The History of the Nadwórna Jewish Community
The Nadwórna Jewish Community until WWI
The Jewish community in Nadwórna began to develop at the end of the 17th century, and especially in the 18th century. During this time, the city's residents – Jews and non-Jews – provided a range of services to one of the palaces belonging to a family of noblemen named Potocki, which was situated nearby. As the years passed, the Jews concentrated in the center of Nadwórna and in a part of the city known as "the new city." By the mid-18th century, some 1,000 Jews lived in the city, with an independent religious community and its own rabbi. During this period, the city became an important center of Hassidism, but was also influenced by the Frankists – followers of the false messiah Jacob Frank. When Frank converted to Christianity, a few Jews from Nadwórna were among his adherents who also converted.
In the 19th century, salt began to be produced from underground springs. Crude oil was soon revealed in the same area, leading to wells being dug and the establishment of a distillation plant. The Jews of Nadwórna were employed in trade and light industry; trading included grain, wood, eggs, chicken and mushrooms. Among the Jews of the city were shoemakers, tailors, metal workers and glaziers, servicing the local population as well as farmers in the region. Towards the end of the century, Nadwórna had become an important regional center for agricultural produce and wood industry. Jews owned many factories and businesses, including crude oil wells, glass manufacturing, saw and flour mills, a brewery and a match factory. There was a Jewish doctor in the city, and three midwives. During this period, the Jews of Nadwórna numbered about 4,200 – some two-thirds of the total population of the city.
From the end of the 19th century, branches of many Zionist parties as well as Agudath Israel and the Bund began activities in Nadwórna. A number of young Jews in the city supported the communist party.
Most of the community's children were educated in traditional institutions – heders and batei midrash. From the mid-19th century, the number of Jewish students at the regular schools began to grow. At the beginning of the 20th century, Hebrew-language courses were opened in the "Clear Speech" framework to teach the Hebrew language, as well as courses by the "Tarbut" educational framework and a public library containing 2,000 books in Polish, Yiddish and Hebrew.
In 1907, a fire broke out in the city, destroying some 100 Jewish homes as well as a number of synagogues and prayer houses. The community rallied, and during the same period participated in the development of the city's vacation industry. The Jews ran hotels, restaurants and most of the city's taverns. The majority of the wagon trade was also owned by Jews. Some 100 Jewish women laborers worked in home-based industries, mostly weaving and spinning. A group of salespersons organized in order to demand better employment conditions. A credit association was also established for traders and industry workers.
In the 19th century, a number of rabbis were employed in Nadwórna, but during WWI Rabbi Nachum Burstein left the city, and afterwards only dayanim (community judges) served the community. During WWI, Nadwórna was the site of a number of battles, which severely damaged the Jewish community and its economy. At the end of 1914, the Russians occupied the city, and then retreated and occupied it over and over again, until the war's end. In 1915, the Russians deported many Jewish men from the city, and a Cossack unit abused the women and children. After the end of the war, the Cossacks also plundered the Jewish residents.