(Pol. and Rus., Tarnopol), city in western Ukraine (previously in eastern Galicia). Tarnopol was founded in 1540 by the Polish governor, Grand Crown Hetman Jan Tarnowski. Jews settled there soon after its founding.
In a privilege granted in 1550 and renewed in 1740, Jews were permitted to live in all sections of the town except the market square, and were also required to take part in town defenses. Following a fire in 1623, Jews were allowed to rebuild their houses and the synagogue, which was constructed of stone and was fortified. The privilege permitted them to trade in every kind of goods, with limitations only on trade in hides. During the pogroms of 1648–1649, the community numbered about 300 families; most Jews fled at that time, and those who remained were killed.
At the end of the seventeenth and the beginning of the eighteenth centuries, Jewish merchants dominated the beef and grain trades. In the early 1700s, Tarnopol was regarded as a well-established community due to its growth in population and a solid economy. Eighteenth-century rabbis included Yehoshu‘a Heshel Babad, who was succeeded by Ya‘akov Yitsḥak, the son of Yitsḥak Landau. In 1765, Tarnopol was home to 1,246 Jews.
Archduke Franz Ferdinand, Hapsburg monarch of the Austrian Empire greeted by Jews holding Torah scrolls during his visit to Ternopol (now Ternopil’, Ukr.), ca. 1910. (YIVO)
Tarnopol was annexed to Austria in 1772 as part of Galicia and remained under Austrian rule until 1918, aside from a period between 1809 and 1815 when it was under Russian rule. Tarnopol was an important regional center for the Haskalah. In 1788, Herz Homberg established a modern school; it closed in 1806, as did all other German Jewish schools in Galicia. In 1813, Yosef Perl founded the Bet ha-Ḥinukh school, with an adjoining synagogue. Among prominent maskilim in Perl’s circle were Shemu’el Leib Goldenberg (editor of Kerem ḥemed), Betsal’el Stern, and Yitsḥak Mikha’el Monis. At the end of his life, the Haskalah scholar Naḥman Krochmal also lived in Tarnopol. From 1813, Naḥman Pineles and Yitsḥak Auerbach ran a printing shop where Perl produced calendars of the Jewish year. In 1838, a fierce controversy broke out between maskilim and their opponents regarding control of the rabbinate. Shelomoh Yehudah Rapoport was appointed to that position, but left after just one year to become rabbi of Prague. Maskilim remained the dominant force in the community, expanding Perl’s school in the 1840s and 1850s; in 1869, there were 656 students at the school.
In 1843–1844, Jews were allowed to vote in municipal elections and to hold office. In 1845, the city received the privileged status of a free royal city. Between 1846 and 1849, the head of the Jewish community council was Ya‘akov Atlas, who revitalized several public institutions. The Jewish population numbered about 11,000 in 1868. Serving as rabbi of Tarnopol from the 1860s on was Yosef Babad, known for his Minḥat ḥinukh (a commentary on the medieval Sefer ha-ḥinukh). In that decade, the trend toward Polish acculturation grew stronger among the Jewish intelligentsia. From the end of the 1880s, Jewish nationalism proved to be a decisive force in the community.
Tarnopol changed hands frequently during World War I, and the economic situation of the city’s Jews deteriorated. A Jewish rescue committee was established to assist the large numbers of refugees arriving there. Briefly at the end of 1918, the city was part of the Western Ukrainian Republic, and from the end of 1918 until 17 November 1939, it remained in independent Poland. Branches of various Zionist organizations as well as of Agudas Yisroel and the Bund were established. In 1939, there were nearly 18,000 Jews in Tarnopol.
The city was occupied by the Germans in July 1941. Over several days, nearly 5,000 people were murdered in pogroms. A ghetto was established, housing 12,500 Jews; some were murdered there, and others were sent to the Bełżec camp in 1942. A labor camp was also established in Tarnopol, in which 2,500 of the Jews remaining from camps in the vicinity were gathered; they were murdered in 1943. Refugees from Tarnopol reached Israel and the United States. In 2000, the community numbered about 340.
Danuta Dombrovska, Abraham Wein, and Aharon Weiss, eds., Pinkas ha-kehilot: Polin, vol. 2, Galitsyah ha-mizraḥit (Jerusalem, 1980), pp. 243–251; Pesaḥ Hertsog, Be-Tsel ha-nesher ha-shaḥor: ‘Ayarati Tarnopol mitboseset be-damah (Tel Aviv, 1996); Philip Korngruen, ed., Entsiklopedyah shel galuyot, vol. 3, Tarnopol (Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, 1955); Dorota Lewandowska, “Gmińa wyznania mojżeszowego w Galicji Wschodniej w XIX i XX wieku,” in Żydowskie gmińy wyznaniówe, ed. Jan A. Choroszy et al., pp. 63–76 (Wrocław, 1995).
Translated from Hebrew by Jeffrey Green