Zolochiv district, Lviv region
|Old Jewish cemetery in Bilyi Kamin, 2019
Year - Total Population - Jews
1765 - (?) - 345*
1880 - 3,511 - 1,901
1900 - 3,651 - 1,704
1921 - 1,952 - 298
1930 - (?) - 202
together with the population of the surrounding villages
- Pinkas Hakehillot Polin: Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities, Poland, Volume II, page 114-115, published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem. Translated by Miriam Goldwasser, JewishGen, Inc.
- Hryhoriy Arshynov, European Jewish Cemeteries Initiative. Published by Center for Jewish art
For the first time Bialy Kamien (ukr. Bilyi Kamin, Білий Камінь) is mentioned in 1603 as a private town of the aristocracy (the beginning of the Vishnioweizki family). A fortress had been built in the town which more than once had protected it from the attacking Tatars who had imposed a blockade around it. In the second half of the 19th century a sugar factory had been built in Bialy Kamien; after a number of years its owners had converted it to a brewery.
In 1902 a huge fire broke out in town which had devoured almost all the buildings (houses) in the center, the inhabitants of the town didn't have time to restore it before the beginning of the First World War, and during the Russian occupation of the town in August 1914 the destruction of the town was completed by the conquering soldiers. The center of town was not restored during the period between the two World Wars either.
The Jews in Bialy Kamien are mentioned for the first time in 1629. The Jewish settlement grew especially towards the end of the 17th century and an independent community was created there.
In 1725 a whole new settlement was established. In the middle of the 19th century the increase in the Jewish population of Bialy Kamien had reached a record size, but towards the end of the century a negative trend had developed (especially because of emigration to larger cities and abroad).
In witnesses' reports from 1901 it is stated that during the preceding 40 years not even one Jewish family came to settle in town. The town had almost entirely emptied of its Jewish inhabitants during the big fire of 1902 (the Jews were its main victims) and during the First World War, when local Jews, those among them who had no time to escape, were deported by the Russian authorities to Zloczуw. After that the Russian soldiers decided to burn down the local synagogue which had been built from stone, but it survived.
The income of the Jews in Bialy Kamien came from small trade, peddling in the surrounding villages, and artisanry. Most of the money that was made by traders and artisans was made during market days and yearly fairs, which took place in town or in the nearby towns.
In 1902 there was organized in Bialy Kamien a Hilfsferein ["Help Organization" in Yiddish] which had supported a small shop where hairnets had been made and it employed a number of girls.
After the First World War the shop had not renewed its work.
In the period between the two World Wars there was a constant depletion of Jewish youths from the town, who were leaving in search of income in the big cities. Poverty and misery reigned in town and only during summer would people come to spend the time there, so that somewhat increased the income of the local citizens.
The attempt to establish in town a welfare organization did not succeed; after three years the organization was closed down, leaving behind a deficit, which in 1933-1934 reached 2550 zloty. The ex-inhabitants of the town who had settled in the United States came to its rescue, and if it wasn't for their help, the conditions of the poor of this town would have been much worse.
As it had been stated earlier, at the end of the 17th century there was an organized Jewish community in town. Its first rabbi, who has been mentioned as the head of the beth din (rabbinical court), was Avraham Shmariahu (died in 1697).
In 1740 it was reported that Rabbi Yechiel-Michel was the head of the beth din and Rabbi Yakov Mordechai served in the rabbinate.
In the second half of the 18th century the rabbi of Bialy Kamien was Rabbi Tzvi-Hirsch known as Kristinopoler [it means he came from the town of Kristinopol, today Chervonograd], the author of Tzvi's Lights. In the last years before his death in 1793 he was the head of the beth din in Lvov [today Lviv].
Among those who served in the rabbinate at the end of the 19th - beginning of the 20th century the following are known: R. Shlomo Goldberg from Buczacz (approximately in 1880), R. Itzchak Horwitz (he served also in the beginning of the 20th century) and R. Yehoshua Pinchas, who later on went on to become a rabbi in Drohobycz and Oswiecim, the author of Yehoshua's Tent (died in 1921).
Between the two World Wars it was very difficult for an impoverished and decimated community to be able to support its own rabbi and it is unknown if Rabbi Avigdor-David Rokeach, who lived in this place, served as a rabbi or was just a holy man living there. Rabbi Avigdor-David perished in the Holocaust.
From 1892 until 1902 there was a school in Bialy Kamien which had been established by Baron Hirsch. The school had three classes and 100 students attended it.
During the big fire of 1902 the building burnt down and the school closed.
In approximately 1927 a Hebrew school was opened in town, it was named Talmud Torah, which had been supported from time to time by the inhabitants of the town who had settled in the United States. It is unknown until when it functioned.
In 1919 a youth Zionist organization was established, but it had a very short existence. In 1929 a Zionist organization called Thya ["Revival" in Hebrew] which later on joined a bigger organization and it had also had a library, but after a short number of years, it also closed down. The same fate awaited the youth organization of the Mizrachi movement, Bnei Akiva.
We do not have exact information about the fate of the Bialy Kamien Jews during the Second World War. In January of 1942 there still lived 291 Jews there, but this small community was annihilated, probably in November 1942. The Jews of Bialy Kamien were transferred to Zloczуw and their fate was the same as the fate of the local Jews.