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A History of the Jews of Rohatyn (cont.)

E. The Rabbis – The Census of 1765

The following were the rabbis of Rohatyn during the period of Polish independence that are known to us:

At the beginning of the 18th century the rabbi in Rohatyn was Rabbi Avraham Leibers, the son of Reb Zalman Leibers, the parnas (leader) of the Lwow Jewish community, a great-grandson of Rabbi Yosef ben Mordechai Ginzburg, rabbi of Ostrog and author of Leket Yosef (Prague, 1789).[62a] In the middle of the 18th century the rabbi was Rabbi David Moshe Avraham, known by the shortened version of his name, Rabbi Adam.[63] He is famous not only as a great scholar but also as a brave warrior against the Frankism that had infested Rohatyn, abetted by the Schorr family. Rabbi Adam is described as one who displayed bravery and spiritual drive "and battled with a mighty arm against the band of evil-doers" headed by Elisha Schorr.[Ed7]

This did not deter the Frankists from presenting false reports about the rabbi to the authorities of the area and demanding his expulsion from the town of Rohatyn. His descendants and the members of the family of the rabbi of Lwow, Rabbi Yosef Nathanson (Shaul), have recorded the difficulties that Rabbi Adam had to overcome in his battle with the Frankist followers.

As a rabbi, Adam excelled as one who possessed a deep knowledge and sense of fairness. In the year 1745 he is recorded as having given his endorsement of Milei D'Avot (Words of the Fathers) printed in Lwow in the year 1746.[64] He exchanged correspondence with the great rabbis of his day, and his responsa (comments) were printed in their works. He wrote Mirkevet Hamishne,[65] which received a letter of endorsement by the rabbi of Lwow, Rabbi Chaim HaCohen Rappaport, and by Rabbi Yitzchak Landau, first rabbi of Zolkiew and later rabbi of Cracow.

The manuscript never reached the printing press during his lifetime and lay hidden for one hundred and fifty years with his family. It came to light when his granddaughter, Teme, the wife of Yechezkiel Goldschlag, visited the Belzer Rebbe, who ordered it to be printed when he learned that she was the granddaughter of Rabbi Moshe David Avraham. He told her that she and the other grandchildren had a duty to print their grandfather's work.

Accordingly, headed by Reb Moshe Nagelberg, the grandchildren carried out the directive of the Belzer Rebbe and printed the book. In addition to Reb Moshe Nagelberg, his sons, Yudel and Itche Nagelberg, his son-in-law, Ephraim Struhl, and Yechezkiel Goldschlag and his wife, Teme, took part in this project. The work appeared in print in Lwow in the year 1895, introduced by the letters of endorsement of Rabbi Yosef Shaul Nathanson, author of Shaul Ve'Meshiv, rabbi of Lwow, and Rabbi Ze'ev (Wolf) Salat, who kept the manuscript of Mirkevet Hamishne in his possession.[66] According to Rabbi Margulies, in his article cited previously, Rabbi Adam also wrote Tiferet Adam and various other religious works that remained in manuscript form. The exact years of his birth and death are not recorded.[67]

Rabbi Adam passed away in Rohatyn and left an extensive family that lived in Rohatyn as well. He was followed by Rabbi Avraham Shlomo, the uncle of Rabbi Yosef Shaul Nathanson.[68] We do not know how long he served as rabbi, but we know that he was the rabbi in 1765, because he signed the census document of the Jewish community of Rohatyn in the name of the kehilah at that time.

Rabbi Adam was followed by Rabbi Yitzchak ben Aharon (Icko Aronowicz), who gave his approbation in 1766 to the Ohel Moed – comments on the portion of the Talmud dealing with holidays written by Rabbi Yosef Yaski, the rabbi of Ulanow, and printed in the year 1767 in Frankfurt-an der-Oder.[68a]

As we know, the Jews of Podkamien and Stratyn were considered as branches of the Jewish community of Rohatyn. Therefore, they were part of the general census of Rohatyn on 14 February 1765 that included the surrounding villages and hamlets.

The national committee enumerated in the town of Rohatyn 742 adults and 55 children under the age of one. In the two towns of Podkamien and Stratyn, there were 200 adults and children and 25 infants under age one. In the forty hamlets attached to the Rohatyn community, there were 295 adults and children and 30 infants under the age of one, making a total of 1,237 adults and children and 110 infants under the age of one.[69] In total, there were 797 people in Rohatyn together with all the children, and when we add the 550 people in the hamlets attached to Rohatyn, we have a total population of 1,347 people. The following are the villages where Jews lived:


