TOMASZOW LUBELSKI, town in Lublin province, E. Poland; from 1772 to 1809 under Austria, and from 1815 within Congress Poland. An organized Jewish community existed in Tomaszow Lubelski from the 1630s, but it was almost entirely annihilated in the *Chmielnicki massacres of 1648. The community was reorganized in the late 1650s. Its members earned their livelihood from trade in agricultural produce, the fur trade, tailoring, and inn keeping. The parnas of the community, Jacob Levi Safra, was its delegate at the Council of Four Lands (see *Councils of Lands) in 1667. In the 1670s the rabbi of the town was Isaac Shapira; he was succeeded by Judah b. Nisan. R. Phinehas bar Meir of Tomaszow was martyred in Lublin in 1677. There were 806 Jews in the town and its surroundings who paid the poll-tax in 1765. From the beginning of the 19th century the community was increasingly influenced by Ḥasidism. The Jewish population numbered 1,156 (43% of the total) in 1827; 2,090 (57%) in 1857; and 3,646 (59%) in 1897. At the close of the 19th century the Jews of Tomaszow Lubelski, among whom were many laborers, engaged in the operation of flour-mills, processing wood, weaving, tailoring, baking, and tanning. Between the two world wars, the Jewish population increased from 4,643 (65%) in 1921 to 5,669 in 1931. A library and Jewish sports club were established; branches of all the Jewish parties were active.
On the outbreak of World War II there were about 6,000 Jews in Tomaszow. On Sept. 6, 1939, the Jewish quarter suffered heavy German bombardment. The local synagogue was burned down, and about 500 houses inhabited by Jews were destroyed. The German army entered Tomaszow on Sept. 13, 1939, but withdrew within two weeks, and the Soviet army entered, only to return the town to the Germans after a few days. Many Jews (over 75%) seized the opportunity of leaving the town with the withdrawing Soviet army, and only 1,500 remained when the Germans returned. On Feb. 25, 1942, most of them were deported to the forced-labor camp in Cieszanow, where almost all died. Many Jews fled into the surrounding forests and attempted to hide there. A group of young Jews under Mendel Heler and Meir Kalichmacher organized a Jewish partisan unit, which fought the Germans for some time, but was betrayed by local Poles and annihilated.
Halpern, Pinkas, index; B. Wasiutyński, Ludność żydowska w Polsce w wiekach XIX i XX (1930), 11, 16, 33, 60, 71; S. Bronsztejn, Ludność żydowska w Polsce w okresie miedzywojennym (1963), 278; M. Weinreich, Shturmvint (1927), 176–80: Tomashover Yisker Bukh (1965).
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.