade, industry and crafts, the Jews also leased taverns in the suburbs and nearby villages. Furthermore, many of them engaged in crop and animal trade, especially in bulls and horses. Among the Buczacz Jews there were also wholesalers who conducted large-scale business ventures with foreign countries.


Community life in Buczacz developed in the same fashion as in other communities in Poland. At the head of the community stood a committee consisting of:
  1. 3-5 community leaders responsible to the authorities, and elected each year. Once elected they swore allegiance to Poland and were only officially installed after the voivode of the state and private towns gave his consent. In Buczacz, for example, consent from the town owner or his empowered assistant was necessary;
  2. 3-5 respected citizens, c) members of the community committees. The community officials were a rabbi, religious judges, preachers, community scribe and the synagogue caretaker. All matters between the community and authorities were taken care of by the intercessor (syndicus).

In addition to the above, the community had a doctor, a pharmacist, a medical assistant, a midwife, guards, tax collectors and messengers.

Within the community there were many societies, such as the khevra kadisha [Jewish burial society], and the craftsmen's guild which took care of its interests among the Christian guilds, in the municipality and within the community.

In 1658 on the initiative of the Belorussia nobility, regional committees were established in Saymek, Vishnia, followed by formation of the Lvov regional committee including the communities of Brody, Zhulkva, Tismanets, Borodshin, Rohatyn, Lisko, Zloczow and Buczacz.

The Lvov community conducted all state committee matters to such an extent that the town leaders enjoyed control (hegemony) without letting the rural communities take part. However, with Lvov's weakening due to the political upheavals after the wars of the 17th century, the rural communities took control from the Lvov leaders. The community of Zhulkva, which was a branch of the Lvov community (przykahalek) succeeded, with support from the town owner, King Jan Sobiski, to free itself completely from Lvov's authority. Furthermore, it started taking over the regional committee. Together with Zhulkva, the communities of Brody, Tarnopol and Buczacz also made themselves heard. Buczacz's rabbi was chosen as the regional rabbi. Following the wars, many Jews from Lvov left for other towns due to the poor financial situation; this made it hard for those who stayed to pay taxes. Matters reached such a state that the Belorussia nobility complained in Saymek, Vishnia in April 1701, [10] stating that due to the mass migration of Jews to Podolia, where they were free under Turkish law from head tax, all the weight fell upon the few Jews who stayed behind. Therefore, taxes should be decided upon according to population size. The Lvov Jews especially suffered; they were forced to pay 1/7 of the head tax for all the Lvov region.

The issue concerning tax distribution was taken care of only in 1716, from which date the Belorussia Jews and the Podolia Jews paid their taxes separately.

Within the Lvov district a harsh power struggle amongst the Jewish communities took place. Slowly the rural town representatives succeeded in taking over most of the region's top positions. In 1664, Buczacz members of the regional committee who met in Swierz with representatives from Zhulkva, Przemishl, Yaborov, Kolomea, and Brody attacked the Lvov community, which consequently was forced to relinquish its monopoly and to attend to the views of all other representatives of the regional committee. Buczacz's representative in this committee was the town leader Rabbi David Preger, a prominent figure not only in the history of the Buczacz community but also in the history of the autonomous institutions of Polish Jewry in general.

David Ben Yitskhak of Prague, popularly known as R' David Preger of Buczacz, was one of the community and regional leaders. In 1676 and 1679 he signed a promissory note, borrowing a sum of 7200 Belorussian tallers from Gabriel Miltner of Breslau, to be paid back in four installments in 1682, 1686, 1688 and 1689. He participated in the Council of the Four Lands. [11] Preger died in 1697.

In 1700, in addition to two town leaders from Lvov, there were already seven representatives from the communities of Brody, Zhulkva, Stri, Tismanitse, Tsernalitse, Kosov, and Zalushtse in the regional committee. In 1720, the Buczacz representative palyed an important roll in the regional committee at Kolikov. This committee consisted of five representatives from Zhulkva, three from Brody, and one each from Bohorodatsani, Stri, Rohatyn, Zlotchov and Buczacz.

In this period the Buczacz community was headed by R' Aryeh Leyb, a wealthy and pious man, who was called by the people “R' Leibush the head of state.”

R' Aryeh Leyb was the son of R' Yitskhak of Yaborov (Yakhorover) and the son-in- law of R' David Ben Aryeh-Leyb son of Shmuel-Tsvi Hirsh, the author of Sheagat Aryeh [Lion's Roar], who was head of the rabbinic court of Brisk deLita and a distinguished citizen of Zamosc.