Adults & children

Infants under 1


Adults & children

Infants under 1

Podgrodzie 7 1 Lipica Dolna 5 1
Ruda 5 1 Âwistelniki 10 --
Kleszczowna 8 1 Szumlany 19 1
Firlejow 6 -- Slawentyn 29 3
Korzelica 7 -- Sarnki 7 1
Hulkow 5 -- Zolczow 12 --
Janczyn 8 1 Danilcze 4 1
Potok 5 -- Czesniki 13 2
Czercze 11 1 Lopuszna 5 --
Soloniec 5 1 Dusanow 5 1
Wierzbolowce 3 -- Kutce 4 1
Putiatynce 6 1 Zalipie 2 1
Luczynce 9 2 Psary 2 --
Babuchow 5 -- Doliniany 4 --
Koniuszki 9 -- Dehowa 4 --
Ujazd 2 1 Zalanow 7 --
Obelnica 5 -- Dziczki* 7 1
Kunaszow 4 -- Bienkowce* 11  
Zelibory 3 1 Fraga 4 1
Lipica Gorna 3 1 Dubryniow** 22 4

* Annexed to Podkamien                    ** Annexed to Stratyn

Dr. M. Balaban, Spis Zydow i Karaitow ziemi halickiej i powiatow trembowelskiego i kolomyjskiego w r. 1765 (Census of Jews and Karaites in the Halicz region and in the districts of Trembowla and Kolomyja in 1765) (Cracow 1909): 10–11.

We have no details on the breakdown of occupations of the Jews in Rohatyn during this time. From the census that was made of the Jewish towns of Jazlowice and Zaleszczyki for the year 1772, two towns that are similar to Rohatyn in their makeup, we can, by comparing them, make a breakdown of the occupations of the Jews of Rohatyn – which were, as a matter of fact, no different from the others. According to the census there were:


Jazlowice Population 968 Employed

Zaleszczyki Population 859 Employed

Silk Merchants 2 1
Storekeepers 10 25
Town Bartenders 27 25
Barber-Surgeon 1 --
Goldsmiths 2 --
Coppersmith 1 --
Tailors 11 17
Bakers 3 3
Butchers 2 6
Tavern Lessees 26 --
Other Lessees 7 7
Middlemen 2 --
Servants 19 25
Bathkeepers -- 2
Aged or Sick on Pension [70]  14 2
Unemployed 46 36

From these numbers, we learn that from the Jewish community of 968 people in Jazlowice, there were only 60 families where the head of the family had a trade. There were also 14 aged and sick, 46 unemployed, and 19 men and 14 women who worked in housekeeping and maintenance. Similar figures were to be found in Zaleszczyki. Of 859 people, there were 79 regularly employed, 25 men and 10 women working in homes. There were also 2 people listed as sick, and 36 listed as unemployed. We may assume that the same figures more or less existed in Rohatyn with one difference – the number of trades.

During the last years of Polish independence, starting in 1763, Rohatyn was forced to endure the invasions and passages of foreign soldiers, especially those from Russia and later from the invading troops of the Confederation. This ended only when Poland ceded all of the Halicz district to Austria after the first division of Poland in 1773.

F. Under Austrian Domination

Rohatyn was included in the district of Zloczow, which was headed by Starosta Tannhauser. Zloczow was raised to the rank of district capital; this correlated with the beginning of the development of the district. In contrast to the typical Austrian bureaucrats common in Galicia who stressed pan-Germanism, Tannhauser was a Polish sympathizer and was more interested in stressing the development of a stable economy. He saw to it that taxes were eased and looked for ways to improve the socioeconomic condition of the population. In the first years of the Austrian conquest the conditions of the Jews of Rohatyn were difficult because of the new conditions introduced by the Austrian government that differed from those that had existed under Poland. During the first four years, the organization of the Jewish kehilah remained substantially the same as it had been under Poland. However, after the proclamation of the ordinances concerning Jews (Judenordnung) of the Empress Maria Theresa on 16 July 1776, the ordinances of Joseph II of May 1785, and the tolerance ordinances of 7 May 1789, a new permanent organization of Jewish affairs was established in Galicia that brought about decisive changes in the community life of the Jews.

The Jewish community (kehilah) was organized according to the ordinances mentioned. At the head of the committee in Rohatyn, as in all other medium size and small communities, there was a community council (va'ad kahal), composed of chosen heads with very limited powers, that was required to obey and to submit to all the demands of the district authority (Kreisamt). The kehilah was responsible for collecting all of the taxes that were levied on the Jews, for providing soldiers to the army, etc.

According to the Jewish ordinances of the year 1776, the community council was composed of six members. According to the rulings of Joseph II, the council was reduced from six members to three, except for Lwow and Brody, which had seven members. The right to vote "actively" was given to heads of families who paid a Sabbath candle tax of seven or more candles during a full year before elections, and the right of "passive" voting applied to heads of families who lived in Rohatyn, had a good name, knew how to read and write German, and paid a Sabbath candle tax of ten Sabbath candles during a full year before elections.

