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Jewish Galicia and Bukovina (JGB) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the documentation, preservation and educational dissemination of the history and rich cultural heritage of the Jewish communities of Galicia and Bukovina. These areas are located in modern-day Ukraine (eastern Galicia - Lviv/Lwow region and northern Bukovina - Cernivtzy/Czernovits region), Poland (western Galicia - Krakow region) and Romania (southern Bukovina up to Suceava and Siret).

Galicia and Bukovina were major Jewish centers as far back as the 13th Century and were home to over one million Jews, with unique cultural characteristics and a vibrant intellectual and spiritual life. These regions produced prominent Jewish thinkers, rabbis and Hassidic courts, who created influential texts and institutions that have had a long-lasting impact on the Jewish world. The Torah scholars and Jewish intellectuals of Galicia and Bukovina were known for their tolerance and openness towards modernity, while being firmly rooted in Jewish tradition and learning. This thriving Jewish world was wiped out in the Holocaust. The outstanding cultural accomplishments of these regions are not widely known in the Jewish world. They have been insufficiently documented and inadequately researched by academic scholars.

Jewish Galicia and Bukovina aims in its work to document and disseminate the main aspects of Jewish life in these regions, both physically and academically. To this end, we are engaged in four major areas of activity:

• Developing an online free of charge database on the Jewish history of Galicia and Bukovina.

• Annual fieldwork teams documenting the physical remnants of Jewish life.

• Preserving the cultural and rabbinic heritage of these Jewish communities.

• Extending fellowships to Israeli and Ukrainian students who are researching relevant topics for advanced degrees.

The forerunner of Jewish Galicia and Bukovina, known as The Institute for Commemoration of Galician Jewry, was founded in 1987 by Rabbi Meir Wunder, who dedicated several decades to compiling the seven-volume Encyclopedia of Galician Sages. This opus presents detailed genealogies of Galician rabbinical families, and is one of the most extensive and reliable sources of rabbinical genealogy written in the twentieth century. The Institute also published several other books, including biographies of Hassidic spiritual leaders (Rebbes) and Grandeur and Glory: Hod Vehadar - Remnants of Jewish Art in Galicia (Wunder et al., 2005).
In 2008, the Ludmer Fund was launched, which began to work with Hebrew University of Jerusalem and several other universities in Israel and abroad with the goal of reviving the unique heritage of Jewish Galicia and Bukovina as vital to the broader understanding of Jewish history in modern times, and bringing to life the memory of those Jewish communities that have perished. In 2011, the Ludmer Fund and the Institute for Commemoration of Galician Jewry joined forces, and became the “Jewish Galicia and Bukovina” association.
At first we focused our research on archival documents and personal testimonies describing the life of the Jews in Galicia. We also began to document the physical remains of the communities – communal buildings, Jewish cemeteries, synagogues, and other structures. So far we have sent four teams of researchers and students from Israel and abroad to examine and document physical sites in numerous cities in Galicia and Bukovina which once had big Jewish communities (See more here…). This website was established as part of our aim to set up a comprehensive database of primary materials pertaining to the Jewish communities of Galicia and Bukovina. While the database will meet exacting academic standards, it will also provide the general public with online access to a wide array of cultural and historical materials in a comprehensible format.

For a number of reasons Galicia and Bukovina Jewry have been researched less in comparison to other areas in Eastern-Europe. Due to this, our association offers fellowships to doctoral and post-doctoral students from both Israel and Ukraine for research projects connected to Jewish history in this region. The fellowships awarded Ukrainian scholars also support their stay in Israel for one year to advance their research. (See more here…). We see great importance on awarding these fellowships and seek to establish a leading role for Israeli academia in studying these communities.
We are committed to seeing that the rich Jewish culture that once flourished in the region will be remembered and passed on to future generations in Israel and throughout the world.
Finally, Jewish Galicia and Bukovina, through its research and dissemination efforts, is preserving the spiritual heritage of Galician and Bukovinian Jewry for posterity and in doing so is engaging hundreds of the descendents of former residents of Galicia and Bukovina in a search for their cultural and historical roots.

If you have historical materials of any kind about the Jews of Galicia and Bukovina and would be willing to share them with us please contact us.

We invite you to register to get our newsletter and become a friend of Galicia and Bukovina.

Your contribution will be highly appreciated and will help us expand our fields of activity and advance the research on the Jews of Galicia and Bukovina.

Historical Background

Galicia and Bukovina are historical regions in Eastern Europe. They gained their distinct character when Galicia and Bukovina were under the Austrian rule from the late eighteenth to the early twentieth centuries.
 