R' Aryeh-Leyb had much influence over his community and was its representative for a few years at the regional committee. Thanks to his activity and energy in public matters, he became one of the committee's spokesmen and, later on, its head.

In 1720, when Hagaon R' Yehoshua Falk, author of Pney Yehoshua [The Face of Joshua], was in danger of losing his rabbinic chair in Lvov, R' Aryeh stood up for him and convened the regional committee at Kolikov in his interest.

As is known, R' Yehoshua Falk (1756-1681) was chosen after the death of the “Khakham Tsvi” in 1718 as the rabbi of Lvov and vicinity. However, a short time after his being chosen, a certain wealthy man tried to gain the position for his son-in- law, R' Khayim Ben-Lizaral, who was the grandson of the Lvov Rabbi R' Pinkhas Moshe Kharif. His father-in-law, who was mediator for the voivode Yavlonovski, succeeded in buying Yavlonovski's help as well as the support of some of the community leaders. Thus, In 1720 when R' Yehoshua's rabbinical appointment ended, the community did not renew it, but chose R' Khayim Ben-Lizaral to be the rabbi of Lvov and vicinity. The choice was approved by the voivode Yavlonovski.

R' Yehoshua was forced to leave Lvov and moved to Buczacz, the home of R' Aryeh Leibush, his father-in-law. R' Aryeh Leybush's daughter, Shifra, was married to his son, R' Yissakhar Podhitse. [12]

R' Yehoshua Falk turned to the regional communities of Lvov, who decided in his favor and did not recognize R' Khayim as the regional rabbi.

At the regional committee session that convened in Kolikov at the initiative of R' Aryeh Leibush' on July 17th, 1720, R' Khayim was ostracized. This verdict stressed that "we, the region's citizens, are independent of the sacred community of Lvov and of any rabbi it might choose. However, all the communities of the region consider themselves subject solely to R' Yehoshua, who may settle in any of our communities and where he settles will be the seat of rabbinical authority."

R' Yehoshua settled in Buczacz for another reason too. The starosta in Buczacz, Kinovski, was in dispute with the voivode Yavlonovski, a fact that ensured R' Yehoshua's safety.

R' Yehushua resided in Buczacz until 1730 when he was invited to be rabbi in Berlin.
During the struggle of the region against the Lvov community, R' Aryeh Leibush played an active roll and contributed much to its independence.

His eldest son, Zekharia is the author of Menorat Zekharia [Zekharia's Lamp] (1776) and Zekharia Meshulam (1778).

During these years there resided in Buczacz a wealthy man, R' Shimson, and his wife Reyzl, daughter of R' Efraim Fishl, head of the rabbinic court of Kolomea (died in 1783).

In 1752 this couple had a son named Meshulam. He was the well known Gaon R' Meshulam Igra. He spent his childhood in the home of his rabbi, the rabbi of Kolomia.

His father, who saw that his son was destined to greatness, gave him a basic education and then provided him with well-known tutors. At age nine the son already amazed his teachers with his shrewdness and knowledge of the Talmud. In 1761 he gave a Sabbath sermon at the great synagogue in Brody in the presence of the town rabbi, R' Itsikl Hamburger (R' Yitskhak Halevi Horovits). At the age of 13 he married the daughter of the wealthy town leader of Brody, Shmuel Bik. However, after a short time his wife divorced him and in 1768 he married Rivka Esther, daughter of the Rabbi of Brody, R' Yitskhak Horovits. In 1768 R' Meshulam Igra became the rabbi of Tismanitse and maintained close contact with the rabbis of his hometown, Buczacz, until 1784 when he left to serve as rabbi of the Pressburg community.

Up to the end of the 18th century the rabbis of Buczacz were:

  1. R' Yaakov Eliyahu Ben-Moshe Mak, who escaped in the 1648 calamities from Sharigrod, and was a rabbi in Buczacz;
  2. R' Elkhanan Ben-Ze'ev Volf, author of Dat Yekutiel (Zhulkva, 1696); his son, R' Abele, was the son-in-law of the Parnas of the Council of the Four Lands, R' Tsvi Ben Shimshon Maisels of Belz, who was active in the meetings of the Council during the years 1667, 1678, 1690, 1691. [13] His grandson, R' Shimshon Ben-Yaakov, was a rabbi in Zhulkva.
  3. R' Moshe, a native of Zhulkva, was head of the rabbinic court of Buczacz for several years, and was afterwards chosen to be a religious court judge in Zhulkva;
  4. Up until 1740, R' Aryeh Leibush Bar Mordekhai Madrish Auerbakh was a rabbi in Buczacz; [14] he was an uncle and rabbi of R' Meir Margolius author of the responsa Meir Netivim [Illuminator of Paths]. One of his daughters married R' Naftali Hirts Broda, head of the rabbinic court in Kolinits, and second to R' Khayim, one of the worthies of Zhulkva. In 1740 R' Aryeh Leibush was chosen rabbi in Stanislav where he served in the rabbinate until his death in Stanislav in 1750;
  5. Meir Ben Hirts, who was also a state rabbi and in 1775 signed a census list of Jews in Buczacz and vicinity; [15]
  6. R' Tsvi Hirsh Ben Yaakov Kara was born 1740 and died in 1814 in Buczacz.

