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Buchach, Ukraine

BUCHACH (Pol. Buczacz), city in Tarnopol district, Ukraine (until 1939 in Poland). A Jewish settlement there is mentioned in 1572; the earliest Jewish tombstone dates from 1633. In 1672 the town was burned down by the Turks, who killed most of the inhabitants. In 1699 the overlord of the town, Stephan Potocki, renewed privileges previously granted to Buchach Jewry, according to which Jews were not subject to the jurisdiction of the Christian courts; disputes between Jews and Christians were heard by an official appointed by the lord of the town, and inter-Jewish suits by the bet din. Jews were free to own and build houses and to trade or engage in crafts, including distilling of brandy and barley beer. In 1765 there were 1,055 Jews living in Buchach and a further 300 in neighboring settlements within the bounds of the Jewish community of Buchach. Jewish economic activities expanded under Austrian rule (see *Galicia ), particularly after the grant of equal civic rights in 1867. In the period preceding 1914, most of the large estates in the neighborhood of Buchach were Jewish owned or leased from the Polish nobility. Distilling and commerce remained major Jewish occupations. Between 1867 and 1906 Buchach, Kolomyya, and Sniatyn were combined to form a single constituency and a Jewish deputy was elected to the Austrian imperial parliament. At the beginning of the 20th century, there were approximately 7,000 Jews living in Buchach. During World War I most of the Jewish inhabitants left but many returned later.

Among notable rabbis of Buchach were Ẓevi Kara (18th–19th centuries), author of Neta Sha'ashu'im; his son-in-law Abraham David b. Asher *Wahrmann , the "holy" Ḥasid (d. 1841), author of Da'at Kedoshim (on the laws of ritual slaughter and dietary laws); Abraham Te'omim, author of the responsa Ḥesed le-Avraham; and Samuel Shtark, author of Minḥat Oni. The Orientalist David Heinrich *Mueller was also from Buchach. Among the writers of the *Haskalah movement before 1914, the best known is Isaac *Fernhof . A Yiddish weekly Der Yidisher Veker was published at the beginning of the 20th century, edited by Eliezer *Rokeah of Safed. A large printing press was established in 1907. Descriptions of Jewish life in Buchach are given in the tales of S.Y. *Agnon , the Nobel prizewinning author, who was born there.

[Abraham J. Brawer]

Holocaust Period

On the eve of the Nazi invasion about 10,000 Jews lived in Buchach (1941). Under Soviet rule (1939–41), Jewish community life suffered and its institutions ceased functioning. All independent political activity was forbidden. Private enterprise was suppressed and the few privately owned stores that remained were subjected to heavy taxes in order to bring about their liquidation. Officially, religious life was not repressed, but synagogues were obliged to pay heavy taxes. The Hebrew education system was disbanded and in its place a Yiddish language school was set up. When war broke out between Germany and the U.S.S.R. (June 22, 1941), Jews were drafted into the Soviet Army. Groups of young Jews also fled to the Russian interior. The Germans invaded Buchach on July 7, 1941. The Ukrainians immediately began murdering and looting the local Jews. On July 28, 350 Jews were killed on Fedor Hill, about a mile (2 km.) from the town. A *Judenrat was set up, headed by Mendel Reich, the head of the former Jewish community organization until its dissolution in September 1939. Jewish refugees began arriving from Hungary and were extended aid by the Judenrat and local community. Young, able-bodied Jews were taken off for forced labor in camps at Velikiye Borki. On Oct. 17, 1942, the Germans carried out a massive Aktion in which over 1,500 Jews were rounded up and sent to *Belzec death camp. Over 300 Jews were murdered during the Aktion. On Nov. 27, 1942, a second transport with 2,500 Jews was dispatched to Belzec, while about 250 persons were shot in the roundup. On Feb. 1–2, 1943, close to 2,000 Jews were murdered at Fedor Hill on the contention that they were infected with typhus. A labor camp was then set up in a suburb, Podkajecka, for skilled craftsmen. In March–April, over 3,000 Jews were also murdered at Fedor Hill, while other groups were shipped to *Chortkov , Kopiczynce, and Tlusta.


A Jewish resistance movement was organized in Buchach at the end of 1942. Arms were obtained and training was given in preparation for a break for the forests. In mid-June 1943 the Germans liquidated the ghetto and labor camp, but met with resistance. Some Jews managed to escape to the forests while others were murdered near the Jewish cemetery. Armed Jewish bands were active in the vicinity, notably attacking Nazi collaborators. On March 23, 1944, when the city was captured by Soviet forces, about 800 Jews came out of hiding and returned from the forests. However, the German Army again took over, and additional Jews fell victim. On July 21, 1944, when Soviet forces definitively entered the city, there were less than 100 Jewish survivors. About 400 Jews returned from the U.S.S.R. After the war most of them emigrated from Buchach to settle in the West or in Israel. The community was not reestablished after the war.

[Aharon Weiss]


I. Cohen (ed.), Sefer Buchach (1957). ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: S.Y.Agnon, Ir u-Melo'ah (1973).

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