« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »

History of the Jews in Buczacz (cont.)

Translated by Adam Prager


At the outset of Austrian rule, the district administrator Kulmanhueber cancelled all the taxes that the Jews paid to the town owner Count Piotr Potocki according to Polish law, and also the right to collect certification fees for the election of the Buczacz rabbi. Austrian law did not permit collection of such fees by town owners.Potocki protested a number of times at the Kaiser's court.The Lvov governor advised him not to disturb the Kaiser's court in such a matter. However, he finally succeeded in his appeal; the Lvov governor was ordered to investigate and in the meantime to continue as in the past. [23]

According to the statutes of Josef the 2nd from May the 27th 1785 it was determined that the rabbi of Buczacz would be the regional rabbi. Of course the Jews of Buczacz suffered from the new statutes that reduced their financial possibilities. Especially harmful was the prohibition of estate, and winery leasing that was enacted in 1784. They were also prohibited to lease taverns (propinacje). In June 1778 the community appealed to the authorities for protection against the "the cruel persecutions of the estate owner Count Peter Potocki." At the time Potocki requested from the central authorities to permit him to collect taxes from the butchers that were due to him by right of the statute and his being the town owner. He also requested that the heads of the community provide him with only the taxes concerning kosher meat. In July 1778 the governor replied that the situation would stay as it is until the final arrangement is decided upon.

Despite this reply, Potocki requested in September 1778 to hasten the conclusion of this dispute between the community and himself since the community was collecting sums that belonged to him, thus causing him great losses.

Despite attempts made by his attorney Patsintski to solve the matter, the dispute went on for some years. In the summer of 1786 Potocki once again appealed to the central authorities to decide upon the matter, for the community was collecting the krupka [grain] taxes, thus causing him great financial losses. He demanded that he be compensated retroactively and that he be allowed to collect taxes in the future. The Governor replied on December the 6th 1786, stating that he must wait for the final arrangement concerning the community's debts and their liquidation.

Meanwhile, Potocki reached a "secret arrangement" with the Jews concerning leasing, which by law was forbidden to the Jews. This became known to the authorities and in 1787 the town owner Potocki was fined for giving leasing privileges to the Jews of Buczacz. His sentence was printed out and sent to all the courts of law "that all shall see and beware." [24]

At the same time, the Jewish population of Buczacz grew, since many Jews were leaving the villages for the towns.They were forced to leave their homes because by the law of 1789 Jews who did not engage in agriculture were not authorized to live in the country, However they were permitted to deal in any craft and to trade. At the head of the Buczacz Jews stood three men who received authorization from the authorities. As part of the reforms that the Austrian government initiated among the Jews of Galicia (following Herts Homberg's appointment as the Inspector of Galician Jewish schools), 48 elementary schools were opened in 1788. One was a boy's school in Buczacz that existed until 1806.(Homberg's family in Krakow took the family name Autor.)

During these years, there lived in Buczacz R' Pinkhas Eliyahu Horovits author of Sefer HaBrit. His father Meir and his mother Yente were from Vilna. In 1776 their son was born in Lvov, through which they were passing on their way to Buczacz, where they wished to settle. [25] However, they called him "Vilna" after his father's descent. During his youth he wandered throughout Galicia and Germany and later on moved to Buczacz.Here he lived for some years, and started writing the book which was to stimulate the young to study secular subjects. He was one of the first heralds of general education in Galicia and Poland. His book also found acclaim among Jewish circles in other countries, and due to its clear and popular style was even translated into Judezmo in the Middle East. In spite of his inclination toward secular sciences, he stayed faithful to religion and tradition and stated this in his book.His sole purpose was to encourage Jews to study general studies, which he saw as necessary for the full understanding of Jewish texts. In the early 1790s he left Buczacz because of an eye condition attributed to eye strain caused by overwork on his book. He moved to Buva and after some years went to Pressburg, where he finished his book; it was published in Brin in 1797. His book is actually a popular encyclopedia of sorts for general knowledge, dealing especially with natural history. In the second part of his book "Divrey Emet" [Words of Truth], one can find correct views regarding Jewish life in Poland. He especially gave a realistic description regarding the dismal condition the Jews were in and preached in favor of changing their economic structure by means of productivisation.This would erase idleness and unemployment, and would raise their status vis a vis the gentiles.His book played an important role in furthering general knowledge among Jewish youth, which read the work in secret and drew from it their secular education. Pinkhas Eliyahu Horovits died in Krakow on April the 21st, 1821.

During this period heavy taxes were levied on the Jews.Particularly onerous were the taxes on kosher meat and on candles. According to the law of August 28th 1787, Galician Jews were ordered to take German family names by the first of January 1788.With this there began the process of the germanizing of the Jews; rabbis were commanded to conduct all their affairs in the German language alone.

The head of the community at this time was Rabbi Meir Schneier.He not only conducted the affairs of his own congregation with great energy, but carried out many important tasks for the benefit of all Galician Jews; they recognized him as one of their chief representatives. Taken by surprize by the law issued in Vienna on February 18th 1787 which made Jews individually liable to serve in the military, representatives of all the communities (at the initiative of the Lvov community) decided to propose to the central government the payment of a ransom sum in place of personal military service.For this purpose a three-man delegation was sent to Vienna: the Lvov rabbi Rabbi Tsvi Hirsh Rozanes, the representative of the Brody Jews, Rabbi Yaakovka Landa, son of the Gaon R' Yekhezkl Landa (author of Noda be-Yehuda), and R' Meir Schneier of Buczacz – proof of how greatly the Buczacz community was honored among Galician Jews.

