HALICZ (Heb. הֶעֶלִיץ, Helicz, Halic, Helic), family of printers in Cracow in the 16th century. Three brothers, Samuel, Asher, and Elyakim, sons of Ḥayyim Halicz, established Poland's first Jewish press there in about 1530. Their name indicates that the family originally came from the small town of Halicz on the Dniester in eastern Galicia. Their type and page arrangements show they learned their craft (and probably obtained type and equipment) in Prague. It is likely that they left Prague because a royal order of 1527 designated Gershom Kohen as Bohemia's sole Hebrew printer; all other Hebrew print shops closed, and the brothers probably could find no further work there. The decorative borders for their opening pages were certainly brought by them from Prague. Three works listed by *Zunz as being from Cracow in 1530 were probably the earliest products of their press. These were a Pentateuch; Tur, Yoreh De'ah; and a Passover Haggadah (all otherwise unknown). Their earliest surviving works, both dating from 1534, were Issur ve-Hetter by R. Isaac Dueren and Mirkevet ha-Mishneh, a Hebrew-Yiddish Bible dictionary by a R. Anshel. Yet evidently they did not prosper, and Asher dropped out.
In 1535 Samuel and Elyakim produced R. David Cohen's Azharot Nashim in Yiddish, a work dealing with religious laws for women. Then Elyakim alone issued a Yiddish version of Asher b. Jehiel's Oraḥ Ḥayyim. Samuel spent 1536 in Oels, Silesia, where he and his brother-in-law printed a book of Tefillot mi-Kol ha-Shanah (Prayers for All Year) in large type. However, his books and equipment were destroyed in a fire and he returned to Cracow.
It was probably economic misery or possibly excessive pressure from the Polish church that made the three undergo baptism in 1537; they became Andreas (Samuel), Johannes (Elyakim), and Paul (Asher; or perhaps Asher became Andreas, and Samuel was Paul). Repelled by their act, the Jews boycotted them and would not even pay their debts. At the brothers' plea, King Sigismund I issued a decree dated March 28, 1537, commanding that Poland's Jews might buy only their books; no others were to print or sell Jewish works, and none might be brought in from other countries, on pain of a stiff fine. Yet, under tacit excommunication by the Jews, their plight only worsened. Believing, though, that the royal decree must improve matters, Johannes resumed printing in 1538–39, issuing mainly books for popular use.
Through their bishop, the desperate Halicz brothers sought and obtained a new royal decree on December 31, 1539, ordering the Jews of Cracow and Posen to buy their entire stock of some 3,350 volumes, valued at 1,600 florins. Pleading poverty, the two Jewish communities had their coreligionists in Lemberg (Lvov) included in the order. The complete stock of books was paid for in three years and destroyed. The Halicz firm went out of existence. In 1540 Johannes began printing Latin and Polish theological works. Paul, who became a Catholic missionary among the Polish Jews, printed a New Testament (Cracow, 1540–41), in a Judeo-German transcription of Luther's translation. He also produced Elemental oder Lesebuechlein (Hundsfeld, 1543), an instruction book in Hebrew for gentiles. Lukasz Halicz, a printer in Posen (1578–93), was apparently his son. Samuel returned to Judaism. After working as a bookbinder in Breslau, he went to Constantinople (c. 1550) and resumed Hebrew printing. He subsequently printed the Scriptures (1551–52; repenting of his conversion in the colophon); the "Story of Judith" (1552–53); and R. Isaac Dueren's Issur ve-Hetter, retitled Sha'arei Dura (1553). In 1561–62, when Samuel was no longer living, the name of Ḥayyim b. Samuel Ashkenazi, apparently his son, appears as the printer of the responsa of R. Joseph ibn Lev in part 2.
M. Balaban, in: Soncino-Blaetter, 3 (1929/30), 1–9, 36–44; idem, Yidn in Polyn (1930), 183–95; Ḥ.D. Friedberg, Toledot ha-Defus ha-Ivri be-Polanyah (1950), 1–4; A.M. Habermann, in: KS, 33 (1957/58), 509–20; B. Schlossberg, in: Yivo Bletter, 13 (1938), 313–24.
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.