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LVOV (Pol. Lwów; Ger. Lemberg), main city of Lvov district, Ukraine.

The Early Settlements

It is thought that the first Jews in Lvov arrived from Byzantiumand the southeast. After the conquest of the town by Casimir III of Poland (1340), they were joined by Jews from Germany and Bohemia who gave the settlement its Ashkenazi character. At the end of the 14th century, there were two communities in Lvov: the older and larger, the "Holy Congregation Outside of the Walls," founded in 1352; and the second, the "Holy Congregation Within the Walls," situated in the Jews' Street and first mentioned in 1387. Large fires occasionally swept both communities and they were only able to repair their quarters after controversies with the townspeople (this occurred in 1494, 1527, 1571, 1616, etc.). In 1550, 352 Jews lived inside the city walls in 29 houses, while 559 lived in 52 houses outside the town. In the vicinity of this suburban quarter, a *Karaite settlement existed until 1457.

The Jews of Lvov played an important role in trade between the Orient and the West, for which the town was an important transit center. They were equally well represented in the wholesale trade with the interior of the country. They also leased estates, operated brandy distilleries and breweries, acted as customs and tax agents, and loaned money to the nobility and the king. During the second half of the 16th century, the commercial agents of Don Joseph *Nasi were active in Lvov. However, the number of Jews who engaged in international trade and in large concerns was very limited and the majority earned their livelihood as shopkeepers, peddlers, and craftsmen. The rights of the Jews of Lvov were based on letters patent granted by the kings of Poland. They were in constant conflict with the townsmen over their rights to trade, especially in the retail branch, and to engage in crafts. Fortunately the royal decrees issued as a result of pressure from the townsmen were rarely absolute and the nobility often succeeded in having them amended. In 1493 King John Albert restricted the Jews to two branches of the wholesale trade: *textiles and *livestock. In 1503 and 1506 King Alexander Jagellon granted the Jews freedom to trade at the markets and fairs as well as the right to benefit from the reductions accorded to other citizens. King Sigismund I restricted Jewish trade (1521), then accorded unlimited trading rights (1527), and finally revoked the permit (in the same year). This uncertain state of affairs continued throughout the whole period. Temporary compromise agreements on the question of trading rights were concluded between the municipality and the Jews in 1581, 1592, and 1602. The renewal of these agreements and the determination of their exact contents were usually accompanied by protests from the townsmen. The Jewish craftsmen were also under constant pressure from Christian artisans.

The Community and its Institutions

The two congregations of Lvov maintained separate synagogues, mikva'ot, and charitable institutions. They shared the cemetery (first mentioned in 1411), and the Karaites were also buried there. From 1600 to 1606 there was a violent conflict between the Jews and the Jesuits over the synagogue which had been constructed (in late Gothic style, after the plan of an Italian architect) by the philanthropist Isaac b. Naḥman (founder of the famous *Nachmanovich family) in 1582. The Jesuits claimed that the land on which the synagogue was constructed was their property. The Jews were victorious and the synagogue, which was named the Taz (or "Di Gildene Roiz" after one of the daughters of the Nachmanovich family who died mysteriously), remained standing until the Holocaust. Lvov was the center of "Red Russia" (Galicia, i.e., Western Ukraine) and Podolia-Bratslav region, and its community leaders represented the whole region at the *Councils of the Lands. By the electoral system of the community, a limited number of the wealthy descendants of noble families were assured of long periods in office.

From 1684 to 1772

In the *Chmielnicki massacres of 1648–49 and the successive wars of the second half of the 17th and early 18th century, the Jews of Lvov, especially those who lived outside the town, suffered great losses in life and property. Their houses were at the mercy of the enemy and they were compelled to seek refuge within the town. Generally the Jews played an active part in the defense of the town. During Chmielnicki's siege in 1648 and the Russian siege of 1655, the attackers demanded that the Jews be delivered into their hands. Meeting with the refusal of the townsmen, they settled for a large ransom. During the whole of this period, the townsmen's struggle against the control of trades and crafts by the Jews continued. The latter's efforts to expand their quarter came under special attack. The Jewish quarter consisted of only 49 building lots and the houses built on them were too small to accommodate the established inhabitants and the refugees from many wars. All the efforts of the townsmen to confine the Jews to their quarter and to restrict their trade were in vain, for the nobles usually supported the Jews. At this time the Jews also opened shops in the center of town. During this period, war damages, ransom payments, the costs of court cases, the necessity to rebuild damaged houses, and the decline of Lvov in favor of other commercial centers brought about severe economic crises. In 1727 the community owed the municipality 438,410 zlotys, while in 1765 their debts to the noblemen, the clergy, and the religious orders amounted to 381,999 zlotys, and those to the municipality to 820,409 zlotys. Although direct and indirect communal taxes were raised the community was unable to become solvent. According to the census of 1764/65, 6,142 Jews lived in Lvov – over two-thirds of them outside the town walls – and only 57 of the 3,060 men were self-supporting.

