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Belz (Template:Lang-uk, Polish: Bełz, Yiddish: בעלז), a small town in the Lviv Oblast (province) of western Ukraine, near the border with Poland, is located between the Solokiya river (affluent of the Bug river) and the Rzeczyca stream.

The current estimated population is 2408 (as of 2004).


There are three versions of the origin of the name:

1. the Celtic language − 'belz' (water) or 'pelz' (stream),

2. the so called "Old Slavic language" − «белз» or «бевз» (muddy place),

3. the so called "Old Russian language" − «бълизь» (white place, a glade in the midst of dark woods).

The name occurs in two other places:

1. 'Belz' (department Morbihan), Brittany, France

2. Bălţi (Beltsy, also known in Yiddish as 'Belz'), Moldova (Bessarabia)


The town has existed since at least the 10th century, as one of the Red Towns (Ruthenian) strongholds under Bohemian and Polish rule. From 981 Belz was a part of Rus'-Ukraine (Duchy of Kiev, Duchy of Halych), except 1018-1030 when it belonged to Poland. In 1366 it became a permanent part of the Kingdom of Poland, until the First Partition of Poland in 1772. It then passed to the Austrian Empire, later the Austro-Hungarian Empire, where it was a part of the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria.

The Jewish (Ashkenazi) Kahal (hebr. קהלה kehilla) in Belz was established in the Late Middle Ages (ca. 14th c.). In 1665 Jews in Belz got equal rights and duties. The town became home to a Hasidic dynasty of Belz in the early 19th century. Shalom Rokeach of Belz (1779 - 1855), also known as the Sar Shalom, was the first Belzer Rebbe from 1817 to 1855. At the beginning of World War I, Belz counted 6100 inhabitants, including 3600 Jews, 1600 Ukrainians, and 900 Poles. [1]

With the collapse of Austria-Hungary following World War I in November 1918, Belz was included in the Western Ukrainian People's Republic, but came under Polish control in 1919, which was confirmed in the PolandUkrainian People's Republic agreement in April 1920. From 1919 to 1939 Belz belonged to Poland. Then from 1939 to 1944 it was occupied by Germany as a part of the General Government. Belz is situated on left, north waterside of the Solokiya river (affluent of the Bug river), which was German-Soviet border in 1939-1941. After the war it reverted to Poland until 1951 when, after a minor border readjustment, it passed to the Soviet Union (Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic). Since 1991 it has been part of independent Ukraine.

Cultural trivia

The hasidic synagogue in Belz, dedicated in 1843, and demolished in 1950s.

The Yiddish song “Beltz, Mayn Shtetele” is a moving evocation of a happy childhood spent in a shtetl. Originally this song was composed for a town which bears a similarly sounding name in Yiddish (belts), called Bălţi in Moldovan/Romanian, and is located in Bessarabia (presently the Moldova Republic). Later interpretations may have had Belz in mind, though.

Belz is also a very important place for Ukrainian Catholics and Polish Catholics as a place where the Black Madonna of Częstochowa is believed to have resided for several centuries until 1382, when Władysław Opolczyk, duke of Opole, took the icon home to his principality after ending his service as the Royal emmisary for Halychyna for Louis I of Hungary.[2]


File:Danylo gal 2.jpg
Lev Danylovich (Leo I of Halych)
Rabbi Aharon Rokeach of Belz

See also


Template:Lviv Oblast Template:Coor titlełzlmo:Belz pl:Bełz pt:Belz (Ucrânia)

  1. Dr Mieczysław Orłowicz. Ilustrowany Przewodnik po Galicyi. Lwów 1919