In June 1790 the above-mentioned representatives traveled to Vienna and presented their appeal for the easing of restrictions on the practice of their occupations and businesses, for the return of their right to sell alcoholic beverages in towns and villages (abolished in 1797 with the consequent economic ruination of thousands of Jews), for the restoration of their jurisdiction (through the rabbinical courts) over matters of religious law such as marriage and divorce, and for instituting, in place of conscription, a system of paying a recruit-tax, it being difficult for Jews to observe their religious duties while serving in the military; the Jews are ready to pay a ransom-sum to replace conscription.

After making two more appeals in July, repeating their earlier requests, they were successful in their intercession.On July 29, 1790, Kaiser Leopold issued an order exempting Jews from military service, but stipulating that the community supply the required number of recruits from local volunteers or from abroad, or pay the sum of 30 florins per head so that the authorities could purchase other recruits. [26]

In May 1790 gymnasium [high school] students were accused of attacking Moshe Berkovits, a Jew, and stealing some of his belongings.The municipality, together with the community representatives Berish Hofman and Reuven Shternbaum, investigated the charge and concluded that the students were innocent. [27]

At the outset of the 19th century, the Jewish population increased considerably. In 1812 there were 352 Jews in Buczacz, 696 men and 768 women. Altogether, there were 1464 persons. [28] Most of the Jews dealt in trade and tavern keeping, occupations in which, however, Jews were under serious restrictions. Also in this period Buczacz was the commercial center of the estates.Here was concentrated all crop and cattle trade along with trade in all other agricultural products, all run by Jews. The community was in debt from the days of autonomy in Poland, but slowly managed to pay off the sum of 10,675 gulden. Eventually, they became administratively sound. In 1831 a cholera epidemic caused the death of 600 Jews. This was also the year in which the great synagogue burned to the ground. [29] With the help of Mikolai Potocki the synagogue was rebuilt in the town's center. However, on July 29th, 1865 a huge fire burst out in which the synagogue together with 220 houses were destroyed.

The community did not suffer from domestic conflicts between the misnagdim and the hasidim on the one hand, and between the above two and the maskilim on the other.

A distinguished and highly moral individual who had great influence over the community was R' Avraham David Ben-Asher Wahrman, who served as Buczacz's rabbi from 1813. R' Avraham David Wahrman, whose father was Anshil (Asher), son of R' David and whose mother was Rekhl, daughter of R' Avraham Rekhlis, was born on the sixth day of Adar 1771 in Nadvorne. His father was a man of his word, hence his nickname, Wahrman, later became his surname. R' Asher was a great scholar and a merchant, a distinguished citizen in his land. In addition to Jewish studies, his son was taught arithmetic, German and Polish. It proved difficult to find a teacher for the son by the time he reached the age of nine – he was that advanced. (Another young man at the time who excelled in his studies was Shlomo Kopler, who years later became a tax farmer with control of the candle tax and oppressed Galician Jews no end.)In 1780 the Gaon Meshulam Igra visited Nadvorne and was amazed at the boy's knowledge of the Talmud and predicted a great future for him as a Gaon. At the time, word about the boy came to the ears of R' Tsvi Hirsh Kara of Buczacz who wanted R' Avraham David for a son-in-law and visited Nadvorne to arrange for a marriage agreement with the boy's father. After his marriage, while staying at his father-in-law's house, R' Avraham David befriended Rabbi Khayim, who was later appointed head of the Czernowicz rabbinic court (author of Be'er mayim khayim on the Torah).

Already in his youth R' Avraham David corresponded with R' Yaakov of Lisa (author of Khavot daat ), who was known for his critical acuity and who found fault in all the contemporary authorities.However, he greatly respected R' Avraham David as well as the Gaon R' Neta, head of the Podheytse rabbinic court and a well known cabalist. R' Avraham David delved deeply into the Kabala. In 1791 he was appointed rabbi of Biazlovits, where he broadened his studies not only in the sea of talmudics and exegetics, but also studied mathematics, astronomy and natural history. He did so, in his words, to answer heretics – the early talmudists also did not neglect worldly subjects and useful sciences.

With particular devotion he also gave himself to the study of cabala. During the period in which he occupied the Biazlovits pulpit, he became acquainted with R' Levi-Yitskhak of Barditshev who visited the nearby village of Romalov and was deeply impressed by R' Avraham David's personality and belief. R' Avraham David was one of the Tsadik R' Moshe Leyb of Sasov's students, and one of his followers.

The influence of hasidism was strongly felt in his writings, especially in Birkat David (published in 1805).

In 1814, after the death of his father-in-law, he inherited the former's rabbinical post.However, the community of Biazlovits was not willing to part with him. But Buczacz townsmen came in the night with wagons and moved R' Avraham David and his household to Buczacz bodily.

In Buczacz he had lasting influence over his community, and especially on many scholars who studied under him.These included R' Shlomo, head of the rabbinic court of Skala (author of Bet Shlomo ), and R' Khayim Ben Shlomo, head of the rabbinic court of Czernowicz, supporters of Besht hasidism. He attacked R' Yekhezkl Landa (author of Noda Be-Yehuda ) for his opposition to hasidism, and the authors of Siduro shel shabat (Puritsik 1818), Be'er mayim khayim (Czernowicz 1820, 1849), Shaar hatefila (Sodilkov 1833).[?He attacked] R' Shmerl, head of the rabbinic court of Rimolov, R' Moshe of Budzanov, R' Berl, head of the rabbinic court of Bayan, R' Fayvl Schreier, head of the rabbinic court of Bohorodtsani (authors of Giduley hakodesh, Mikdash me'at, Mishmeret hakodesh, Asefat zkeynim and one of the first Khovevey Tsion [Lovers of Zion] in Galicia.