When Shabbateanism began to spread in Poland, David Halevi (d. 1667), av bet din of the congregation outside the walls, sent his son and stepson to *Shabbetai Ẓevi; they returned his enthusiastic supporters. After Shabbetai Ẓevi's apostasy, his adherents in Lvov were excommunicated (1722). In 1754 Leib Krisse (Kriss), right-hand man of the pseudomessiah Jacob *Frank, came to Lvov to propagate the Frankist message. Frank himself arrived in the town in December of 1755, but he was compelled to leave. A disputation with the Frankists was held in 1759. The spokesman for the Jews was R. Ḥayyim Kohen Rapoport, av bet din of the town and region.

During the 18th century, the importance of the Lvov community declined and its authority was reduced. The limits of the provincial council's authority were also restricted after the annexation of Podolia to Turkey (1772). In Galicia itself, the expansion of the surrounding communities (Zholkva, Brody) further limited the authority of the Lvov community. At the meeting of the provincial council in 1720, it was declared that "we, the men of the province, have no further portion or inheritance in the holy congregation of Lvov and the rabbi who will be nominated by it." At the meeting of the council in Berezhany in 1740 the rabbinate of the province was divided into two regions and the av bet din of Lvov held office in only one of them. Conflicts within the community over the distribution of taxes, the election of rabbis, and other affairs resulted in the intervention of the secular authorities to a greater degree than in the past. Menahem Simhah Emmanuel de Jonah (d. 1702), a member of a large family of physicians and himself court physician to King John III Sobieski, was highly influential during the second half of the 17th century. He was the "nesi Ereẓ Israel" (the chief treasurer of the funds for Ereẓ Israel collected in Poland), a parnas of the Councils of the Lands, and the holder of many public offices.

From 1772 to 1914

The Jewish population of Lvov rose from 18,302 in 1800 to 26,694 in 1869, and 57,000 (28% of the total population) in 1910. According to the 1820 census, 55% of the Jews engaged in commerce (the majority as shopkeepers and retail traders) and 24% in crafts. The 745 Jewish craftsmen included 249 tailors, 133 furriers, 51 bakers, and 34 goldsmiths. The Jews of Lvov controlled the wholesale trade between Russia and Vienna. Some were army purveyors, or wholesale dealers in tobacco, cereals, and salt; others owned flour mills; and Jews pioneered industry and banking in the town. Lvov Jewry suffered as a result of the economic crisis in Galicia during the 19th century. After 1772 the townsmen's struggle to restrict Jewish rights of residence and trade was supported by the Austrian authorities. From the beginning of the 19th century only the wealthy and educated merchants who had adopted the German way of life were authorized to live outside the Jewish quarter. In 1848 the Jews were allowed to participate in the elections to the municipal council, but their representation was limited to 15% and later to 20%. In spite of the religious equality granted in the Austrian Empire in 1849, the municipality continued to evict the Jews from the retail trade, and the Christian artisans' guilds struggled against Jewish artisans. The prohibition on acquiring real estate was abolished in 1860, and after the *Sejm of Galicia had revoked all discrimination against Jews the municipality of Lvov was compelled to annul those restrictions opposed to the Austrian constitution of 1867. Intensified antisemitic tendencies then prevalent among the Poles and Ukrainians of Lvov and the vicinity were partly caused by the assimilation of the upper strata of the Jews to the ruling German culture.


