ZHOLKVA (Pol. Zółkiew ), city in Ukraine (formerly Galicia), renamed Nesterov in 1951. Jewish settlement in Zholkva began in the 16th century and the community became important; entries in its minute book (pinkas) commence from 1613. Thousands of Jewish fugitives took refuge in Zholkva during the *Chmielnicki massacres of 1648–49 and helped to defend it from the Cossacks, who agreed to lift their siege on the city on payment of 20,000 gulden. In the second half of the 17th century the community benefited from the general prosperity which Zholkva enjoyed as the patrimony of King John iii Sobieski. A number of wealthy Jews with influence at court made their home in Zholkva. The magnificent fortified synagogue built in 1687 with the king's assistance, known as the "Sobieski Shul," was preserved until 1941. The favorable economic and cultural conditions which had made Zholkva one of the leading communities in the province of "Russia" (see *Councils of the Lands) came to an end in the second half of the 18th century; 2,100 Jewish inhabitants are recorded at this period, but in 1770 the city was devastated by a plague in which some 800 Jews died.
Leading members of the Zholkva community included John Sobieski's physician, Simḥah Menahem of Jona; the royal tax farmer Bezalel b. Nathan; the parnas Israel Isser b. Mordecai; and the av bet dinAlexander *Schor. Between 1680 and 1730 Zholkva served as a center of the late Shabbatean movement in Poland (see *Shabbetai Ẓevi). Among the sectarians in Zholkva were Ḥayyim *Malakh, Fischel Zlochover, Isaac Keidaner, and Moses Meir Kaminski. At the end of the 18th century Zholkva became an important center of the Haskalah movement, particularly as Nachman *Krochmal lived there. Among scholars and writers of Zholkva in this period were Baruch Ẓevi Noy, principal of the Jewish-German school; Eliezer Favir, the Yiddish folklorist and author of the Sippurei ha-Pela'ot (1800); and Samson ha-Levi *Bloch, author of the popular geographical work Shevilei Olam. Ẓevi Hirsch *Chajes acted as av bet din between 1828 and 1852. Many of the Zholkva community were occupied in the fur industry, which began to develop in the 19th century and employed hundreds of workers. Emigré furriers from Zholkva, who acquired an international reputation, found their way to the great workshops of Paris, London, and Brussels. Educational and welfare institutions in Zholkva before World War ii included a talmud torah, schools established by the *Tarbut and *Beth Jacob organizations, and orphanages which also provided vocational training. The annual budget of the community totaled 42,000 zlotys in 1937. The Jews in Zholkva numbered 4,100 (about half the total population) at the end of the 19th century; in 1931 there were 4,500.
The first Hebrew press in the city was set up by the Amsterdam printer *Uri b. Aaron Phoebus ha-Levi in 1692 under license to John Sobieski. The first production appears to have been novellae by Samuel *Edels. For eight decades Uri Phoebus, his sons, grandsons, and other members of the family (Madpis, Grossmann, Rosanes) printed a great variety of books, covering all branches of Hebrew literature. Productions were generally of a high quality, with handsomely decorated title pages. The Letteris family, who were related to the Uri Phoebus clan, printed in the city from 1794 to 1828, moving their presses from *Lvov. In 1793 A.J.L. Mayerhofer obtained a printing license from the Austrian government, and he and his sons were active till 1830. Originally he was in partnership with M. Rubinstein, but they separated in 1797 and Rubinstein and his son continued on their own until well into the 19th century. Other Hebrew printers of importance in the 19th century were S.P. Stiller, who began work in 1859 and produced a Zohar (1862–64), and J.Z. Balaban, who established a press in 1862.
The Jewish population numbered over 5,000 in June 1941. After the outbreak of war between Germany and the U.S.S.R., the quick collapse of the Soviet front prevented Jews fleeing eastward from reaching safety. The Germans entered the city on June 28, 1941, and within a few days burned down its synagogues. Shortly thereafter, a *Judenrat was imposed by the Germans, headed by Febus Rubinfeld. The Germans imposed a "contribution" (fine) of 250,000 rubles, 5 kg. of gold, and 100 kg. of silver to be paid within three days. In early 1942 the Jewish population underwent registration which classified them into three categories: a – able-bodied for hard labor; b – capable of lighter work; c – "non-productive."
In an Aktion on March 15, 1942, the Germans rounded up 700 persons in the "c" category and dispatched them to the *Belzec death camp. The Judenrat meanwhile organized varied welfare activities to alleviate the suffering of the community. The Jews who escaped from the death train transports to Belzec were helped in particular. The train station in Zholkva served as a transit point for the death trains from the East. Although education of their children was prohibited, the Jews managed to set up a clandestine education program for groups of six to eight pupils under 30 teachers. In a second Aktion on Nov. 22–23, 1942, 2,500 persons were shipped to Belzec. Numerous victims attempted escape from the trains; the rails were strewn with their corpses. Very few made their way back to the city. That month a ghetto was set up for the Jews of Zholkva and the vicinity – mostly from Mosty Wielkie, Dobroszyce, Kulikow, Glinsk, and Wola Wysoka. An epidemic broke out, with a mortality rate rising to 20 a day. On March 15, 1943, over 600 men were taken to the Janowska Street labor camp in Lvov. The Germans and their Ukrainian helpers broke into the ghetto on March 25, 1943, and the inmates were rounded up in Dominikanski Square and taken to Borek forest, about 2 mi. from the city, near the road to Kamenka Bugskaya; there they were murdered and buried in mass graves. One hundred men and 70 women were spared and sent off to the Janowska Street camp. Only 70 others, skilled craftsmen, were still left in Zholkva, interned in a building on Sobieski Street. Some of them were killed later. Zholkva was taken by Soviet forces on July 23, 1944. About 70 Jews survived the Holocaust.
M. Baracz, Pamiąãi miasta Zółkiew (18772); S. Buber, Kiryah Nisgavah (1903); M. Balaban, in: Jednošć, no. 40 (1908); Almanach gmin żydowskich (1939), index. hebrew printing: Chajes, in: Literaturblatt des Orients, 2 (1841), 665ff.; B…, ibid., 3 (1842), 473f.; M. Balaban, in: Soncino Blaetter, 3 (1929/30), 14ff.; Ḥ.D. Friedberg, Toledot ha-Defus ha-Ivri be-Polanyah (19502), 62ff.