In addition to heads of the community, heads of the burial society (chevra kaddisha), beadles, managers of the hospital, and auditors were elected. The officials of the community included a secretary (scribe), a caretaker, cantors, beadles, ritual slaughterers (shochetim), and gravediggers. The direction of religious matters was placed in the hands of a rabbi who was elected for three years by the electors of the community. This state of affairs lasted until the period between 25 August 1783 and 23 May 1784 at which time the central government in Vienna no longer recognized the jurisdiction of the Jewish communities and the rabbinical courts. After the regulations of 1785 the office of community rabbi (Rav Hakahal) was abolished and only the appointment of teachers of religion (Religionsweiser) and cantors was permitted. Every district was given its own district rabbi (Kreisrabbiner), and in Rohatyn, there was officially only a teacher of religion who held all jurisdictional powers.

According to the regulations of 7 May 1789 the leaders of the Jewish communities received their salaries from community funds deducted from taxes. This resulted in a rush for these positions, as they were a sure source of constant income. The desire to receive the honor of being head of a Jewish community (parnas) was understandably strong right from the beginning of the establishment of Jewish autonomy in Poland, as this was the most prestigious office among the Jews there.

Even in Rohatyn a great deal of activity took place during the elections of the Jewish kehilah. These were accompanied by conflict, complaints, and secret accusations against candidates who were accused of levying taxes illegally. It was claimed that they placed the main burden of taxation on the weakest class of the population while sparing themselves and their families.[70a] This resulted in not a few explosive reactions as well as false accusations to the authorities, based on fictitious concoctions of their imagination. Every Jew required to pay taxes had a tax ledger (Steuerbücher) that served as his passport of membership in the community. If his ledger was taken from him because of any differences with the kahal (council) or any other violation, his name was erased from the official roster of the members of the kehilah. More than once these so called violations were fabricated by the heads of the kehilah in order to ostracize someone whom they did not want or like for any reason.

Such things were recurrent in Rohatyn during the years 1781–94 and during the 1820s,[71] as we can see from the records in the archives.

The salary paid to the rabbi of Rohatyn was eighty-six florin per year plus the free use of the house in which he lived during his tenure.[72] Rohatyn under Poland was a possession of the crown, in contrast to the other towns of eastern Red Ruthenia that had established Jewish communities. This facilitated the sale of its property by the Austrian government. Indeed, a short time after the Austrian conquest, it began to sell Polish royal property, which included towns, and by 1783, it had sold 5,000,000 florin worth of property. In this way, the ruling government tried to promote the development of towns. The residents saw this action as a sure means for the removal of Jews, or at least a reduction of their numbers. However, after investigating this project, the Austrian government concluded that such a move would accomplish just the reverse of what it was intended for and wreck the towns, since other than Jews, there was no established sound economic factor that could maintain the economy; Jews were the essential economic pipeline of the towns.

The Austrian government also recognized that there was an element of cruelty in their suggestion and stated, "It would appear that this contains within it an element of cruelty even if the circumstances would seem to make it necessary, unless they are willing to forego the improvement of the towns."[73]

At the beginning of the conquest, Rohatyn was included as part of the district of Zloczow and administered by the chief official Tannhauser, a man who was interested in the welfare of the inhabitants. He was an able administrator who put in effort to ensure that all taxes were paid on time, and indeed, in his district, this was the case. He recognized the contributions of the Jews to the economy and opposed their being driven out, either from his district or from the properties that they were renting, because such an act would cause an economic vacuum. Later in the '80s, Rohatyn was transferred to the district of Brzezany.

Taxes and Other Payments:
In 1774 the Austrian government raised the head tax in Poland from thirty kreuzer to one gulden. This tax was made part of the Jewish Ordinances of 1776, under the name of a tolerance tax (Toleranzsteuer), rather than a head tax, in the sum of four gulden per family. In addition to this, it levied an income tax in the sum of four gulden per Jewish family and a marriage fee, levied according to the wealth of the family. Taxes were first apportioned by the Austrians according to communities. This apportionment of taxes was divided among the communities, which in turn divided it among their members. Then, in the year 1784 Joseph II of Austria abolished the income and property taxes and replaced them with the following:

  1. A national real estate tax (Landeshaushaltsbeitrag) in the sum of one gulden per family. This tax was strictly enforced by officials especially chosen for this purpose by the government.

  2. The existing marriage fee was replaced by a marriage tax that was divided into three categories:
  1. Craftsmen and salaried workers, who paid three ducats upon the birth of the first son, six ducats on the birth of a second son and twelve ducats on the birth of a third son if their annual income did not exceed 100 gulden. If their income was estimated at over one hundred gulden per year, they paid twice as much.

  2. Public employees, who paid twelve ducats after the birth of the first son and twenty-four ducats after the birth of the second son.

  3. Those who engaged in commerce and related occupations and those who earned as much as four hundred gulden paid twenty, forty, and eighty ducats. Jews engaged in agriculture were completely freed from paying this tax.
  1. A tax was imposed on kosher meat the amount of which varied with the type of meat being sold.

