SOKOLKA, town in Bialystok province, N.E. Poland; until 1795 within Poland; until 1807 under Prussia; subsequently until 1915 the town belonged to Russia, reverting to Poland after World War I. Jews settled in Sokolka in the latter half of the 17th century. In 1698 they were granted a royal privilege giving them rights to engage in commerce and own property. There were 522 Jewish poll-tax payers in Sokolka and its surroundings in 1765. The Jewish population of the town numbered 1,454 in 1847; 2,651 (52% of the total) in 1897; and 2,821 (46.4%) in 1921. Jews there earned their livelihood from trade in agricultural produce, hides, and crafts. Jewish contractors developed the tanning industry in Sokolka from 1868, which before the outbreak of World War I employed 700 workers. The Jewish workers' movement began to organize locally in the late 19th century; Zionists began activity in the early 20th century. All Jewish parties were active there between the two world wars. Jews from Sokolka joined the Third Aliyah and helped to found *Kefar Malal in Ereẓ Israel. Jews were occupied in over 80% of the businesses and crafts in the town. The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee helped to set up a tanning cooperative. Community institutions included schools of the Yavneh, *Tarbut, and CYSHO, a Maccabi sports club, and two libraries.
Z. Honik, in: YIVO Bleter, 2 (1931), 454; Sefer Sokolka (1968); J. Shleymkovich, in: Folkshilf, no. 9 (1937); B. Wasiutyński, Ludność żydowska w Polsce w wiekach XIX i XX (1930), 83, 87, 89.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.