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Virtual Jewish World: Jaroslaw, Poland

JAROSLAW (Pol. Jarosław), town in Rzeszow province, S.E. Poland, on the San River. Jaroslaw's development was based on the great fairs held in the 16th and 17th centuries three times yearly. The main one took place toward the fall, and Jewish traders took a prominent part. In business such as the sale of oxen, for which Jaroslaw was a market center, Jews were the main dealers. The fairs were the origin of Jaroslaw's importance in the history of Polish Jewry. They were also, to a certain extent, the origin of the unique organizational character of its Jewish intercommunal institutions. Jewish communal leaders undertook to supervise the security of Jewish merchants visiting Jaroslaw. Jewish judges for the fair (dayyanei ha-yarid) were appointed as was customary among Christians; and a special procedure for them was introduced. A toll was levied on each trader or wagon to defray the expenses entailed. The *Council of the Lands of Poland frequently convened at the fall fair. A temporary congregation was formed by the Jewish visitors attending the fair. One scholar described the arrangements: "It happened that we were in the city of Jaroslaw at the fair of 1608, where it was a regular custom, as at every fair, that a place was set aside as a synagogue to pray there every day. And also on the Sabbath the scholars and heads of yeshivot and leaders of the lands and many people gathered to read in the Torah as is customary in the communities. And since the town is near the congregation of Przemysl … they convey from there the Torah scroll belonging to the congregation of Przemysl" (Responsa of R. Meir of Lublin, no. 84). Few Jews were able to settle permanently in Jaroslaw after the middle of the 15th century because of the opposition of the burghers, but a settlement gradually developed during the 17th century, while the fair diminished in importance. The first local synagogue was established in the 1640s, and a synagogue of the (Four) Lands is mentioned as existing therein those years; in the synagogue of the (Four) Lands the Council's decrees of excommunication and announcements were made public. The cemetery was established in 1699. A *blood libel in 1737 led to the suicide of one of the victims subjected to torture; others were cruelly put to death. In 1738 there were approximately 100 Jewish families living in Jaroslaw. In 1813 the Jewish population numbered 2,355 (out of a total of 9,007), and in 1921, 6,577 (out of 19,973). A number of the rabbis of Jaroslaw won recognition for their learning.

[Israel Halperin]

Holocaust Period

The city was captured by the Germans on Sept. 10, 1939. Their first anti-Jewish act was to set the synagogue aflame. On Sept. 12, 1939, the Germans imposed a fine. To insure the execution of this order, some communal workers were arrested, including the prewar head of the community Mendel Reich, whose fate remains unknown. On Sept. 28, 1939, the Germans ordered the population to assemble in the Sokol sports field. Some 7,000 persons assembled and were deported across the San River to Soviet-occupied territory. At the time of deportation, the Jews had to hand over all items of value and all their belongings were stolen. On the Soviet side, their fate was that of other Jewish refugees from western Poland. They suffered from lack of proper housing conditions, difficulties in finding work, and administrative restrictions. In the summer of 1940 many were exiled into the Soviet interior. Several hundred of those exiled to Russia survived, while those in east Poland were killed by the Germans during the German-Soviet War, in the years 1941–44. The community was not reconstituted after World War II.

[Aharon Weiss]


Halpern, Pinkas, index; M. Steinberg, Żydzi w Jarosławiu od czasów najdawniejszych do połowy XIX wieku (1933); idem, Gmina żydowska w Jarosławiu od jej powstania … (1937); W.A. Wagner, Handel Jarosławia do połowy XVII wieku (1929); Z. Horowitz, in: Otsar ha-Hayyim, 5 (1929), 203–8; N. Weinryb, in: Khrev, 12 (1957), 154–9.

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