  2. 1789 Jews engaging in agriculture were exempt from paying the tolerance tax. Even before Joseph II's regulations of 1789, the following taxes were to be found on the books:
Opening a new synagogue required one payment.

Opening a new Jewish cemetery required a payment of two hundred gulden upon its opening and one hundred gulden every year thereafter.

A census fee of fifty gulden per year.

In 1797 the real estate tax was abolished and replaced by the Sabbath candle tax and a supplementary tax (Ergänzungssteuer). When not enough taxes were realized from the property tax and kosher meat tax, the difference was covered via a supplementary tax.

A special tax (Extrasteuer) was levied on Jews in place of the income tax that was collected from Christians.

Every Jew and Jewess was required to pay the candle tax with the exception of

  1. those whose sole income was derived from agriculture
  2. soldiers and their wives
  3. widows of soldiers
  4. unmarried children living with their parents, guardians, relatives, or friends and
  5. helpers in a store or business, apprentices, house cleaners and helpers, bachelors, and widowers.
The above were the special Jewish taxes (Judensteuer), but Jews also had to pay the taxes that were incumbent upon all inhabitants as well – a storage tax, a land tax, municipal and community taxes.

With the enactment of the kosher meat tax, which was tied up with exorbitant profits, strife broke out in all of the communities. Collection of these taxes was the official monopolistic prerogative of tax collectors who were granted powers to determine the size of the kosher meat tax at their discretion and to limit the right of slaughtering meat to certain butchers, resulting in the raising of the price of kosher meat. Since these butchers worked hand in hand with the tax collectors, the customer had no way of knowing what the price of meat would be at any given time. The butcher could always claim that the rise in price was due to the rise in taxes, which were subject to sudden change. This situation aroused the ire of the Jewish population, especially of the poorer families, who were being incited by the butchers who had been refused the right to sell kosher meat, thus wrecking their livelihood. This problem existed in all communities and engendered hatred and bitterness among the Jews of the community.

In addition to the relatively large amounts of money to be paid in taxes, there were also the methods employed in collecting the taxes that aroused the anger of the people in no small measure. Thus, when people fell behind in their payments, confiscation might be carried out by soldiers on horseback and police who seized private belongings and furniture without pity. Then too, there was the element of graft related to such matters. Most tax collectors were parnassim who received the full ire of the community, thus deflecting it from the government that had levied the exorbitant taxes.

According to figures arrived at by the commissioner of the district of Zloczow in the year 1806, each Jewish family paid the following for basic Jewish taxes alone:

Candle tax - six florin per year
Meat tax - up to fifteen florin per year
Tolerance tax - four florin per year
Special tax - five florin per year.
Adding up to a total of twenty-eight florin per year.[74]
This situation caused problems for the head of every family.

The town of Rohatyn had the help of a clerk, officially called the Jüdischer Amtsschreiber, a non-Jew working for the Jewish community (Judendirektion). This position was filled between 1 November 1779 and 1 May 1785 by Johann Silva, who received two hundred florin a year. Before this appointment he was a sergeant in the quartermaster corps of the infantry. When Jewish autonomy was eliminated in May 1785, he was retired without pension, because he was appointed investigator for the district of Brzezany. In addition, there was a clerk who worked on a daily basis.[75]

In addition to the usual load of taxes that Jews of Galicia, including Rohatyn, bore, they were also required to clear up their old debts dating from the time of Jewish autonomy in Poland. These included the debts of the central agencies, such as the Council of Four Lands and the District Council, as well as the different Jewish communities.

This demand for the liquidation of the debts of Jewish organizations dated back to 1764 when they were still under Polish rule, at which time this task of settling the debts of the Jews was assigned to a committee of the treasury. On 22 April 1766, this liquidation committee provided, in a special report, that Jews must pay three gulden per capita in order to liquidate the debts of the Jewish councils. When they received no satisfactory reply to their request, they repeated this demand in an official notice on 21 March 1767. In it they pointed out that with the passage of time, the debt had increased, due to the addition of interest and fines accrued because of delinquency in payments.[76] Special note was taken of the debts of the communities of Red Ruthenia that had not forwarded their payments. In the meantime, the first partition of Poland took place, and Rohatyn, as part of Red Ruthenia, was ceded to Austria with the debts being left unpaid. These unpaid debts included money owed to churches and monasteries and Jewish institutions, as well as private individuals.

After the partition of Poland, the victorious powers agreed that the outstanding debts of the areas belonging to them would be paid. In Galicia, the Austrian government appointed a special committee for the liquidation of debts (Liquidationskommission), which included the provincial advisor Ernst von Kartum, Joseph Baum von Appelshofen, advisor to the department of accounts, and Joseph Milbauer.

