Jews were not allowed to settle down in Jarosław until the 15th century. The first reference to the Jewish presence in the town dates back to 1464. In 1563, 13 Jewish families resided in Jarosław; however, under the decree issued by Zofia Kostkowa née Odrowąż in 1571 they were only allowed to own two houses in the town: “[…] we have decided and we want it to be ruled that in this town of ours, Jarosław, no Jews shall ever live again except for one house or two houses, and these Jews shall not deal with any trade apart from selling their own products.”

In 1629, Jews lived in four houses in Jarosław. In 1638, under a decree of King Władysław IV, the kehilla of Przemyśl gained jurisdiction over the Jews of Jarosław. The monarch ordered: “to bury the dead there, perform rituals in the Przemyśl synagogue, pay taxes, take etrogim from them, as tradition has it, pay 3 zlotys for the salaries of doctors (or rabbis), make appeals against sentences to the rabbi.” Despite the instruction to use the temple in Przemyśl, the Jews of Jarosław erected their first synagogue in 1640, probably in one of the town’s suburbs.

In 1648, ca. 120 Jews lived in Jarosław. In 1664, after the issuance of an edict by Bishop of Przemyśl Stanisław Sarnowski, the Municipal Council forbade Christians to rent flats to Jews and hire them to work. In 1687, Józef Lubomirski, the owner of the town, ordered to expel all Jews who continued to illegally reside in the town despite the fact that the fair had come to an end several weeks earlier. At that time, Jarosław Jews were still subordinate to the Przemyśl kehilla. In 1699, they opened their own cemetery, even though they were still legally obliged to bury their dead in Przemyśl. However, the permit to found the necropolis was eventually issued by the Va’ad, which held its session in the town in 1700. Four rabbis: Naftali Cohen of Poznań, Saul and Zecharie Mendel of Kraków, and Menachem Mendel of Lviv defined the area of the cemetery and set the burial fee, which was not to exceed 60 zlotys.

The famed August fairs in Jarosław attracted numerous Jewish merchants from the entire Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. In 1630, the town also became the venue of autumn (September) sessions of the Va’ad – the Council of Four Lands, also known as the Jewish parliament, an administrative body operating in the years 1580–1764 (spring sessions were held in Lublin). During the sessions, Jarosław was visited by the representatives of Poland’s biggest Jewish communities, rosh yeshivas – heads of higher Talmudic schools – with their students, and even printers of Jewish books. The town became an important centre of cattle trade, largely dominated by Jews. A separate set of judges was appointed to settle any commercial disputes concerning cattle.

In 1704, Yeshaya of Kraków became the first rabbi of Jarosław, even though the owner of the town, Teofilka Lubomirska, had ordered the local Jewish population to leave. A subkehilla subordinate to the Przemyśl community must have existed in Jarosław at the time. In 1720, King Augustus II confirmed the Jewish right of settlement in the town. In 1737, Yeshaya was succeeded by Moses Yehoshua of Sanz. The same year, two local Jews were accused of ritual murder, tortured, and dismembered. At the time, ca. 100 Jewish families lived in the town. An independent kehilla was formed in Jarosław in 1774. Its first rabbi was Yehoshua Horowitz, who held the post in the years 1774–1784.

One of the most prominent residents of Jarosław (albeit only in his youth) was Ephraim Solomon ben Aaron (d. 1619), one of the greatest Jewish preachers of the turn of the 17th century. In 1604, he settled and preached in Prague; he also wrote several rabbinical works and commentaries to the Torah. In 1772, the Va’ad session in Jarosław put a herem on the Sabbateans, a Jewish sect headed by Sabbatai Zvi, who pronounced himself the Messiah. Towards the end of the 18th century, the town was a temporary residence of Gaon Jacob Ornstein (1775–1839), later the rabbi of Lviv and author of Talmudic works, who converted Jarosław into an important centre of Jewish religious philosophy. The town was also home to another prominent Talmudic scholar, Arie Leibish Lifschütz, later the rabbi of Sieniawa.