In 1794 after being invited to serve as rabbi in Pressburg the Gaon R' Meshulam Igra spoke to the rabbis of the regional towns, who came to visit him in Tishminitse in order to depart from him: "I appointed to this region the Gaon Tsvi Hirsh Kara, head of the rabbinic court of Buczacz, who was an outstanding teacher. Address all difficult problems to him." From then on all the distinguished rabbis of Galicia turned to him with all their questions and doubts. [16] R' Tsvi Hirsh corresponded with all the great rabbis of his generation, such as R' Jacob of Lisa, R' Aryeh Horovits of Stanislav, R' Efraim Zalman Margolius of Brody, R' Yehoshua Heshel, head of the Tarnopol rabbinic court. After his death, his responsa Neta Shaashuim(Zhulkva 1829) was published.


During the days of struggle with the Sabbateans in the eastern areas of Poland, the Jews of Buczacz were influenced by this movement.

As we know, in these parts the Sabbatean movement had a considerable stronghold, which succeeded in infiltrating into the circles of rabbis and scholars. The Sabbatean teachings were brought here by Jews from Turkey who settled in Kaminets-Podolsk at the time of the Ottoman conquest and who succeeded in spreading Sabbateanism among the Jews of Podolia. Besides communities such as Busk, Glinyani, Tishiminetse, Horodenka, Nadvorne, Podheytse, Zbaraz, Zloczow, Kamyunka and Rohatyn in which there were many Sabbateans, followers of the movement were also to be found in Buczacz, an important center for this sect. In their early years they operated in secrecy without raising suspicion, content to distribute words of heresy and recruit followers. They held constant contact with Shabtai Tsvi's emissaries, at first with Khayim Malakh, who was born in Poland and set out for Turkey at the end of the 17th century where he joined Shabtai Tsvi. He later returned to Poland in 1700 by way of Vienna and Berlin in order to strengthen the belief in Shabtai Tsvi.

On this trip he visited mainly in Belorussia, assuming that the sect had already become established there and had many followers. He visited Zhulkva, Horodenka, Podheytse and Buczacz. His sermons won many converts who believed his words.

After the failure of the Hasidim who emigrated to Erets-Yisrael headed by R' Yehuda Khasid, Khayim Malach visited Poland in 1715 for the second time. However, this time R' Khakham Tsvi warned his brother R' Shaul, head of the rabbinic court of Krakow, of this sect and especially of the “Bad Angel” Khayim Malakh.

After Malach left Belorussia, the Sabbateans of Buczacz were in contact with Moshe Meir of Kamionka – one of the sect's most prominent propagandists in Poland, with his brother-in-law Fishl (Fayvl) of Zloczow and with the preacher Yissakhar of Podheytse. We can also assume that they were in contact with the known Sabbatean of Zhulkva – Yitskhak Kadeyner. From testimonies concerning the Buczacz Sabbateans that were given in 1726 in a Buczacz house of study, we hear that “two of the treacherous movement members that were in Buczacz went to Nadvorne and exchanged wives with each other.” In Nadvorne “all the heretics were followers of Shabtai Tsvi.” [17] Among the Buczacz Sabbateans in the mid-18th century were Mordechai Ben-Moshe and Yissachar Ben Natan. These two were involved also in the matter concerning R' Jonathan Eybeschuetz [1690-1764] and his book “VeAvo Hayom El HaAyin, which raised quite an uproar among the rabbis and leaders of Polish Jewry in the years 1751-1752 due to its Sabbatean character. In a testimony given in 1752 by Natan Levi before a body of rabbinical judges in the rabbinic court of Brody, we hear from Natan Levi that “a citizen of Buczacz, whose name was Mordechai Ben-Moshe, came to Stanislavov as a spokesman. I pointed to the words of heresy in Eybeschuetz's book in order that he understand, for which he thanked me and confessed and attested to his sins, for he was a believer in such heresy until that day. He added these words: “These teachings I have learned from R' Yissakhar Bar Natan of Buczacz and these writings are sent to him by R' Yonatan of Prague.” These writings were sent by him and were spread by him and his friends all the way to Salonica. [18]

Remnants of these Sabbateans joined Jacob Frank's group following his arrival in Belorussia.