During the same period, R' Wahrman was in close contact with Efraim Zalmen Margoliot of Brody. under whose influence hasidism grew and became more entrenched in Buczacz. Because of his closeness to hasidism, R' Wahrman's status as rabbi of Buczacz was compromised.The maskilim and the misnagdim, whose numbers were large, and who were represented well in community institutions, resented R' Abraham David Wahrman's hasidic leanings. They especially resented his introduction of half-day long prayers inspired by the Ari and the Zohar. Leading the opposition to him was the community leader R' Avish Shtern, founder of a synagogue in his name, known for his scholarship and one of the wealthiest men in the land.[30]

The maskilim would make no concessions to R' Wahrman, and one of them even submitted a memorandum to the state authorities in which he described the "deceitful acts" of the Buczacz hasidim.In the memorandum it is stated that the rabbi was deposed from his post because of his hasidic sins – something we do not know from any of the descriptions of his life. [31]

He was also accused of being a healer of the sick, and of hiding deserters from military conscription, smugglers and plain thieves – all out of pity for those fleeing their pursuers.

He died on the 29th of Tishri 1841. [32] Large numbers of hasidim attended his funeral and on his grave they swore loyalty to his principles.A mausoleum of especially large dimensions was erected over his grave, to which thousands of Jews streamed.

R' Avraham David Ben Asher Wahrman wrote eleven books. [33] His life was marked by great love of the people of Israel and by great enthusiasm.He held that through Torah man comes nearer to his inner self.

The increase in the number of hasidim led to conflict with the maskilim. Seeing that the head of the town supported them and the hasidic rabbis, the maskilim turned to the state authorities and pointed out the damages the hasidim were causing to the state.

On August 1841, Yosef Tefer, a Buczacz maskil, submitted a detailed account of the doings of the hasidim in Buczacz, and especially bitter complaints against the rebbe, who was the son and heir of Rabbi R' Avraham David Wahrman. [34] The memorandum tells us that he held the key to the mausoleum of his father, R' Avraham David.Anyone who wished to visit was required to donate a sum for his widow and a contribution for Erets-Yisrael.According to Tefer, his son was the one who added the surname "Wahrman" to his original name. Tefer recommends that the authorities demand a report on all donations for Erets-Yisrael and also suggests that he be prohibited from assembling his hasidim and from conducting prayers on his father's grave, and that an end be put to the deceitful acts performed there.

For this purpose a specially authorized official should be sent to dismantle the mausoleum and to remove the gravestone which stirs the hasidim to perform their demonic dances.However, the town owner and the local authorities are indifferent to all of this, since the flow of hasidim into the town means money in its coffers. Tefer himself used to be a merchant in Buczacz, where he was born and raised, but moved to Tarnopol and is happy for having left the hasidic hell in Buczacz. But the fate of his brethren prompts his concern. The hasidim scorn work and education and they neither know how to be nor wish to be useful citizens. Their rebbe preaches sectarianism and a life of idleness, as opposed to Tarnopol, where Jews work and earn the respect of their fellow citizens.


Perceptible changes took place in the community after 1848.The influence of the maskilim led to improvements in education. While Buczacz did not play as important a role in the haskala [Enlightenment] movement as did Tarnopol. Brody, or Tishminitse [Tysmienica], it already contained many circles which encouraged aspirations towards education and cultural progress among the Jews.

Within the community, administrative control was in the hands of the haredim [Orthodox]. There were twelve synagogues in the town and thirty-six minyanim [quorums].No rabbi was appointed after R' Wahrman's death.Rabbi R' Tsadok Rinek served for several years. After 1853, Rabbi R' Avraham Ben Tsvi Hirsh Teumim, formerly rabbi in Zborov (author of Khesed le-Avraham], served as rabbi. He died in 1862. [35]

Thanks to its stratum of maskilim and to the legal status of Galician Jewry, Buczacz Jews occupied an important place in the municipal administration. Of the thirty members of the municipality, 12 representatives were Jewish; nine were Poles and nine were Ruthenians [Ukrainians].

When Jews were allowed to own real estate after 1860, Buczacz Jews also requested that they be allowed to purchase real estate.

In 1860, two Jews, Feuerstein and Hofman, asked to have estates which they had bought illegally, registered in the land registry. [36]

In the constitutional period of Austria beginning in 1867, Buczacz began to fill an important role in the life of Galician Jewry. Buczacz was united with Sniatyn and Kolomea to form a single electoral region with a large Jewish population. This made it possible to elect a Jewish representative to the Galician Sejm and, later, to the Viennese parliament. In 1868 Dr. Maximillian Landsberger was elected representative to the Sejm and from there he went as representative to the Viennese parliament. In those days delegates were not elected directly but by regional parliaments (Landtage).Dr. Landsberger completed his studies at the University of Vienna, and afterwards became a well known lawyer in Lvov, where he was active in community affairs. In 1840 he took part in founding the committee for building a reform synagogue [bet kneset leneorim 'synagogue for the enlightened'] in Lvov.But this did not prevent him from opposing the maskilim and cooperating with the Orthodox Meir Mints in 1842 in a community issue. It is no wonder that an organ of the progressive maskilim in Vienna published a report from Lvov accusing Dr. Landsberger and Dr. Mahl of having joined them out of personal motives, since the authorities had not elected them to the community council, where maskilim were the majority. In the years 1848-1863 he was a member of the Lvov city council and from 1865 also a parnas [leader] of the Lvov Jewish community.

After 1856, the year in which Mark Dobes, the Kolomea [37] -Sniatyn-Buczacz delegate to the Galician Sejm died, Dr. Landsberger was elected in his place; he was elected a second time in 1867and served until 1873. Actually he was a delegate only up to 1870. In that year the Poles left the parliament because of disagreements with the central government over Galician autonomy. Landsberger left the parliament together with the Poles, leaving Galician Jewry without representation in the Viennese parliament until 1873; in 1870 he also gave up his mandate to the Galician Sejm.