In 1785, Jarosław had 1,722 Jewish residents, and in 1813 – as many as 2,355, constituting almost 25% of the town’s population. In the late 18th century, the local Jews ran a hospital, or rather an almshouse. There was also the Chevra Kadisha society in the town. Towards the end of the 18th century, the Jewish community of Jarosław was the second largest kehilla in the area of today’s Podkarpackie Province after Przemyśl. The wealthiest merchant in the town was Kellerman, who monopolised the grain trade in Galicia. The second synagogue was erected by the Jarosław community in the years 1807–1811, followed by another in 1900.

Tzaddik Zahorie Mendel, student of Elimelech of Lizhensk, settled in Jarosław in the late 18th century. He was succeeded by Menachem Zev, who died in 1825. The subsequent leader of the local Hasidim was blind Tzaddik Shimon Maryles (d. 1850), student of the Seer of Lublin and author of several volumes of Kabbalistic commentaries. All tzaddikim of Jarosław were buried at the local cemetery.

In the years 1835–1854, the rabbi of Jarosław was Izaak Jakub Horowitz. During the riots of 1869, lasting from 25 March to 5 April, the Jewish cemetery was significantly damaged. Many Jews suffered injuries, and most Jewish-owned stores were plundered.

In 1870, the Jarosław kehilla had 4,526 members, with the number increasing to 6,599 after 30 years. At the time, the community owned a hospital, a healthcare fund, and one foundation. In the 1870s, the rabbi was Samuel Waldberg. In 1876, Dr. Maurycy Fraenkel was elected head of the kehilla. He held the post until 1899 and was succeeded by Henryk Strisower. In 1896, a two-grade folk school for boys was opened by the Baron Maurice de Hirsch Foundation. It was closed after merely two years due to protests from the Hasidic community. In 1883, the town boasted the Credit and Savings Association, headed by Aron Mühlbauer, followed by the Short Term Credit Society (est, 1891, president Henryk Strisower).

At the beginning of the 20th century, when the kehilla was headed by Stisower, a number of community buildings was erected: a new beth midrash, school, old people’s home, and ritual slaughterhouse. Moreover, the synagogue was renovated. In 1910, there were 14,982 Jews living in Jarosław District, constituting 10% of its population. In the interwar period, the size of the Jewish community was significantly reduced, falling to 11,721 in 1931. Another riot broke out in the town on 19 June 1918, during which several Jewish shops were plundered.

In 1921, 6,577 Jews lived in Jarosław itself, representing 32.9% of the local population. In 1926, Jews owned 72% of all commercial enterprises in the town. The interwar period saw the emergence of numerous Jewish trade associations, including the Economic Club of the Jewish Agricultural Society, the All-Jewish Artisan Guild (with 146 members in 1937), the Yad Charuzim Union of Jewish Craftsmen (president: Dr. Salo Rottenberg). The headquarters of the latter also housed a kindergarten, Hebrew courses organised by the Tarbut association, and classes of the Dror Gymnastics and Sports Association. Journeyman bakers were associated in the Chesed Uemed Charitable Union of Baking Assistants, while salesclerks formed the Ha-Ivri Jewish Association of Sales Assistants. The last president of Jarosław’s Merchants’ Association was Henryk Haut. There were several credit unions in Jarosław: the Credit and Commerce Society, the “Merkur” Credit Society, the Merchants’ and Craftsmen’s Bank, the Credit and Savings Society. In 1927, the local Credit Union had 642 members, and the People’s Bank boasted 121 members in 1932. The leading position of Jews in the local trade sparked continuous conflicts with the Polish population; the animosity started to intensify in the 1930s.

Some of the most prominent figures hailing from Jarosław were: Ignacy Aschenfeld, doctor of law, soldiers of the 2nd Brigade of the Polish Legions and the Polish Army; Gustaw Blatt (1858–1916), linguist, professor at the University of Lviv and the president of the Lviv Philological Society, author of the publication Archaizmy w języku Kochanowskiego (“Archaisms in Kochanowski’s Language”); Edmund Rauch (1863–1923), deputy to the Diet of Vienna (1911–1918) and the Legislative Sejm of the Second Polish Republic (1919–1922); and Ashel Reiss (1886–1984), elected Secretary General of the Poale Zion International Movement in 1928, co-founder of the World Jewish Congress.

The Germans seized Jarosław in 1939 and immediately expelled ca. 10,000 Jews to the other bank of the San river, to the Soviet occupation zone. The deportation campaign started on 23 September 1939 and lasted six days.

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