A fable spread among the people stating that Frank was born in Korolovka, one of the suburbs of Buczacz. However, this is only a myth. It is true that he was born in Korolovka, but not in a suburb of Buczacz, but rather in the small town of Korolovka where his cousins were still residing in 1756. We do not know how many followers he had in Buczacz, but we can say for sure that there were Frankists there at the time. It is known that the majority of his supporters came from Busk and Glinyani, which is the reason why they requested from the Primas Lubinski, in an official request dated May 16th 1759, that they receive a permanent foothold in Busek and Glinyani, making it into an autonomous district of sorts.

One Buczacz Frankist we know of is "Itsik Meir Bashush Zlatshover Hadar of the sacred community of Buczacz” from a testimony [19] given on the 2nd of Sivan 1756 before the rabbinic court of Satanov concerning the lechery in Lantskron. He brought to R' Shlomo Segal of Lantskron Sabbatean writings, among them Jonathan Eybeschuetz's book “VeAvo Hayom El HaAyin”.

It is interesting that there were no Buczacz Jews among the Frankists who converted in Lvov following the historic dispute in that city from July 17th through September 10th 1759.

In the 18th century the financial situation of the Buczazc Jews was good enough to enable them to trade according to the 1699 statutes. However, one cannot deny that most of the population suffered from the tax burden that was laid upon the Jews at the time. During the years 1713-1714 the Jews of Buczacz paid 1200 gulden for head tax alone. [20] In addition to this the community paid interest on its debts and collected various other taxes.

Their representatives in the regional committee watched over their interests and joined with the representatives of Zhulkva and Brody to achieve independence from the Lvov center. It is interesting to point out that whenever the appointment of a state rabbi was on the agenda, Buczacz always put forward a rival candidate. In the latter half of the 18th century, a prominent tobacco merchant named Avrahamtshik of Buczacz imported tobacco from Turkey for a well known Polish tobacco company. He was a partner of Fayvel Ben-Shimshon (Samsonowicz) of Kamenets-Podolskiy. [21]

In 1765, the census of Jews in Buczacz recorded 1055 persons (988 adults and 67 children); in the surrounding vicinity there were 303 persons (278 adults, 25 children). A total sum of 1358 Jews (1267 adults, 91 children).

After the death of Stefan Potocki in 1727, his wife Joanna of the house of Sieniavski administered Buczacz till her death in 1733. Her heir, Mikolai Potocki, advanced the town – he built the city hall in Gothic style and founded the first high school [gymnasium]. The Jewish community was pressed financially and borrowed from him 1000 gulden at 10% interest. The loan was effected by the communal leaders.

Lazar Falkov. Yaakov Ben-Yaakov and Yosef Ben-Betsalel. On August the 10th 1747, Potocki ordered the community to provide substitute payment; namely, to give the Greek church (on a permanent basis) 250 liters of tallow in three payments per month.[22] However, the community did not agree with this demand and was forced by a court ruling of May 10th 1758 to pay the debt.

In 1772 with the first division of Poland, Buczacz was annexed to the Kingdom of Austria and its fate was that of all the communities in Galicia. In the first division Buczacz belonged to the Zalshatsiki district and later on to the Stanislavov district.