The name Galicia (Ger. Galizien) was derived from Halicz (Ukr. Halych), a town which was the center of the medieval Halych-Volynian Principality, initially a part of Kievan Rus'. In the 1340s, the largest part of the Halych principality was included into the Polish Kingdom. In 1772, after the first partition of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the areas known as Rus Czerwona (Red Russia/Ruthenia) and Lesser Poland were taken by Austria. Together they formed one of the Austrian crown lands under the name the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria. In 1918, Galicia was regained by the independent Polish Republic, although a short-lived West-Ukrainian People's Republic existed in Eastern Galicia in 1918-19. In 1939, Eastern Galicia was annexed by the Soviet Union and became a part of Soviet Ukraine. Since 1991, this area belongs to the independent Republic of Ukraine.
 
For an in-depth overview of the Jewish history in Galicia see the entry Galicia by Rachel Manekin in the YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe.
 
Bukovina (the name derived from a Slavic word buk, meaning beech tree) was once the core of the Moldavian Principality. In the sixteenth century it came under the suzerainty of the Ottoman Empire. In 1775 it was annexed by Austria; in 1918 incorporated into Romania, and in 1940 it was divided, with  Northern Bukovina being annexed by the Soviet Union and now is part of the Republic of Ukraine, while Southern Bukovina remained part of Romania till today.
Attached files: 

Database

The results of our research are openly available to the public.

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Note on spelling of names

The spelling of geographical names presents a special problem in this region, which over the long course of its history was incorporated into several different political entities. While we provide place names in all relevant languages in sub-headings, only one version of each name is used in the actual body of the texts. We have decided to adhere to the historical principle and employ the communities' names as they were officially known during the period discussed, as well as the names used by local Jews. This decision has nothing to do with current political issues.
 
The spelling of private names poses not a smaller problem. Therefore, when a name is known from a Hebrew text, it is spelled in English according to the modern Israeli pronunciation. Names from the texts in Latin characters are brought here as they are.

Support us!

 

We need your financial support to undertake this incredibly important project.
 
Please contact Dr. Semion Goldin to find out how you can help us preserve Jewish history in Galicia and Bukovina:
 
Dr. Semion Goldin
The Leonid Nevzlin Research Center
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Mount Scopus
Institute of Jewish Studies
Rabin Building, Room 6003
Jerusalem 91905, Israel
 
Tel.: 972-2-5881948/59
Fax: 972-2-5881950

Great Heritage

Galicia and Bukovina were major Jewish centers as far back as the 13th Century and were home to over one million Jews, with unique cultural characteristics and a vibrant intellectual and spiritual life. These regions produced prominent Jewish thinkers, rabbis and Hassidic courts, who created influential texts and institutions that have had a long-lasting impact on the Jewish world. The Torah scholars and Jewish intellectuals of Galicia and Bukovina were known for their tolerance and openness towards modernity, while being firmly rooted in Jewish tradition and learning. This thriving Jewish world was wiped out in the Holocaust.

This section offers a look in to the glories Jewish world and its remnants in today Ukraine and Poland.

The sub-sections in this branch are:

Historical background:

You can read a general overview and a number of articles on the historical background of the Jews in Galicia and Bukovina.

Maps:

You can view our collection of historical maps. We offer general maps of the entire area and maps of specific cities.

Organizations:

Here you can find information on different Jewish organizations in Galicia and Bukovina   

Communities:

We offer close to 500 community pages detailing the history of the Jewish people in each community and links to other websites for further research.

Tombstones:

We have a large collection of tombstones assembled by our field schools in a number of cemeteries in Galicia. You can see a photograph and the epitaph of each tombstone.

Selected Bibliography:

The bibliography section contains descriptions of scholar books and articles regarding to the Jewish history and culture in Galicia and Bukovina. This section is constantly expanding with the most recent publications in the field.  

 

Notable people

Galicia and Bukovina were the origin of a Jewish heritage that stands out for several unique features. Located at the intersection of areas of Polish, German, Ukrainian, Romanian and Russian cultural influence, these regions saw the emergence of a particularly creative and dynamic Jewish culture. They provided the backdrop for major advances in rabbinic literature and modern Jewish thought, and were the site of some of the most vibrant and influential Hassidic courts. They were also the site of origin of several notable modern Jewish writers, the most famous of them being Shmuel Yosef Agnon (in Hebrew), Itzik Manger (in Yidish), Joseph Roth and Paul Celan (in German) and Bruno Schulz (in Polish). Additional individuals of note are Jews of Galician and Bukovinian origin who made notable contributions to several of the arts, scholars, statesmen and scientists.

 

Search Notable people

You can search the notable people database by name, community, year of birth and death and by occupation.

Newer articles are displayed first; you may sort by the title, as well.