The committee was ordered to decide on the amount owed, by whom and to whom, to organize detailed lists of these names, and suggest procedures of payment by the Jewish organizations. Creditors were required to present detailed lists of the debts incurred prior to 12 June 1772 to the district offices, in four months, if they were in the country, and in six months, if they were out of the country. Creditors were promised that they could expect to receive the full payment of their loans any time after 1 August 1785 plus an additional interest of 5%.[77]

In their meeting of 26 July 1786, the department of accounts presented the committee for the liquidation of debts with a full list of Jewish debts and debtors, including their relevant documents. These combined debts amounted to 602,285 florin. In order to ease payment, the government decided that the Jewish communities should transfer to the debt fund the korowka, i.e., the levy of one kreuzer that was added to the price of kosher meat.

From these lists, we learn that the Jewish community of Rohatyn owed the local church 125 gulden, the Dominican monastery 1,250 gulden, and Firlejow 300 florin, for a debt that dated back to March 1735, and a second debt of 75 florin to the same Firlejow, also dating from 1735.[78]

In addition to these sums, Rohatyn had to take part in the payment of 34,654 Polish gulden to pay off the debts of the kehilot of Red Ruthenia to Yaakov Zelikowicz and Tzadok Meirowicz. After a lengthy and continuous arbitration between them and the directorate of the Jewish communities of Galicia (Judendirektion), via the mediation of the government, the two parties came to a compromise on 28 January 1781, whereby the debt would be lowered to 14,500 florin, the payment of which would be apportioned among the different communities.[79] The portion to be paid by Rohatyn amounted to 63 f lorin and 10 kreuzer[80] to be paid over a period of five years.[81] In addition to the taxes and elimination of debt, Jews were required to participate in war loans during the period of 1794-99.

In 1784 conditions became worse when the government issued an edict that anyone derelict in his payments for a period of over three quarters of a year could be officially declared a Jewish pauper (Betteljude) and could be expelled at any time from his town or even Galicia as a whole.

This engendered fears and suspicions among Jews, since there could always be found Jews and non-Jews willing to falsely accuse other Jews of harboring paupers in their homes or of having quiet marriages without paying the marriage tax. To prevent these slanders, Jews had to pay hush money (Denunziationsgelder). In Rohatyn there circulated, as we learn from the pages of the archives, informers and even clerks who were engaged in informing in order to obtain this easy money. People were forced to pay this bribery in order to "keep the dogs from barking and wagging their tongues."

The Jewish economic situation became so bad that in the year 1789, the office of the district of Brzezany ordered the expulsion of 1,050 families from the district including Rohatyn. The government in Vienna viewed this as overbearing and passed a directive on 9 March 1789 that expulsion for non-payment of taxes should be eliminated from the Jewish statutes, and this was brought up for discussion before the Austrian government.[82]

In the year 1782 the Department of Occupational Status (Wydzial Stanowy) of Galicia suggested that the Jews be removed from all leasing of property. The central government in Vienna utilized this initiative of the department to order the removal of Jews from leased properties and from engaging in brewing.[83] Indeed, in the district of Brzezany, many Jews in small villages were in fact removed from their properties. In addition to forbidding Jews from leasing taverns, in 1785, Jews were also forbidden to take part in the leasing and management of estates, fields that were not worked by Jews, mills, and houses in cities that were originally intended for German settlers. They could not collect fees for markets and stalls or district taxes, emblems of estates, money for the clergy, taxes on tobacco, export of salt, leasing of beer breweries, producing lumber for housing, or for surveying, wagons, or tolls. This order strongly affected the Jews of Rohatyn, since no small number of them was engaged directly or indirectly in these areas of the economy. It was emphasized that within three years, by the end of 1787, Jews must relinquish these properties to Christians.[84]

In reaction, the Jewish community of Lwow joined other communities of Eastern Galicia in a combined attempt to influence the powers of Lwow and even Vienna to rescind these edicts, but to no avail. On their side, the Jewish communities attempted, between 1785 and 1793, to put into effect a joint policy that would protect their economic interests and limit as much as possible the areas of endeavor that were being forbidden or limited to them. These defense measures attracted the attention of the Christians who sought to prevent the Jews from putting them into effect, and to this purpose, employed agencies of the district and national government. The result was that in 1794 a court commission (Hofkommision) in Vienna recommended that an explicit prohibition be made against Jewish communities holding combined assemblies.[85] There were differences at this time between Rohatyn and its outlying communities regarding the payment of taxes and the like.

The census of 1788 reveals very little about the condition of the Jews in the district of Brzezany, including the town of Rohatyn. We learn that there were in Brzezany at that time ten communities with a total of 2,757 Jewish families. This included 2,700 men, 2,685 women, 1,100 boys and 993 girls above the age of twelve, 2,137 young boys and 2,108 young girls below the age of twelve, 719 servants, 819 maids, 112 poor men, and 245 poor women, making a subtotal of 6,758 men and 6,845 women, in total, 13,603 people. Of the 2,757 families, the taxpayers on Level A numbered 278, Level B, 32, and Level C, 1,568, with 879 paupers.[86]

In the 1791 census there were 2,514 families, which included 2,801 men, 2,490 women, 878 boys and 737 girls above the age of twelve, 944 boys and 1,905 girls below the age of twelve, 372 servants, 489 maids, 146 poor men, and 304 poor women, making a subtotal of 5,841 males and 5,925 females and a total of 11,766. During this year, of 2,514 tax paying families, there were 1,793 on Level A, 266 on Level B, forty-six on Level C, and 409 paupers.