Ḥasidism made headway in Lvov at the end of the 18th century, and although no ẓaddikim settled there they occasionally visited the town. In 1792 and in 1798 there were open clashes between Ḥasidim and their opponents. During the 1820s, a ḥasidic shtibl was founded and in 1838 there were seven such prayer rooms. As the *Haskalah movement penetrated Lvov, an anonymous ḥerem was proclaimed in 1816 against a group of maskilim and especially against Solomon Judah *Rapoport, Benjamin Ẓevi Nutkis, and Judah Leib Pastor; it was only as a result of pressure from the authorities that it was rescinded by the avbet din, Jacob Meshullam Orenstein. During the 1830s a violent dispute broke out over the question of a change in the traditional Jewish dress. In 1844 a Reform Temple was opened and Abraham Kohen of Hohenems, Austria, was appointed as preacher. He was also made director of the German-Jewish school opened during the same year. The Orthodox were vigorously opposed to him and their opposition gained momentum after the authorities confirmed him as rabbi of the province in 1847. A year later he and his family were poisoned and Orthodox fanatics were accused of having committed the crime.

The assimilationist intelligentsia circles of Lvov identified themselves with German culture, and in 1868 the *Shomer Israel organization was formed, with its ideological organ, Israelit. The movement was opposed by the Doresh Shalom society, founded in 1878 and disbanded a short while later, and after it by the *Aguddat Aḥim (1883), which called for assimilation into Polish culture. Its organ was the Ojczyzna ("Fatherland"). Toward the end of the century, the move toward Polish assimilation gained in strength and the Jewish representatives from Lvov in the Austrian parliament joined the Polish camp. During the 1870s Orthodox circles organized themselves within the framework of the *Maḥzike Hadas, in which the Ḥasidim were predominant. Lvov was the home of Hertz *Homberg. Within the framework of his educational activities, four schools for boys, three for girls, and a teachers' seminary headed by Aaron Friedenthal were founded there. All were closed down with the liquidation of Homberg's educational network in Galicia in 1806. Jewish children, however, began to attend general schools. Legal restrictions against the attendance of Jews in secondary schools and universities were removed in 1846. There were then many Jews in the liberal professions, including distinguished lawyers and physicians. From the emancipation period, there were numerous cases of apostasy in Lvov. Between 1868 and 1907, 713 Jews abandoned their faith, while 86 Christians were converted to Judaism. In 1874 there were 69 registered ḥadarim in the city and the first "reformed ḥeder" (ḥeder metukkan), in which 381 pupils studied, was founded in 1885. An institute for religious studies opened in 1910.

During the Austrian period the two congregations in Lvov merged into a single community, which from the 1830s was led by moderate assimilationists. These included Immanuel *Blumenfeld, Meir Jerahmeel Mieses, and Emil *Byk. Rabbis who held office in this community were Joseph Saul Nathanson, Ẓevi Hirsch Orenstein, Isaac Aaron Ettinger (see *Ettinger Family), Isaac *Schmelkes, and Aryeh Leib Braude. The preachers at the temple were Dr. S.A. *Schwabacher, Dr. Y.B. Lewinstein, Dr. Ezekiel Caro (who in 1909 was confirmed as rabbi of the community together with R. Isaac Schmelkes), and Dr. S. Gutmann. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the power of the assimilationists declined and nationalist-Zionist influence began to be felt. The first Zionist societies, Mikra Kodesh and Zion, were formed in 1883 and 1888. They formed the nucleus of the all-Galician Zionist organization. Periodicals and newspapers were published: Przyszlość, Wschód, Ha-Karmel, Der Veker, and Togblat. Activists in the Zionist societies included Reuben Birer, Joseph Kobak, David Schreiber, Abraham and Jacob Kokas, and Adolph *Stand. The first moves were made toward a Jewish workers' movement and artisans' unions, while some joined the P.P.S., the Polish workers' movement; the representative of this group was Herman *Diamand.

From 1914 to 1939

With the outbreak of World War I, thousands of refugees arrived in Lvov from the regions bordering on Russia. The entry of the Russian army into the city in August 1914 was accompanied by robbery and looting, the closure of Jewish institutions, and the taking of hostages. With the return of the Austrians in June 1915, Jewish life was resumed, assistance to the refugees was organized, and the public institutions functioned once more. In November 1918, when the Poles and the Ukrainians fought for control of eastern Galicia, pogroms broke out in Lvov; 70 Jews lost their lives and many were wounded. It was then, when the German, Polish, and Ukrainian nationalistic cultures were in conflict, that the inherent risks of assimilation were made manifest to the Jews.