Name Occupation or positionsort descending Community

Markus Landau

Markus Landau was a famous writer and literary historian. Born in Brody in 1837, Landau’s first career was in trade. As a merchant, Landau...
Brody

Leopold Gottlieb

Leopold Gottlieb was a Polish-Jewish modernist painter. He was born in Drohobych, Galicia, received his art education in Krakow and Munich, and in...
Artist Drohobych

Henry Roth

An American novelist and short story writer. His first book Call it Sleep was published in 1934.
Author Stanislawow (Ivano-Frankivsk)

Shmuel Yosef Agnon

Shmuel Yosef Agnon (Hebrew: שמואל יוסף עגנון‎)  was a Nobel Prize laureate writer and was one of the central figures of modern Hebrew...
Author Buchach

Paul Celan

Paul Celan was one of the major German language poets and translator after World War II. His poetry being influenced by his traumatic experience...
Author

Bruno Schulz

Bruno Schulz was a Polish writer, fine artist, literary critic and art teacher born to Jewish parents, and regarded as one of the great Polish-...
Author Drohobych

Mayer von Kallir

Mayer von Kallir was a famous banker and patron of the arts. He was born in 1789 to a family of immigrants from Bohemia. His father, Alehander Kallir...
Banker Brody

Roald Hoffmann

Roald Hoffmann was born in Zolochiv  Poland (now Ukraine). He  is an American theoretical chemist who won the 1981 Nobel Prize in...
Biochemist

Documents

This section includes archival material from different archives in Poland and Ukraine and from the Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People in Jerusalem, as well as private documents and letters. These special historical materials give us a unique look into the Jewish world of Galicia and Bukovina, in all aspects of everyday life.

We invite anyone with documents, letters, postcards or photographs relating to the Jews of Galicia and Bukovina to contribute them to the database. To send contributions to the document database click here

 

Search Documents

You can search the document database by name of community, type of document, years

Newer articles are displayed first; you may sort by the title, as well.

Our Activities

Jewish Galicia and Bukovina aims in its work to document and disseminate the main aspects of Jewish life in these regions, both physically and academically. To this end, we are engaged in four major areas of activity:

* Developing an online free of charge database on the Jewish history of Galicia and Bukovina.

* Annual fieldwork teams documenting the physical remnants of Jewish life.

* Preserving the cultural and rabbinic heritage of these Jewish communities.

* Extending fellowships to Israeli and Ukrainian students who are researching relevant topics for advanced degrees.

* Delivering academic courses on Jewish culture in Galicia and Bukovina in Ukrainian Universities 

 

 

 

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Field School 2011 to Pidhaitsy

Community: 

For the past three years the Jewish Galicia and Bukovina project has been sending field schools to document and preserve Jewish remnants in Eastern Europe. This year's field school destination was Pidhaytsi, a quiet and pastoral town in Eastern-Galicia 62 miles South-West of Lviv. Its pastoral setting notwithstanding, Pidhaytsi was one of the more important and developed towns in the entire region. The name Pidhaytsi, which means "in the woods" is drawn from its location in the heart of the most forested area in today's Ternopil region in western Ukraine.

Pidhaytsi is one of the oldest towns in Galicia with records as far back as 1463 when the Catholic Church was built by the regional Governor Potocki. During the Polish royal dominion Pidhaytsi was a major checkpoint on a main merchants' road from Snyatyn through Pidhaytsi to Lviv. Due to the many people passing through the town it was known for its fairs.

The Jewish community of Pidhaytsi was one of the oldest communities in Galicia dating back to the 16th century. Towards the end of the 17th century many Jews of Pidhaytsi were killed by Turks and Tatars. According to the census of 1764 there were 1,765 Jews registered in the Kahal (the Jewish community board) of the Pidhaytsi district, of which 1079 lived in Pidhaytsi itself. In the 19th century the Jewish community grew rapidly and by 1910 there were 6000 Jews in Pidhaytsi constituting 60% of the population. In the interwar period the community decreased and by 1939, 3200 Jews remained in the town.

Due to its location on the cross road between different cultures, Pidhaytsi became a fertile ground for mystical movements. In the case of the Jewish community the first such movement was the "messianic" Sabbatean movement and it caught the hearts of many Jews. The first Sabbatean to preach in Pidhaytsi was a known mystic figure by the name of, Chaim Malakh who stood in the head of a Jewish mystical group which came to Erez-Israel in 1700. The Hasidic movement was also very influential in the Pidhaytsi area. 5 well known Galician Hasidic Zaddiks lived in the Pidhaytsi area. The same can be said about Christian ascetics and hermits who found Pidhaytsi's surrounding appropriate for establishing monasteries, one of which is still active.