Helped by an alliance with the Ukrainians, Dr. Oswald Honigsman (1824-1880) was elected in direct balloting as delegate from Kolomea-Buczacz. He was a native of Risha who had completed his studies at the University of Vienna. In the years 1861-1866 he represented the Jews of Lvov on the Lvov municipal council together with Dr. Landsberger, Dr. Kulisher and Mark Dobes.In 1861 he was chosen to represent the progressives on the Lvov community committee and in 1867 he was selected in Brody to take the place of Meir Kalir in the Galician Sejm. In a debate in the Sejm on the abolition of restrictions upon Galician Jews, he stressed that he spoke as a Polish assimilationist. Despite such views, after his election as a parliamentary delegate he joined the other Jewish delegates from Galicia – Dr. Joachim Landa (Brody), Nathan Kalir (Brody) and Herman Mieses (Drohowic) – in the constitutional party (Verfassungpartei), not like the delegate from Krakow, Albert Mendelsburg, who joined the Polish fraction. This Jewish separatism continued until 1879. In the elections held in 1879 the Jews of Buczacz-Sniatyn-Kolomea chose as their delegate the Krakow rabbi, R' Shimon Shreiber, who joined the Polish fraction.

Following his death in 1883, a meeting of voters decided to suggest the candidacy of the renowned Viennese rabbi and author, Dr. Joseph Samuel Bloch, who was born in Dokla and was famous at the time for his courageous and proud struggle against Prof. Dr. Rohling and his book “Der Talmud-Jude.” The Jewish political organization in Galicia, Shomer Yisrael [Guardian of Israel], understood this candidacy as an action against them, and turned to the Jewish voters in the Kolomea-Sniatyn-Buczaczdistrict in order to present a candidate of their own. Also the Polish press attacked Dr. Bloch's candidacy on the grounds that he was a Viennese rabbi who neither knew Galicia nor spoke Polish. [38] Dr. Bloch, on the other hand, stated that he would join the Polish faction in the Parliament. Counter to the decisions of Shomer Yisrael, the Main Voting Committee of Lvov, and the wishes of the authorities, Dr. Bloch was elected a delegate to the Viennese parliament. He received 1460 votes as opposed to the 983 votes for the university professor from Krakow Dr. Warschauer. In 1885, elections for the new parliament were held. Once again Dr. Bloch met with the opposition ofofficial circles. On May 2nd, 1885 a voting committee announced Bloch's candidacy at the Buczacz synagogue. The Central Voting Committee in Lvov put forward their candidate, Dr. Emil Bik. The election struggle was a fierce one. Dr. Bik, besides having the support of the authorities, the community leaders and the mayors, had large sums of money with which to buy votes. In Buczacz, Mayor Berysz Stern declared that Bloch would not receive over one hundred votes. [39] Dr. Bloch was promised by the Galician governor that his representative would be allowed to be present at the polling booth at the time of the elections.

When Dr. Bloch arrived in Buczacz, he was forced to stay in a private home because the district minister forbade the hotel owners from entertaining him. Berysz Stern added to the voters' list names of deceased citizens and was confident Bloch would fail. He did not hesitate to inform the Christians that Dr. Bloch was anti-Christian. Dr. Bloch writes in his memoirs about election day in Buczacz, a day on which the Jews of Galicia openly and daringly opposed the community and municipality leaders and fought for their public rights.

The delegate of the national central electoral committee, Jan Dubrzanski, a well known anti-Semite, declared at the voters' assembly: “If you vote for Dr. Bloch, you will live to regret it. Not only the town, but every single voter will feel the wrath of the entire country.”

The Jewish mayor of Buczazc told the Christian inhabitants that the Jews were defending Dr. Bloch because of his hatred of Christians and because he wanted to imprison two respectable Catholic priests. Public notices, written by Jewish lawyers, appealed to the fanatic Jew-haters to fight the battle of the Jewish delegate, Dr. Emil Bik.

“On election day and on several days preceding it, I was in Buczacz. Two days prior to the elections, Jewish voters still hadn't received any identification cards or ballot slips. During these two days (Saturday and Sunday) all the Jewish voters assembled before the town hall awaiting these papers. They did not budge for a moment. Sabbath prayers were recited under the stars. But Mr. Mayor (Shtern), who with my help was saved in the past from bankruptcy, did not want to give out a single card. Telegrams were sent to the district governor and the governor of Galicia, who gave orders to provide the voters with the proper documents.The Mayor "complied" – he handed out 20 ballot slips."

"The struggle commenced anew. Voters ran to the district governor, who ordered that they immediately be given identification cards and ballot slips -- on condition, however, that the distributed ballots all bore the name of Dr. Bik."

"One man who was acquainted with the electoral regulations went to the district governor in order to demand a copy of his identification papers. He received a slap in the face instead.

"However, the Jewish voters were not deterred and did not move from the field of battle".

"They kept on demanding identification cards and ballot slips. The gendarmes intervened and tried to drive away the grumbling crowd, but to no avail! When the gendarmes threatened with rifles, the crowd bared their chests and cried, 'Shoot!'"

"The struggle lasted two days. After repeated protests before the prime minister in Vienna and the district governor, the Jewish voters finally received 450 identification cards and ballot slips."

"On Monday morning everyone assembled at the synagogue and swore to God and their fellow townsmen that they would give their vote to the candidate of the Jews, Dr. Bloch. Everyone went to vote, not a single soul stayed behind. The results, which were counted behind closed doors, found 306 in favor of Bloch and 503 in favor of Bik. It should be stated that Buczacz had only 300 Christian voters. Mr. Shtern'strickery, once again, did not fail him. I was defeated.”[40]

However, the votes of the citizens of Kolomea were the decisive ones. Dr. Bloch won the elections by 28 votes.

In the Jewish streets of Galicia, you could witness the hustle and bustle of Jews happy and proud over their victory and Dr. Bik's defeat. For they saw Dr. Bik as a mere tool used by the Polish Galician authorities to undermine the success of a brave Jewish opponent of the anti-Semites.