During the period of independent Poland (1918–39), the community of Lvov was the third largest in Poland and one of its most important centers. From 99,595 in 1910 the number of Jews increased to 109,500 (33% of the total population) in 1939. In the struggle between the Poles and the Ukrainians, each side accused the Jews of supporting the other. The rise of antisemitism and the severe economic situation were reflected in every sphere of Jewish life. The economic crisis was also illustrated by the reduction in community taxes: from 497,429 zlotys in 1929 to 310,481 zlotys in 1933. During this period, Lvov had three Jewish secondary schools with instruction in Polish; a Hebrew college for advanced studies in Judaism (founded in 1920), first directed by Moses *Schorr; a nationalist-religious school, Ma-Ta-T (Mi-Ẓiyyon Teẓe Torah); a vocational school; many ḥadarim; and a talmud torah. There were many Ashkenazi synagogues and ḥasidic prayer rooms. The newspapers Chwila ("The Moment"), Lemberger Togblat, and Opinia were published. The community was governed by assimilationists in coalition with the Orthodox, while for the greater part of this period the Zionists formed the opposition. In national politics, the Lvov members of the Polish parliament adopted a moderate line. They opposed the minorities bloc and were among the initiators of the *Ugoda (see also O. Thon and H. Rosmaryn), the agreement with the Polish government (1925). The Orthodox, especially the Ḥasidim of Belz, as well as the rich Jews, supported the government majority list.


J. Caro, Geschichte der Juden in Lemberg (1894); S. Buber, Anshei Shem (1895, repr. 1968); Dubnow, Hist Russ, index, S.V. Lemberg; S. An-ski, Ḥurban ha-Yahadut be-Polin u-Bukovina (1929), 119–28, 183–203, and passim; Lwów, Żydowska gmina wyznaniowa (1928); M. Balaban, Żydzi-Iwowscy na przełomie 16 i 17 wieków (1906); idem, in: Studja lwowskie (1932), 41–65; idem, Geshikhte fun Lemberger Progresivn Templ (1937); Neiwelt, in: Pinkes Galitsye 1925–45 (1945), 117–26 and passim; Yaari, in: KS, 17 (1939/40), 95–108; 21 (1945), 299–300; L. Chasanovich (ed.), Les Pogromes anti-juifs en Pologne et en Galicie (1919), 47–73; Karl, in: I.L. Fishman (ed.), Arim ve-Immahot be-Yisrael, 1 (1946), 290–344 (incl. bibl.); J. Tenenbaum, Galitsye Mayn Alte Heym (1952), index; Thon, in: Pirkei Galiẓyah (1957), 343–85; N.M. Gelber (ed.), EG, 1 (1956), incl. bibl.; idem, Toledot ha-Tenu'ah ha-Ẓiyyonit be-Galiẓyah, 18751918 (1958), index; Ḥ.N. Dembitzer, Kelilat Yofi (1960), 1–156. PRINTING: Bałaban, in: Soncino-Blaetter, 3 (1929/30), 17–21; A. Yaari, in: KS, 17 (1939/40), 95ff.; 21 (1945), 299f.; Ḥ.D. Friedberg, in: EG 4 (1956), 539ff. HOLOCAUST: S. Szende, The Promise Hitler Kept (1945), 9–179; L. Weliczker-Wells, Janowska Road (1963); I. Lewin, Aliti mi-Spezia (1947); P. Schneck, in: Davar (Nov. 5, 1946); E. Brand, in: Yedi'ot Yad Vashem, 25–26 (1961), 17–18; EG, 4 (1956), 539–766; Eduyyot, 1 (1963), 195–216; Forfaits hitlériens: Documents officiels (1945), 201–32; M.M. Borwicz, Uniwersytet zbirów (1946); idem, Literatura w obozie (1946); J. Hescheles, Oczyma dwunastoletniej dziewczyny (1946); S. Gogołwska, Szkoła okrucieństwa (1964). ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: Pinkas Hakehillot Poland vol. 2, Eastern Galicia (1980).

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