Pidhaytsi was one of the most important Jewish communities in Galicia because of the notable rabbis that came from this town. The first rabbis of the town were Rabbi Moshe and his son Rabbi Yehuda Leib in the 16th century. The most famous rabbi to lead the community of Pidhaytsi was Rabbi Benjamin Aharon Solnik (1530-1620), known for his book "Masa't Benaymin"(Benjamin's Mess). Culturally the Jewish community was very diverse, much like the rest of Galician Jewry.

In World War I the town was severely damaged and most of the town's homes were burnt. Many of the Jews of Pidhaytsi left the town that became the battle ground between the Austrian and Russian armies.

When the town was occupied by the Nazi Germany in 1941 there were more than 3000 Jews in Pidhaytsi, some of which were refugees who came to the town in the first years of WWII. On Yom-Kippur 1942, 1000 Jews were sent to Belzec death camp. The rest were closed in a small ghetto where many died from hunger and disease. On June 6th, 1943 the remaining Jews in the ghetto were killed in mass graves in the outskirts of the town.

The remaining of this once vibrant Jewish community are an old cemetery and an abandoned synagogue. In the summer of 2011 a group of 15 students made up of torah scholars from the "Siach Yitzhak" Yeshiva, students from the Ben-Gurion University and the Universities in St. Petersburg went out to document and research the remains of Jewish Pidhaytsi. The team was lead by Dr. Boris Khaimovich from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and Ms. Marina Bruk from the State University in St. Petersburg. This combination of the torah and academic worlds created a unique atmosphere in the research group which suites the universal character of Jewish Galician culture.

The main focus of the field school was the large and ancient Jewish cemetery. The team documented the entire cemetery which contains over 1500 tombstones (the oldest from the 16th century). The tombstones were numbered, photographed, measured and their epitaphs transcribed. Some of the tombstones were dug out of the ground and raised on their place. A detailed map of the cemetery was prepared by local land-surveyors.

The field school to Pidhaytsi continues the remarkable, pioneering work of the 2009 and 2010 field schools in the pursuit after Jewish history in Galicia and Bukovina.

The team was accompanied by an Israeli press team. The article can be seen here(in Hebrew).

In the following weeks the materials gathered by the field school will be processed and presented to the public on the website.

Read more about the Jewish community in Pidhaytsi here

View more Photos of Pidhaytsi here

Site collections: 

Field School 2010 to Rozhniatov, Nadworna, Burshtyn and Lysiec

Prepared by Dr. Maria Kaspina, Dr. Boris Khaimovich & Dr. Vladimir Levin

Not a single taxi driver in Ivano-Frankivsk knows where the synagogue is located, although its massive building stands only 50 meters away from the central square bustling with people at its shops and restaurants. The once vibrant Jewish community of Eastern Galicia, numbering half a million people, was not only eradicated by the Nazis and their supporters during the Holocaust, but it has also faded from the memory of local inhabitants. The aim of our field school and the entire Jewish History in Galicia and Bukovina project is to document, collect and revive remnants - physical as well as intangible - that can still be recorded, preserved and revived after 65 years of Jewish absence from the region. Towards this aim, the Second Field School arrived at Ivano-Frankivsk (formerly Stanisławów) during the summer of 2010.

The Second Field School in the Ivano-Frankivsk Region took place from July 21 to August 10, 2010. It was organized by the Jewish History in Galicia and Bukovina project and the Moscow Center for University Teaching of Jewish Civilization Sefer. Fifteen students under the guidance of five scholars engaged in the documentation of Jewish history. The school was composed of three teams: one documenting Jewish cemeteries, another recording oral history and ethnographical materials from the local residents and the third team surveying towns and villages in the region.

The complex approach applied towards the remnants of Jewish history allows for exploration in the fullest possible way. We are working in the region where Jews have been absent for 65 years and the vast majority of Jewish cultural heritage has disappeared without a trace. The majority of Jews, the keepers of local tradition, were cruelly exterminated during the Holocaust; most of those who survived emigrated to Israel and the United States. The number of people, both Jewish and non-Jewish, who remember the period before WWII, is very small and continues to diminish. Hundreds of synagogues and prayer houses were destroyed; those that survived were changed completely, sometimes preserving only basic architectural features such as the arrangement of windows. Dozens of Jewish cemeteries were wiped out and the tombstones used as building material. Books and manuscripts, photographs and artifacts didn't survive WWII and beyond.

We are trying to collect what can be still found in situ. The tombstones in Jewish cemeteries are a perfect example of local Jewish artistry, the other expressions of which largely being lost. Their epitaphs are clear evidence of the literary culture of the local Jews - for a long time the only literate population in the region. The documentation of the tombstones "revives" generations of Jews buried in the surviving cemeteries.

