SANOK (called Sonik by the Jews), town in Rzeszow province, S.E. Poland. From 1772 to 1918 the town was under Austrian rule (central *Galicia). The remains of an ancient Jewish cemetery in the vicinity testify to the existence of a Jewish settlement in the town in the second half of the 14th century, after Sanok had been annexed to Poland by King *Casimir iii. The names of some Jewish members appear in a list of the craftsmen's guild of the town in 1514. However, a Jewish community was organized only at the end of the 16th century and was subordinate to that of Lesko. In 1570, 17 of the 200 families residing in the town were Jewish. They earned their living as traders in wine and grain, and as furriers, tailors, and tanners. At the beginning of the 18th century, the Jewish settlement at Sanok grew, receiving privileges from King Augustus ii (1720) and King Augustus iii (1754). A synagogue was built in the 1720s. There were 467 poll-tax paying Jews in Sanok and its environs in 1765. During the 19th century local trade in lumber, timber, and cloth manufacture was concentrated in Jewish hands. At the end of the 19th century, the Jews of Sanok initiated the development of oil production in the area. From 1868 the representatives of the local Jewish community played an important part in municipal institutions. Under Austrian rule the Jewish population grew quickly: in 1800 it numbered about 1,850 (40% of the total population); in 1880, it numbered 2,129 (42%); and in 1910, 4,073 (38%). Ḥasidism became strong in the community toward the end of the 18th century and, up to the end of the 19th, concentrated around the kloyzn of the Ḥasidim of *Belz, Bobob, Nowy Sacz, and *Sadgora. At the beginning of the 20th century, Zionist organizations sprang up. The teacher Ẓevi Abt founded in 1909 a Hebrew school called Safah Berurah which had 77 pupils in 1911. From 1910 to 1914, the weekly Folksfraynd was published. In 1921, 4,067 Jews formed 42% of the total population of the town. Between the two world wars the Jews of Sanok occupied key positions in the town economy. From 1919 to 1921, Meir *Shapira served as rabbi of Sanok. Among those born in the town was Benzion *Katz.
The number of Jews in Sanok in 1939 was over 5,000. The Germans entered the city on Sept. 8, 1939, and in the first days of the occupation the synagogues were burned. A few hundred Jews were deported to the other side of the San River, which was under Soviet rule. In 1941 the Jews were concentrated in a ghetto, which contained about 8,000 people – including Jews from nearby townlets. There they were subjected to forced labor, including work in the stone quarries of Trepcza. On Sept. 10, 1942, most of the Jews of Sanok were deported to a concentration camp at Zaslaw. Only a few succeeded in escaping. After the Germans concentrated Jews from the entire Sanok area in the Zaslaw camp, 4,000 people were sent to the *Belzec death camp. The sick and aged were shot in the nearby forests. In October 1942 two more transports were sent to Belzec. On Sept. 14, 1942, the Germans announced that those who had escaped would be allowed to return to the ghetto and live there. About 300 Jews returned to the ghetto; they were later executed or transported to concentration camps. A few hundred Sanok Jews survived the Holocaust, most of them having been in the Soviet Union during the war. Some Jews rescued from the Nazis were killed by antisemitic Polish bands.
A. Shravit (ed.), Sanok, Sefer Zikkaron (1969); Wroclaw, Zakład Narodowy imienia Ossolińskich, 2501/II 9730/ii (= cahjp, Ḥm 6664, Ḥm 71059); Halpern, Pinkas, index; R. Mahler, Yidn in Amolikn Poyln in Likht fun Tsifern (1958), index; idem, Ha-Haskalah ve-ha-Ḥasidut (1961), 433–5; B. Wasiutyński, Ludność żydowska w Polsce w wiekach xix i xx (1930), 96, 107, 118, 147; I. Schiper, Dzieje handlu żydowskiego na ziemiach polskich (1937), index; N.M. Gelber, Ha-Tenu'ah ha-Ẓiyyonit be-Galiẓyah 1875–1918 (1958), 201; S. Nobel, in: yivo Bleter, 45 (1965/66); A. Fastnacht, Zarys dziejów Sanoka (1958).