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Vopla, Belarus

VOLPA (Pol. Wolpa; Yid. Volp, Volpe), town in Grodno district, Belarus. A Jewish community existed there from the early 17th century. In 1766 there were 641 Jews in Volpa who paid the poll tax; they numbered 700 in 1847; 1,151 (58% of the total) in 1897; and 941 (54.3%) in 1921. In the 17th century the community built a wooden synagogue which became famous for its original beauty. Besides their traditional occupation with commerce and crafts the Jews in Volpa engaged in domestic farming. In 1886 there were two tanneries, a dye works, and a brewery. Lack of rail connections prevented further industrial development and the Jews of Volpa took to gardening and tobacco growing, becoming expert in these fields. Before World War I there were 29 Jewish farms on an area of 242 hectares (597 acres); 73 hectares (180 acres) were Jewish owned and the rest were rented from gentile farmers. In 1921, 429 of the 941 local Jews made their living by farming. With the beginning of Polish rule in 1919 the armies stationed near Volpa incited much anti-Jewish activity. In 1929, the Jews were forbidden to grow tobacco, their main source of livelihood. Some of them turned to vegetable farming, cucumbers for pickling being their special crop.

Zionist organizations such as Ereẓ Yisrael ha-Ovedet were active in Volpa between the two world wars. There were a Hebrew *Tarbut school and a Hebrew and Yiddish library each containing 3,000 volumes. The community was annihilated in the Holocaust.


S. Dubnow (ed.), Pinkas ha-Medinah (1925), index; Ẓ. Kaplan, in: Volkovisker Yisker-Bukh, 2 (1949); D. Davidovich, Battei Keneset be-Polin ve-Ḥurbanam (1960), 9.

[Dov Rubin]

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