Oral recollections of living Ukrainians help to shed light on the everyday life of the Jewish population before the Holocaust and attest to the widespread coexistence in this once ethnically mixed region. Interviews with elderly local inhabitants also revitalize the memories of Jews and draw the attention of younger generations who never saw Jews in their towns and villages.

Archival research flushes out documentary evidence of Jewish life. Due to the nature of local archives, which mainly contain the paperwork of state institutions, archival documents reflect the interaction of Jewish communities with governmental agencies (the archival work in our project is conducted through the Central Archives for the History of Jewish People in Jerusalem). Several years of intensive work to collect remnants of Jewish life in the region will provide the scholarly community and those interested in Jewish and family history with the fullest possible range of information.

I. Jewish Cemeteries

A team headed by Dr. Boris Khaimovich from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Ms. Marina Bruk from the European University in St. Petersburg documented four Jewish cemeteries: Nadvirna (Nadwórna), Lysets (Łysiec), Burshtyn (Bursztyn) and Rozhniativ (Rożniatów). All four cemeteries are interesting examples of the diverse local burial tradition.

The cemetery in Nadvirna (Nadwórna) is only partially preserved and is used by the local population as a place for drinking alcohol and other such activities. It is covered with very dense vegetation and piles of litter which severely impede efforts for documentation at this cemetery. Many tombstones have been uprooted and thrown into piles, which also complicated access for the researchers. Only after preparatory work of clearing the vegetation and disassembling the piles of tombstones, the team was able to document 530 tombstones, which were numbered, photographed, measured and their epitaphs transcribed.

General landscape of the cemetery in Nadworna

The oldest tombstone in this cemetery is dated ת"ט) 1649) - dating it to the time of the Chmelnitsky massacre of 1648-49. This tombstone of Issachar Ber, son of Haim, is the oldest evidence of a Jewish presence in Nadvirna and it may testify to the first Jewish settlers in the region being refugees from areas affected by the Cossack rebellion. This tombstone is very similar to the oldest tombstone in the cemetery of Solotvyn (dated 1665), documented by the first field school in 2009. The epitaph on the tombstone in Solotvyn states that the deceased is a son of holy Yehezkel Segal, i.e. that Yehezkel was killed by non-Jews, most likely during the Chmelnitsky massacre. Both tombstones, in Nadvirna and Solotvyn, are the earliest evidence of a Jewish presence in the region and demonstrate a connection to the greatest catastrophe in Eastern European Jewish history before the 20th century. Unfortunately, other tombstones of the 17th century are not preserved. From the 18th century, only two gravestones were preserved by chance: one from 1774  and another from 1777.

Oldest tombstones in the Jewish cemetery of Nadworna

The most important area in the Nadvirna cemetery is around two ohalim (small buildings above the graves) of the Nadworna Hasidic leaders. The older one, made in an unusual barrel form, covers the graves of Rabbi Tsvi Hirsh and his family; the second one covers the graves of Rabbi Issachar Ber and his descendants. 

During the entire 19th century, Nadworna was one of the most important Hasidic centers in Galicia and attracted thousands of Hasidim throughout the region. The importance of the Nadworna Hasidic court can be clearly seen in the area adjacent to the ohalim. Several dozen people from the renowned Hasidic families are buried there, among them a great-grandson of Rabbi Levi Itshak from Berdichev, a grandson of Rabbi Haim from Czernowitz, a daughter of Rabbi of Halych R. Shmuel, a great-granddaughter of Maggid of Zlochev and others. The tombstones of the prominent Hasidim who played distinguished roles at the Nadworna court can be also found around the ohalim

Approximately one hundred tombstones were discovered in large piles of stones near the ohalim. They also belonged to members of notable families and were crafted in a high level of artistry. 

Other areas of the cemetery date to the second half of the 19th century and to the period between the World Wars. They are simple in design, with typical depictions marking difference between graves of women and men. Some tombstones, uncovered from the earth, preserved the original colors from the interwar period. The most recent gravestone dates to 1940, after the region was occupied by the Soviet Union. 

working in the cemetery

The cemetery in Lysiets (Łysiec) is home to 220 tombstones and our team documented it completely. It is a good example of a well-preserved cemetery of a small rural community in the Carpathian region. The graves of local rabbis are situated in the middle of the graveyard. The majority of the tombstones are dated to the 19th and 20th centuries. Some depictions from the turn-of-the-century combine traditional folk images with a provincial modernist style. Six Jews were murdered by the Nazis at the cemetery's fence; no memorial sign exists there. 