These elections signaled the path of Galician Jewry in the future, and were a prelude to the national struggle of the Jewish people seeking national and civil recognition in 1907.

In 1891 Bloch again fought to gain the mandate in the district of Kolomea-Sniatyn-Buczacz.A wealthy candidate was put up against him in these elections as well. Leon Meizlish,[41] who resided in Paris and had financial means, was chosen at the advice of the rabbi of Belz, Mordechai Pelets (grandson of the Warsaw rabbi, R' Dov Berish Meizlish). He had the support of the Belz rabbi and President of the Makhzikey Hadat [Defenders of the Faith] Yitskhak Shreiber of Drohowic.Meizlish lost even though the elections cost him 800,000 gulden.He didn't dare to come to Buczacz. The assimilated Jews who grouped around the periodical Ojczyzna [Native Land] supported the candidacy of the Christian Count Starzinski

On March 4th –5th Dr. Bloch was elected. He received 2128 votes, Count Starzinski 1778, and Meizlish 97. However, on October 22nd, 1895 Dr. Bloch relinquished his parliamentary seat and Dr. Maximilian Trachtenberg, mayor of Kolomea, was chosen in his place. Trachtenberg served as a parliamentary delegate until 1901. In the last parliament prior to the amendment of the electoral law in 1907, the representative of the Jews of Kolomea-Buczacz was Dr. Nathan Zeinfeld.

In the second half of the 19th century, the Jewish population of Buczacz grew. However, their percentage in the total population decreased.

In 1870 Buczacz counted a population of 8,959, out of whom 6,077 were Jews (67.9%); in 1900 in a population of 11,755, 6,730 were Jews (57.3%).

In 1892, with the help of the Baron Hirsh Fund, a Jewish school was founded with 262 pupils. In 1907, 180 pupils studied at the Baron Hirsh Fund school. In 1908, the gymnasium [high school] had 696 pupils, of whom 216 were Jewish.

The economic picture had not changed. Most Jews made a living from various forms of commerce. Export trade (grains, agricultural produce and timber) in particular grew. Many Jews also engaged in crafts. At the end of the 19th century factories and workshops were built that provided work for many Polish Jews in the manufacture of bricks, lime, soap, candles and in operating water mills and breweries.

In the seventies, the maskilim of Buczacz founded the “Bet HaMidrash” Library and the Lacznosc [Contact] Club, which were centers for the best of the Jewish intelligentsia. Among the lovers of Hebrew literature and the maskilim in Buczazc we should mention Wolf Bik, Berish Bochheim, Abba Shtern, Ezra Danberg, Pohorila – a Hebrew author and translator, Yaakov Frenkel, Pesakh Frits, the playwright David Anderman [42] who wrote Emuna VeHaskala (Drohowic 1887). [43]

With the upsurge of the Zionist movement in Galicia in the late 1880s, even the most prominent public personalities of Jewish Buczacz were impressed with the idea of the return to Zion. From a nationalist point of view, the first seeds of national awareness were sown in the electoral struggles of 1883 and 1885.

Despite this revival, no movement was founded that could unite all Jews around theZionist movement, which was already active in other eastern Galician towns. In 1892 efforts were made to found a Zion Society and slowly the Zionist idea started to spread among all classes of Jews, especially among the young. They understood that a change in the life of the Jewish people was necessary, and in order to achieve such a goal the Jews needed to unite. In 1893, the Zion Society was founded. On April 31st, 1894, the first public meeting was held; Dr. Tsipper and David Maltz spoke, explaining the essentials of Zionism. At this meeting it was unanimously decided to broaden the Zion Society; a committee was chosen which was empowered by the executive committee headed by Wolf Tseimer to organize the society on the basis of properly written statutes.

In addition, two meetings were held at the club of the Jewish intelligentsia, “Kesher” (Lacznosc), in which Dr. Tsipper and Dr. Maltz discussed the Zionist plan and answered questions during the debate. Also attending these meetings was the head of the Jewish community, Abba Shtern [44], who was mayor from 1879.

Following this meeting, the executive committee issued a circular that was composed by the Hebrew author, Yitskhak Fernhof:

“Brothers! From the day the people of Israel went into exile and ceased to be a nation settled on its own land, ever since our dispersion among the nations, scattered to remote lands and distant islands, we have been hated and oppressed for no reason.Even in these days of freedom and liberty when there is one constitution and one law for all – on paper, we are still persecuted. For not much has changed and we continue to be exploited and fractured, harassed by the anti-Semites from without and by our own disunity from within. The people has given its support to various parties and if our enemies shoot their arrows of hate at us for doing so, at least we are not guilty.But if we allow differences among ourselves to consume us and destroy every remnant of national feeling, our sins will be beyond forgiveness. Thus to you, our brothers, we call out: 'Awake! Let us be truly united! Let us bridge the great gap that divides the tribes, that separates the younger generation – lawyers, doctors, writers, merchants – from craftsmen of all kinds. Don't scorn your neighbor, but rather with national feeling unite behind one idea as our ancestors did – which is what preserved them throughout the ages despite the hostile designs of their enemies.Let us walk hand in hand; let us learn to value ourselves, to recognize our talents.If we say to Zion, 'You are my people', no weapon will defeat us. Therefore listen to what the Zion Society says: 'Unite in every community and become one deeply unified association; help one another; feel responsible for your oppressed brothers who go up to our Holy Land to work the soil. Let every one do what he can to help his brother generally. My aim is to unite you in spreading and extolling knowledge of our national goals to our people in a wholly non-partisan manner. The means by which they can achieve this goal are as follows:

  1. Foster the study of Hebrew and broaden knowledge of the history of the Jewish people and its literature.
  2. Give talks and lectures on the above goals.
  3. Celebrate anniversaries and holidays of our literary history.
  4. Found libraries and establish reading rooms. Let us have friendship and togetherness as we move toward our goals. [45]

These words were directed also to the Jews in the vicinity, calling them to join the nationalist movement and to found Zion societies like the one in Buczacz.

