LANCUT (Pol. Łańcut), town in Rzeszow province, S.E. Poland. The earliest information regarding Jews in Lancut dates back to 1563. Lancut Jews then earned their living in wholesale trade with the towns of the "province of Russia" by distilling alcohol and brewing beer, as goldsmiths and silversmiths and tailors. At the beginning of the 17th century, Jewish trade in the town and its surroundings suffered serious setbacks. During the Tatar invasion in 1624 many Jews were taken captive. When the forces of Prince Rákoczy of Transylvania attacked in 1657 the Jewish community of Lancut actively participated in the defense of the town.
From the beginning of the 17th century there was an organized Jewish community with a wooden synagogue and a cemetery. On the invitation of the owners of the town, some Sephardi Jewish families settled in Lancut in the 17th century. At the beginning of the 18th century the Jews of Lancut were granted a privilege permitting them to engage in trade (excluding the fur trade) and in crafts (excluding harness making, tanning, and cobbling), to purchase land, and to build houses in the town. In 1726 Jews were allowed to join artisans' guilds (blacksmithing and goldsmithing). At that time a magnificent synagogue in baroque style was erected to replace the wooden synagogue which had been destroyed by fire. The synagogue still stands (during the Nazi occupation and for a few years after World War II it was used as a store, and since the 1960s it has been a museum). The Lancut community was affiliated to the province of Przemysl (see *Councils of the Lands). In 1714 the Jews in Lancut and about 80 surrounding villages paid a poll tax of 1,300 zlotys. The Lancut community minute book, begun in 1730, was preserved until World War II. In the mid-18th century Lancut Jews suffered from the edicts of the bishop of Przemysl, who prohibited the holding of Jewish weddings on Sundays and ordered the closing of Jewish shops on days of Christian processions.
In 1765 there were 829 Jews in the vicinity. Among the community's rabbis were Moses Ẓevi Hirsch Meizlisch (Meisels; 1758–67); Moses b. Yiẓḥak Eisik, grandson of Judah Leib, av bet din of Cracow; Aryeh Leibush, author of Gevurot Aryeh, 1777–1819; *Jacob Isaac Horowitz, HaḤozeh ("the Seer"), lived and worked in Lancut in the late 1790s. Ḥasidism gained influence in the town in the early 19th century. A Juedische Normalschule, founded by Naphtali Herz *Homberg, existed in Lancut at the beginning of Austrian rule (1788–92). During the first half of the 19th century Lancut Jews earned their livelihood in the grain, lumber, and potash trades. Jewish life was disrupted by a fire in 1820 and their economy recovered only many years later, after the opening of the railroad (1848) and the constitutional changes of 1867. In 1865 many of Lancut's 1,200 Jews (about 40% of the population) were flax workers, tanners, goldsmiths, cobblers, and tailors. Eleazar b. Ẓevi Elimelech Shapira, author of Benei Yissakhar, was rabbi of Lancut from 1816 to 1865. In the 1870s Lancut's first group of maskilim was founded. A Hibbat Zion circle was active in the town from the early 1890s. A new Jewish cemetery was dedicated in 1860. The kloyz (klaus) of the Dzików Ḥasidim was built at the beginning of the 20th century; it was later used as a prayer house by Zionists. The Jewish population of Lancut numbered 1,940 in 1900 (about 40% of the total population). In 1914, 580 members paid taxes to the community, whose income that year totaled 29,851 kronen. At the end of World War I a Jewish national board was established in Lancut, and during the first days of Polish rule (November 1918) the community organized *self-defense against rioters. In 1921 there were 1,925 Jews in Lancut (about 42% of the total population), and 2,753 in 1939. Various Zionist movements were active between the world wars. The Jewish educational network was extended and *Tarbut and *Beth Jacob schools founded. The Ivriyyah Society was active in promoting the study of Hebrew. The pressure of local antisemitic circles increased in the 1930s, affecting Jewish small traders and artisans in particular.
CAHJP, ḤM 7095–7101 (krakow, WAP, Teki Schneidera, 1791–97); ibid., ḤM 7921 ABC (Wroclaw, Ossolineum, Rps 2264/II); I. Lewin, "Protokoly Kahalne… w Małopolsce środkowej," in: Przewodnik historyczno-prawny, 2:4 (1931), 4; idem, Przyczynki do dziejów i historji literatury Żydów w Polsce (1935), 70–72; M. Schorr, Żydzi w Przemyślu do końca XVIII wieku (1903), 197 no. 116; S. Cetnarski, Miasto Lłańcut (1937); Z. Schust, Lłańcut i okolice (1958); M. Brandys, in: Nowa Kultura, nos. 14–15 (1948); A. Potocki, Master of Lancut:… Memoirs (1959); M. Walzer and N. Kudisch (eds.), Lanẓut, Ḥayyeha ve-Hurbanah… (1963).
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.