Selected decorations from tombstones in Lysiec

 

In Burshtyn (Bursztyn) only one-eighth of the original cemetery is preserved, numbering 333 tombstones; the other tombstones were used for paving the road to Lviv. The remaining, mainly women's tombstones are concentrated in one block, in 25 dense rows. Only several of the men's tombstones are preserved. Despite the relatively widespread custom of assigning different plots to male and female burials, a strict division between genders is rare. The presence of the important and conservative Hasidic court of Rabbi Nahum Brandwine in the town likely caused this phenomenon. This cemetery presents an amazing collection of the most widespread Jewish symbol for women's gravestones in the 19th-20th centuries - the Shabbat candelabra. Among 333 preserved tombstones, there are no two similar candelabra; each one is different. 

The most interesting cemetery among those documented this year is in Rozhniativ (Rożniatów). The oldest part of the cemetery, dating to the 17th century, is surrounded by an earth wall. This arrangement was very common in East-Central Europe and led to the Polish and Ukrainian term for Jewish cemeteries: okopyśko/okopyshche, meaning a territory surrounded by an earth wall. However, the earth walls surrounding such cemeteries are preserved in only very rare instances and that the Rozhniativ wall in such a good condition is quite unique.


The cemetery in Rozhniatov

Tombstones from Rozhniatov  cemetery

The area surrounded by the wall served for burials from the late 17th century (1687) until the early 19th century (1817). The shape of the earliest tombstones and their script are very similar to the tombstones of the same period in Central Europe and differ significantly from the tombstones in Nadvirna and Solotvyn. The tombstones from the 18th century bear the same images of animals as the stones in the most important Jewish cultural centers of Eastern Europe. In other places in the Ivano-Frankivsk region, only rarely are 18th-century tombstones preserved. 

In the oldest part of the cemetery, a stone marking the genizah from the early 20th century was found. It mentions five Torah Scrolls which perished in a fire. Gravestones of gnizot are a rare phenomenon in Jewish cemeteries of Eastern Europe. This one bears a depiction of an open Torah ark.

During the cholera epidemic of 1831, the community began to bury its dead outside the old walled cemetery. Around a dozen tombstones are dated to Tamuz 5591 (April 1831) - the time when cholera spread in Rozhniativ. The memory of the cholera period is kept among the local people up until today. After the end of the epidemic, the community continued with burials outside the earth wall. Our team succeeded to document almost all tombstones of the 19th century, comprising 360 items. Many of these are decorated with local style images. The gravestones from the 20th century are situated in a forest which grew there following WWII. Local youth uses these tombstones as places of "romantic" meetings. 

II. Collecting Oral History

The team headed by Prof. Olga Belova, of the Institute for Slavic Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and Dr. Maria Kaspina, of the Russian State University of the Humanities in Moscow, collected oral history and ethnographic testimonies from local residents, both Jewish and non-Jewish.

As determined during the previous field school last year, operating in the same town as the cemetery team is very productive. Activity at the Jewish cemetery draws the attention of local residents; they come to the cemetery and begin to share their recollections about Jews. The simple act of "Jews" (despite the fact that the majority of students in our team are not Jewish) coming to their cemeteries, cleaning and researching them, stimulates the memory of the local population and encourages them to speak about Jews. At this point, the oral history team has a wonderful opportunity to collect and record this information. Therefore, a unique picture of Jewish history in a given town takes shape - earlier periods are reflected in the tombstones, while the pre-war years and the Holocaust are expressed by the memory of living people.

We are collecting oral testimony at the last moment. Elderly people who indeed remember Jews in a given town are now very rare and their number is diminishing daily. In addition, post-war migrations led to an influx of the Ukrainian population from other villages and regions, making them a majority in these former Jewish-Polish towns; therefore, this population is alien to local tradition, has never seen local Jews and has no memories about them. 

While in-depth research was conducted last year in Solotvyn and Nadvirna, efforts of the ethnography team this year were concentrated in Burshtyn. A dozen people living in the area adjacent to the Jewish cemetery were interviewed, especially concentrated on the street which before WWII was named after Theodor Herzl and now is named after Russian revolutionary and writer Alexander Herzen. The team also worked in Lysiets, where interesting information was recorded from the people living next to the Jewish cemetery and in Rozhniativ, where a descendant of local Jews was interviewed. The team also visited Kalush, Kolomea, Otynia, Chernelytsia, Verkhovina  and Ternopol. During the 2010 field school, we used as a basis the questionnaire developed by the previous field school. This questionnaire, which in and of itself is an import result of the mission, will be improved using the experience of the current field school. 