In the four years following 1788, the number of Jews decreased from 13,603 to 11,766, i. e., a reduction of 1837, and the number of paupers dropped from 889 to 409. As to the economic composition, there is only one list from 1780, which shows that in Rohatyn there were 401 Jews engaged in business (Jüdische Handelsleute).[87] The business composition did not indicate any change. Most of them were merchants, retailers, traders, and peddlers; a number were engaged in brewing beer and distilling liquor. Still others were craftsmen working as tailors, furriers, hat makers, butchers, and bakers.

* * *

Educational institutions, which had hitherto been under Jewish supervision, were, by the ruling of Maria Theresa, transferred completely to the supervision of the government, something that caused opposition and displeasure on the part of the Jews. The government, for its part, was interested in drawing Jewish children into public schools, which were open to them as of 1782. Since Jews did not wish to utilize these “rights,” the Jewish communities were legally required on 27 May 1785 to establish their own general public school system – also to no avail.

The Jews paid no attention to these rulings and angered the authorities, who severely castigated them. Placing upon the Jews the blame for the “backwardness” of their children, they demanded that children up to thirteen be enrolled in a secular school.[88] Each Jewish community was required to establish a German-style elementary school to correct the “Jewish approach” to learning. In order to achieve these goals, the government stipulated that no Jew would be permitted to get married without written proof that he had learned German at school or at home.

Herz Homburg, (1749–1841), a student of Moses Mendelssohn, was appointed in 1806 as head of this Jewish educational system in Galicia. In 1788 forty-eight Jewish schools were established in Galicia, including one in Rohatyn – a school for youths taught by Shlomo Kornfeld at a yearly salary of two hundred florin.[89]This school was maintained until the closing of the whole system of Jewish schools in 1806. The system failed because of the negative attitude of the Jews who, despite wheedling, punishments, and fines, refused to send their children to the (state) schools because of their fear that attendance there would lead them to apostasy.

Another goal of Joseph II to improve Jewish life in Galicia was to move Jews into agriculture. By contrast, this did not meet with much opposition, because in 1785 the new laws had caused thousands of Jewish families to lose their source of income. To those willing to enter the field of agriculture, the government promised to lower the tolerance tax by 50%. In 1785 Joseph II ordered the establishment of a Jewish agricultural community in Galicia. In the spring of 1786 the first Jewish colony, called Dabrowka, was founded near Nowy Sacz, and in it there were close to twenty families.[90]

After that, another colony was founded near Bolechow that was named "Neu Babylon" (Babilon Nowy). In Brzezany this affected 69 families, 12 of whom came from Rohatyn. By 1793 this allotment was completely filled by the communities as follows: Brzezany, 10 families; Kozowa, 5 families; Podhajce, 9 families; Bursztyn, 7 families; Chodorow, 3 families; Rozdol, 5 families; Strzeliska, 4 families; Bobrka, 8 families; Przemyslany, 6 families, and Rohatyn, 12 families. These families, settled by 1803 on 49 parcels of land, were composed of 98 men, 83 women, and, below the age of eighteen, 91 boys and 80 girls. The settlers received 66 houses, 66 barns and silos, 124 horses, 88 oxen, 147 cows, and 66 pieces of agricultural equipment.

The 12 families from Rohatyn were settled on six parcels of land and included 14 men, 16 women, and, below the age of eighteen, 16 boys and 12 girls. They were supplied with 12 houses, 12 pieces of agricultural equipment, 12 barns and silos, 24 horses, 8 oxen, and 22 cows.[91] In the year 1822 an agricultural census in the district of Brzezany revealed that out of the 69 families that had entered farming, 40 of them had actually become farmers – 24, at the expense of the community and 16, at their own expense.

The heavy tax load upon the Jews of Rohatyn caused them great suffering. Especially oppressive was the candle tax, which afflicted every family. The tax collectors generated ill will, resulting in altercations between themselves and the people. In 1798 Rohatyn, together with other communities in the district of Brzezany, presented complaints about the inhumanity of the candle tax collectors.[92]The government rejected these complaints and even punished the writer, who happened to be the Christian clerk of the district by the name of Heinrich Hepp. Thus the 18th century ended with the Jews of Rohatyn at an economic low without any prospect for improvement.