At its first general meeting on June 17th, 1894, the society was already organized according to set statutes. On this occasion Dr. Gershon Tsipper and Rabbi Mendel Leibush Landa of Przemyshl spoke in Yiddish and Hebrew. Both of them succeeded in recruiting many new members. The first committee was chosen, with Wolf (Wilhelm) Tsimmer as President, Shmuel Taller as Vice-President, Yehoshua Hollander as Treasurer, the Hebrew writer Yitskhak Fernhof and Fishl Engelstein as Hebrew Secretaries, Dr. Zigmund Goldshtaub as Secretary in the Polish language, and Yaakov M. Fernhof, Moshe Wisser, Shmuel Neiman, Arnold Ringel, Shimon Hecht and Ayzik Bergshtof as committee members. [46]

In that year the Zion Society had 300 members. The society developed nicely thanks to Dr. Goldshtaub, Shmuel Neiman and Yitskhak Fernhof, who spread the Zionist idea in study houses and synagogues, as well as among circles of the Jewish intelligentsia, who were quite indifferent to Jewish matters.

The Zion Society also founded a “Bet Mikra” [study program] for high school students. They met daily for Hebrew and Jewish studies under Mordechai Kanfer, who was also a Hebrew writer, and Yitskhak Fernhof. [47] Together with the founding ofbranches of the Zion Colonization Company in Vienna, a branch called "Erets-Yisrael" was also founded in Buczacz. Its active members included Wolf Tseimer, Anzelm Muzler, Arnold Ringel, Shmuel Taller and Yitskhak Fernhof.

In 1898 there were 150 members in the Zion Society, at whose head stood Hirsh Shtern. The finest of the youth and of the Jewish intelligentsia joined the Zionist movement. In the early 1890s a workers' association was founded by Dr. Anshl Muzler, but it failed to gather the Jewish youth around it.

Buczacz became one of the most important Zionist strongholds of eastern Galicia, giving the movement many hardworking activists.


  1. Archive of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Vienna. Galician Protocol Books 1776-1777.From September 1776 no. 48. Decret an das galizische Gubernium ado. 23 August 1776. Back
  2. Pilleriana, 11 October 1787. Back
  3. Gershom Bader, Medina vekhokhmeho, New York, 1934, p. 80. He reports that he heard these things from his grandfather who knew Pinkhas Pav. Back
  4. Archive of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Vienna. vol. 4, 11 carton 2579. Back
  5. X. Sadok Baracz, Pamiatki Buczaczkie, Lwow, 1882, p. 36. Back
  6. Vol. 41. carton 2582, no. 143, ex October 1812. Back
  7. X. Sadok Baracz, p. 37. Back
  8. Rabbi Alter Meyer, "Rabbi Abraham David of Buczacz," Haaretz 17th December 1946. Back
  9. Tefer's memorandum is given in Raphael Mahler, Der kamf tsvishn khsides un haskole in galitsye, New York, 1942, p. 248. Back
  10. This is the inscription on his gravestone:

    Crown of the Law
    Gaon of Israel
    Hidden Light, Lofty and Mysterious
    Sacred Light, Light of the World
    Faithful Shepherd, Prince of Peace
    Glorious Holiness, Of Infinite Knowledge
    Pure Light, Sanctuary
    Preacher of the Book, Emerald and Diamond
    Honest and Faithful, Truthful and Complete
    David King of Israel Doer of Many Deeds
    His Holy Soul went forth on the 29th of Tishri, 1841
    Our Holy Rabbi, Great in His Generation
    Righteous Foundation of the World
    Our Father Abraham David Our King
    Our Teacher, May He Be Remembered Forever
    He Was a Crown to the Rabbinate for Fifty Years
    May His Soul Rest in Peace
    (Printed in Eliyahu Tsvi Shmerlir, Sefer Toldot HaRaba"d, Lwow, 1890 [a rare book].Back

    1. Daat kedoshim (Lwow, 1871, 3 parts on the halakhic laws regarding slaughtering and unclean animals;
    2. Mishmeret hakodesh (Lwow, 1879);
    3. Eshel Avraham (Lwow, 1872);
    4. Birkat David (1805);
    5. Makhaze Avraham (Lwow, 1872);
    6. Imrot tehorot (Lwow, 1879);
    7. Tfila leDavid (Lwow 1886);
    8. Tehila leDavid (Lwow, 1872);
    9. Divrey avot [beyur al masekhet Avot (Lwow 1876) ;
    10. Eshel Avraham [Beyur al haHagada shel Pesakh];
    11. Ezer mekudash [al Shulkhan HaArukh] Even haezer (Lwow).A number of manuscripts remained in the hands of the family in addition to the above items. Back