During the collection of oral history, the recollections of shabes-goim (Christian children who were invited by Jews to light fire on Saturdays) were recorded in many places. Also, stories about Jewish holidays were recalled, including memories of Christians receiving matza from Jews and giving their neighbours Easter cakes in return. Several common stereotypes about Jews recorded last year were reconfirmed during this field school. The most widespread misconception is that Jews are buried in a sitting position. One explanation given by interviewees is the lack of space in the Jewish cemetery. Another one, no less "rational," relates that burial in a sitting position allows Jews to stand up quickly at the time of resurrection before the Last Judgment.

Another widespread belief held by the local non-Jewish population involves a prikazanne - "commandment." Usually this relates to a mezuzah parchment, but it could also be a part of a Torah scroll, parchment from phylacteries or any text in Hebrew letters. Many magic rituals, especially in Ukrainian folk medicine, are connected to prikazanne. For example, the burning of prikazanne is said to help with epilepsy.

During this field school we also often worked with local Jews, despite the fact that majority of these Jews came to the region after WWII from other areas. We were able to speak with communal leaders and document the current situation of the community. This information adds a significant layer to the findings gathered in the neighboring regions of Bukovina, Bessarabia and Podolia. In all these regions, it is customary that the Ukrainians come to Jewish people - to synagogues, cemeteries and even individual Jews - for help, considering that the Jewish religion is "closer to God." Evidence of such appeals is recorded by non-Jews as well as by Jews themselves. For example, Ukrainians come to a Jewish woman living in Rozhniativ - a rare case of a Jew in the village of today - and ask for Jewish texts for "commandments;" she even provides them with such texts from Israel. In the places where functioning synagogues exist, we documented an institutionalized practice whereby Ukrainians make donations to the synagogue in exchange for a prayer for their health and wellbeing.

Due to the treatment of Jewish texts as a powerful magical aid, and the consideration of everything Jewish as a mighty power since "the Jews are first by God," the tradition of asking Jews for help has been preserved even after 65 years of Jews being generally absent from the region.

III. Survey of Jewish Monuments

A small team led by Dr. Vladimir Levin, of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, continued its efforts from last year of surveying towns and villages where Jewish monuments remain. This year, the team visited those areas which were omitted last year due to lack of time.

In the village of Bukachevtsy, a ruin of a synagogue  and the area of a Jewish cemetery were found. The tombstones from the cemetery were used in the 1950s to pave the sidewalks. Since the inhabitants of the village do not need sidewalks along unpaved streets, they gradually removed these tombstones and threw them away. 

Remanents of the Jewish community in Bukachevtsy.  Top left: the Synagogue. Buttom left: a sidewalk from old tombstones. On the right: The Jewish Cemetery

Chernelytsia village was once a thriving town with an important castle. Today, only a ruin of a synagogue and remnants of several tombstones serve as reminders of its Jewish population. All Chernelytsia Jews were murdered near the village Mikhalche, where the Jews from Horodenka perished as well. The mass murder was performed on the banks of the Dniester River and today a youth resort stands in this picturesque setting. In Horodenka, the team visited the old Jewish cemetery with tombstones from the 17th and 18th century and found it surrounded by piles of garbage.

Ruins of the synagogue in Chernelytsia                     Remnants of the Jewish cemetery in Chernelytsia        

In the quaint town of Sniatyn, the former synagogue was converted during Soviet times into a clothing factory. In one of the houses on the market square, the team was shown a hatch in a ceiling which served the Jewish inhabitants during the Sukkot holiday. The hatch was opened and the area under it served as a sukka. In Zabolotiv, the team found the Jewish cemetery situated between private homes and the building of the former beit midrash

Cemetery in Zabolotiv                                                        Former beit midrash in Zabolotiv 

 

In the town of Bibrka, which lies in the road from Ivano-Frankivsk to Lviv, the team photographed the ruins of the synagogue.  The structure stood abandoned since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the closure of a food factory situated in this building. 

The team also visited the village of Verkhovina, formerly known as Zhabye. It is situated high in the Carpathian Mountains. A building which served as a prayer house is preserved there, as well as several Jewish houses in the vicinity. A small Jewish cemetery and a memorial sign at the site where the Verkhovina Jews were murdered are located in the village of Il'tsi. 

In the famous mountain spa of Vorokhta, the team discovered the Sanatorium of Jewish Academics - a health resort for Jewish students from Lviv, where treatment against tuberculosis was provided. It was built in the early 1930s by the Jewish architect from Lviv, Jósef Awin (1883-1942), in the International style. This elegant building is still used as a sanatorium and its architecture remains almost unchanged. 

The team was not able to visit the villages of Tatariv, Mikulychyn, Yaremche and the town of Deliatyn because the road was blocked by a heavy muddy flooding, which caused significant destruction. 