In the beginning of the 19th century taxes rose, accompanied by oppression from the collectors. They made unrealistic assessments and applied pressure to pay quickly and remove earlier debts without any consideration of the severe economic condition that the Jews were enduring. Then, too, because of the many wars in the first decade of the 19th century, Jews had to pay heavy war loans. Together with other communities, Rohatyn presented its objections, which reached Kaiser Franz I. These appeals were ignored; they received no answer, and the tax collectors were given a free hand. The important thing was to bring in money, and the government did not care what methods were employed to obtain it. In addition to the war loans, there were other taxes that were paid directly to the government. These included a property tax, a housing tax, a personal tax, income tax,[93]and a supplementary tax[94] to make up for what the meat and candle taxes did not provide – in total some fifty-two different types of taxes and payments.

In 1810 a census was taken of the Jews of Galicia. In Brzezany there were at that time 2,457 families with 10,933 people – 5,395 men and 5,538 women. As compared to 1788, this was a decrease of 300 families. The census of 1792 showed 2,514 families, resulting in a decrease of 243 families, and a further loss of 57 families between 1792 and 1810. In Rohatyn itself the census of 1810 showed a population of 282 Jewish families, in which there were 595 men and 621 women – a total of 1,216 people.[94a] However, by 1819 the downward trend was reversed, and the district of Brzezany had 2,539 families, showing an increase of 82 families as compared with the population of 1810.[95]

In 1810 when the Jews of Rohatyn were again given permission to lease breweries, the town in turn again complained to the authorities in Lwow in an attempt to prevent this. However, this time the central government sided with the Jews and reprimanded the authorities in Lwow, saying that from now on the Jews in the towns would either have to be accorded equality in leasing breweries or they would all be removed from brewing.[96]

In the year 1819 conflicts developed between the Jews of Rohatyn and the tax collector, Marcus Kreisler, who collected bridge tolls, legal payment on weights and measures, and rentals for the use of town grazing land. Kreisler was a resident of Rohatyn who made these collections on behalf of Citizen Tomasz Sobienski. With the aid of a soldier on horseback and a policeman on foot, he would receive various pledges from Jews and squeeze money out of them for his own benefit. The Jews presented a complaint to the commissar of the district (Czetsch) during one of his visits. They claimed that not only was Kreisler taking money legally for the government, but he also took money for himself that should have been going to Sobienski. In view of this complaint, the administration of the district of Brzezany sentenced Kreisler to ten lashes. This decision was authorized by the central government of Vienna.[97]

During this period, a question arose concerning the wearing of traditional Jewish clothing. According to the decrees of King Joseph, Section 47, the Jews of Galicia were required by 1794 to discontinue wearing their traditional garb that separated them from other inhabitants. Only rabbis were permitted to wear traditional Jewish clothing. The Jews did not pay any attention to this, and on 20 May 1790 the government abrogated this decree. Between 1816 and 1821 the central government of Vienna again tried to institute laws forbidding Jews from wearing their traditional dress. These laws applied to all the Jews of Galicia. Baron Hauer suggested that they institute a new ruling that explicitly forbade the wearing of Jewish style clothing since it was not of the accepted conventional mode. Thus, the central government should be required to take steps forcing the Jews of Galicia, with the exception of rabbis and those engaged in religious occupations, to change their mode of dress in keeping with accepted European styles.

On 17 May 1821 the Viennese government notified the authorities in Lwow that this matter was linked with the announcement of Jewish laws that would improve their condition. When the Jews heard of these machinations, groups arose to oppose them. Led by the community of Stryj, they rose to take action in this matter and to appear in person before the government in Vienna to oppose the demands of the district authorities. All the communities of Galicia presented a joint written request that Jews be permitted to retain their traditional form of dress.

Rohatyn was among those joining this appeal and in April 1821 also sent a petition of its own to the district authorities. It requested that this matter be removed from the agenda since the Jewish population was still very poor and lacked the funds to buy the proper cloth needed to produce German-style clothing (Deutsche Kleider). Also, the Jewish stores selling cloth were still filled with their stock of woven goods, intended for Jewish clothing, which would not be sold for quite some time.

The only ones who approved of the governmental demands were members of the Haskalah (Enlightenment) of Brody, Tarnopol, and Lwow. They pushed for the enactment of these demands, since they thought it would hasten the Europeanization of the Jews of Galicia. The merchants, furriers, and cloth manufacturers among the gentiles of Austria followed suit and also presented their own petitions. The government of Vienna sent a reply to each petition of April 1821, stating that the objections to the change in dress were not valid. The proof of this was that taxes from the sale of meat among the Jews of Moravia were not lessened despite the fact that they changed their way of dress. In any case, these recommendations of the district authority of Galicia never took hold. The problem of Jewish dress was removed from the agenda, and things calmed down.[98]

In 1827 a change took place from an economic point of view. The retail liquor trade, which was forbidden elsewhere to Jews, was permitted in Rohatyn. The official reason was that these rights were controlled by the local authorities and more than once in the past, they had leased this privilege to Jews.