  1. In a memorandum he is called R. Abraham David Kara, but this is an error.He was the father-in-law of Rabbi Kara.
    34a.   Allgemeine Zeitung des Judentums, 1853, no. 34, p. 426. An article from Buczacz. After the attempted assasination of Kaiser Franz Josef the First, the congregation held a prayer meeting in the synagogue.Rabbi Tsadok Rinek spoke and he printed his address in a pamphlet which he sent to the Kaiser's mother.Rinek received a letter of thanks from her. Back
  2. He was the son of the daugher of the famous Gaon R' Jacob of Lisa. Back
  3. Archive of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Vienna, vol. 42 Besitz. Back
  4. After his death, the mayor and the city council of Kolomea asked the Representative for Galicia to exempt the Kolomea-Sniatyn-Buczacz region from holding elections.It could be expected that a Jewish delegate would be elected, since most of the region was Jewish.It was therefor preferable to first change the election laws and to stipulate that the results be valid only if a third of the votes were those of Christian citizens.An article from Kolomea in Allgemeine Zeitung des Judentums, 1865, p. 338. Back
  5. Israelit. Lemberg, 1883, no. 9. Back
  6. Joseph Samuel Bloch (1850-1923) Erinnerungen aus meinen Leben, Wien, 1922, p. 231. A Hebrew translation by Sh. Shalom was published in Tel-Aviv.Dr. Bloch writes in his memoirs: "On my way to Buczacz I spent several days in Stanislaw as a guest of the Halperin and Lipe Horovitz families.There I met Horace Shor, a likeable young maskil, liberal in his thinking, and a friend of that "outstanding" mayor of Buczacz, Berysz Stern. This young man whispered to me: 'Honorable Dr. Bloch, why nurse illusions.What use to you are the voters if Berysz Stern sits near the ballot box and counts the votes together with the District Representative.He has told me that you won't get more than a hundred votes'."(The above citation in Hebrew is found in the Shalom translation of the Bloch memoirs, vol. 1, p. 172). Back
  7. Zikhronot [see footnote 39 above], pp. 173-4. Back
  8. Inthese elections, the masses sang a satirical song in Yiddish.The first stanza was;

    Kinderlekh getraye / Di gantse khevraye / Mir zoln ale iber a yor derlebn/Men darf shoyn geyn / Tsu Mayzles levaye / Un far Blokhen di shtim opgebn.

    [Faithful fellows / The whole gang / Let's wish ourselves many happy returns / Now we have to go/ To Maizel's funeral / And to give our vote to Bloch.] Back

  9. He moved to Brody in 1888. He died in Vienna on the 9th of Menakhem Av 1924. In 1913 he visited Erets-Yisrael. Back
  10. The bookseller R' Alter Miller also lived in Buczacz in these years.He was the father of the well known learned orientalist Professor Ts. H. Miller (1846-1912). Back
  11. Przyszlosc 1894, p. 151. Back
  12. HaMagid, 1894, vol. 25, p. 205; Przyszlosc 1894, no, 19, p. 225 Back
  13. HaMagid, 1894, vol. 25, p. 205. Back
  14. HaMagid, 1894, vol. 25, p. 349. Back


  1. List of Buczacz town owners.
  2. The 1699 Statute.
  3. Statutes regarding Jewish craftsmen.
  4. The community's commitment to supply tallow to the Ukrainian church (1747) [this appendix is absent from this book both in Polish and in Hebrew]
  5. A certificate of ownership from 1785.

List of Buczacz town owners

[appears in Hebrew only]

  1. Gabriel Bucacki Starosta of Kamenets 1260.
  2. Mikolau Viboda of Podolia.
  3. Jerzy.
  4. Jan.
  5. Mikhael Castellan of Halic, fell in 1438 in a battle with the Tatars.
  6. Teodor Starosta of Kamenets, fell in the battle of Wallachia in 1450.
  7. Jan Mikolai, also called Muzylo.
  8. Jakob Castellan of Halic.
  9. Jan.
  10. Mikhael Starosta of Sniatyn.
  11. Jakob Khashman of Pluck, with whom ended the male line of Bucackis.
  12. The town became the possession of Katerina, wife of Jan Taburovski, who died in 1547.
  13. His son Jacob, who was calledBucacki.
  14. His son Jan Krzishtoff (1572-1612).
  15. His brother Jan.
  16. Jan's wife from the Potocki family.
  17. Stefan Potocki, died 1631.
  18. His son Jan Potocki died in 1673.
  19. His son Stefan gave the town and the Jews statutes.He died in 1727.
  20. His son Mikolai left the Catholic church and joined the Ruthenian [Ukrainian] church, He died in 1782. He gave over the town in 1770 to his relative Jan Potocki.
  21. Jan Potocki.
  22. His twin brothers Kaytan (1751-1814) and Pavel (1751-1818).
  23. Grandson of his brother Dominik Potocki, Adam Potocki died in 1870.
  24. His sons Emil and Artur until the outbreak of World War One.

The 1699 Statute

[translated from the Hebrew translation of the Polish original]

Stefan Potocki, owner of Potok and Buczacz, guardian of the supreme realm, Starosta of Tarambubla, Kaniuv, etc., etc.. I hereby announce to all those who must be informed that the Jews and their community in the town of Buczacz have lost, due to the destruction brought upon by the enemy, the statutes regarding the privileges they were given by the previous town owners. I therefore am renewing them and permitting the Jews to settle in my aforementioned estates. They are allowed to live in Buczacz, to freely engage in trade and crafts according to their professions and needs.

To these Jews I hereby first of all give a winery for the period of 12 years with the condition that they are exempted from all obligation to the castle. When this period is over, they are to pay one taller for each house and half a taller for each auxiliary structure [batim akhoriim 'outhouses'?]. I permit the Jews, according to the previous statute, to use the road that passes through the church walls and the priests's house and leads to the synagogue situated by the Stripa River. I also hereby permit the Jews permanent use of this synagogue, which their fathers built at their own expense, Furthermore they may use the cemetery situated at the outskirts of town and may, if need be, enlarge it by 10 cubits and build a surrounding wall. They may also build in this cemetery in the customary manner a house, and settle in it a resident who will be exempt from all obligations and taxes.

The Jews are not subject to the town's laws and to its jurisdiction. Judgement of misdemeanors as well as of serious crimes will be made by me, and in my absence by the castle commissioner in Buczacz. The Jews must abide by his word in the case of a complaint against them until such a time as the laws and privileges are decided upon regarding all of the towns of His Excellency the King.

