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Jewish Population

General Population



























Grzymalów is situated about 40 km. south-east of Ternopil, on the banks of the Hnyla-Rudka river. The city was apparently founded at the beginning of the 18th century, after the region was liberated following the battles of the Tatars, the Ottomans and others. After its establishment by nobles of the Sieniawski family, a fortified castle was built there, which acted as the center of activity for about 30 villages and small towns in its vicinity. Beyond the economic activity of the city, in 1716 the central communal functions of the Roman-Catholic church were relocated there.

The main product of the city until the second half of the 18th century was agricultural produce and its by-products – animal hides, tannery and spirits. In addition to this, many inhabitants of the city also engaged in cloth and wagon production. In 1879 the lord of the estate of Grzymalów built a steam-operated flour mill. During the second half of the 19th century the district court was also established in the city, and this latter institution hosted various government institutions. This, of course, also impacted the commercial activity of the city. During the First World War many of the city’s inhabitants fled the city, and many did not return even with the cessation of hostilities, thus significantly dwindling the population of the city.




The Jews of Grzymalów

Similarly to many other cities in Eastern Galicia, Jews were granted significant privileges by the lords of Grzymalów in order to encourage their settling in the city. Jews were primarily engaged in the trade of the agricultural produce of the city, in in-keeping and in the production of spirits, with a minority also engaging in petty crafts. With the establishment of the city, we know of special rights awarded to Christian cobblers and weavers, from which we can learn that the Jews of the city were free to engage in all other occupations without any limitations.

The relationship between the Jewish residents of the city and its Ukranian and Polish inhabitants was apparently good. The three ethnic groups participated equally in the governing of the city (although the Jews comprised between 50 and 60% of the population), and it seems that everyone’s interests were represented. In the division of clothing and shoes to poor children of the city, which took place before the Christmas of 1927, Jewish children also received aid.

The establishing of governing institutions in Grzymalów in the second half of the 19th century, while benefitting the trade in the city, also took a toll on the standing of the Jewish merchants at the end of the 19th century, following the sale of some of the local estates and their division into sub-units, thus leaving some Jewish merchants without livelihood. After the First World War the governing institutions and the court were moved to Skalat, and commercial activity in Grzymalów declined. In conjunction with this, trade unions of Ukranian and Polish merchants were formed, and these to a great extent edged out the Jewish merchants from the field. All of these factors led to a decline in the economic status of the city’s Jews.


The Jewish community’s institutions

The Jewish community of Grzymalów elected a rabbi in close proximity to their first settling in the city. The first figure known to us who signed himself as the rabbi of Grzymalów was Rabbi Israel b. Binyamin, who referred to himself with this title in his book ‘Zera Israel’, published in 1730. Throughout the years Rabbi Naftali Mordechai Margaliyot, Rabbi Shemaria Brandreis (formerly the rabbi of Trembowla and the author of ‘Iyun Tefilla’ and ‘Kehillot Yakov’) and later his son Rabbi Yosef served as rabbis for the city. During the second half of the 19th century Rabbi Yaakov Weindfeld of Stanislawow, who was connected to the Husiatyn branch of Hassidism, served in this post, and after his death his son, Rabbi Yitzhak, took over the position. The latter died at the beginning of 1942 and was buried in the city’s cemetery. Rabbi Yitzhak was very active in caring for Jewish refugees during the First World War, and was even imprisoned by the Russian authorities on suspicion of treason. Between the two World Wars Rabbi Yitzchak was also active in the Zionist movement, even speaking at the assembly held in honor of the inauguration of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. When the city’s Jewish doctor, Dr. Isidore Moses, passed away in 1934, Rabbi Yitzchak Weindfeld eulogized him together with the Polish mayor and a representative of the Ukranian population of the city.


The Second World War

At the time of the Nazi occupation of the city during the Second World War, Grzymalów boasted around 2200 Jewish citizens. During the first two days of the occupation the Nazis and the Ukranian citizens led a pogrom against the Jews, murdering 350-500 Jewish men, women and children in different ways and terrorizing the rest of the Jewish population. Following the pogrom the Nazis demanded a quota of man power from the Judenrat they appointed, to participate in labor in camps surrounding the city. The Jewish ghetto of Grzymalów was demolished in October of 1942, and its occupants were moved to the ghetto at Skalat. Many of Grzymalów’s Jews found their way back to the labor camp in Grzymalów, which was demolished in January 1943 by the Nazis, who set fire to the camp’s barracks with the Jewish workers trapped inside. When the Soviets liberated the city, only 30-something Jews remained of its once large Jewish population.


See the site Grzymalow (Hrimailiv)  gallery