Bielsk Podlaski, Poland is a town in N.E. Poland, Bialystok district. Jews are mentioned there in 1487 leasing the local customs house. An organized community existed in Bielsk in the early 16th century and a synagogue was built in 1542. In 1564 a Jewish tax-collector in the town was condemned to death following a blood libel. The Jewish population numbered 94 in 1816 and 298 in 1847. With the coming of the railroad, trade and industry developed and the Jewish population rose to 4,079 in 1897 (54.6% of the total). In 1920 a Jewish school was founded and the Zionist youth organizations began their educational work in the town. Between the world wars the economic condition of the Jews deteriorated as a result of discriminatory government measures and the generally depressed economy
[Shlomo Netzer (2nd ed.)]
In 1921, Bielsk had 2,392 Jews, but under Soviet rule (1939–41) its Jewish population increased to 6,000 when large numbers of refugees arrived from the western parts of Poland occupied by the Germans. In the summer of 1940 a number of refugees were exiled to the Soviet interior. In the spring of 1941 young Jews were drafted into the Soviet Army. When the war broke out between Germany and the U.S.S.R. (June 22, 1941), groups
I. Schipper (ed.), Dzieje handlu żydowskiego na ziemiach polskich (1937), index.
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.