KAMENETS-PODOLSKI


KAMENETS-PODOLSKI, city in Khmelnitski district (until the 1950s district capital), in Ukraine; under the rule of Lithuania from the 14th century, and after the union with Poland (1569) under Poland-Lithuania (but for the short though important and formative interval of Ottoman rule there, 1672–99); it passed to Russia in 1795, and from then until the 1917 Revolution was capital of the province of Podolia. For a long time the municipality of Kamenets-Podolski prevented attempts of Jews to settle in this important trading and communications center in southeast Poland-Lithuania. In 1447 Jews were prohibited from staying there for more than three days. In 1598 King Sigismund III prohibited Jews from settling in the city and suburbs and from engaging in trade there; their visits were again restricted to three days only. During the *Chmielnicki uprising, many Jews sought refuge in the fortified city which withstood attacks by the Cossacks in 1648 and 1652. Subsequently King John II Casimir permitted Jews to reside there, and they apparently continued to live in Kamenets-Podolski despite repeated prohibitions in 1654, 1665, and 1670. Under Ottoman rule Jewish settlement was permitted and grew to a considerable size.

After the city's return to Poland in 1699, the Christian citizens resumed their opposition to Jewish settlement. In 1737 the city council submitted a request to the state and Church authorities to banish the Jews from the city, maintaining that they had no right to settle there, and were competing with the Christian inhabitants and impoverishing them. King Augustus III expelled the Jews from Kamenets-Podolski in 1750. Their houses passed to the town council and the synagogue was demolished. The expelled Jews settled in the suburbs and in nearby villages, which were under jurisdiction of Polish noblemen, and developed extensive trading activity there which led to additional complaints on the part of the citizens. In 1725 the Council of Four Lands met in Kamenets-Podolski.

In 1757 a public disputation was held by the Church in Kamenets-Podolski – enjoined by the local bishop – between the representatives of Podolian Jewry and Jacob *Frank and his supporters. After it took place the Talmud was publicly burned in the city on the bishop's orders (see *Disputations; *Talmud, Burning of).

After Kamenets-Podolski passed to Russia, Czar Paul I confirmed in 1797 the right of Jews to reside there. At that time 24 Jews belonging to merchant guilds and 1,367 Jewish inhabitants were registered in the tax-assessment books of the city. Two years later, in 1799, 29 merchants and 2,617 Jewish inhabitants were registered. In 1832 the Christians in Kamenets-Podolski petitioned the government to expel the Jews from the city, basing themselves upon their ancient privileges. The petition was rejected but in 1833 the government restricted the right of the Jews to build shops and new houses, or to acquire houses, to two suburbs of the city only in order to prevent them from residing in the city itself. The restriction was rescinded in 1859. The community numbered 4,629 in 1847, 16,211 (40% of the total population) in 1897, and they were busy in small industry, trade, and artisanship. Rabbis who served in the city were Pinkhas of Koretz, David Wahrman, a disciple of R. Levi Isaac from Berdichev, S.Y. Abramovitsh (Mendele Mokher Sforim), and Menakhem Poznanski; the poets Aharon Ashman and Avraham Rosen were active for various periods. In 1910 there were 22,279 Jews. Four private schools and modernized hadarim were operating, and later also two Hebrew schools and a library. All major Jewish parties were active there.

After 1918, during the civil war, the Jews in Kamenets-Podolski suffered severely and 200 Jews were killed there in pogroms by Petlyura's gangs in July 1919. After the establishment of the Soviet regime, many wealthy Jews fled across the frontier and the economy of the Jewish population was ruined. Jewish cultural and communal life was entirely suppressed after a protracted struggle with the *Yevsektsiya. In 1922 ORT opened vocational schools to train Jewish youth in crafts. By 1926 only 12,774 Jews remained (29.9% of the total population), and by 1939 they numbered 13,796. In the 1920s 76 families left to settle in Crimea, and 80 to settle in Birobidzhan. Three Yiddish schools and two teachers' colleges opened there, but only one school was active in 1938.

Holocaust Period

The Germans entered the town on July 11, 1941. A ghetto was established on July 20, and by the end of the month 11,000 Jews were brought in from Hungary as well as from Czechoslovakia and Poland. From August 25 through 28, 23,600 Jews were killed. Laborers with skills, from town and from neighboring settlements, were concentrated in a labor camp within the ghetto. In January 1942, 4,000 were murdered and much later 500 children (aged 4–8) were executed; 2,500 were killed in January 1943 and another 2,000 in February. In 1979 about 1,800 Jews lived in Kamenets-Podolski; most of them left in the 1990s for Israel or the West.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

M. Balaban, Le-Toledot ha-Tenu'ah ha-Frankistit (1934), 137–51; A. Gumener, A Kapitl Ukraine (1921); Kaminits-Podolsk u-Sevivatah (1965).

[Yehuda Slutsky /

Shmuel Spector (2nd ed.)]


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.