If it so happens that in my absence the Jews find my commissioner's ruling to be excessively harsh, they are to be given the right of appeal before me!Nor should they be forbidden recourse to the judgement of their rabbinic court, depending on the nature of the matter concerned.

Furthermore, the Jews of Buczacz are to be exempted of all duties to the castle and the economy that are usually performed by their fellow townsmen. Jewish butchers are exempt from slaughtering swine for the castle. However, it is the duty of each and every one of them to give a stone of tallow annually, and to slaughter animals [behemot 'cattle'; 'animals'] whenever so required.

They must give my podstarosta ['sub-head of castle'] in Buczacz a haunch of meat every week.

The weekly fair is not to be held on the Sabbath, nor are Jews to be tried on that day. They are not to be imprisoned in a cold cell except in cases of theft or penal crimes.

In municipal matters concerning bills and accounts, a leader of the Jewish community [parnas], elected for this purpose, is to participate. The hospital and the homes of the rabbi and cantor are exempt from all taxes. The Jews of Buczacz are also entitled to purchase houses from their Christian fellow townsmen. They may establish breweries and wineries. According to the old custom, they are to pay 6 gulden for each barrel of wine that contains 10 jugs, and 8 gulden for each barrel of beer. They are to be exempted from pasture fees as well.

They may purchase anything and engage in wholesale and retail trade. The Jew must not hinder any purchase by a Christian just as a Christian must not hinder any purchase by a Jew. Those who will hinder the affairs of another will be fined 10 grzibni.

I also hereby warn the Jews from attempting to purchase any ritual objects of the church. All other types of trade are permitted.

In times of enemy attack they must participate in the defense of the castle.

In order to give greater validity to these paragraphs and conditions, I hereby sign in my own hand with my customary signature.

Given in Buczacz on May 20th, 1699.

Stefan Potocki
Straznik* Vilki* Koronzi

* High-ranking warlord.

Statutes regarding Jewish craftsmen

(translated from the Hebrew translation of the Polish original)

Buczacz has many craftsmen of different religions, such as the Polish, the Greek and the Jewish. It has tailors, furriers, whitewashers, shoemakers, locksmiths, butchers, and those who belong to other guilds, among whom there are many Jews. Anyone is permitted to come and settle in Buczacz on the condition that he join the guild of his craft. Once a Jew becomes a guild member, he is authorized to sell any product. The Catholic and Greek are accustomed to contributing tallow and are rquired to join in church processions and requiems, from which the Jews are exempt. However, Jews who are members of a guild must pay the guild any sum that Christians are asked to pay.

They must also give donations for the purchase of tallow for the church and for all other needs.

Given in Buczacz on November 8th, 1706.

Stefen Potocki

A contractual certificate from 1785

(translated from the Hebrew translation of the Polish original)

A memorandum regarding the matter signed upon by the witnesses whose names appear below:

There appeared before us Khayim Gavriel Ben Pesakh of Tarambubla, a resident of Buczacz, who said to us: "I took from here as wife Liba Bat Yitskhak Leyb when she was still a virgin and now she is my wife – wed under the canopy according to the laws of Moses and Israel – and now that I have seen her devotion to me, I wish to increase her original dowry before the witnesses whose names appear below according to the law of possession or contractual ownership.

He declared before us that according to the original ketuba [marriage contract], he Khayim Gavriel Ben Pesakh said to his wife Liba Bat Yitskhak Leyb: "Become my wife according to the religion of Moses and Israel and I will take care of you, maintain you and provide your apparel according to Jewish custom which obligates one to provide for his wife and clothe her, and I will give you a dowry worthy of you according to the ten commandments in the amount of 200 Polish gulden for household maintenance, clothes and all your other needs as well as a pleasant home such as is fitting for the aforementioned bride Liba. What she brought with her from her father's house in the way ofmoney, home utensils and linens, Khayim Gavriel evaluates at 100 gulden, equal to 200 fine silver gulden, and now that the aforementioned Khayim Gavriel wishes to increase the dowry and in effect has increased it, and it will come to a sum of 670 gulden, excepting the 200 gulden and the jewels she brought and all the jewels and clothes which now belong to her and those she will receive in the future from her husband.

The aforementioned also agreed that he and his heirs will pay her from his entire present and future estate the above dowry and certainly the original dowry and the additional one, even including his clothingThis dowry is valid and certified according to all the rabbinical statutes.

We received these instructions from the aforementioned Khayim Gavriel for his wife Liba Bat Yitskhak Leyb with a kerchief [mitpakhat 'kerchief held by both parties to a contractual agreement'] and in order to make it valid we sign below on this day the 20th of Tammuz takm"h according to the Hebrew calendar and the 20th of August 1785 according to the Polish calendar here in Buczcaz.

Hirsh Kara, Head of the Rabbinical Court in Buczacz
Dayan [religious court judge] Akiba of Podheytser
(S. Baracz, Documents of the Buczacz Court, pp. 22-24)

« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »

This material is made available by JewishGen, Inc. and the Yizkor Book Project for the purpose of
fulfilling our mission of disseminating information about the Holocaust and destroyed Jewish communities.
This material may not be copied, sold or bartered without JewishGen, Inc.'s permission. Rights may be reserved by the copyright holder.

JewishGen, Inc. makes no representations regarding the accuracy of the translation. The reader may wish to refer to the original material for verification.
JewishGen is not responsible for inaccuracies or omissions in the original work and cannot rewrite or edit the text to correct inaccuracies and/or omissions.
Our mission is to produce a translation of the original work and we cannot verify the accuracy of statements or alter facts cited.

  Buchach, Ukraine     Yizkor Book Project     JewishGen Home Page

Yizkor Book Director, Lance Ackerfeld
This web page created by Lance Ackerfeld

Copyright © 1999-2024 by JewishGen, Inc.
Updated 28 Mar 2014 by LA