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  1. In the 16th century, 46 cities were built in eastern Belorussia with the aim of creating a complete chain of fortified cities to serve as a line of defense against Tatar incursions into Poland. Back
  2. I. Schipper, Studia nad stosunkami Zydow w Polsce podczas sredniowiecza. Lwow, 1911, p. 155. Back
  3. Idem., p. 36. Back
  4. I. Schipper, Dzieje handlu zydowskiego na ziemiach polskich, Warsaw, 1938, p. 87. Back
  5. Xawery Lisicki, Cudzoziemcy w Polsce. Lwow, 1876, p. 182. Back
    5a.  Acta grodzkie i ziemskie, Lwow, 1931, vol. 24, p. 380, no. 198, ##2,3.
    5b.  Idem. p. 368, no. 205 1/5, #39. "boskieto jubet prawo kazdemu subvenireblizniemu."
  6. In 1699 in the peace treaty signed at Karlowitz, Podolia and a third of theUkraine were returned to Poland. Back
  7. Les anecdotes de Pologne ou Memoires secrets du Regnes de Jean Sobieski. Paris, 1699, vol. 2, pp. 228-230.Back
  8. Ancient Polish measure equal to about 25 pounds. Back
  9. A copy of the ordinances is in the Viennese internal affairs archive, carton 279, vol. 4. Back
  10. Acta grodzkie i ziemskie, vol. 22, ed. Prohaska: Lauda Wiscenskie, no. 67, p. 364; notice to the Sejm delegates from
    18th April 1701. Back
  11. Israel Halperin, Pinkas Of the Council of Four Lands, pp. 156, 159, 169, 184, 206, 212, 213, 215. Back
  12. Aryeh Leyb had three sons:
    1. Zekharia Mendel who was the student of R. Yehoyshue Falk and later rabbi in Podheytse (author of Menorat Zekharia ???, 1936)
    2. Naftali Hirts Mendel was the son-in-law of Rabbi Avraham of Stanislav and father-in-law of Rabbi Jacob, Head of the rabbinical court of Lithuania and author of Khavat-Daat [Opinion]
    3. Akiba, who was a well known man of means. As to his two daughters, Shifra was married to the son of Rabbi Yehoyshue Falk and the second to Rabbi Tsvi, Head of the rabbinical court in Manastirziske. Back

Here is the family tree of Rabbi Aryeh-Leybush.

Zekhariah Mendel of Krakow*
(called Mendel Kloyzner [Klausner])


Aryeh Leyb (Tall Leyb)


1) Zekharia Mendel
(author of Be'er heytev)

2) Khayim of Yaborov**
(regional leader)

3) Efraim Fishl

4) R' Elazar


Yitskhak Yabrover


Aryeh-Leybush of Buczacz

1) Zekharia Mendel (Head, rabbinical court of Podheytse) 2) Naftali Hirts Mendel 3) Akiba 4) daughter  of the wife of Rabbi Tsvi Hirsh

5) Shifra, wife of Rabbi Issachar Berish


1) Tsvi Hirsh Rozanes, Head of the rabbinical court in Bulikhov and, after the death of the Gaon R' Mordechai Ze'ev Orenstein,
     Head of the rabbinical court in Lwow.

2) Sarah

*   In his old age he emigrated to Erets-Yisrael, becoming a prominent person in Jerusalem. Return
** He lived in Zhulkov and was a regional head in the province of Lwow. He took part in the council meeting at Kolikov in the month of Shevet, 1689 and was one of the leaders of the Council of the Four Lands in the years 1673, 1683-1689. Return

  1. Israel Halperin, Pinkas Of the Council of Four Lands, pp. 109, 160, 163, 166, 215, 216, 221. XXIII-498. Back
  2. Head of the rabbinical court of Bomberg and surrounding region. He was the brother of the mother of the Gaon R' David Openheim, head of the rabbinical court of Prague and son of Rabbi David, son of the sister of the author of Torey zahav [Pillars of Gold] (Ephraim Zalman Margoliouth, Sefer maalot hayokhsin, pp. 72, 78. Back
  3. Majer Balaban, Spis Zydow I Karaitow ziemi halickiej, Krakow, 1909, p.4. Back
  4. Tsvi Hurvits, Sefer kitvey hageonim [Writings of the Highest Rabbinical Authorities], Piotrkow, 1928, p. 199. In the court house of Buczacz an interesting Polish document was found; dated 20 Tammuz 1785, it is signed in Polish by Rabbi Tsvi Hirsh, son of Jacob Kara, and by the rabbinical judge Akiba of Podheytse. In it a Buczacz resident, Khayim Gabriel ben Pesakh of Trambubla, declares his wish to increase the dowry which his wife, Luba bas Arye, received from her father and to will it in his will. See Appendix 5. Back
  5. G[ershom] Scholem, "Brukhia, Head of the Sabbateans in Salonika," Zion, 1941, p. 193.Back
  6. Printed in: Moshe Arye Perlmuter Sefer avo hayom 'el ha'ayin' shayukhuto le-r'yonatan ibishuts [The Book Avo Hayom "El Ha'ayin" Attributed to Rabbi Jonathan Eybeschuetz], Jerusalem, 1942, p. 52. Back
  7. Jacob Omri, Sefer hashimush, pp. 5-7. Back
  8. Pinkas of the Council of Four Lands, p. 269. Back
  9. I. Schipper, Dzieje handlu zydowskiego na ziemiach polskich, pp. 263, 313. Back
  10. See Appendix 4. Back

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