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Jewish Lviv

About Jews in Lviv known since the XIV century. There were two communities here: one in the Krakow suburb, and the other in the Jewish quarter of the city. The communities had separate synagogues and institutions. Only the cemetery was common. It is also known that until the 15th century karaites lived in a village near the Krakow suburb. Since the second half of the 18th century, communities have united.

After the Union of Lublin in 1569, Jews from Polish lands arrived in the city. As the Ukrainian historian Yaroslav Hrytsak notes, not a single city of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was distinguished by such a national and religious diversity as Lviv. Five ethnic groups lived here simultaneously (Germans, Poles, Ukrainians, Jews and Armenians). After the city joined the Austro-Hungarian Empire, a high concentration of the Jewish population remained here. In 1880, the ratio of Jews to non-Jews in Galicia was 1:9, and in Lviv - 1:3.

Jews were employed in crafts and commerce, which led to conflicts with the local population. In the XVI-XVII centuries, six pogroms were recorded in the city. At the same time, during the time of the Khmelnytsky Uprising, the townspeople refused to extradite Jews to the Cossacks and in 1655 to the Russian troops, preferring to pay a ransom. Before World War I, there were no large-scale pogroms in the city, similar to those that swept the Russian Empire.

In the second half of the XVII century, some Jews from Lviv preferred to move to nearby settlements belonging to Polish aristocrats.

In the 1840s, Jews were given access to education. This has changed the occupation of the Jewish population. By the beginning of the twentieth century, most representatives of the free professions were Jews. By 1910, 60% of doctors and 70% of lawyers were Jews.

The community of Lviv was affected by the main conflicts that European Jewry had:

  • In the 17th century, the community divided on the issue of supporting the Sabbatai Zevi movement. The well-known Lviv Kabbalist Nehemiah Hacohen opposed the claims of the latter on messianism, and Rabbi David ben Shmuel HaLevi favored Zevi.
  • In 1755, the community expelled the representative of the Jacob Frank Leyb Krysu movement from the city, and four years later a debate was held here between rabbis and Frankists about blood libel.
  • In the 1830s, Hasidism pervaded Lviv, and by 1838, there were already seven Hasidic synagogues in the city.
  • In the 1840s, a confrontation took place in the community between reformists and Orthodox.
  • From the 1860s to 1890s, supporters of assimilation fought for influence in the community with opposing Orthodox and Hasidic Jews.
  • At the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the Orthodox and assimilators united to counter the influence of the Zionists.

By the beginning of the twentieth century, Jews made up a quarter of the urban population. At the time of the capture of the city by the Nazis, 150 thousand Jews gathered here. In Lviv, a ghetto and a concentration camp were created, where Jews were brought from Western Ukraine. Judenrat tried to create as many workshops as possible in order to prove to the Nazis the value of local Jews. There was resistance in the city, one of the participants of which was Simon Wiesenthal.

In November 1943, an armed uprising took place in the city. 150 people who worked to destroy traces of mass executions killed several SS men and tried to hide.

In 1951, 27 thousand Jews lived in the city, which made up 7% of the townspeople. By 1989, the number was reduced to 1.6%, and in 2001, Jews accounted for 0.9% of the population of Lviv.