During this time the head of the Jewish community was Benjamin Wunderlich, who was not well accepted by the members of his community. More than one complaint was presented against him, especially in such matters as management of community funds and appointing new parnassim of the kehilah.[99] The Jews also complained about the collector of the candle tax from Brzezany, Aharon Klar, who mercilessly oppressed the inhabitants of Rohatyn and carried out seizures and attachment of properties at will.[100]

* * *

During the 1830s the Hasidic movement developed in the district of Brzezany. Those who were active in this included the Grand Rabbis (Rebbes) Yitzchak Meir of Przemyslany (known as Meir'l of Przemyslany), Yehuda Hirsch Brandwein of Stratyn (the Stratyner Rebbe), and Yitzchak Yehuda of Baranowka, who gathered many followers in Rohatyn. By contrast, we do not precisely know to what degree the Haskalah movement made inroads into Rohatyn and to what degree its influence was felt. We do know that during the 30s and 40s the maskilim (proponents of Haskalah) were active in politics and worked toward the improvement of the political and economic condition of the Jews of Galicia as well as removing the special Jewish taxes. In the Haskalah circles of Brody, Tarnopol, Stanislawow, Lwow, and Tysmienica, they spoke about the need for establishing schools in the cities and the towns,[101] but Rohatyn was still far away from this goal. In 1847 there was a gathering in Lwow at the initiative of the Lwow kehilah, headed by members who had already achieved a high level of secular education. They met together with the heads of the Jewish communities to discuss their common problems and decided to forward a petition to the central government in which they described their economic conditions. This petition was sent only by the large communities, and it is not clear whether Rohatyn took part in this meeting.

The Jews of Rohatyn were not as affected by the events of 1848 as were the communities of Lwow, Tarnopol, Brody, Zolkiew, Tysmienica, and Stanislawow. Rohatyn did send an elected representative to the June 1848 parliament in Vienna; his name was Sabrin Smarowski, a prominent landowner. We do not know to what degree the Jews contributed to his election. The constitution of April 1848 did not bring equal rights to the Jews, as they had hoped it might, and did not solve the Jewish problems, as the Jewish intelligentsia thought it would. The Galician Jewish interest was primarily directed towards the elimination of two taxes that were exceedingly oppressive and despised by them – the kosher meat tax and the candle tax – which were collected by the people who paid the highest bid for the job. The constitution of April 1848 did not specifically eliminate these taxes. However, because Section 25 provided equality for all inhabitants with regard to serving in the army and paying taxes, the Jews interpreted this to mean that they, too, could benefit from these laws. The members of the Galician government did not agree, and the district of Brzezany publicly announced that “false rumors are being spread to the effect that the meat and candle taxes have been abrogated. It should therefore be known that this is not the case, and the authorities are still required to collect these taxes.”

The Jews did not heed this warning, however, and were at loggerheads with the tax collectors. In the end, on 5 October 1848 the parliament voted 243 to 207 to abrogate all Jewish taxes, and in this way, the Jews were formally acknowledged by the government as equal citizens with equal rights. This emancipation did not last very long, only until 1851. In 1850 when Jews were permitted to acquire real estate, they presented petitions to the government asking permission to purchase property. This included the Jews of Rohatyn who forwarded a number of petitions requesting permission to purchase real estate. However, it was only in 1866 that two Jews, the merchants Goldschlag and Weidenfeld, were granted this right.[102]

In contrast to the other areas where we know that a great struggle took place between the pious Hasidim on one side and the intelligentsia on the other, in Rohatyn, either prior to 1848 or after it, this was not the case. The maskilim were unable to make a dent in the way of life of the Jews there; they were completely rejected.

In the first half of the 19th century the Hasidism of Rabbi Yehuda Zvi Hirsch Brandwein of Stratyn took strong root in Rohatyn. Rabbi Yehuda was the disciple of Rabbi Uri of Strzeliska, termed the Saraf (burning angel), who had been a student of Rabbi Shlomo of Karlin. Rabbi Yehuda was one of the famous rebbes (Admorim) in the first half of the 19th century and had a great influence on the masses of Jews in the towns of Eastern Galicia. He was noted for his remedies and cures for diseases and for women with difficulty in bearing children. This was true to such a point that he attracted the attention of the Austrian government, which conducted an investigation of his practices. His opposition stemmed primarily from the maskilim of Tarnopol who went out of their way to complain to the government about his wonder-working remedies and amulets. They claimed that the Hasidim were being duped and extorted.

Rabbi Yehuda was followed by his oldest son, Rabbi Avraham, who inherited his position as rebbe. He in turn was followed by Rabbi Nahum, in 1865, who became the rebbe at the early age of eighteen. Rabbi Nahum moved from Stratyn to Bursztyn where he was the rebbe until 1914. Most of his Hasidim lived either in Bursztyn or Rohatyn or in the surrounding towns. There they established small synagogues (Burstyner kloizen) whose congregants followed the Stratyn customs. In addition to the Stratyn brand of Hasidism, there were also Hasidic groups affiliated with Belz, Czortkow, Bojanow, and Husiatyn.

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