IV. Educational Program

The field school offered an impressive educational program. Beyond instruction given during the documentation work, the students were offered educational trips and lectures. The first such educational trip journeyed east. The group visited Buchach (Buczacz) - the birthplace of Shmuel Yosef Agnon; Hrimailiv (Grzymalów) with its ruined synagogue from the 18th century; and Sataniv (Satanov), where an amazing Jewish cemetery and a synagogue from the early 17th century are preserved. In Buchach, the group visited the 18th-century Jewish cemetery, now heavily used by local drug addicts and was shown Jewish tombstones found during the repair of a road in the town.

The second educational trip ventured south to the Carpathian Mountains. The group visited the village of Kolochava with its 17thcentury wooden church and an ethnographic museum where a Jewish prayer room and a Jewish inn are reconstructed. Lectures by Dr. Khaimovich on Jewish history in Galicia in the Early Modern period and by Prof. Nosonovsky on Jewish tombstones were given at the ruins of the Buchach castle. Lectures by Dr. Levin on Moorish synagogues and by Dr. Khaimovich on synagogues' interior decorations were given in Ivano-Frankivsk. In addition, the ethnography group held evening seminars where the information gathered during the day was discussed under the guidance of Prof. Belova and Dr. Kaspina. 

Heads of the Field School:

Prof. Olga Belova, Moscow

Marina Bruk, St. Petersburg

Dr. Maria Kaspina, Moscow

Dr. Boris Khaimovich, Jerusalem

Dr. Vladimir Levin, Jerusalem

Anna Shayevich, Moscow 

Participants of the Field School:

Svetlana Amosova, St. Petersburg

Michael Beketov, Moscow

Michael Bessmertnyi, Kiev

Kirill Danilchenko, Kiev

Natalia Evseenko, St. Petersburg

Olga Gushcheva, Minsk

Elena Kolomyets, Kiev

Ekaterina Lazareva, Moscow

Alesya Nekrasova, St. Petersburg

Prof. Michael Nosonovsky, Milwaukee, WI

Alexandra Pavlova, St. Petersburg

Anna Tokhtasyeva, St. Petersburg

Michael Vasilyev, Moscow

Natalia Vasilyeva, St. Petersburg

Ilya Yuzefovich, Moscow

Site collections: 

Summer 2009

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General Information

The project Jewish History in Galicia and Bukovina is designed to preserve the once vivid world of Galician and Bukovinian Jewry.

Our goal is to save historical documents and vestiges of Jewish material culture in Galicia and Bukovina before these historical records and objects disappear.

We intend to make them available to the wider public as well as to the growing community of researchers worldwide through this website.

 This site lets you:

  1. Discover the great heritage for the Jewish communities of Galicia and Bukovina (in Ukrain);
  2. Explore through gathered bibliography, documents, photos, notable people and more;
  3. Learn about our activities of the going-on project and studies of these once great cultures.   More

Organizations

With the development of various ideological movements among the Jews of Galicia and Bukovina in the second half of the 19th century, modern political, communal and educational organizations were established alongside the traditional Jewish charities and religious associations (havarot). These voluntarily organizations mirrored the unique social, economic and religious makeup of every community.  These organizations took part in all areas of everyday Jewish life: welfare, employment, education, and religious and cultural life. Some of the organizations were an integral part of the regional activity of social and political movements such as the Haskala (Jewish enlightenment), the Zionist movement, Yiddishism and the socialist movement.

 

 

Search Organizations

You can search this database by the name of organizations, community and type of organization. The title of each organization describes the name and location of the organization. For example: Gmilut Hasadim in Tarnopol.

Newer articles are displayed first; you may sort by the title, as well.

Name Type Activity start year Activity end year Community
Achva (Brotherhood) in Lysiec Cultural Association
1933
Agudat Israel Cultural Association
Ahavat Zion in Tarnow Zionist Association
1896
Tarnow
Baron Hirsch School in Solotvin School
1894
1914
Ezra (Help) Welfare Association
Ezrat Israel in Bohorodczany Zionist Association
1896
Bohorodchany (Brotchin)
Gamkha Traditional Hevra Tarnopol
Gmilut Hasadim in Bohorodczany Welfare Association
1929
Bohorodchany (Brotchin)

Galleries

This section offers photographs taken in recent years as well as historical pictures, photographs and other artistic materials of the Jewish cemeteries, synagogues, old Jewish houses and Jewish life  in Galicia and Bukovina. You can also view photographs of our different activities and personal collections.

If you have photographs of Jewish life in Galicia and Bukovina we will be happy to add them to the website.

To send us the photographs click here.     

Below are displayed the 10 last pictures loaded to the website 

Personal collections

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Specific communities

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Activities gallery

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Art gallery