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Drogobych

DROGOBYCH (Pol. Drohobycz), city in Ukraine, formerly in Poland and Austria. Information about individual Jewish contractors of the salt mines in Drogobych dates from the beginning of the 15th century. Some of them settled in the city, eventually forming a small community (kehillah). In 1578, however, Drohobych obtained the privilege de non tolerandis Judaeis authorizing the exclusion of Jews from its precincts. Although a number of Jews were subsequently found living in the vicinity, their settlement was not permanent until the end of the 17th century, enabled by royal patronage. All commerce and crafts were then concentrated in Jewish hands. Jewish guilds were formed and the records evidence the friction that existed between them and the Christian guilds of the city, as also between the citizens of Drogobych and the Jewish inhabitants. The Drohobych kehillah was represented on the provincial council of *Rzeszow (see *Councils of the Lands). In the middle of the 18th century a wealthy, despotic farmer of the taxes and customs revenues, Zalman b. Ze'ev (Wolfowicz), seized control of communal affairs. He appointed his son-in-law rabbi, and for his ruthless treatment of both Jews and non-Jews he was finally denounced to the authorities; in 1755 he was arrested, tried, and condemned to death, but as generous assistance was contributed by his coreligionists the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. He subsequently adopted Christianity and died a member of the Carmelite order in 1757.

After Drogobych passed to Austria in 1772, economic oppression, heavy taxation, and government interference in communal affairs had an adverse effect on the Jewish position. It improved in the 19th century, however, especially with the exploitation of the mineral resources of Drogobych; the salt industry was also a Jewish enterprise. The first attempts to prospect for oil and its extraction were made in Drogobych by a Jew, Hecker, in 1810, and in 1858–59 a refinery was constructed by A. Schreiner in nearby *Borislav at the same time as the industry was developed in the United States. Drogobych Jews took a prominent part in oil extraction and refining, and its export was mainly in Jewish hands. Many families made fortunes in this sector. The takeover of the smaller companies by big enterprises at the end of the 19th century, however, badly hit the Jewish concerns, and the economic position of the community began to deteriorate. After World War I it became impoverished. *Ḥasidism and the *Haskalah movement spread to Drogobych at the end of the 18th century. A German biweekly printed in Hebrew characters, the Drohobitzer Zeitung, was published between 1883 and World War I, and brought out several Hebrew supplements entitled Ẓiyyon (1886–87, 1897). Toward the end of Hapsburg rule the constituency of Drogobych was represented in the Austrian parliament by a Jewish deputy, an assimilationist with sympathies for Poland, who had the backing of the authorities. He was opposed by a Zionist-supported Jewish national candidate in 1911. The authorities were accused of ballot-fixing during the elections, and the army was called out to disperse a demonstration. Shots were fired into the crowd. Thirteen Jews were killed and many injured. Drogobych remained the center of the Galician *kolel from the 1890s until the Holocaust. Ḥayyim Shapira, the last ẓaddik in Drogobych, was the first of the ḥasidic ẓaddikim to join officially the Zionist movement. He went to Ereẓ Israel in 1922. The Jewish population of Drogobych totaled 1,924 in 1765, 2,492 in 1812, 8,055 in 1865, 8,683 in 1900, and 11,833 (about 44% of the total population) in 1921.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

N.M. Gelber (ed.), Sefer Zikkaron le-Drohobich, Boryslav ve-Hasevivah (1959); M. Balaban, Z historji Żydów w Polsce (1920), 129–46.